Here to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a list of my favourite episodes of TV of 2015. It was tough to narrow down my absolute favourites, and there’s certainly some fantastic episodes that deserve to be on this list, but this is the list that ended up feeling right. Please note that this list is ordered by date of broadcast and nothing more.
*This article contains massive spoilers
It’s been a while now since this show ended and I’d still like to get my thoughts about it out there. When I last wrote about Scream Queens, I expressed mixed feelings about the show as a whole, and I really haven’t budged from that stance. Like all Ryan Murphy shows, there are elements of brilliance and crap mixed in with this series, and thankfully since it’s so young, it hasn’t allowed the crap to overwhelm the rest of it yet. It’s still up in the air if this show is going to get another season, and I honestly hope it does because – Surprise! – I actually loved the finale. Believe me, I totally realize it had some pretty significant problems, but there were some elements in it that worked well enough for me to overlook the bad. But first though, let’s get the bad out of the way.
Continuing the discussion of Veep from my last post, I started thinking about this show’s best moments. Even though one of the show’s selling points is its satire, it is most certainly isn’t its strength. While it can be amusing at times, it’s rarely ever nuanced or insightful, however, the show’s greatest strength is in its cast of characters. While its ensemble can feel overstuffed, the show’s core cast (and even some of its reoccurring players) are why this has become the hit it is on HBO. There are moments from the show when a character, even one that should be a minor player, surprises you in a way that makes you laugh or, surprisingly enough, feel. Here is a list of moments in Veep that I found to have been the most hilarious, heartfelt, or both.
VEEP SPOILERS TO FOLLOW!
I recently watched HBO’s Veep, and for the most part I’d say it is a very enjoyable show, but its use of Gary Cole has been pretty lacking. For three of this show’s four seasons, Gary Cole plays the role of Kent Davidson, the ultra efficient and ultra impersonal senior strategist at the White House. Starting in season 2 as an antagonistic force for the titular Veep Selina Meyers, his debut episode showed actual hints at what he could bring to the ensemble, or more accurately, what he could bring out of the characters around him. These early hints of greatness however, have mostly gone untapped in the seasons that followed. This to me, is tragic, because Gary Cole is like a precious commodity, a natural resource that everyone needs in their lives, and one whose misuse should be greatly frowned upon.
Remember that show Zoey 101? It was a teen comedy starring a cast of quirky friends hanging out at an academy, hopping between campuses and getting into wacky hijinks. There was also a lot of relationship drama between the titular Zoey and her chump friend Chase. It was basically a college hangout show starring highschoolers targeted at tweens. It was fine for what it was, but it carries that distinct stench of tween-comedy hokeyness that’s difficult to ignore and even harder to shake after viewing. Nonetheless, something very peculiar happened with the show recently.
I’ve watched a lot of movies this summer and many of them were interesting enough for me to write full articles on. Unfortunately, since I have no desire to write that much, I’d like to just put out my quick thoughts for each of the movies I saw in the order that I watched them. Voice your disagreements if you’d like, but these thoughts of mine have to be known!
Rick and Morty is funny. It’s really a show that can be anything, with characters that can go anywhere, and be in any story, but at its core it is really, really funny. It’s science fiction comedy pushed to its very limit, all fueled by the (probably unhinged) mind of Justin Roiland and tempered by the steady hand and experience of Dan Harmon (the man behind Community). The result is a half hour of insanity, hilarity, darkness, and a surprising amount of heart starring a brilliant and amoral scientist and his painfully average grandson. Even though it borrows and pays homage to so many other pieces of pop-culture history, Rick and Morty is a show like no other, and is currently my favourite one airing on TV. Here are 5 hilarious moments from the show that help illustrate the brilliance of its humour.
*Be warned, there are some “joke spoilers” here*
The simplest way to describe the Netflix original, BoJack Horseman, is as an animated sitcom that deals with the subject of depression. Its lead, the titular Bojack Horseman, is a washed up 90’s sitcom star with way too much money and time, but is listless and eternally unsatisfied with his state of being. The main question the series asks is “How can I be happy?”, and the way it addresses that question is perhaps more raw and honest than any other show that came before it. Why that is the case is something that stumped me for quite a while. Why is this show about a talking horse and his wacky friends able to hit such a raw nerve in the discussion of depression? My take on this after a lot of thought is that we are able to connect with BoJack because of how thoroughly unlikable he is. I don’t mean that we as an audience can’t like him, because people will always be able to love terrible fictional characters no matter what, but he’s certainly not someone with typical likable qualities like basic human decency. He isn’t just flawed, he’s the kind of person that continues to make terrible decisions that hurt the people around him with full awareness that what he is doing could be harmful to others. Make no mistake however, we are supposed to be rooting for him, but we definitely aren’t supposed to like him either.
A recent episode of Bob’s Burgers had me thinking about outdated episode premises in TV shows. The saying that writers tend to “write what they know” is true in a lot of ways, and nowhere is that more apparent than with writing children. When they write about the childhoods of their characters, they’re really projecting their own childhoods into their storytelling. That’s why they write about kids who get stuffed in lockers (which happens rarely these days since schools are far more crowded and lockers need to be smaller to fit), that’s why we watch kids actually call each other on their cellphones instead of just texting, and that’s why we see totally implausible plot lines like the one seen on the Bob’s Burgers episode “L’il Hard Dad”.
The Two and a Half Men finale was fine-crafted to be mean-spirited, obnoxious to people that didn’t watch the show, and insulting to people that did. I mention that finale now, because I feel as though the Parks and Recreation finale was its total opposite – the bizarro Two and a Half Men ending if you will. Where that finale tried very hard to make sure everybody loses, Parks did its damnedest to let us know that everyone became winners in the end. Some would argue however, that the show has gone beyond what could be considered sincerity and straight into cheese-ball territory. Considering the fact that this show began with what was a fairly cynical look at city government, things turning out to be all sunshine and miniature ponies named Sebastian can be seen as a little much. Of course Leslie Knope achieves everything she could ever hope to achieve, of course everyone’s relationships end with them riding into the sunset (and beyond), and of course the finale ends with a speech about the importance of friendship. With its unique flashforward format, this finale still feels like it really needed us to know that these people are going to be fine (hell, they even give us flashforwards for a loud and obnoxious supporting character like Craig). It’s a very bold move to end this cheerfully, especially now in 2015, but it’s the type of trick that only this show could have pulled off successfully.