Chalk up another great year in television! Congratulations to everyone. There were some new good shows, for sure, and plenty of great shows we already know and love. (One show that didn’t quite make it onto this list that I would like to mention is Ben and Kate. Have you guys been watching that? I like it very much. It’s just funny and low-key and sweet. I particularly like the chemistry between the cast. It’s kind of like You Can Count on Me, the sitcom, which is why Kelly hates it, but Kelly’s opinion isn’t the only one that counts.) I know we already talked about this a little bit with the Gummy awards, but tough luck, we’re talking about it again. Every day. Because that is all this site does. Get used to it. Seriously. It’s time to get used to it. You’ve had awhile.
Half of the reason why so many of today’s best shows are great is because they are fun to talk about. Even when Breaking Bad or Mad Men misses the mark (and those two shows in particular miss the mark WAY more than a lot of people are willing to admit) it is still fun to talk about WHY they missed the mark, or what they could have done to not miss the mark, and so on. The thing about Justified is that it’s not that fun to talk about. What are you going to say about it? “Wasn’t Justified great last night?” Uh, yeah, it was, shut up. But that’s not a problem because it never misses the mark, either. It’s perfect. Let’s just move on.
While Breaking Bad does sometimes miss the mark (and often everyone gets mad at you when you point out the maybe it has missed the mark) when it hits the mark it hits the mark VERY hard. Or whatever. It is very good! It’s a great show, and this last season — while we do believe it was its most problematic yet, even in its brevity — was genuinely smart and surprising and beautiful and handsome and marry me Jesse and what? What are we talking about? Looking forward to the final season! Marry me, Jesse! Never stop crying!
Season 2 of Homeland was no season 1 of Homeland, that is for sure. What with its over-the-top terrorists and it’s intense insistence on Brody’s and Carrie’s “will they or won’t they” sitcom relationship as if that was even remotely one of the reasons that one single person was watching that show. But I still looked forward to it every week, and enjoyed watching it, which is more than you can see for most things in this world. Not sure where they’re going with season 3, but hopefully it will be great! Fingers crossed!
There is something tonally a little bit weird about Veep, like it was filmed in Europe or something, which could have something to do with the show’s creator, Armando Ianucci (The Thick of It, In The Loop). And I think this tonal dissonance has kept people from really getting on board, which is too bad for them. This show is so funny and good! Grow up!
The first episode of Enlightened was tricky because we are so accustomed to how television works and the very specific and uniform emotional responses that it elicits in us. So watching Laura Dern attempting to hide her ongoing meltdown behind the rickety and cloying facade of her new age awakening made me very confused. Whose side am I on? How am I supposed to FEEL?! It wasn’t until a few episodes in when I realized, or at least decided for myself that I didn’t have to like her, and that’s when the show’s greatness really showed itself. Amy Jellicoe is a completely impossible woman trapped in a world of mediocrity. Enlightened is off-putting and honest and sometimes hilarious but not always because neither is life and you’re missing the point. Season 2 premieres January 13th.
This season of Parenthood has been incredibly difficult to watch. At this point we’re not sure how you’d tell anyone about the show in an effort to get them to tune in — “It’s about a family and their issues, but this season’s main focus is on one of the family member’s battle with cancer. It is done really honestly and realistically and every episode will make you feel like a full bag of messy garbage. Hope you don’t know anyone who currently has or had cancer! Just kidding! Everyone knows someone who does or has and that is who you’re going to think about!” OOF. It’s great, though. We promise! Beautifully done, sweet, funny, and incredibly likable.
The New Girl
Hey, you know what show is very well-written and good and whose lead actress is so charming and great at physical comedy somehow all of a sudden even though you haven’t ever liked her in the past, even going as far as to say you DISliked her specifically, and whose male cast members are incredibly funny and good at their jobs and spotlight-stealing, and whose sentimental moments are somehow never cloying and often feel genuine with a healthy dose of humor? THIS ONE! NEW GIRL, EVERYBODY!
To give you a sense of just how good Sherlock is, if you don’t have a sense already, the second season finale was one of the best movies to come out this year. It’s no surprise that we’re seeing a lot more of the show’s star, Benedict Cumberbatch, although let’s not forget Martin Freeman and Andrew Scott, whose shrill, effeminate Moriarty is so good. Incidentally, the SPOILER ALERT at the end of the second season would normally make me so mad and incredulous, but Sherlock is so good that I totally trust them and am just excited to hear how they explain it next season. (And while I know that it’s a totally different show, speaking of British detectives, how excited are you that Luther is coming back in 2013? See you here on this list next year, Luther!)
Just so funny. You guys watching this? We’re all watching this and enjoying it, correct?
Even when Mad Men is over-the-top, unbelievable, or straight up not very good, it’s still something that you know you’re going to keep watching until the final episode because of how much fun it is and how beautiful it is and how we’re never going to stop having fun pretty much disliking every character at different points. (Some of us hate Don always, which we understand is not actually the point.) (But ugh! That fucking jerk!) The last season felt different than any previous — we did LSD together, argued about sherbert, SAW NUDE RORY GILMORE?, hated Fat Betty more than we ever have, and saw the company shifting from the straight-laced racist, sexist early-’60s to the less straight-laced, racist, sexist mid-’60s. It was fun to watch! These guys, will they ever get it together?
(Main image via Shutterstock.)