9. 'Strangers With Candy'
"Hi, I'm Jerri Blank, and I'm a 46-year-old high school freshman." For three seasons on Comedy Central from 1999-2000, that opening riff signaled the start of a half hour of sordid, twisted hilarity as Blank (Amy Sedaris) returned home to pick up where she left off after years on the run as a junkie prostitute. Over 30 episodes, Sedaris, Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello (with co-creator Mitch Rouse) spun after-school-special morality tales into politically incorrect half-hour spit-takes, lovingly laying their filthy little fingers on everything from disabilities ("Retardation: A Celebration") to STDs, racism, eating disorders, illiteracy ("Jerri, what does V-I-C-T-O-R-Y spell?"), teen pregnancy and sexual harassment. No detail was to small: the African-American principle was Onyx Blackman; the school's name was Flatpoint High. The show thrived on Sedaris' desire to get ugly and the cast's willingness to go there again and again. Future late-night king Colbert was especially inspired as the narcissistic, closeted social studies teacher Chuck Noblet, shepherding his students' impressionable young minds: "All right everybody, for tomorrow I want you to write a history poem on Hiroshima. But nothing too faggy."—CARYN GANZ