A brief selection of quality TV shows that JUST missed being included in UPROXX top ten list for 2014: Louie, The Americans, Rectify, The Good Wife, Shameless, Veep, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Silicon Valley. Hell, that could be someone’s seven favorite shows and you’d think, “Good job, person with good taste.” Unfortunately, and with all due respect to Jeremy Renner holding a cat, they didn’t make it — these 10 did, based on a 1-10 voting scale, i.e. if True Detective was a writer’s #1, it got 10 points, etc. Got it?
Well, grab a Lone Star and let’s go (best episodes tomorrow).
10. Mad Men
In seven episodes representing the first half of Mad Men’s final season, Matthew Weiner continued to churn out the smartest, densest, most layered show on television, perfectly melding late ’60s politics and culture to some of the most complicated characters in any medium. Don Draper worked toward redemption, Peggy acknowledged her spiritual soul mate in Don, and Ginsberg? Well, Ginsberg lost a nipple in one of the most darkly comic episodes of 2014. In the end, everything came together with touching perfection: Don quietly ended his relationship with Megan; the year’s most compelling new villain, Lou Avery, got his comeuppance; Sterling Cooper merged with McCann Erickson; and Bert Cooper got to watch the moon landing before he passed away. “Bravo!” In this season of Mad Men Don “did the work,” and in doing so, he finally realized that it’s not about the money. As Bert sings in the final scene of the half-season: “The best things in life are free.” — Dustin Rowles
“So, John, this news show you’re making… it’s gonna be on every day, right? You know, to take advantage of the short news cycles these days?”
“Nope. Once a week.”
“Oh… but you’re gonna do lots of short flashy bits on sexy much-discussed news topics to take advantage of the 18-35 demo’s disappearing attention spans and love of micro news outlets like Twitter. That’s obvious.”
“Nope. I’m gonna do huge commercial-free deep dives into topics like payday loans and the Miss America pageant’s charitable giving flim flam, and they’re gonna take up half the show, and people are going to love them.”
“O… kay. So you’re gonna put little teasers of the big segments on YouTube to entice people to subscribe to HBO to see the unabridged version, yes?”
“Nope. Putting the whole segments online.”
“Jesus Christ, John. You really think this is going to work?”
“Yup. Spectacularly.” — Danger Guerrero
I could say a lot about Review, about how early-season standalone episodes evolved into a tragicomic arc abut a man’s descent into madness, or Andy Daly and Jessica St. Clair’s stellar performances as the endlessly positive Forrest MacNeil and sympathetic Suzanne MacNeil, or why I’m never going to look at a pancake the same way, or literally LOL’ing at what happens to Fred Willard in the space episode, or the ingenious framing device of using a show-within-a-show to capture Forrest’s life experiences, or the existential meaning behind “there all is aching.”
But instead, I’m going to let the GIF do the talking for me:
Review is the cocaine of shows. — Josh Kurp
There’s never been a bad episode of Bob’s Burgers. Think about that. That’s 73 episodes of excellence, with no signs of slowing down. Every time Linda sings, or Tina moans, or Bob talks to an intimate object, or Louise yells at Gene, it’s still funny. But what made season four and what’s making season five feel so fresh is the expansion of the show’s universe. The majority of the plots still take place in and around Ocean Avenue, but lately, there’s been more Teddy. Tammy, too. And Zeke. And Big Bob. And my personal favorite, Regular-Sized Rudy. It’s Springfield, minus a monorail but with a “wharf horse.” Bob’s Burgers now is the closest thing we have to The Simpsons then, and don’t you four cheddar ’bout it. — Josh Kurp
I can’t really say that season four of Game of Thrones was any better or worse than the three previous seasons, since all of the previous seasons story lines always just kind of just mush together for me — but I can definitely say that it continued to be be solid as ever. Highlights of season four included the greatly anticipated purple wedding and oh so satisfying death of Joffrey, who died with a bratty look of disbelief on his face, to the introduction of a new fan-favorite character who was soon killed off in the most horrifying and tragic way possible, to the final showdown between the Wildlings and Night’s Watch. Oh, and not to mention the other satisfying death of the evil Tywin finally meeting his demise on the toilet, at the hands of his perpetually abused son. Although it could have used more dragons (there will never be enough dragons), it was overall a hell of an entertaining season, that’s for damn sure. — Stacey Ritzen
If you take the good bits from Community, mix it with the ADHD nature of Adult Swim, and then throw it into the mind of a crazy person, you might get Rick and Morty after a few weeks. It took about that long for me to catch onto it (and even longer for it to actually make it to the screen).
I haven’t enjoyed an animated show on Adult Swim this much since Frisky Dingo. It’s smart, full of references, and seems to have a heart hidden away beneath a thick layer of mucus and a hard block of ice. There’s a perfect mixture between that absurd stoner comedy that the network is known for and the story driven animation that we get on The Venture Bros. when it airs. Most important, it’s funny.
If you had to point to one thing that sets this as a great show, it’d be my own shortcomings as a viewer. I missed it. I didn’t watch it. Then I randomly set my DVR and finally caught one episode (“Lawnmower Dog”) and instantly bought into the entire series. I love Mad Men, but I needed a few viewings. I was all for this one and haven’t seen a bad episode yet. — Andrew Roberts
4. Broad City
For Broad City to be ranked so highly on this list is a real testament to how brilliant and hilarious these two women are, since a year ago most of us had never heard of Ilana Glazer or Abbi Jacobson — much less Hannibal Buress, whose standup career has gone warp speed since being discovered by television viewers. Originally hailed as the “anti-Girls,” Broad City came into its own as the first of its kind female stoner comedy, as Ilana and Abbi (loosely playing versions of themselves) navigate their way through New York City, usually motivated by how they’re going to score their next high or hookup. It’s a simple yet effective concept, which successfully relies on the comedic chemistry of the two leads. Broad City also sets the bar high when it comes to female gross out humor — a perfect example of this being a plot from last season’s “Pu$$y Weed,” which involved Ilana hiding her marjuana in her…well, you can probably figure it out. I think it was about at that point that I realized I was watching something truly wonderful. — Stacey Ritzen
You know, for a show about a hard-drinking narcissistic writer falling in love with a hard-drinking narcissistic former party girl with the assistance of a heroin-addicted freeloading war veteran and a sex/cocaine-addicted relapsing party girl, and the four of them wreaking havoc throughout Los Angeles with little to no regard for the feelings or possessions of others (I mean, they stole some lady’s cat because she was kind of, pretty justifiably, mean to them, and that lady was actually Flo from the Progressive commercials), You’re the Worst was actually really sweet. And really good, too. But then again, I’m a sucker for any show that has its main character put on a comically large fake mustache to go snooping. I’ll cop to that.
Everything else I can say about this show I’ve said before, so rather than continuing to repeat myself… uh, trash juice, anyone? — Danger Guerrero
Sure, this show has lost a bit of its luster in the months since it aired its finale. That doesn’t mean the ride was terrible. We’re talking about a show that people questioned being able to take down Breaking Bad for an Emmy, in its farewell season. It was a firecracker.
Cultural impact aside, it was a fantastic presentation of acting and visual storytelling. Like a lot of the great shows we talk about, Cory Fukanaga took Nic Pizzolatto’s story and brought it to life in a way that truly aided it. Tone and beats were highlighted with set designs and camera movements that spawned countless articles and debate. All in eight episodes.
And boiled down to the core, it was just a really badass show. Cops that were as damaged as the criminals they chased, hard boiled in a modern age that normally concedes to the cyber and forensics investigations offered by the networks. We got two actors, McConaughey and Harrelson, doing work on the screen that set a high bar for anyone to follow. It’s a great show and still one I like to talk about. — Andrew Roberts
Noah Hawley did what no one could have predicted with Fargo: He created an entirely new story, but managed to perfectly match the tone and spirit of the Coen Brothers’ original film. Fargo wasn’t a remake; it was a pitch-perfect spiritual successor (with a lot of fun Easter Eggs) that happened to boast three of the best performances of the year: A stereotype-busting performance from Martin Freeman, a career resurrecting one from Billy Bob Thornton, and just the best performance from a new actor in all of 2014 in Allison Tolman. Fargo even managed to make us like Colin Hanks again after his dismal season of Dexter. It pulled all of that off while also beautifully executing the most novelistic season of television since The Wire. — Dustin Rowles