We'll start this list with a disclaimer: The concept of "underrated" is very hard to quantify and often disintegrates under the weight of its own definition. (If something truly lacked recognition, it wouldn't mean anything to a mass audience.) Nevertheless, Asylum and our contributors have bravely attempted to put together a list of the most underrated persons places and things of the decade most commonly known as the "aughts."
If you agree, disagree, or think you can draw up a better list, have a go at it in the comment section.
28. Plus-size models
Have you noticed that many runway models are shaped like underfed boys? On the other hand, most plus-size models look like something a heterosexual male would have sex with
. Maybe the fashion industry will split the difference in the decade to come, but we're not holding our breath
27. The "Open Source" revolution
is more than just Wikipedia and Firefox -- there's a free version of almost every online tool, and the quality of open source is quickly approaching that of the brand names.
26. Ford Motor Company
Lost in the recent failure of the American auto industry -- and American big business in general -- is the success of the Ford Motor Company, which posted a profit of a billion dollars last quarter
after refusing to take government money when it was being offered out like Halloween candy. (Now about those Lions ...)
25. Gregg Popovich
Even if he hadn't coached his San Antonio Spurs to three non-consecutive, titles in the aughts, Pop should get more attention
simply for the fabulous white beard he sometimes sports.
24. Indoor smoking bans
If you don't smoke, when was the last time you returned home from a night on the town with the stench of nicotine embedded in your hair and clothes? That was pretty much the norm before indoor smoking bans started slowly overtaking the American map.
23. E-Z Pass
With cars getting bigger and more plentiful, traffic is only getting worse. While an E-Z Pass
is far from a guarantee against getting held up on the highway, it does help. And, as you slide right through the unmanned toll both, it is always a surprise to see how many money-in-hand motorists are still wasting time in line.
22. The NHL
Ask a hockey fan (if you can find one) and he will probably tell you that the NHL, which is more or less without a national TV contract, is as exciting as it has ever been
21. Nevada political sex scandals
While quite a few politicians got caught with their pants down in the aughts
, the national press just about completely whiffed on two great late-decade sex scandals in Nevada. One involved current governor Jim Gibbons, a cocktail waitress, a car and a rainy night
, and the other featured current senator John Ensign, his mistress and his parents
, who paid off the mistress. They would have been fun, and now it's too late.
20. Domestic beer that isn't "lite."
Come on, frat boys, we thought the whole idea of drinking cheap swill is so everyone gets drunk quickly, not to watch calories.
19. Mila Kunis
A quick scan of her upcoming projects
suggests the stunning raven-haired actress is
about to become an A-lister. But it took a good 10 years for Hollywood to realize that Kunis was the biggest talent among her "That '70s Show
18. Nintendo Wii
It might not be for hardcore gamers, but the Nintendo Wii was the console that finally integrated real-life body movement
into game play. While the Wii has certainly sold a lot of units, it never really got credit for the long-awaited step into the future
that it was.
17. Tiger Woods's libido
Even those among us who had heard whispers of Tiger's infidelity would have never guessed the world's number one golfer had it in him to juggle 15-and-counting mistresses
16. Willie Nelson
76 years old and still doing at least 100 shows and two albums a year. Even if it's just for the tax man, bandannas off to the redheaded stranger
15. Real brick-and-glass video/record stores
If nothing else, they continue to be a great source for movie plots.
14. "The 25th Hour
Since he's always been part hypeman, it's hard to believe a Spike Lee film could ever be underrated. However, 2002's excellent "25th Hour
" barely made a splash when it was released in 2002, despite an interesting plot, a great look and sound, and stellar acting from Ed Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Brian Cox and Rosario Dawson.
13. Bernie Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders
isn't one of those secret socialists we keep hearing about. No, the iconoclast from Vermont is actually willing to put the scarlet S next to his name. Sure, the only reason he keeps getting elected (and not threatened with deportation) is because he personally knows everyone in his tiny home state. But it's an impressive feat, nonetheless.
Sometimes something can be so game-changing that even in the midst of universal acclaim it is underrated. Google, which made search a home appliance, is close to fitting this bill. But we're going with Craigslist
, which completely revolutionized the classified ad, and did irreparable damage to the floundering newspaper industry.
11. The Black Keys
that simply rocks.
10. Global warming's benefits
Maybe global warming will eventually wreck havoc on the planet, maybe it won't, maybe it already is, but during the past decade, the extra point-whatever degrees of heat just meant women had more excuses to wear less clothing.
9. Adult Swim
In the '90s, "The Simpsons" and "South Park" proved cartoons were for more than just kids. In the aughts, Adult Swim
, a highly rated but generally under-the-radar nightly block of programming on the Cartoon Network, proved animation can be for anybody but
8. Harold and Kumar
Perhaps it's because marijuana isn't as subversive as it once was, but the glazy-eyed duo should be every bit as popular
as Cheech and Chong
were in their heyday, but have yet to come close.
7. Mandy Moore
We were as surprised as anyone when the pretty singer/actress, who's career began right at the turn of the century, came up as the most searched woman
of this decade's last year.
6. Little Caesar's Hot-n-Ready pizza deal
What if we were to tell you that you could roll into a pizzeria and purchase a large pie
that will be ready in less than five minutes and cost about five bucks? Would that be something you are interested in?
5. Sugarless gum
Competition in the premium sugarless gum market between Orbit, Dentyne and Trident produced a plethora of greater-tasting, longer-lasting flavors, none of which promote tooth decay.
4. Sam Rockwell
As star or a supporting actor, in movies big or small, Rockwell
is always a compelling figure. He usually gets his due from the critics, but why isn't this guy more of a household name?
It wasn't so long ago that Pittsburgh was a symbol of industrial decline. Thanks to a modernized economic base, smart urban renewal and affordable real estate, the Steel City has moved to the top of the list for the most livable American cities
. Something the public, which still ranks Pittsburgh as a place they wouldn't want to live
, has yet to realize.
In this decade of bacon fetishization, we've lost sight of butter, the original foodstuff that makes almost anything taste much better.
1. The missionary position
Just because it doesn't make for the most titillating video visuals, it doesn't mean you shouldn't be doing it at home.
What was the most underrated person, place or thing of the decade?