My crippling dual addictions to constant visual stimulation and sitting on my couch ensured that my year in television was quite full. That television is better than it’s ever been with more shows and platforms than ever from which to choose ensured that it was also quite fulfilling.
Here’s a quick rundown of my Top 15 shows and some other notables.
1. Breaking Bad- Best final season of a television show ever, even if it didn’t have the best finale. Storytelling at a new level that rewarded loyal viewers.
2. The Good Wife- “Hitting the Fan” was television’s best episode, and no show has a deeper bench of characters or better writers.
3. Orange is the New Black- Netflix’s least publicized show was also its best. Television’s best accidental meditation on gender, race, sexuality, and the nature of crime and punishment.
4. Please Like Me- A perfect, awkward, 6-episode gem about an Australian’s coming out and handling his crazy family. With clumsy hookups, first dates, tough conversations with friends, it’s kind of like Girls if you were rooting FOR the characters to succeed.
5. Orphan Black- Tatiana Maslany gave television’s best 7 performances as a set of clones, sometimes as one clone pretending to be another clone, pretending to be another clone. The real surprise was that the rest of the cast was pretty great, and the story was super compelling.
6. Parks and Rec- It’s not quite the halcyon days of Season 3, but Ben and Leslie’s wedding and Ron Swanson’s wedding were so wonderful, and the show still makes me incredibly happy.
7. Happy Endings- Gone too soon, my precious angel. I still consider myself the odd Jane/Max mash-up, and either way I’d be welcome at Club Tush.
8. Enlightened- At least we, and Amy Jellicoe, got the ending we deserved for this cancelled mini-masterpiece. I’m only inclined to forgive HBO because this show taught me that so many people try to do the right thing, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.
9. Broadchurch- Murder in a British small town is basically its own genre now, but this show had me guessing until the last episode and then wishing I were wrong once I figured things out.
10. Black Mirror- Scarily prescient modern Twilight Zone the employs all your favorite British actors. (I think there are only 50 total, and they rotate from show to show.) I wish they used Friends-style episode title scheme if only to see “The One Where the Prime Minister Might Have to Fuck a Pig.”
11. Top of the Lake- If the Lord of the Rings made you want to visit New Zealand, Top of the Lake will help cure you of that. Men are awful, Elisabeth Moss is awesome, and paradise is never what it seems.
12. Mad Men- It’s still the best show to sit back an analyze, but Season 6 was nowhere near as good as the previous 5. It still has some of the best performances on tv though. I’m excited to see what the last seasons bring.
13. Game of Thrones- Like the books, hours of endless exposition are punctuated with awesome moments you can’t stop talking about. Also: best excuse ever not to attend future weddings.
14. Veep- Season 2 felt more like a sitcom than a one-liner factory. JLD continues to be the best, but the ensemble has been getting stronger and more fun to watch. Sue, did the President call?
15. New Girl- Had I made this list before May, this show would have been in my Top 5. The first half of the new season, however, has been oddly erratic and subpar. Am I rooting for Nick and Jess? What is Winston’s deal? And why is everyone screaming? (Not really. No clue. Loud does not equal funny.)
Other Notable Feelings:
Arrested Development- We were all rooting for you, and while you were clever and intricately plotted like no other show, I needed to laugh more. You’re still my favorite show of all time, though.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine- This show has been hilarious from the beginning, and shows the most promise to fill the spot in my heart that Happy Endings and Enlightened left vacant.
30 Rock- Television’s funniest comedy, after going out on its own terms, isn’t on my top list only because it’s already entered the Hall of Fame of My Flerm.
Scandal- This show helps draw the line between compulsively watchable and good, and then jumps over it with great force.
House of Cards- This is a very serious show about politicians and journalists who do a lot things for some reason or another, and then sneer and laugh maniacally amidst gorgeous lighting. But somewhere around the ham that Kevin Spacey was serving were really wonderful performances by Robin Wright and Corey Stoll.
Reality television: Few shows brought me as much joy as RuPaul’s Drag Race, even with a cast that didn’t reach the glorious heights of the previous 2 seasons. Not All Stars, though. No. Survivor also still brings it, somehow, after over 76 seasons.