Things I Loved This Year: Women Dominate Prestige Dramas

Each day this month (assuming I don’t get busy or bored!), I’ll reflect on a tiny sliver of pop culture that I enjoyed or appreciated this year — scenes, shots, gestures, verses, sights, sounds, moments. Today: on three of the best “prestige” dramas, women rule the roost.

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Better Call Saul and Mr. Robot are as driven by their respective leading men as shows can be, a fact the titles make abundantly clear. The Americans has a dual focus on its central couple. But on new seasons of each this year, the MVPs were the women.

Nothing against Bob Odenkirk or his character Saul Goodman, a slippery con man who’s constantly caught between good intentions and material desires. Nothing against Rami Malek, who brings aching vulnerability and disaffected sensitivity to the role of Elliott Alderson, a hacker struggling with mental illness and revolutionary impulses. And nothing against Matthew Rhys, who deserves far more than the one Emmy nomination he secured this year for the shape-shifting masterstrokes on display as Philip Jennings, the KGB operative who always has going straight deep in the back of his mind.

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SAG Awards 2016: My Predictions

SAG.jpgHere’s the latest installment of my new tradition: hastily assembled predictions for the winners of tonight’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, broadcast at 8pm on TNT and TBS, and streaming here. (These predictions don’t reflect my preferences, except when they do.)

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2015 in Review: Great TV Episodes, January to June

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In an era of Peak TV, for which we need a new and less overused buzzword, a Top 10 list for the year’s best television simply isn’t enough. What follows is a collection of good-to-great shows that, for a variety of reasons, just missed my marquee year-end list. I’ve organized this two-part guide to TV’s wide range of greatness in 2015 through the lens of one key episode per show. Some of these episodes are the best of their respective seasons. Others are the most emblematic of their respective series’ strengths. All of them are worth watching, if you’re so inclined.

(Note: I didn’t include episodes of shows that appeared in my top 10. But if I had, I’d have included the Edward Snowden interview on Last Week Tonight, the Broad City finale “St. Marks” and the Mad Men stunner “Time & Life.”)

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Emmy Predictions 2015: Don’t Hold Your Breath

This post took ten minutes to write. I went down this list of Emmy nominations, thought for a moment and then picked the nominee I could most easily imagine winning the award on tonight’s Andy Samberg-hosted telecast, which airs at 8pm on Fox. I didn’t double back and reconsider my choices, and I don’t apologize for any outlandish or unlikely picks. If I had to do it all over again, I might make different predictions. But I don’t, so I won’t.

See you back here tomorrow when we find out how well I did.

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Emmy Nominations 2015: Forget Me Not

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Here’s an admittedly incomplete, scattered list of shows and performances I’d love to hear on Emmy nomination morning, tomorrow at 11:30am Eastern. If it’s not on here, I either haven’t seen it, don’t like it, or like it but think it’s so likely to get a nomination that writing about it now is just superfluous.

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Winter Has Come: TV in 2015

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Photo by Ursula Coyote, AMC

2015 is shaping to be television’s most prolific year yet. A show just premiered on the PlayStation network, of all places. Netflix and Amazon have fully established themselves as networks to watch. And great television’s old haunts – basic cable, subscription services, even the broadcast networks – haven’t been slouching either. Here’s a look at four of my favorite shows so far this year.

Better Call Saul

When AMC announced that Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould would be reuniting the Breaking Bad crew for a spinoff starring the huckster lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), the initial response was trepidatious at best. Why risk spoiling one of the greatest runs in TV history with a shameless cash grab? But such reactions, despite the wobbly creative fortunes of the parent network, proved unfounded. Far be it from me to question Gilligan and Gould’s narrative ambitions.
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