Here’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.)
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.”)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been superb on Veep this season. The same goes for T.J. Miller on Silicon Valley, Louis C.K. on Louie, Abbi Jacobson & Ilana Glazer on Broad City and Andre Braugher on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. This isn’t news. It’s worth remarking upon the fact that all of these actors are great and explicating the reasons why. But in the rush to praise the stars of these shows, it’s possible to do a disservice to the cast members with lower billing. Looking at the lower portions of the rosters and finding the gems separates the outstanding ensemble comedies from the ones that rest on the charms of their lead performer. Below, I’ve picked one cast member from each of the five comedies mentioned above who gives that show a subtle but welcome dose of comedy in an unexpected or underappreciated way. Continue reading
When Breaking Bad departed from television in a trail of crystal blue persuasion last September, television lost its center of gravity. At the time, this development seemed troubling. Without a consensus show around which to rally on social media, television fans and critics alike had to search elsewhere to find a show worthy of their devoted attention and undying affection. But a year removed from Walter White’s final blaze of glory, the loss of Breaking Bad seems more like a gift.
The consensus about this year’s television is that there is no consensus. Continue reading
This list is exactly what it looks like: a list of one great episode in each of twenty shows that I watched this year. I could have filled the entire list with episodes of The Americans and Hannibal, but I decided to impose a limit of one episode per show. This list is different from a list of my favorite TV shows of the year, though there’s plenty of overlap between the two. And if it’s not on this list, I either didn’t like it, liked it but preferred other things, or didn’t watch it.
And now, in chronological order, twenty of my favorite TV episodes of 2014.
On the first of this week’s two episodes of Louie, the title character reluctantly goes on a date with Vanessa, a waitress at the comedy club he frequents. Vanessa, played by the wildly charismatic Sarah Baker, asks him several times before he finally caves in. What seals the deal? A free pair of desirable tickets to an NHL Playoffs game.
The implication is that Louie initially turned Vanessa down because, for one reason or another, he was put off by her weight.
Objectively, Vanessa is larger than American women conventionally described as “attractive” and “thin.” Once Louie goes on a date with her, he realizes that he enjoys spending time with her and that her weight doesn’t define her. But he takes it too far. The kicker comes when she mentions the word “fat,” and he instinctively swats it down like an irritating fly. “You’re not fat!” he retorts. But she is, and she knows she is, and she’s offended that Louie feels like pretending that she’s not will be the easiest way to win her over.
Remember when I used to post daily on this blog? It’s been a while. I’ve been consumed by schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and all sorts of other pursuits that you likely don’t care about. As a result, I’ve failed to do more than re-post the latest episodes of The M&M Report, and sometimes even those went up late.
But summer has arrived, and with it, some pretense of this thing called “free time.” I’ll spend some small part of that free time doing apparently important tasks like “eating,” “sleeping,” “spending time with other human beings” and, if I’m feeling particularly daring, “venturing into the outside world.”
But those tasks are far less interesting than the pop culture consumption I’ve got planned for the months ahead.