Most major TV sites have long ago posted their top shows of the year posts, but rest assured that mine is a little different. Instead of posting who I think had the best year, I’m going to tell you which shows I really, truly enjoyed this year – whether they were newly airing or not. They’re in no particular order, and it’s purely by chance that I ended up with an even ten. Please head to the comments, and tell me which TV programs you really loved in 2012!
2012 was the year I finally caught up with y’all and started watching Breaking Bad. And yes, everyone was right – I loved it. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the final half of the fifth and last season this summer.
Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
I’ve always been a fan of Jimmy Fallon, but I never watched his show regularly until last year. This year, I started watching it every morning – I DVR it (I think it comes on at, like, 12:30am here) and put it on while I get ready in the morning. It’s the best way to wake up – literally laughing out loud.
March 29, 2011 – that’s when I wrote my first blog for Happy Endings. My friend Ben introduced me to the show, and I’ll be eternally grateful. It’s so fun, wacky, energetic and quotable. You can watch each episode several times and find new things to laugh about. One of the best TV discoveries of 2012.
Parks and Recreation
This comedy had another great year, and has a permanent place at the top of my year-end list. It’s so hard to choose, but I think my favorite episode might have been “Bowling for Votes”. Also, there was this.
This is another staple of my “Favorites” lists, but Parenthood had a standout first half of the season this fall. It’s a warm, painfully accurate, funny family drama. If you don’t watch, it can seem like a lot to take on. I suggest starting with the Thanksgiving episode in season 2, if you’re feeling like there’s too much to catch up on.
I always enjoy watching Survivor, but most diehard fans will agree that some seasons are stronger than others. This fall, Survivor delivered a classic. It was exciting from beginning to end, with likable characters, twists and turns, villains and heroic underdogs. Basically just a whole lot of fun.
HBO’s Girls debuted in April of this year amid a lot of buzz. There was some weird backlash that was at times sexist, at times just needlessly snarky, but I think Lena Dunham has really created something special here. The writing and performances are wonderful. The characters don’t represent everyone – in fact, they are beautifully specific. That’s what makes the show great. The titular girls and the people in their lives are layered, they are much more flawed than we’re used to seeing on TV, and they can be hilarious. Months later, I still find myself referencing scenes from the first season and I’ve already watched the trailer for season two several times.
Season five of Mad Men was another success for the series. The evolution of Don’s marriage to Megan was fascinating to watch, and watching Peggy spread her wings and leave the agency was just as satisfying as I thought it would be. It was a breakout season for Kiernan Shipka as Sally Draper, and a standout season for John Slattery as Roger Sterling.
Series 2 of BBC’s Sherlock aired in 2012, but the show was entirely new to me this year thanks to a new Netflix subscription. It’s an incredibly fun show to watch and dissect. Each series is only three episodes, but as each installment is 90minutes, they feel more like movies. I can’t believe we have so long to wait for the third series.
More British TV. It seems that I never blogged about the first two seasons, but I watched them both in less than a week. I also watched the third season as it aired in Britain, and recently reviewed the 2012 Christmas special. Obviously, do not read if you’ve yet to see it, but it was excellent viewing. I loved the third season and looked forward to watching it with a cup of tea every Sunday night. I’ll repost my reviews, and likely re-watch all the episodes, when they air on PBS in the new year.
Biggest Disappointments of 2012
No blog post reflecting on the past year would be complete without at least some criticisms. I try to watch shows that I’m pretty sure I will like, but I’m not always right. Three stand out in my mind as being major disappointments this year.
Up All Night
Premiering in the fall of 2011, I had high hopes for this NBC sitcom. But it never really found its footing, and partway through the season season this year I had to cut it from my schedule. The network is trying to revive the show by switching it to a multi-cam format, but I don’t think that will do the trick.
I was excited about Smash premiering back in February, but it was almost immediately a disappointment. Bad acting, ridiculous B-plots and unlikable characters made it a chore to watch. It’s returning for a second season with Jennifer Hudson, but even she won’t be able to bring me back on board.
This one was polarizing, and even I was never sure if I hated it or tolerated it. It sounds like it can be great. Sometimes it is great. But it’s also obnoxiously self-important, disguises 20/20 hindsight for unique intelligence, and it hates women.
And because I know you’re going to ask…yes, I have begun to watch Homeland. I couldn’t include it on this list because I haven’t decided whether I like the show yet, but look for posts on it in 2013.