Welcome to our second week of the Bitch Awards. Last week we revealed our favourite (and least favourite) films of the year, and this week we’re turning our attention to a topic we know even better: television.
Let’s start off with our number five picks of the year…
Much like our film picks, we have a few disclaimers to explain our lists:
1) We have not seen every television show this year. Certain shows we’re big fans of and we’ve seen every episode of. Some we hated so much that we couldn’t even stomach a fourth episode. In the interest of being fair, we’ve screened at least 2-3 episodes of all of the shows on our lists (best and worst).
2) Both new and old shows are fair game. We’ve identified the season so that it’s easier for you to track which batch of episodes we’re discussing.
3) For shows that aren’t new this season, we’re doing our best to evaluate the most current season alone. But sometimes they make our list because the current season is either woefully inadequate when compared to previous seasons or it is so amazing that it stands out and needs to be praised.
4) BEWARE – We’ve done our best not to be excessive, but it’s just really difficult to explain why we loved or hated these shows without talking about what happens in them. So expect spoilers moving forward. Consider yourself warned.
And so, without further ado, let’s begin.
#5: Grey’s Anatomy S9
Having recently marathoned the first eight seasons of Grey’s for a project, I must admit I (surprisingly) enjoyed many of the earlier seasons. Although the show generally follows a procedural structure, the serial elements that carry over are interesting (albeit overly soapy at times).
But this most recent season on Grey’s is practically unwatchable. This is primarily due to the fact that our original group of Seattle Grace interns have graduated to full-on residents. It’s just not as interesting: our core group (what’s left of them) has been completely fractured and they’ve become hyperbolic versions of Bailey (Chandra Wilson). Furthermore the new group on interns are as dull as a hipster strumming his latest song on the guitar in a vain attempt to impress.
Even Sandra Oh as Cristina – one of the only good things left about the show – can’t save some of the poor source material. At this point she’s undergone her third encounter with PTSD and been shipped off to Minnesota for much of the season. Her complex relationship with Owen (Kevin McKidd) provided one of the only highlights last season, but now the exploration of their crumbling marriage is not only moving at a glacial pace, but is also quickly devolving into hackneyed clichés, as the two very conveniently appear to be getting back together.
Season eight ended with a climactic plane crash where our characters met with more tragic deaths and extraneous circumstances, but there’s a point where these incredibly catastrophic events become tedious and completely unbelievable. Sure, it’s a television show and we’re required to adhere to some suspension of disbelief, but Grey’s is far too reliant on the same tired formula: 22 episodes (or so) of the season acts as boring filler leading up to a crazy incident (often a huge disastrous event). The show lands of my worst list this year as it clearly shows its exhaustion after nine years and is in desperate need of a reinvention.
# of episodes watched: 9 (and all of last season)
Returns: January 10, 2013 @ 9pm EST on ABC.
#5: New Girl S2
I’ve tried. Oh lord, how I’ve tried. I read all about how hilarious New Girl was last year. How it was the funniest new show of the season. How ‘adorkable’ Zooey Deschanel was (barf). So I watched. And I watched. And all I got for my efforts was a stony-faced silence that made me feel like the only guy at the party who doesn’t “get it.” And so it ended up on my Worst list in #4 position.
When it came time to begin a new season (and after listening to many friends, including TVAngie), I decided to give Jess, Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Nick (Jake Johnson) and requisite black character (Lamorne Morris) another try. And guess what I found? The show is exactly the same…and it’s still not funny. So back on the list it goes, only this time there are worst shows kicking around, so it drops down a peg. Is that progress?
I’ll readily admit that I find comedy more subjective than nearly every other genre. So when I say that the show isn’t funny, I mean that it’s not funny to me. But I’m also suggesting that I find it frighteningly unfunny and occasionally even annoying. Jess remains the same character as always, only now she’s unemployed (ohhh topical and hilarious). She still bears no semblance to any woman I’ve ever met and she still can’t talk about sex, despite having seemingly no trouble having it. Nick, meanwhile, hasn’t changed at all, either and Winston is slightly more developed, but it’s clear he’s the least integral of the four.
And then there’s Schmidt. When people talk about the show, I’m convinced they’re not talking about New Girl, they’re talking about Schmidt. And this, I can confess, I understand since he’s clearly still the funniest, most outrageous character. But in my mind he’s also the most annoying: he’s a man-child, incredibly self-deluded and now a near-stalker of his former girlfriend Cece (Hannah Simone). Sure he occasionally gets to wear ridiculous outfits and Greenfield has a great body, but he’s also a sneering caricature – pure artifice captured in a single character who feels like a FOX approved version of How I Met Your Mother‘s Barney (Neil Patrick Harris).
I’ll confess that I just don’t understand what it is that people find so funny about this show. If, however, given a choice of sitcom characters and situations to hang out with, I would much rather hang out with the snarky silliness of the Happy Endings crew than this bunch any day of the week.
# of episodes watched: 7 (same as last year!)
Returns: January 8, 2013 @ 9:00pm EST on FOX
Caveat: I quite like Jess’ f-buddy, Sam (David Walton), so naturally he’s only on the show temporarily
#5: New Girl S1 (Pt. 2) & S2
The boxing gloves are out as I go head to head with cinephilactic, who had the nerve to put New Girl on his ‘Worst’ list. When the show first started out, I’ll be the first to admit, it was lukewarm at best. I was annoyed at lead character Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and the aimlessness of her raised-eyebrowed roommates Nick (Jake Johnson), Winston (Lamorne Morris) and Schmidt (Max Greenfield).
But as the show got into its stride the latter part of its first season it tightened up significantly and delivered all kinds of hilarity. Many critics have noted – and I’m in complete agreement – that the show shines brightest when Jess’ roommates turn out to be as quirky and dysfunctional as she is. When New Girl stops being a Zooey Deschanel vehicle, it really works (since Jess continues to be the least appealing character of the ensemble). How absolutely hilarious is Schmidt’s “White Fang” routine in the S1 finale? I’m still laughing about that to this day. And how out-of-the-blue crazy is Winston’s ballsout medley of Broadway musical Wicked? Answer: All kinds of awesome.
I don’t think it’s a case of “not getting it” (*cough cinephilactic cough*) but rather embracing the absurdity of it all. Schimdt is by far my favourite character as he continually exhibits one preposterous trait after another. Greenfield totally kills it time and time again without a trace of inhibition or hesitation. And even Nick as the grating misanthrope grows on you after a while. The scene where the two talk about accidentally sharing a towel is gut-bustingly hysterical.
It’s far from a perfect show, but I’m consistently laughing my ass off whenever I watch it. That definitely earns it a place on my best list.
Returns: January 8, 2013 @ 9:00pm EST on FOX
Watch: Don’t listen to cinephilactic and watch this bad boy from S1 onward (just get past the first handful of episodes)
I can honestly say that I’m as surprised as you are that American Horror Story: Aslyum has cracked my top five favourite shows of the year. Last year the Ryan Murphy show was a gong show: a terrible haunted house story populated by a dreary WASP family who looked as bored and malcontent to live in the Murder House as we were to watch them.
What a difference a year makes! Jettisoning the woh-woh Harmon family and modern Los Angeles for a mental institution in the 60s has worked wonders for the show’s atmosphere and relevance. The show is by no means perfect as it still maintains the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach embraced by the first season (be prepared for Nazis, aliens, alcoholism, serial killers, raping Santas, lesbians, mental illness, the Angel of Death and freaks in the woods!). The main difference? S2 has characters.
Populating Briarcliff Institution with characters instead of ciphers is the key reason why the show works now when it didn’t in S1. American Horror Story: Asylum actually serves up people for us to want to watch (not just suffer with). This means that when one of them bites the dust – as they invariably do, with alarming frequency and in just as many disturbing ways as last season – we actually care. Kudos to Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Zachary Quinto and Jessica Lange for creating a range of people to root for and cheer against.
The true MVP, in my opinion, however, is Lily Rabe as Sister Mary Eunice: the woman is a veritable force to be reckoned with as a naive, innocent nun possessed by the Devil. While others may be championing Jessica Lange in her star turn as the hard-edged Sister Jude, my eyes are fixated on the good nun gone bad and what kind of dirty tricks she’ll serve up next.
In a very busy schedule packed to the gills with quality television, American Horror Story: Asylum is the guilty pleasure show you don’t have to feel guilty for. So strap on your straight jacket and dive-in, because this sh*t is just getting started!
Returns: January 2, 2013 @ 10pm EST on FX
Watch from: Season 2 (Ignore S1)
What do you think of our fifth place picks? Sound off in the comments!
Be sure to tune in tomorrow at 12pm EST for the reveal of our number four picks.