1) Top 10 lists arrive at the end of every year, and there’s something comforting about that. The tree in Rockefeller Center lights up, ABC Family airs lots of stop-motion Christmas movies, and the internet makes Top 10 lists. It makes me warm and fuzzy all over.
2) They’re like softcore porn for an obsessive compulsive.
3) They turn some internet writers into nervous wrecks. Seriously, the agony with which some of them struggle to confine their choices to ten is highly amusing. Linda Holmes has called the process “reductive and misleading and limiting and limited and arbitrary and yes, if this is one’s biggest gripe about one’s job, one should not gripe at all.” Emily Nussbaum, renowned for her listicle loathing, has gone ahead and published her 32 favorite TV shows, and for good measure, refused to rank them.
4) Different publications jockey for the flashiest, most buzz-worthy Top 10 lists, and at this point it’s probably more about trying to out-Top-10 Time Magazine’s Top 10s than creating insightful content. (Real talk though, Time is getting a little psycho about it.)
5) They are practically limitless. You go down a Top 10 internet wormhole at some point in December, you could emerge, starving and crazed, in April. It’s the best.
6) The headlines can range from grandiose yet pretty-darn-cool (“Top Ten New Species“)…
7) …To the laughably specific (“10 Movies With Tragic Consequences For Their Animal Stars“)
8) The epic mayhem that is Buzzfeed, which long ago abandoned the number 10 for catchier, sexier numbers.
9) They can sometimes genuinely provide insights into the year’s best entertainment, culture, and historical moments, allowing you to expand your horizons, or at least be made more aware of all the cool stuff you missed.
10) They inevitably lead to “The Top 10 Top 10 Lists List.” You just know everyone who writes one of these is smugly convinced they’re the first to think of it.
[UPDATE: 11) This hilariously random site.]