Last year felt like the beginning of a new era in TV. The shows I loved in college have mostly ended or gotten uninteresting, and in many ways the television landscape has changed. NBC is popular again, even though they abandoned their Thursday comedy block. Netflix shows started getting second and third seasons, proving that their model definitely works. Marvel found a way to extend its cinematic universe onto the small screen and it actually works (sometimes). What a weird, wondrous time. Let’s look at the shows that I liked best.
Despite watching probably too many TV shows, there are a few I wish I could have caught up with. One of those is New Girl, which I finally gave into watching over the holiday and am rapidly catching up with on Netflix. I also saw some of The Comeback and it seems great. I know I should watch Transparent, and I will, but I haven’t yet. And then there’s Broad City, which I’m not sure how to watch at this point, but I will find a way. Yeah, those are the main ones… I’ve seen promos for The Affair after Homeland and I just don’t think I’d be into it. I don’t think I want to watch profoundly depressing TV, it’s why I never caught up with The Leftovers either.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Orange is the New Black
Nathan for You
Veep remains a deeply cynical look at American politics and the overwhelming vanity of the people leading us, and the latest season’s plunge into campaigning let the show reach new heights in that particular sort of buffoonery. We all know how terrific Julia Louis-Dreyfus is on this show, but if you’re not watching you might not know this is one of TV’s best ensembles of angry, selfish people. I’m talking Anna Chlumsky, Matt Walsh, Tony Hale, the main man Kevin “Done and Dunn” Dunn, and yeah, Gary Cole, just to name a few. This show helped put Randall Park on the map!
I sure did appreciate getting to check in with serial life-wrecker Don Draper briefly over the summer, but man is this half season thing a bummer. With such a huge gap between the 2014 and 2015 halves on the final season, the show had to make sure it was as memorable as possible if we were going to have any hope of remembering what was going on when it finally comes back in April. Fortunately, they didn’t disappoint by packing in all the douche-bagging, double-crossing, nipple-slicing action you could hope for. Will anyone make it to the Seventies alive?
Rick and Morty may have squirted out it’s first three episodes in December 2013, but it really hit its stride when it came back in 2014. This is a comedy about profoundly flawed people searching for some reason to keep living whilst getting up to some of the most insane sci fi hijinks imaginable. It’s dark, disgusting, and hilarious – especially one episode involving a remote that let’s Rick tune his family’s TV into stations from other dimensions. That seemingly improvised episode was one of the funniest half hours of the whole year. This show made me OK with Community‘s eventual demise.
Game of Thrones is becoming more confident in itself, deviating further from its source material in 2014 than it had before… maybe, I guess. This still felt like the show we’ve come to know, the fucked up political mess that it is. If anything, it would be weird to go back to the pilot now. Remember then? We didn’t know who to hate and Sean Bean was there.
If you have not watched Review, all you need to know is that it was the most genuinely funny show I saw last year – and I saw several clips from The Eric Andre Show. This is the story of a well-meaning man played by Andy Daly trying to assign a star rating to all of life’s experiences. Almost everything goes horribly wrong or shockingly dark, and his futile attempts to smile through the pain are absolutely delightful. There All is Aching.
We’re all pretty lucky we get to watch Louis C.K. do what he wants to do. I will look back fondly at this last season, even though the show hardly feels like a comedy anymore. Just look at the “Elevator” six-parter, in which our hero falls in love with a Hungarian woman who doesn’t speak English. That was moving, powerful, and beautiful. Or “In the Woods,” which might as well have been called Louie: The Movie, which was much more about growing up than making jokes. Not that the show isn’t funny anymore, it’s just more than that now.
Once there was only dark. You ask me, the light’s winning.
I thought Fargo was a bad idea and then I watched a few episodes and started to think it was a pretty good idea and then I was hooked by the time the season finale rolled around. Anyway, look, you guys, I get it, Billy Bob Thornton was great. A highlight in his storied career. But Allison Tolman, the lovable Detective Molly Solverson, was the real cast MVP. I hope she gets to do more than guest star on The Mindy Project.
Hannibal became a whole other sort of beast in its second season, almost entirely abandoning its police procedural roots to become the most psychologically disturbing, grotesque cat-and-mouse game I’ve ever seen. Who would have thought that some of the best shows on TV could be based on books or movies? Does this mean I should give About a Boy a chance?
Korra‘s third and fourth seasons both came out online last year, which I maintain is a tragedy. Not because the show ended (the ending was fantastic, by the way) but because I maintain this is the kind of show kids, and everyone else, should be watching. It’s a show about love, inner strength, friendship, sisterhood, and lots of awesome magical kung fu. I’m going to miss this universe so much.