The Year in Television: 2012


TV Party! With the Emmy nominees coming out today, it seemed appropriate to take a look back on the Year that Was in television.

Best Dumb Show

The Newsroom, HBO

Plenty of people have pointed out the problems with The Newsroom and more grandly, with Aaron Sorkin. The female characters are sent flailing by the lightest breeze. The love triangles are played out and he’s done them before. The notion of a Great Man saving America through cable news is idiotic. (And really: the idea that television is where we should expect our best journalism is just… the dumbest.) And sure, all these things are plenty true, I guess. Having said that, who cares? This show is really entertaining! I don’t know when this happened, but at some point commentary around TV shows became more about What Shows Mean than how good they are.

If you’re judging The Newsroom as a roadmap back to a better democracy, then yes, it sucks. But as a televised drama, why not? I mean, yes, you have to put aside the unrealistic dialogue, but ultimately, Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterston are really likeable and it’s really fun to have 2010 nostalgia.

Show That Sounds Like It’s About A Terrorist Plot But Is Actually About Youth Dance:

Bunheads, ABC Family

Can’t you see Jack Bauer tracking down a splinter cell from the Ibn Muqtada al-Bunhead organization and whisper-yelling at everyone while his porn star daughter’s life is in peril?

Best New Show Nobody Seemed to Care About

Veep, HBO

This show is kinda awesome, and doesn’t bother with trying to have a heart of gold. Also, Tony Hale who was Buster Bluth on Arrested Development can often be seen on the elliptical at my gym, so there’s definitely some bonus points for that.

Worst New Show Everybody seemed to Care About

Girls, HBO

Good god, people. It basically comes down to whether putting realistic people in an unrealistic setting matters more than putting unrealistic people in a realistic setting is more important/compelling. Nobody I know will ever become a New Mexico drug kingpin, but Breaking Bad has characters whose motivations make sense. Oh, and also stakes higher than… whatever it is that’s on the line in Girls.

Best Show to Get Cancelled

The Life and Times of Tim, HBO

Despite looking like it was drawn by a lazy toddler, this show was the best–it might have done better if HBO had bothered to inform people that it was on the air, but that ship has sailed, I guess.

Just… The Worst

The Client List, Lifetime

In which Jennifer Love Hewitt, faced with tough times goes to work at a massage parlor. A massage parlor with benefits, where the real biggest benefit is her brand of homespun wisdom that seems to fix err’y man’s relationship troubles.

Best Magical Detective

John Luther, Luther, some British channel that isn’t BBC (but really, Netflix)

In a field that has been crowded with the likes of Monk, House, and even his fellow Brits, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Who, the honor has to go to Idris “Stringer Bell” Elba’s John Luther from Luther. Here’s how a typical episode of Luther goes: there’s some gruesome murder that seems starkly out of place in quaint England. He looks over the evidence and draws some insane conclusion that is inevitably right (they’re twin brothers! The murders aren’t random, they’re keeping score! This is all a game to them!), a skill that he put to good use in Prometheus as well. Luther figures out how to track down the killer who inevitably has a weapon along the lines of an axe or a knife, which makes you think “Ok, just shoot him,” except that British cops don’t carry guns, which really makes the whole operation seem rather small-time. Luther uses his clever brainmind to outwit the better-armed foe, and everyone’s happy and British 4eva. Oh, also his best friend on the show murdered her parents for no reason.

Best Game

Of Thrones, Change (tie)

I guess these things are both related to politics, so it makes sense to group them. But their not really that similar. I’m pretty sure that in Game of Thrones-town that Sarah Palin’s head would end up on a spike faster than uh, George Bush’s did.

Best Zoobie Zoobie Zoo

Probably this one.

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