Well well well, looks like it is list-making time again. That’s what we do at the end of the year. We make lists. About everything. This particular list is about television. It’s not a best shows list, though. My colleague Alan Sepinwall has you covered with that in text form, and he and I already dedicated a podcast to that kind of thing. It’s not a list of big takeaways or themes from the year, either, although that could be an interesting list if you want to write it. No, this list celebrates the small things. The little details. The moments from television in 2017 that stood out the most. To me, I mean. This is my list. Feel free to add your favorites moments or things in the comments, or under your breath as you read it, or to me if you see me out in public. Wait, no. Not that last one. Please do not that.
Without further ado, I present the Second Annual Very Specific TV Awards.
Winner: Philip Jennings, The Americans
Philip Jennings was the saddest mad on television this year and it was not particularly close. He was sad all the time, in every episode, about a bunch of different things, and he wore his sadness on his face like so many fake mustaches. I started making jokes about it while I was recapping the season and now I have so many screencaps on my computer of him looking sad. So many. I spent five full minutes picking one for this post. I hope the final season opens with a 10-year tilt jump and he’s suddenly very happy and on the beach in Hawaii, with no explanation. Yes, I realize he is a Russian spy who is trying to destroy America. But still.
Best Athletic Feat By An Established Film Actress
Winner: Sigourney Weaver, The Defenders, and Diane Keaton, The Young Pope (tie)
This was really a banner year for legendary film actresses appearing on television shows and surprising me with feats of athleticism. Sigourney Weaver doing kung-fu is not something I expected to see in 2017, but Diane Keaton shooting hoops (terribly) while dressed like a nun is not something I expected to see ever. Impossible to choose. A tie it is.
Best Commitment To Dancing
Legion was a good and fun show about monsters and it was just loaded with dancing. There was a choreographed number at the beginning, there was a whole big thing with an evil Aubrey Plaza dancing through someone’s memories, and best of all, there was a funky Jemaine Clement dancing in an alternate universe cube made of ice. Solid.
Best Use Of CGI
Winner: American Vandal
One of the sneaky funniest things about American Vandal was the use of Hollywood-level CGI in a documentary that was supposedly being made by two high school students using a laptop computer. The best example of this is in the GIF below, in which an alleged lakefront handjob is re-enacted with silhouettes. Sure, Game of Thrones threw tens of millions of dollars at dragons and fire and it was all very stunning. That was great. Not within a country mile of this, though.
Best Redemption Of A Character Who Also Uses Farrah Fawcett Hair Spray
Winner: Steve, Stranger Things
Lot of options in this category but the win goes to King Steve, who spent most of season one being a jerk and a putz and then ended season two as the foremost mentor of at-risk youths in all of Indiana. Good for Steve. And good for Dustin. And Dustin’s hair.
Best SeriWHOOOOOAAAAA INVISIBLE SNAKE
My beloved Zoo did not survive 2017, as CBS gave it the old heave-ho after three seasons. It went out with a bang, though. Lord Almighty, did it ever go out with a bang. I chronicled the craziest moments in the show’s history in my eulogy, so I’ll save you another recitation of all the truly bonkers crap it did, but I will point out that this season briefly featured a 60-foot invisible snake that lived in an abandoned Peruvian funhouse. God, I am going to miss this show.
Outstanding Achievement In The Field Of Making Me Cry A Lot
Winner: Halt and Catch Fire
What a beautiful final season that was. I cried like three different times. Maybe more. And it wasn’t bad crying either, like when a show blatantly manipulates your emotions just for A Big Moment. It was good crying. Real crying. Crying that comes from caring a lot about great characters, in happy moments and sad. You have to build deep characters to make an audience do that, and you have to know the characters so well. Otherwise it feels fake. Halt did not feel fake. Halt was so good. That’s why it made me cry.
Best Death Caused By Air Conditioner
A surprisingly stacked category, with AC-related deaths also taking place on The Good Place and The Leftovers, but bonus points are awarded here for a character named Nikki Swango saying the phrase “unfathomable pinheadery” in the aftermath. Nothing wrong with any of that.
Most Impressive Kick To The Groin
Winner: American Gods
My personal philosophy on groin kicks is that if you kick someone in the jimmies so hard that their spine and skull shoots out the top of their head, you win the prize for best groin kick.
Best Coming Out
Winner: Mac, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
It had always been winked and nodded at — and occasionally shouted — that Mac from It’s Always Sunny might be gay. All the other characters were convinced of it, for reasons that were comically obvious, but Mac remained deeply closeted and in denial. Until this season. The actual coming out was handled in a fun and surprisingly sweet way, involving a legal dispute over hate speech and swift kicks to the chest, in a way only Sunny can do. It also featured a bicycle with a thrusting dildo built into it. Classic Always Sunny.
Best Evil Laugh
Winner: Ted Danson, The Good Place
It’s almost crazy that the first season of The Good Place ended in 2017. It feels like it happened five years ago. Some kind of year this has been. The nice thing about it, though, is that it means I can include this moment on my list. It also would have won for Best Twist and probably for Best Thing Anyone Did While Wearing A Bow Tie if those were categories. What a perfect moment of television. I really hope you are watching The Good Place.
Winner: GLOWbot, GLOW
Mail Robot from The Americans will always have a place in my heart, but GLOWbot had drugs in it. My hands are tied.
Best Seinfeld Parody
Winner: Big Mouth
Big Mouth was awesome for a million reasons, from the songs to the honest/hilarious depiction of puberty to everything Maya Rudolph did as the female hormone monster. But it’s important that we not overlook its short Seinfeld parody. Man oh man, was that spot-on. Again, in a show about puberty and sex-crazed beasts. Lot going on in this show.
Winner: Nora Durst, The Leftovers
I could figure out dozens of ways to give made-up awards to The Leftovers for its third season. It wouldn’t even be hard. An entire episode took place on a cruise that was filled with members of a lion sex cult and headed from Tasmania to Australia. But yeah, Nora Durst got a Wu-Tang tattoo. That might be my favorite moment on TV this year. Winner.
Outstanding Achievement In The Field Of Profanity
Veep won this award last year for the scene with Jonah and his Uncle Jeff in the elementary school.(You know the one.) I am pleased to report that this team has won the award again, this time for the scene with Jonah and Uncle Jeff in the hospital. I don’t think I can even print any of it here. It’s wondrous. We should have given Peter MacNicol an Emmy.
Best Use Of Music
Winner: Master of None
A first bite of bacon, despite religious teachings, set to “Only God Can Judge Me” by Tupac? That’s a good piece of business.
Best Use Of A Cartoon Paul Giamatti
Winner: Bojack Horseman
I feel like this is better if I don’t explain it.
Winner: The Night King, Game of Thrones
It was a little sad to see one of Dany’s dragons struck down and later turned into an undead ice beast that breathes blue flames and tried to kill my beloved Tormund, but I do think we need to give credit where credit is due: Taking out an airborne dragon with the equivalent of a javelin toss is really something. I want to get a radar gun on The Night King so bad. I bet he can throw a baseball 140 mph.
Best Ocean Staring
Winner: Laura Dern, Big Little Lies
There was a lot of staring at the ocean in Big Little Lies. In the premiere alone, five different people did it, all while concerned about one thing or another, some while drinking wine. No one can hold a candle to Laura Dern, though. This is a master class in ocean-staring. We can all learn from it.
Winner: Elizabeth Warren watches Ballers
Yeah, I’m still not over this. I don’t think I’ll ever be over it. I wrote two separate posts about it, each in excess of 600 words. I might do another post next year, without any new updates to base it on, just because I have more to say about it. Elizabeth Warren watches, and loves, Ballers. Bounce that around you’re brain for a while.
Best Show In Which The Key Moment In The Whole Season Involved An Energy Drink Called “Ice Juice”
Yup, happened. “Ice Juice” is easily the most Billions name for an energy drink. None of this is a complaint or an insult. I love it. I want to drink Ice Juice while watching the third season premiere. I want to make a billion dollars and buy an NBA team and win a championship and spray Ice Juice around the room like champagne. I don’t even know if it’s carbonated. Don’t correct me if it’s not. Just let me have this.
Winner: Sam Waterston, Godless
I had no idea that Jack McCoy could even grow a mustache like this. It’s beautiful. We should put it in the mustache Hall of Fame. Assuming there is one. Which there should be, if there’s not.
Winner: Diana St. Tropez, Great News
Tina Fey played a character named Diana St. Tropez on television this year. We are all quite blessed.
Outstanding Achievement In The Field Of Putting Your Hands In Your Pockets Like A Normal Person
Winner: Bosch, Bosch
What? This is normal, right?
(If you enjoy Brian Grubb’s work, subscribe to the TV Avalanche podcast with UPROXX TV critic Alan Sepinwall.)