Happy New Year, all! We thought we’d take this opportunity to look back at some of our favourite things (and not-so favourites) of 2014.
What was your favourite new show of 2014?
Jane: The Returned (thanks, Kerri!!) From the moment a yellow butterfly smashes its way out of its glass prison in the title sequence this unconventional French thriller had me completely hooked. It’s a haunting but beautiful story about how death tangles with life when dead residents of the small French town come back to resume their lives. This show has everything: horror, supernatural, family drama and humour all smashed together in a gorgeous atmosphere reminiscent of Twin Peaks.
Kerri: 2014 was a fantastic year for TV and a great year for new shows. I watched a tremendous amount of new TV this year that I loved. I would put Fargo, The Knick and (Jane’s pick) The Returned very high up on the list (not to mention the cultural phenomenon that was True Detective, which does not make my cut but was very good) but one show moved me unlike any other show this year. That show was Transparent. From the home-movie footage of its title sequence to its unapologetically hipster soundtrack to this year’s completely surprising Gaby Hoffman renaissance to Jeffery Tambor’s pitch-perfect performance to every little tiny detail of dialogue and casting (holy secondary characters, Batman!) and costuming, this show just feels perfectly lived-in, something like real life. And it’s perfectly pitched towards what I love in a TV show – that constant happy-sad feeling of laughing through tears (creator Jill Soloway calls it “funcomfortable”). Transparent is about a family called the Pfeffermans and what happens when the Dad (Tambor), Mort, comes out to his three children as a trans woman, Maura. And it is definitely about this event happening in the lives of this family but it’s also about what happens after this event happens. Maura’s transition paves the way for everyone Pfefferman clan to also break free in small and big ways. It’s beautiful, sad, messy, hilarious, biting, mean, loud, utterly strange – just like family. And it’s just beginning. It’s safe to say I am looking forward to season 2 of Transparent more than any other returning show.
Katie: Like my brilliant blogger buddies, I also watched a lot of new TV this year. But nothing was more enjoyable for me than watching those two lovable screw-ups, Abbi and Ilana. BROAD CITY, BABY! Broad City is silly and funny and juvenile and gross but modern in it’s presentation of relationships and fashionably relaxed about how cutting edge it is. But most of all, it’s funny. And it’s back in January, so I can start watching a new set of episodes over-and-over-and-over.
What was your favourite old TV show of 2014?
Jane: Mad Men. Watching Mad Men is like an event for me. I plan my Sundays around getting home by 8pm so I can watch my favourite show as it airs commercials and all. In fact the commercials provide the perfect opportunity to shake my fist at Pete, root for Don and wonder what could possibly happen next. I don’t even mind that I have to wait a year for the conclusion of its final season. It extends my favourite Sunday night ritual.
Kerri: I always have shiny new toy syndrome. Whatever I love most recently is always my most favourite thing (see my post above) but this year I did start re-watching The X-Files. I’m only into Season 2 so the best is yet to come but the process has been enjoyable and nostalgic if at times a bit tedious (there were some stinkers early on in the series). Mad Men and The Americans continued to tickle my fancy in 2014. This year also introduced me to “new to me” shows In Treatment (thank you, Jane!) as well as the UK series Utopia (not to be confused with the short-lived Fox reality show).
Katie: The Good Wife. I’m only on season two (of six) but I’ve heard season six is a killer, and can’t wait to catch up. Julianna Margulies is obviously fantastic, all the lawyers are brilliant and clever and fun to watch, and there is the requisite amount of steamy drama. Sex scandals galore! If it gets better than this, I’m all in.
What was your favourite TV discovery of the year?
Jane: Hannibal. Hannibal is a show I thought I would hate. I didn’t care for the movies and couldn’t understand what was left to tell. After raves from the AV Club and a lull in my TV schedule, I reluctantly gave it a shot. Watching Hannibal is an experience. It’s dreamlike without feeling forced and I’m never completely sure what is going on (and that isn’t a bad thing). The horror is unexpectedly and disturbingly beautiful and the show does an exceptional job of moving through each characters point-of-view so fluidly that it takes awhile to know where you are situated.
Kerri: Carrie Coon on The Leftovers. I’d never encountered Coon in anything before and I haven’t seen Gone Girl so I got my introduction to her greatness in the rather underwhelming show The Leftovers, Damon Lindelof’s follow-up to Lost. Coon’s performance as Nora Durst and the episode that follows Nora, “Guest”, were the only saving graces of the show and the best single episode of a TV show that I didn’t particularly like all year. Coon plays Durst with a sad stoicism, a kind of steely resolve in the face of grief, that is refreshing in a show where mopey-ness knows no bounds. Nora is not a nice person – she’s often nasty to others, unpredictable, sometimes uses violence as a way to bring feeling back into her life and break free of her numbness – but Coon punctuates all of this with a hidden warmth underneath, something recognizably human. I’d watch a show about Nora Durst in a minute and anything with Coon in a second.
Katie: The streaming section of muchmusic.com. They have a ton of great comedy shows that I can’t stream legitimately (and for free) anywhere else. They carry the new episodes of Broad City, Kroll Show, Nathan For You, (and others) amongst a scant number of music videos. But most importantly, they post new episodes promptly, and leave them up for a long time.
Who was your favourite TV couple of the year?
Jane: Hands down my favourite TV couple is Captain Holt and his husband Kevin Cozner from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. After building up Holt’s relationship for several episodes we finally get to meet his better half in my favourite episode, “The Party”. After this build up it would have been easy and expected to create Kevin as the wacky, flamboyant counterpoint to Holt’s buttoned-down, stone-faced personality. Instead it turns out that Holt is the funny one in the relationship. In this totally believable coupling you can see in one episode how perfect they are for each other.
Kerri: There’s no competition. My favourite TV couple of 2014 was Abbi and Ilana from Broad City.
Katie: Ditto to Abbi and Ilana.
Plot I would have left on the cutting room floor:
Jane: This isn’t a plot so much as a running gag. If I had my way, I would cut out Bikini Man from The Soup. In a show that is hilariously carried by Joel McHale introducing ridiculous clips from the past week in television, Bikini Man is a boring momentum suck. A man wearing a yellow bikini wasn’t funny the first time, I have no idea why they would keep bringing him back. In a show that is so inventively funny Bikini Man just seems like a lazy way to fill time.
Kerri: I could have done without the romance that blossoms at the end of this most recent season of Homeland. Why does the show insist that Carrie needs a love interest or multiple love interests? I get it, Carrie has always been reckless, especially when it comes to relationships, but this particular one seems especially shoe-horned into the show to ratchet up the “drama” in the season finale.
Katie: This is not an original thought, but I agree with everyone else in the world about the conclusion of Ted and Robin’s relationship in How I Met Your Mother. Worse than when Landry committed manslaughter in season 2 of Friday Night Lights.
Well, Happy New Year everybody! Thanks for reading, and stay tuned as we return to our regularly scheduled programming next week.