2006 brought us High School Musical, the end of Pluto and The CW—born from the merger of UPN and The WB. It was also the year that saw the end of The West Wing, Charmed, The Bernie Mac Show and As Told by Ginger. And it was 10 years ago that we lost TV icons Don Knotts and Aaron Spelling.
As all that came to an end, there was a new class of TV titans beginning to emerge; shows that are turning 10 in 2016.
Michael C. Hall has been busy with indies, voice-acting and a turn on Broadway as the lead in Hedwig and the Angry Inch since his Showtime series ended in 2013. But to us, he will always be Dexter Morgan, Miami’s disturbingly lovable blood-spatter analyst and serial killer who kills serial killers. The eight-season series brought in record-breaking audiences, multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, and a whole lot of questions. Most importantly: HOW are there so many serial killers to kill in Miami? After almost 100 episodes, it was getting a little ridiculous.
The ultimate guilty pleasure show of the mid-2000s, The Hills made its debut on May 31, 2006. A spin-off of MTV's infamous Laguna Beach, the new series first followed Lauren Conrad as she explored the world of fashion. Other stars made famous by the dramatic reality series included Heidi Montag (and Spencer Pratt, of course), Audrina Patridge, Whitney Port, and Kristin Cavallari, the focus of The Hills' later seasons.
The only show on our list that’s still on the air a decade later, Top Chef premiered March 8, 2006 on Bravo. It followed Project Runway’s reality competition success on Bravo, and kicked off 10 years of cooking competition programming that’s still going strong on multiple networks. Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons have been judging since the beginning, and the show has spawned spin-offs like Top Chef Masters, Top Chef Duels and Life After Top Chef.
Aaron Sorkin's only single-season show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip aired on the heels of his critically-acclaimed, seven-season political series, The West Wing. Studio 60 starred Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet and Sarah Paulson (who has reemerged on the TV scene in recent years as a star on Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story and upcoming American Crime Story series). NBC entered a bidding war with CBS, paying a “near-record licensing fee” to purchase the project, which would go behind the scenes of a fictional, LA-based sketch comedy show à la Saturday Night Live. Sound familiar? That's because 30 Rock aired just one month later, also on NBC.
While Studio 60 was cancelled after only one season, Tina Fey's 30 Rock continued on with lower ratings (and a lower budget) for 7 seasons and 138 episodes, eventually going into syndication on Comedy Central and WGN America. Starring Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan and Fey herself, the critical darling earned more than 100 Emmy nominations, with multiple wins for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing, and Outstanding Actor / Actress. Aaron Sorkin even made an appearance on the show’s fifth season, joining a list of guest stars that included Jon Hamm, Matt Damon, Jennifer Anniston, Oprah Winfrey and Steve Martin.
The original Keeping Up With the Kardashians — House of Carters — focused on the lives of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, Lizzie McGuire guest star / “Aaron's Party (Come Get It)” singer Aaron Carter, and their family. It only aired for one, eight-episode season, but it was worth it because it spawned this SNL sketch, staring Jason Sudeikis and Andy Samberg as the Carter brothers. “Bro biz before showbiz!”
The first incarnation of Heroes premiered in 2006, coming to an end in 2010 after four seasons, only to return half a decade later with Heroes Reborn, a 13-episode miniseries on NBC. The original Heroes starred Hayden Panettiere, Milo Ventimiglia, Greg Grunberg, and about a dozen others. It also helped to kick off
Spock Bloody Face Zachary Quinto’s career. The series was met with positive reviews and a lot of buzz to start, but quickly began to define the term “hate-watch” as disjointed, clunky storylines led to a lack of continuity in future seasons.
We’ve seen Miley Cyrus grow up quite a bit over the past few years, but it’s still hard to believe that little Miley Stewart's 98-episode show is turning 10 this year. Hannah Montana, which focused on the fictional Miley’s double life as a regular girl by day, teen pop star by night, saw a single-episode audience above 10 million and Disney Channel’s highest-rated premiere. Disney was no longer able to get the “Best of Both Worlds,” as Cyrus’ public image began to shift, and the series ended after a fourth and final season in 2011.
"Critically Acclaimed TV Series That Never Found Sizable Audiences" was a theme in 2006, and that trend continued with Friday Night Lights, a series that persevered for five seasons despite lackluster ratings. After two seasons on NBC, the network worked out a deal to air the series first on DirecTV’s 101 Network, with rebroadcasts later on NBC. Starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, while also launching the careers of actors like Michael B. Jordan and Taylor Kitsch, the drama focused on a high school football team in rural Texas. A beloved series, Friday Night Lights finally seems to have found its audience on Netflix, where it’s frequently included on lists of the best binge-watching shows.
The last show on our list is a real classic, and for some, it defines 2006. Most memorably hosted by Jodie Sweetin (aka Stephanie Tanner), the premise of Pants-Off Dance-Off was simple: Contestants stripped down, danced to their favorite music videos on Fuse, and competed to take home a few hundred bucks. Champions came in all shapes, sizes and levels of weird, and the series was proudly proclaimed to be the "dumbest show on television."
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