My countdown of my favorite things of 2012 is continuing with the ten best shows of the year. As you might have expected, I watched a lot of television this year, and it was difficult to narrow it down. Check out my list below the cut, and make sure to check back tomorrow for my ten favorite movies of the year!
10. Don’t Trust the B in Apartment 23
This show (this beautiful, perfect, amazing show) premiered just this year, and didn’t really go through the same growing pains most shows encounter in their first few episodes. Maybe it’s because the characters on this show are defined mostly by their flaws, and therefore don’t really have to be changed much to suit the audience. I talked about Chloe yesterday on my list of favorite characters. She likes to manipulate people just because of the entertainment it brings her.
One of her favorite things to do is to torment her roommates. So when June moves into the apartment in the pilot, Chloe does what she does best: she sets out to ruin June’s life…by sleeping with her fiancé. But as it turns out, her fiance’s been cheating on her for a while, and June realizes she’s better off without him. This freedom allows June and Chloe to become friends, and now that the show is in its second season, it’s perfected the balance between the two. June drags Chloe into becoming a better person, while being around Chloe makes June worse. But the two balance each other out, and have formed this friendship that’s unlike anything else on TV.
And what other show lets you say that you have a ship involving James van der Beek?
9. Happy Endings
Happy Endings is, without question, one of the best comedies on TV. It tells jokes at a rapid pace, so quickly that it’s not uncommon to miss a few. But what makes this show work, and what makes it great even without how funny it is, is the relationships with the characters. The group of six has been friends for a long time, and the show starts well into their friendship. So, naturally, there’s already a shorthand between them, and palpable familiarity. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason, it’s so rare to find friends who actually seem like friends. The characters laugh at each other, are mean to each other, support each other, all in the span of one episode. But even when they fight, they do so with the knowledge that the person they’re fighting with has been their friend for decades, and will still be their friend at the end of the day. And, like I said yesterday, Max and Penny are totally me and my best friend, and it’s awesome.
I watched all of Supernatural this year. And when I say that, I mean I watched seasons 2-7 in the span of a month. On paper, this show has everything I need – and by that, I mean the actors are really, really hot. And that’s how they suck you in. All of a sudden, you love these characters like they’re your own brothers, and then bad things are happening to them, and you just want to reach into the screen and hug them and save them from all these bad things.
Ultimately, the show is about family, and finding things to tether you down when you don’t have a physical place to go. And then you cry, because everything the Winchesters love dies. Even the Winchesters die from time to time. Now, I’m not a fan of fantasy at all, so a show about demon and monster hunters would ordinarily give me pause. But the monsters aren’t the main aspects of the show; as the seasons go on, and the apocalypse becomes an imminent threat (you know, just like every show), the Winchesters get thrown in this war between heaven and hell and demons and angels.
Okay, it sounds dumb. But I swear, it’s amazing, and you should all watch it.
7. Breaking Bad
Again, I’ve been marathoning Breaking Bad for most of the year, and I haven’t actually finished season five yet (so, you know, no spoilers!). But what I have seen? Oh my God. It’s hands down the most intense show on television, and I’m completely shocked by every episode. Walter White’s slow descent into becoming an immoral criminal has been so well-developed, and so surprising, that you feel almost repulsed by your interest in it. Over the first four seasons, he’s turned from a man who does what he needs to in order to support his family to a monster who brings everyone else down with him. His relationship with his wife fell apart because of his job, and I talked about his effect on Jesse yesterday (and how much it’s made me hate Walt as a result). It’s an amazing show about terrible people, and I’m absolutely addicted.
6. Mad Men
I feel like it’s pointless to even try and qualify why I love Mad Men. Come on. The show is so subtle and brilliant, and requires strict attention to fully appreciate it. It reached a new level of intensity this year, with Joan finally kicking out her husband and the fate of Lane Pryce. I’m not even qualified to talk about the brilliance of this show. All I know is that, for whatever reason, it was snubbed at the Golden Globes, thus proving the stupidity of award shows.
5. New Girl
I admit, I was a little wary of New Girl at first. I’m not a Zooey Deschanel fan, and it initially just seemed like a vehicle for her to be quirky and zany. And, okay, it kind of was at first. But they slowly figured out how to make the other characters work around her, and by the end of season one and season two, the show was no longer about Jess Day. It was about this group of people, and watching them interact with each other and bounce off each other. The humor from the show no longer comes from watching unbelievable situations or watching Nick and Winston be the straight men to Jess and Schmidt. Now that the writers have created more developed versions of the characters, the audience has had time to fall in love with them, and now we can appreciate them and laugh at their jokes the way we do our own friends.
4. Doctor Who
Only six episodes of Doctor Who aired in 2012. And you know what? They were awesome. The last one was its Christmas special, which introduced the Doctor to his new companion, Clara Oswin Oswald. But the previous five episodes didn’t have quite the same hopeful tone. They were leading up to the departure of the Ponds, the Doctor’s long-term companions who had become family to him. I knew their final episode, “The Angels Take Manhattan,” would hurt. It hurt even more than I thought it would. And, as we saw in the Christmas episode, it broke the Doctor, and made him leave his childlike persona behind.
But then he meets Clara (though the audience met her in the series seven premiere), who makes him feel a connection he hasn’t felt since Amy and Rory were taken from him. And, of course, because this is Doctor Who, there’s a mystery surrounding her, that will hopefully be answered this series.
There were three episodes of Sherlock this year, and they aired the first three weeks of January. And now we have to wait until at least this summer for more. But holy crap, were those episodes good. This series focused more on the comfort Sherlock Holmes and John Watson have created in their friendship, and how it’s affected Sherlock. The self-described sociopath who had closed himself off emotionally experiences desire, fear, doubt, and love. His friendship with John is my favorite aspect of the show, but what makes it so wonderful is that every aspect of this show is just as fascinating. The characters, the cases, the conflicts…There have only been six episodes of this show, and each one is a work of art. And now I get to slowly be driven crazy as I wait for more.
2. Parks and Recreation
Yesterday, I expressed my undying love for Leslie Knope. And I mentioned that one of the things I love about this show is how it doesn’t victimize Leslie or act like her character traits are negative. The show celebrates Leslie for her ambition and passion, and that same positivity is awarded to all the characters. That’s probably why this show has such a great ensemble, and why even the supporting and one-off characters create such a vivid sense of reality in the town of Pawnee. Everyone has such a strong personality, but their personalities are never held against them (well, okay. Except for Jerry. But come on. He’s Jerry). Even when April insults people, she’s not doing it out of genuine disdain – in fact, even her bitterness is turned into a positive thing. She doesn’t like being vulnerable, so instead of telling people how much they mean to her, she acts like they don’t affect her.
Parks is guaranteed to make me laugh every episode, and more importantly, it’s guaranteed to make me care about what happens to these characters. Whether it’s Ron struggling in his first ever mature relationship, or Tom’s career ambitions, or Ben and Leslie coming together, you can’t help but wish the best for everyone.
And I really can’t talk about Jean-Ralphio enough, you guys. He’s so perfect.
Yeah, you all totally saw this coming.
I said a while ago on this blog that I gravitate towards shows that create sort of an impromptu family. And a lot of shows on this list feature that: characters coming together and creating these deep, intense bonds that can often be deeper than the ones they have with their actual families. But no show does this like Community. The Greendale Seven has become a family over the course of their three years at Greendale, and that bond isn’t going to disappear once they graduate. One of the most common songs on the show is called “Greendale is Where I Belong,” but over the second and third seasons, the idea of “Greendale” has spread beyond the campus of their community college. Greendale is wherever the seven of them are together, and that connection between the characters is what allows the audience to connect so strongly with the seven of them and the show itself. And while, unfortunately, the show probably isn’t going to continue much longer, it’s managed to resonate so strongly with me and millions of other people in such a short amount of time.
Honorable Mentions: Chuck, Cougar Town, The Office
What were your favorite shows of the year? Let me know in the comments!