6. 'Empire' (Fox)
How exactly did we all function before we met Cookie? (There was a Cookie-shaped hole in our hearts, with room for one of her leopard-print fedoras.) The hip-hop soap became the year's surprise blockbuster, thanks to Taraji P. Henson's gangsta matriarch, with a big assist from Terence Howard's record-label mogul Lucious Lyon. Plus a barrage of shamelessly ridiculous plot twists, usually involving Courtney Love, Judd Nelson and/or Marisa Tomei — whose performance as the fabulously named lesbian wheeler-dealer Mimi Whiteman should convince any remaining doubters she's Oscar material. Pray us out, Cookie: "And God, please do not withhold your blessings, even from hos that hire skanks to spy on me. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen."