Ooooh, TV moments, let’s get crazy. I loved Hannah’s bizarre couch-wriggle on Girls as she tried to extricate herself from an uncomfortable conversation. I of course also loved Peggy’s boss-walk, but I was even more amazed by the sad guy’s monologue about not knowing what love is at Don’s meditation retreat in the Mad Men finale. I loved Jude’s super low-key coming out to his sister Callie on The Fosters. The conclusion of the mulch joke on BoJack thrilled me. Viola Davis’s Emmy speech. Seeing Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Jane Curtin behind the Weekend Update desk together was a special treat. There are so many great moments on The Americans, but the one that sticks with me the most is Paige asking her mother to “say something in Russian.” It’s such a confused, innocent question, something that a little girl would ask, not a mature teenager who’s ready to be a super spy.
As to not spoil it, I’ll simply say the scene in the woods on Deutschland 83. There’s a moment in Humans where Anita’s robot programming falters, and she gasps and grabs at Mattie (who’s been tinkering with her code), terrified and searching. I like a good robot-has-feelings shocker! The last few scenes from this season of Orange Is the New Black, with everyone running into the water—and then the new prisoners arriving—really got me, especially with Cindy’s impromptu mikvah bath. Can any of us read “pinot noir” the way we used to after Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? The gut-punching season finale of Call the Midwife, where our beloved Dr. Turner cheerfully prescribes thalidomide to a patient. I don’t know how you could begin to pick a single Empire moment. Nicole Kidman telling Jimmy Fallon that she had a crush on him is one of the best late-night moments I’ve ever seen; I must have watched it 15 times. It’s glorious. I found ironic joy in the shabbily green-screened Alicia-Kalinda farewell scene on The Good Wife. It was just so utterly terrible, and on a show that is usually so good. I like knowing we all have flaws. It’s a relief.
But if you’ll indulge me just a little, I have to say my No. 1 favorite TV moment of 2015 was singing the song “Electric Love” from Bob’s Burgers as one of the readings in my friends Steve and Kim’s wedding this May. I love writing about TV and thinking seriously about TV, but it’s nice sometimes to be reminded that TV can also be very joyous, and the shows we adore become part of our own stories, too.
OK! Sappiness over!
I just give no shits at all about Game of Thrones, and while I like ringing the shame bell as much as anyone, I think plenty of scenes on TV can and did surpass it. (Like … all the scenes mentioned above.) I’m still waiting for Game of Thrones to really have something to say other than “This is what a big budget looks like, ha ha ha!!” My favorite part about Game of Thrones is when characters on other shows reference it. (Miss you, Parks & Rec.)
As for whether I’d rather watch a show that is consistently good but never great or a show that is wildly inconsistent but occasionally genius, the answer is “it depends”—specifically on what’s so bad about the bad parts. I can tolerate bad acting. I can tolerate bad pacing. I can even tolerate a comedy that isn’t always funny, as long as it isn’t stupid. But if it feels like a show is reneging on a narrative promise, or especially if it lacks originality, that’s it for me. I mean, I keep watching, but my expectations and joy sensors are recalibrated in bummertown ways. How else can we watch Nashville, you know?
Pfeffermans, from least to most abhorrent: Ali, Sarah, Josh. Sure, Ali burned Syd, I guess, but Syd has slept with two Pfeffermans! Don’t do that! Sarah out-ranks Ali for me because Sarah has children that she pretty clearly is doing a bad job of caring for. And Josh is the most abhorrent because if you hurt Rabbi Raquel, you hurt me. Honestly they are all very abhorrent, but I also love them all very much and find their behavior believable and occasionally familiar.
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