We’re so close to the top! But first we need to discuss the runners up for best & worst TV of the year. Let’s bitch it out…
#5 – Broadchurch S2
#3 – Flesh and Bone S1
#2 – Scream Queens S1
- Why is it so bad? Full disclosure: I’ve grown to hate Ryan Murphy. He’s got great business instincts and solid ideas, but his execution is abysmal. Scream Queens is the latest product from his “more is more is MORE” wheelhouse and what should have been an absolute slam dunk (horror comedy in which sorority house is stalked by serial killer) instead became one of the most aggravating, narrative-deficient and hysterical shows on TV. Just to clarify, it’s not 100% terrible: Billie Lourd and Glen Powell are stars to keep an eye out for and Jamie Lee Curtis steals every scene (Dean Munsch forever!). But the rest of the cast is either awful (Abigail Breslin, Skyler Samuels, Diego Boneta), wasted (Keke Palmer, Niecy Nash) or so over the top that you can’t help but hope that they die an excruciating death as soon as possible. That last category belongs to lead Emma Roberts, whose Chanel Oberlin is so overbearing, awful and goddamn annoying that every shrieky line of dialogue is like nails on a chalkboard. Throw in Murphy’s trademark inability to plot out a season, random characterizations that change on a whim, pointless red herrings and stakes so low that the
comedyabsurdity overwhelms all of the series’ other components and it’s no wonder our reviewer couchpotato was driven to abandon the show after just five reviews! Apparently viewers agreed because the numbers for this schlockfest were abysmal.
- Worst episode? Jebus, just one? How about the penultimate episode, 1×12 ‘Dorkus’, wherein nothing of consequence occurs aside from a 12 minute opening soliloquy by Pete (ugh!) about SPOILER why he had to kill people
- Number of episodes watched: 13
- Returns: Uncertain. Strong social media statistics and a continued relationship with Murphy could be enough to convince FOX to give Scream Queens a second (revamped) go
#10 – iZombie S1/2
#9 – Transparent S2
#8 – Looking S2
#7 – Please Like Me S3
#6 – Penny Dreadful S2
#5 – You’re The Worst S2
#4 – Rectify S3
- Why is it so good? The quietest, more introspective series on TV continued its astounding run in S3. The decision to pare the season down to six episodes brought out the best in the show. After a busy, plot-driven second season, the entirety of the third season focused on the limbo that Daniel Holden (Aden Young) and his family finds themselves living in following his decision to accept a plea deal that will force him to leave the state in 30 days. As always, Rectify is less about plot; its power comes from feeling and silences and empty spaces. In that capacity S3 was a doozy. This series is haunting in its beauty and its emotional realness, even during the most mundane day to day activities. S3 was laced with an unmistakable grief and burden, prone to moments of cathartic release almost as shocking as the silences. The cast is ridiculously talented, lending the material a gravity that doesn’t hinge on histrionics or superfluous technical effects. When someone can bring you to tears simply by sitting in their car, painting a pool or sitting on the beach, you know you’re witnessing something truly special. And that’s what Rectify is: special, captivating and utterly original.
- Best episode? They’re all strong, but when I think about this season, I always return to the moment when Teddy (Clayne Crawford, never better) confesses how he lost his virginity in a dark car while spying on his separated wife in ‘Thrill Ride.’ It’s dark, disturbing and powerfully evocative.
- Number of episodes watched: 6
- Change in rank: New!
- Returns: Presumably summer 2016
#3 – Fargo S2
- Why is it so good? Critics and audiences alike have delighted in comparing the second seasons of anthology series True Detective and Fargo. The first seasons of both were out of the box sensations, generating substantial excitement and press coverage of their second seasons. Then came TD S2, a colossal misfire of bad writing and meandering plot (allegedly – I didn’t watch). Fargo could have suffered the same fate: the entire cast was swapped out, the timeline jumped into the past and had only has a tangential connection to S1. And yet the results were…magnificent. Once again purporting to tell a true crime story, Fargo‘s second season expanded its scope to tell the story of two warring crime syndicates – the Gerhardts (anchored by the captivating Jean Smart) and Kansas city (represented by Bokeem Woodbine’s eloquent Mike Milligan). Throw in a bumbling local couple caught in the middle (Jesse Plemons and Kristen Dunst) and the stage is once again set for comedy and surprising outbursts of violence. The all-star cast was rock solid, particularly Dunst, and despite covering a broad range of topics including Reagan’s film oeuvre, UFOs and racism, Fargo never felt less than solid in its execution. With this second season, series creator Noah Hawley and his crew proved that Fargo excellence is no fluke; it’s just a great show and easily one of the best of the year.
- Best episode? Dunst shines in 2×08 ‘Loplop’, an episode that deftly manages to balance comedy and drama as Peggy and Ed try to trade an abducted Dodd to secure their safety.
- Number of episodes watched: 10
- Change in rank: -1
- Returns: Alas not until 2017 (!)
That’s it for the penultimate list. What do you think of the second last picks? Sound off below and be sure to check in for the winners (and loser) tomorrow!