I’d like to preface this list by saying I had a tough time with media in general this year. I had to search the ends of the Earth to find music I liked for my “Top Ten Albums” list and I’m not looking forward to my “Top Ten Movies” list which at this point will be just one long article about how Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is “More than a movie.” But TV was my saving grace, in fact… There’s almost too many good TV shows. Here’s an example, last night they announced the winners of the Golden Globes and I’d never even heard of the show that won “Best Drama Series”. I believe it was a show called The Affair. I mean, when the best show on TV according to “TV People” is a show I’m not even watching then what else could I possibly be missing? That’s why I’m going to list a few shows I wish I had seen in place of our usual “Honorable Mentions”. Lets click to it!
Shows I Wish I Had Seen
The Affair (Apparently)
Still gotta watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine
The rest of House of Cards
Maybe Jane the Virgin (though I have my doubts).
Gotta catch up on Louie.
But not Ray Donovan. Now onto the list.
Don’t expect me to recap anything. You think I can remember that far back? All I remember is that it was as irrevrent as ever, ended in the not too distant future and featured a loving tribute to Lil Sebastian thanks to R&B legend Ginuwine. It’s great, but you know that so I’m done talking.
People were hesitant about a modern day anthology show back in 2011 but here we are roughly four years later and now everybody is doing it: True Detective, Fargo, and coming soon is Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story and Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience. This season of AHS set in a freak show in 1950s Florida may have been the show’s most unnerving yet. While paranormal and supernatural horror took a backseat this year, the void was filled with clown serial killers, freak hunters, and the kind of body horror that would make David Cronenbergh shed a single tear. As usual the ensemble cast was GHOULISHLY good. Standout performances include; Sarah Paulson as conjoined twin sisters Dot and Bette, Michael Chiklis as anger obsessed strongman Dell Toledo, and Finn Wittrock as spoiled psychopath rich kid Dandy Mott. The season had trouble sustaining the tension for a full thirteen episodes (as it often does) but there were still plenty of sh*t your pants moments to make the fans happy. I can’t think of a better show to watch alongside my vomit bag, good ‘ol pukey.
Much in the way of Sacha Baron Cohen, Nathan Fielder creates real life social experiments that result in a “docu-comedy” style that makes you so uncomfortable that you can’t help but laugh. “Dumb Starbucks” is naturally a standout for achieving significant national attention but if I had to pick one absolute favorite episode it would be “Souvenir Shop”. It starts out promising with Nathan planning to trick customers into shopping at a Hollywood souvenir shop by telling them that they’re extras in a Johnny Depp movie called “The Web”, but it gets better the more out of hand it gets. To avoid fraud, Nathan has to actually make the movie and then enter it into his own film festival. I nearly lost it when Nathan put his film up against a YouTube video of a man farting and then had the second unit script supervisor of Bonnie and Clyde judge it. This show has balls, or as Gerald Martin Johanssen might say, “You’re a bold kid Arnold, a bold kid.”
I don’t know how many times I’ve tuned into a comedy only to find a bunch of attractive young people with nice jobs, nice apartments, and all the other bullshit I can’t relate too. Broad City is different for two reasons: 1) The characters on this show struggle and 2) The show is about friendships instead of relationships, which is a real breath of fresh New York air (though maybe NY air isn’t so fresh). Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobsen are a brilliant comedy duo. I don’t even know who’s better, but they’ll do anything and say anything to get a laugh. Throw in a few laid back quips from Hannibal Buress and you got yourself comedy gold. Not to mention I’ll forever hear Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” anytime I come into contact with a significant amount of cash. Thank you Broad City.
Mad Men is the most consistent show on television. Throughout its whole run I can’t think of a weak episode, plotline, anything. If this had been a full season it would probably be higher. I’m gonna be real one sad man when this show comes to a close.
The best cast on television. The fact that Orange is the New Black is not winning every single acting award around is ludicrous. Finally there’s a show with great parts for women and great women for those parts. I’m excited to see what quality programming Netflix adds next. Will Daredevil be this good? Probably not but a man can dream.
How many times have you seen or heard pencil-necked geeks proclaim that their latest app will “Make the world a better place.” Those kind of people are the targets of Silicon Valley, arguably the best piece of social satire on TV. Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley couldn’t be more relevant in our modern day tech-save-all society. All the foibles of the industry are exploited but without alienating the audience. This is in part to a relatable cast of misfits including: Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Martin Starr, Kumail Najiani, and Zach Woods. Of course you can’t talk about Silicon Valley without mentioning Christopher Evan Welch as eccentric venture capitalist Peter Gregory. Sadly, with Welch’s passing the show will never be the same but I still see a lot of promise. Especially when it’s tailor made for the binge watching, smartphone clicking crowd of tomorrow. Here’s Peter Gregory’s finest hour
It’s almost guaranteed that the Amazon Studios produced Transparent will attract more attention thanks to its “Best Comedy Series” win at the Golden Globes, but I feel like that honor is a little misleading. Yes, Transparent is funny like any show with real human characters and a soul is funny but the show is just as much a powerful drama as a comedy. Transparent is a show about people struggling to carve out an identity and this isn’t just the case for Jeffrey Tambor’s Maura Pfefferman, if anything she’s the most comfortable with who she is. If you weren’t aware, Transparent is the story of the Pfefferman family struggling with meaningful family and personal relationships against the backdrop of a sun soaked Los Angeles. The events are set into motion when the family patriarch Mort “now Maura” Pfefferman (Tambor) announces she has always been a woman trapped in a man’s body. What follows is the rest of the family coming to terms with this bombshell and ultimately learning to come to terms with themselves. Transparent is touching, funny, and at times even heartbreaking in its portrayal of transgender struggles. Transparent is a must see not just because it’s good but because it’s important.
We live in a magical age where you can basically tune in every week to watch a “TV show” and basically see a movie. Most TV shows are actually better than movies these days. One of those shows is Fargo. With it’s colorful cast, engaging plot lines, and artistic vision, its so good you might think the Coens secretly ghost wrote the whole thing. But no, it’s Noah Hawley. Yes, that guy that used to write for Bones. Is Bones also one of the greatest shows of our time? Better get on that one.
Handing the crown to GoT may not be the most exciting choice but I can give you one damn good reason for giving it this spot, “The Mountain and the Viper”. There have been few moments in TV that have made me get out of my seat and scream “WHAT THE F#&K?!?” But that episode did it god damn it. It blew my mind. Not only that but GoT remains to be the most ambitious show on television in terms of scale, production value, costumes, sets, etc. It’s like tuning in to watch Lord of the Rings every week but without any of the hippy dippy bullshit. GoT is like the Star Wars of television, great geek fodder but also great storytelling. Geek on!