Top of the Lake is fantastic. That can’t be stressed enough. If you haven’t watched the New Zealand detective miniseries from Gerard Lee and Oscar-nominated director Jane Campion and starring Elisabeth Moss yet, though, I understand; it’s on Sundance Channel, and Sundance Channel ain’t exactly FX or AMC, the home of Moss’s other show. Next Monday is the series’ two-hour finale, and considering only five episodes have aired to date, you should check out Top of the Lake before then, via iTunes or Video On Demand. Here are five reasons why.
1. Elisabeth Moss is Emmy-winning good
Like many, I assume, the reason I checked out Top of the Lake — about a detective searching for a missing girl — in the first place was because of Peggy Olson herself, Elisabeth Moss. (Sorry, Holly Hunter.) Peggy is one of my favorite Mad Men characters, and Moss’s Top of the Lake heroine, Robin Griffin, isn’t all that dissimilar from Cutler, Gleason, and Chaough’s newest employee. They’re both strong, empowered woman who are mistreated by their male coworkers and society at large, except Moss is far more physically aggressive as Robin. Sometimes the physicality is literal, like when she stabs a town drunk in the chest with a beer bottle; other times, it’s metaphorical. There’s a raw confidence in Robin’s voice when she’s calling out her boss for doing a sh*tty, lazy job that even Peggy on her boldest day wouldn’t use on Don. She’s not all steel, though — Moss conveys curiosity and empathy for the aforementioned missing girl, Tui, in a way that can be only described as “Emmy-worthy.” Here’s hoping. The rest of the cast isn’t too shabby, either, especially Peter Mullan’s grieving father/violent madman, Matt.
2. It’s not The Killing, Redux
Top of the Lake premiered on Sundance Channel on March 18, 2013. The seven-hour miniseries will air its final episode on April 22, 2013. If The Killing, another slow moving detective series that’s as much about atmosphere as it is action, had lasted only seven episodes, we might have considered it a modern TV classic. Instead, it’s a laughingstock, slowly trudging through the mud into its unnecessary season three. Top on the Lake, on the other hand, seems destined to spend just the right amount of time on its subject matter, before going away for good. Also, the missing girl on Top of the Lake isn’t an age-appropriate, attractive female, like on The Killing, a formula we’ve seen a million times before; it’s a 12-year-old girl who’s been raped and is now seven months pregnant. Sh*t’s dark.
3. Ample nudity
OK, some of it is old lady nudity, but Elisabeth Moss is topless in multiple scenes, so there’s that. And to anyone who thinks she isn’t attractive: you have no idea how wrong you are, and you won’t…until you watch Top of the Lake.
4. It’s really funny
Context for this scene isn’t really necessary — a bunch of pervy dudes side-eying each other is never not amusing. Top is an incredibly dark show, as previously discussed, but it knows when to tell a joke, quite often through Holly Hunter’s mysterious new-age guru, GJ, who looks like Edgar Winter’s aunt. The show’s head isn’t so far up its own ass — like far too many detective procedures — that it can’t take a moment to drink a beer and exhale.
5. Mondays are the worst
What the hell else are you watching on Mondays? With the exception of Burning Love and How I Met Your Mother (maybe), Mondays are usually the night to catch up with recorded Sunday shows. Try Top of the Lake instead.