Hallway Fights, Bubble Baths, And Tinkly Pianos: The 2018 Very Specific TV Awards


According to a group of research-and-math-types employee by FX, there were just short of 500 original television shows released in 2018. That is too many shows. It’s so many shows that, not only is it impossible to watch all of them, it is impossible to know about all of them. I know this for a fact because I am paid to know about as many of them as I can and I just found out two days ago that Catherine Zeta-Jones is in a show that premiered on Facebook last month. That’s crazy. Seven or eight years ago, that’s the biggest news of the year. Now, you’re probably Googling it to see if it’s real or if I made up to prove a point. I would argue that I made my point either way.

So, we adapt. For the third year in row, I have selected some of my favorite things that happened on television, and will present them to you in an awards-style format. Spoilers will be minimal. I’m not here to try to explain everything that happened on everything I watched this year. No one wants that. I know because I’ve seen people’s eyes glaze over when I start explaining obscure shows in person. No, no, we are playing the hits only. We’re having fun. Put your lighters up for 2018, folks.

It’s time for the Very Specific Television Awards.

Best Pronunciation

Winner: Maya Rudolph saying “bubble bath,” Big Mouth


If we’re being very technical about all of this — and I see no reason not to be — then no, the most recent season of Big Mouth was not the first time Maya Rudolph’s Hormone Monstress Connie said the phrase “bubble bath.” She did it in the first season, too. It was great. It’s still great. Go listen to her say it and then try to spell it out the way it sounds. There are extra syllables and gratuitous invented “w” sounds and the closest I’ve ever come is “buuwuuuba bayyyyyeeeth.” That still doesn’t quite capture it, though. There’s like this puffed-cheek exhale that goes it into that can’t be expressed in text. I move that we take 4-6 weeks the beginning of 2019 to settle on how to do it correctly and then make that the official pronunciation. I think it will help. In a lot of ways.

Most Confusing Pronunciation

Winner: Richard Madden saying “ma’am,” Bodyguard


Richard Madden has a relatively thick Scottish accent. His character on Bodyguard, a law enforcement-type assigned to guard a controversial politician, serves under multiple female authority figures (the politician, his supervisor at work, etc.) and addresses each of them as “ma’am.” Both of those facts, separately, present no issue. But when you combine them and throw in my very simple American ears, it creates a problem: For the first episode or so, I thought he might have been saying “mom.”

I eventually figured it out. I’m not completely hopeless. It did make this really confusing when he started making sex eyes at one of them.

Best Fake Band

Winner: Shitpope, GLOW


Everything about Shitpope was and is perfect, from the name (Shitpope!) to the title of their song (“Morning in America… but Mourning is spelled with a u”) to the fact that this is how their guitarist addresses the crowd at the beginning of their show. They are every awful band in every suburban high school and I want some Shitpope merch so bad I might up and die. I hope the band gets huge in season three — full-on 80s huge, with MTV appearances and a spot on Poison’s world tour — and then gets a spinoff. The Shitpope Chronicles. I would watch.

Best Drug Dealer

Winner: Omnipresent LSD guy, The Good Fight


The only thing you need to know about this guy is that he popped up multiple times throughout the season at multiple bars and catered events and every time he did he’d lower his eyes and get a little shifty and then ask if the customer wanted something “a little harder.” Then he’d give them a microdose of LSD. That was it. Picture if this was you at the bar.

“I’ll have a vodka tonic.”

“Want something… harder?”

“Like what, tequila?”

“No. A microdose of acid.”

“What kind of bar is this?!”

Anyway, this screencap is him attempting to get Diane (Christine Baranski) to try it. “Your mind on jazz” is exactly how a high-class acid-pushing bartender would describe LSD.

Best Show About A Disgraced Magician Who Starts Working With The FBI

Winner: Deception


Deception didn’t survive its first season, understandably, but if it did nothing else, it allowed me to type the phrase “disgraced magician who starts working with the FBI” dozens of times this year. I appreciate this.

Best Assassin

Winner: Villanelle, Killing Eve

BBC America

There were so many assassins on television this year. And there were lots of spies who also killed people. Bill Hader in Barry, everyone on The Americans, a few people on Patriot. But Villanelle was the best. She found a joy in her work that was somehow both enchanting and completely terrifying. The phrase “cat and mouse game” gets thrown around a lot but in this case, it was dead-on. She stalked her prey and slinked into position quietly and then proceeded to play with it until she was bored enough to let it die. I do not want to be killed by her. Or any assassin. I don’t care what you’ve heard.

Best Performance Of A Rap Song In Character As A Powerful Russian Figure

Winner: Michael Shannon, Room 104

I missed this season of Room 104. I can’t provide any real context or analysis when it comes to this clip. It’s almost better that way. I wonder if knowing more would ruin it, actually. Just click play and enjoy. It’s Michael Shannon rapping in a Russian accent. At one point he says “Crimea river.” Don’t overthink this.

Most Intense Julia Roberts

Winner: Homecoming


Homecoming ruled in a lot of ways, starting with the inventive directing by Sam Esmail. It was always interesting to watch and you can binge the whole thing in five hours — yay for half-hour dramas — and, if you do, at some point near the end you will hear America’s Sweetheart deliver this line. “Shut your wet little mouth.” That’s such a good putdown and also a very upsetting phrase to think about for any amount of time longer than five seconds. Let’s not! Moving on!

Best Extended Single-Shot Hallway Fight

Winner: Maniac


See, you think I’m going to say Daredevil because Daredevil has a long history of awesome single-shot hallway fights and there was another great one this year. You would be wrong, though, because in one of the drug-induced hallucinations on Maniac, Emma Stone runs around laying waste to about two dozen goons in suits and it whomped ass. I can’t believe we didn’t discuss it more at the time. I suppose I should take some of the blame. It is my job to discuss cool stuff that happens in television shows, like, for example, Emma Stone turning into John Wick for a minute on a show where Justin Theroux has virtual reality sex with a winged demon that looks like something from a Nintendo 64 game. Well, I’m doing it now. So there.

Best Montage

Winner: “Something Stupid,” Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul has been the best at montages for a few years now. This win isn’t a surprise. The montage was still stunning, though. In a mostly wordless cold open set to a cover of the song “Something Stupid” (embedded above because the actual montage isn’t online), times passes and we see our main characters, Jimmy and Kim, start to drift apart. It’s beautiful and sad and serves as yet another reminder that the people who work on this show kind of know what they’re doing.

Most Unfortunate Marriage Proposal

Winner: 9-1-1


Choosing a single moment from 9-1-1 was impossible. So many things happened on that insane show. So many things happened to just Angela Bassett’s character. Her husband left her for a man and her daughter attempted suicide and she shot a cannibal who was on bath salts and she got kidnapped by a crazy woman who wanted to cut her heart out on Valentine’s Day to put it in the chest of a dead cheating boyfriend and she asked a parkour-loving teenage car thief to hotwire a cement truck during an earthquake. That’s a full year, man. But then this escalator thing happened. The guy died. It was super wild. What a show.

Best Spittle

Winner: Paul Giamatti, Billions


I would consider it a privilege — an honor, really — to have Paul Giamatti shout dismissive profanity at me as tiny bits of spittle fly out of his mouth and onto my face. Please contact me if you can make this happen.

Best Fake Show Within A Show

Winner: Philbert, BoJack Horseman


BoJack Horseman is loaded with blade-sharp Hollywood satire. The entire arc of Todd’s sex robot, Henry Fondle, is genius on two or three levels. My favorite running bit, though, was Philbert, the very dark prestige show that BoJack starred in. It was like True Detective crossed with Ozark crossed with every other bleak and self-serious drama on television. The note cards on the wall of the creator’s office were the best. One just said “Bukowski,” which is beautiful. The fake show also introduced me to the best line of dialogue of the year: “Barf me a river, fartbags.” It looked awful. I… I think I want to watch it.

Saddest Genius Little Hockey Man

Winner: Henry, The Americans


I refuse to sit here and spoil the ending of The Americans in a silly post with screencaps of LSD-pushing bartenders. The show is too good and you might finally break down and watch it someday and I don’t want that on my conscience. But, with that said, please know that I love my poor sweet little hockey genius Henry and I hope Stan adopts him and he invents some computer thing and becomes the world’s first tech billionaire slash NHL All-Star. That’s all. Nothing crazy or anything. I just want him to be happy.

Most Disturbing Egg

Winner: Atlanta


I am not ready to talk about the ostrich egg scene in “Teddy Perkins.” I don’t think I will ever be. I almost used a GIF for this entry but I started gagging every time he stuck his fingers into it and the runny egg goo spilled over the edge. I gagged a little just now as I was typing it. It was not okay. The episode was great. The show is great. The egg, however, is bad.

Most Devastating Silent Glare

Winner: Lance Reddick, Bosch


This is another one of those things that is probably better without context. I could give you context, easily, for hours, because I love Bosch, but let’s go with this instead: What would you do if Lance Reddick pulled up next to you, stared at you like this, then rolled up his window as his driver pulled away without ever saying a word? I think I would either cry or disintegrate into a cloud of molecules and float off into the sky. Or both. Crying molecules everywhere.

I lied. I will tell you one thing. Before his car pulled up so he could deliver this look, he was sitting on the other side of the of the seat. He had to shimmy across the backseat, off-camera, to pull this off. It was not a spontaneous thing. This was by design. Just devastating.

Best Use Of A Neti Pot

Winner: Daredevil


When the third (and final) season of Daredevil started, our hero, blind attorney and crimefighter Matt Murdock, had a problem: His superpowers, his hyper-heightened non-sight senses, and especially his hearing, had become dulled after a terrible accident left him injured and battered and with a cloudy head. So, during the first episode, on what appears to be a whim, he uses a Neti pot in the dingy basement of a church/orphanage and proceeds to blast about a pint of blood and blood clots out of his sinuses. Blammo, hearing back, superpowers returned.

Neti pot should use this in the marketing. “Neti pot… because you might have hidden superpowers. You don’t know. It’s worth a shot!”

Outstanding Achievement In The Field Of Using Some Variation Of “We’re Not So Different”

Winner: Katherine Heigl, Suits


Did you know Katherine Heigl joined Suits this year?

Did you know Suits was still on?

It’s okay if your answer to both of those is no. Again, that’s what I’m here for. And I, a noted aficionado of characters delivering the “We’re not so different, you and I” speech, am very pleased to report that she — like a person doing sick tomahawk dunks in an empty gym — dropped two of these in one season of a USA show everyone forgot about after one of its stars left to become a real-life damn princess. Golden age of television.

Best Pooping Car

Winner: Detroiters

Detroiters was canceled this year and I am not doing great. I loved the show. It was hilarious and silly and zero-percent cynical. It was a breath of fresh air. Go watch it. You’ll love it. Instead of continuing this hard sell, though, I will now present one of the funniest things I saw all year: a car that poops. That’s all. It’s a car that poops. There’s no reason for it to exist but it does and it makes me so happy. But then I get sad again because the show is gone. But then I remember the pooping car again and smile. My emotions are tilting back and forth like cargo on a ship in choppy waters. I hope the boat poops, too.

Best Fake Name

Winner: Zach Pizazz, The Good Place


The Good Place is the best. We could give it awards for a dozen things. We could give D’Arcy Carden alone a dozen awards. She’s the best, too. But, at one point this season, Ted Danson introduced himself as a Florida dance entrepreneur named Zach Pizazz and that needs to be mentioned somewhere, by someone, on some end-of-year list. And the only man for the job is…

[snaps fingers]

… me.

This would work better if my name were Zach Pizazz.

Best Intense Cascading Tinkly Pianos

Winner: Succession theme song

This is, no joke, maybe my favorite song of the year. I listen to it while I’m driving around sometimes. I pretend I’m on the way to an important meeting where I’ll have to thwart the damn barbarians who are trying to tank my company’s stock price through underhanded backroom shenanigans. I work out the whole thing in my head. Then I pull into the Wegmans parking lot and buy the one soup I like and go home. It’s like the show is based on my life.