The end of the calendar year is upon us, which means it’s time for lists. Lots of lists. Best Ofs, Worst Ofs, Middlest Ofs, lists on lists on lists. While most of the lists focus on the biggest events of the year, it’s important to remember that a year is made up of moments of all sizes. So, while my colleague Alan Sepinwall focuses on those biggies with his Top 20 TV Shows of the Year, I’m going to take a targeted approach and hit some of the smaller ones. A lot of the smaller ones.
Ladies and gentleman, it’s The 2016 Very Specific Best Of TV Awards.
Winner: Steve on Stranger Things
The big story with Steve’s hair in the first season of Stranger Things was that it looked like Jean-Ralphio’s from Parks and Recreation. But maybe the bigger story should have been that Jean-Ralphio’s hair looked like that in the 2010s, not the 1980s, when it was almost appropriate. It’s a majestic look in any decade, though.
Best Show In Which A Blogger Had To Use Electrocharged Demon Ants To Restart An Evil Four-Star General’s Heart Because The Plane’s Defibrillator Was Ruined When A Mutated Sloth Shrieked So Loud That It Caused An Earthquake
I really must stress to you that this is a thing that happened on network television this year. And you could make a decent argument that it wasn’t the most insane thing that happened in this season of Zoo, either. Those demon ants tried to short circuit a particle accelerator to blow up Switzerland. It’s a good show, is what I’m saying.
Best Show You’re Not Watching, The Answer Is Halt and Catch Fire, Please Start Watching Halt and Catch Fire
Winner: Halt and Catch Fire
I repeat: You do not have to watch season one. Wiki it and start at season two. It’s the best workplace drama since Mad Men, even if it didn’t devote a full episode to an entire company hallucinating after getting shady speed injections. Yet.
Best Show In Which The Characters Speak English But The Accents Are So Thick That I Need To Use Closed Captions Anyway
Winner: Peaky Blinders
Love this show. No clue what anyone is saying.
Best Jason Bourne Thing
Winner: Arya Stark on Game of Thrones
Hey look, she did the Jason Bourne thing!
[that one Moby song plays]
Best Scene Stealer
Winner: (tie) Janet on The Good Place, Richard Splett on Veep, and Darius on Atlanta
Whether they were carrying a cactus, giving themselves a middle initial, or turning a cell phone into a sword and a sword into a dog breeding startup, this trio — played by D’Arcy Carden, Sam Richardson, and Keith Stanfield, respectively — brought a ton to their shows, even in small bursts. It almost makes you wish they would all go on a multi-network four-part crossover cross-country road trip together, just to see what happens. Wait, no. I changed my mind. It definitely makes you wish they would all go on a multi-network four-part crossover cross-country road trip together, just to see what happens.
Winner: (tie) Martha from The Americans and Martha Stewart from Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party
Fun experiment: Picture The Americans but with Martha Stewart instead of Poor Martha. Changes the whole thing, right?
Best Use of Signs And Billboards And Such
Winner: BoJack Horseman
BoJack Horseman does better work with funny signs and background images than any show since peak Simpsons. There are too many examples to list. Let’s just settle for a screencap of the whiteboard with the show’s list of Oscar nominees. I… I honestly want to see A Rivers Runs Through It: The Weezer Story.
Best Episode Of A Comedy That I Did Not Expect To Make Me Cry A Little Bit
Winner: Documentary Now!, “Juan Loves Chicken And Rice”
You know, you think you’re watching a fun parody of the award-winning food documentary Jiro Loves Sushi, complete with someone shooting a chicken out of an air cannon, and then the episode ends and it’s all so sweet and there you are getting emotional about it. Surprise emotions are the weirdest kind.
Best Show That Had A Promotional Picture Of A Sad Pablo Escobar On A Bench Swing
For some reason that I do not understand and may never understand even if I think about it every day for year, this picture is the funniest thing in the world to me.
Best Show In Which Hannnnnng On, Did Nathan Lane Just Say The N-Word?
Winner: American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson
See, I knew going into the season that Nathan Lane was playing Simpson attorney F. Lee Bailey. And I knew that Bailey was the one who interrogated Mark Fuhrman about his use of racial slurs, using the slurs themselves in the line of questioning. But I was still very, very startled when the scene started and I heard Nathan Lane say the N-word. I did not expect to hear Nathan Lane say the N-word when 2016 started. Not even once, let alone the multiple times he did in the scene. I bet you didn’t either.
Best Show In Which The Rock Wore A Suit That Made Him Look Like A Huge Jacked Creamsicle
Also, Jack Creamsicle would be a good name for the main character in a detective show.
Most Heartbreaking Death Of A Largely Non-Verbal Giant
Winner: (tie) Hodor and Wun-Wun from Game of Thrones
Hodor’s death was the one that got most of the attention, but please don’t forget that Wun-Wun the Wildling also sacrificed himself for a Stark, beating down Ramsay’s door and taking a few dozen arrows so Jon Snow could end the Battle of the Bastards once and for all. The lesson here is that having a giant is good.
Best Cross-Series Callback
Winner: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
This line is both a callback to the first season of the show and an A+ Mad Men finale reference. Do not try this at home. This is expert level craftsmanship. Leave it to the professionals.
Best Show In Which A Dominatrix Urinates On Paul Giamatti Less Than Five Minutes Into The Series Premiere
The best thing ever would be if there had been more than one show in this category.
Winner: Walton Goggins on Vice Principals singing his freestyle song “Busted by Lee Russell”
Context helps, but it is really not needed. What a delightful man.
Outstanding Achievement In The Field Of Profanity
Winner: (tie) Veep and Catastrophe
Veep is the gold standard here, obviously, and I’m just going to post Jonah’s best line here again even though it is very NSFW and I’ve posted in like 15 times this year, often for almost no reason …
… but let’s also make it a point to honor Amazon’s Catastrophe. It’s a very good show that you might want to binge over the holidays, but it is also one that you probably want to watch with your earbuds in, unless you want people to give you a number of accusatory “What are you watching?”s moments after they walk into the room.
Best Show In Which Alf Killed A Guy
Winner: Mr. Robot
Say what you will about the second season of Mr. Robot. It was a little spotty and not quite the mind-bending ride of the first. But it did give us this. Gotta be worth something.
Best Turn From A Sweet Naive Man Into A Total Psychopath
Winner: (tie) William/The Man in Black on Westworld and Paul/Divorce Paul on You’re the Worst
William turned into The Man in Black after having his eyes opened during his first trip to Westworld, which resulted in him going on a decades-long robot-killing rampage in the hopes of discovering a deeper meaning in the park and in life. Paul took a similar turn when his wife Lindsay asked for a divorce after stabbing him and cuckolding him, which resulted in him becoming an evil maniac during their split. A lot of people saw the first one coming. Way fewer saw the second.
Best Running Gag Involving Animals
Winner: Silicon Valley
Gavin Belson hauling animals into board meetings over and over just to use them as props was so great. I’ve watched the “Consider the Bulldog” clip maybe 500 times. I think it’s the “All right, get it out of here!” that does it for me.
Best Show That Should’ve Just Kept The First Guy Around Longer
Winner: Luke Cage
The first half of Luke Cage was really good, thanks in large part to Mahershala Ali’s performance as Cottonmouth. The second half, in which Cottonmouth was replaced by a hyper-violent and sneering gangster named Diamondback, was less good. They should have kept Cottonmouth around longer. That was better.
Best Fake Commercial
Winner: Atlanta, “Coconut Crunchos Cereal”
Atlanta did a very strange episode that swapped out its standard narrative with a fictional PBS-style talk show called Montague, complete with fake commercials. Most of the commercials were funny little parodies, but then this one started and things went from haha to ohhhhhhh real fast. It’s one of the many reasons Atlanta was one of the most exciting new shows of the season.
Best Real Commercial
Winner: The Lincoln one that ends with Matthew McConaughey flopping into his pool in a full suit
The trick here is to picture one of his friends ringing his doorbell like five minutes after this happens and McConaughey answering it soaking wet.
“Hey Matt, you forgot you j-… Did… did you jump in the pool? In your suit?”
“I was thinkin’ about automobiles, my man.”
Worst Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwich
Winner: The one Frank Underwood Made on House of Cards
There is not nearly enough jelly on this sandwich. It looks so dry and bread-y and awful. I can feel it mushing up my mouth right now, just by looking at it. If I ever meet Kevin Spacey, I will ask him about this until I get an answer or he storms away from me. Journalism is important.
Congrats to all the winners. See you in 2017.