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.
Everyone should go see Pixar’s Inside Out. Saying that “everyone” should see something is a pretty common way to praise something, but here I am literally saying that every single person should experience this movie. It’s important, not just as a piece of art, but morally speaking as well. If you are parent, or someone who is planning on having kids, or someone who is or has been a kid – you need to see this movie. It’s got an ambitious premise, a solid script, perfect casting, and is legitimately hilarious; but all of that isn’t as important as the lessons it teaches about being a child and being a parent. It’s also the way it conveys these messages that really gets to me, the complete mastery of metaphoric storytelling. Nothing is overly complicated, it’s all easy to follow, and yet there’s a ton of depth to it all. It’s a movie that explores the importance of sadness, the tragedy of growing up, and the nature of joy. Happiness isn’t forever and sadness isn’t something that should be suppressed, parents can say the most devastating things without realizing it, and children have to learn how to communicate their pain. These are all beautiful messages that the movie teaches so well, and I’m not sure I can do it justice by just telling you about it, but I will tell you just some of the things I loved about it (without spoiling it of course).
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.
People today know Parks and Recreation as this funny sitcom with a lot of warmth and heart about really distinct and likable characters. Sometimes they veer too far into caricature territory, but they are always grounded by the huge amount of chemistry they share. The show is just so good-natured and lovable, which is appropriate because it’s a show about people working in a city government parks and recreation department. It’s now going into it’s 7th and finale season after coming off a fantastic 6th season finale (that could have honestly made a satisfying series finale), but now that we’ve come so far it’s important to think about how these characters have changed. Thinking back, Parks and Recreation was very different in its first season. Most shows take some time to find themselves, but this one essentially had to reinvent itself after a shaky start. The reason this is the case was that the cast back then was pretty much unlikable for the most part. To illustrate this, I’d like to compare the differences between how they are now and how they were back then. Here’s what we know of the cast now: