What we read while they checked the A/C in Miami…
Here are the best episodes of 2012. Obviously this contains spoilers:
10) “Argentina” — Dexter
One of the nicest surprises on television this year was Dexter’s renaissance in quality. After some misguided years and a true nadir of a season in 2011, Dexter finally embraced a real progression in the story—having Debra find out about her brother’s “hobby”—and was all the better for it. The tension between Deb and Dexter led to some of the show’s best scenes ever. And since Dexter didn’t spend the entire season chasing his usual Big Bad Guy, Season Seven actually had decent subplots, including great guest performances from Ray Stevenson and Yvonne Strahovski. In “Argentina,” the show was even able to address the weirdest element of last season—Deb’s crush on her brother—in an impressive and compelling way.
What we read while Katie Holmes left Tom for Pacey…
- The Supreme Court disappointed conservatives twice last week. First, it made Mitt Romney’s life more difficult by striking down most of Arizona’s controversial immigration law (though Romney’s campaign is getting pretty good at avoiding questions). Then, of course, the Court upheld Obamacare. The swing vote in the latter case was, surprisingly, Chief Justice John Roberts, who is now an unlikely hero to many liberals and a traitor to many conservatives. Of course, the decision wasn’t a total win for liberals, and it certainly helped Romney raise money. The effect of the case on, you know, health care, is yet to be seen
Most of the problems with HBO’s Girls come from the name. By titling her show so simply, Lena Dunham implied that she was speaking for an entire gender. Having her character announce in the pilot, “I think I might be the voice of my generation,” also didn’t help her.
Of course, this says far more about the current state of television (and society) than anything else. Shows created by, produced by, and starring women are so rare that when one appears, it is expected to make a statement about the entire gender. A show that was allegedly supposed to speak for so many couldn’t help but get criticized for being so narrowly targeted: There were no minorities, or people from poor backgrounds, or sympathetically portrayed men, etc.
But this is not a fair standard: Nobody expects Louie to speak on behalf of all men. Even someone like Tyler Perry, who is in a similar situation as one of the few African-Americans with complete creative control over his work, isn’t expected to speak on behalf of all black people. In fact, it would be seem phony and unrealistic if someone like Louis C.K. tried to tailor his vision to fit social conventions; it would ruin the show.
By the same token, it would feel phony and unrealistic for Dunham’s character on Girls, Hannah, to have a black best friend. Continue reading
Is This Episode on the List?
Well, the 2012 list is pretty much all wrapped up, but what were the best episodes of TV in 2011?
10) “You’re Getting Old” – South Park
This was not the funniest episode of South Park this year, or even the best, but it was certainly the most memorable for the way it dealt with the show’s ongoing existence. As Trey Parker and Matt Stone found success on Broadway with The Book of Mormon while their aging series had now passed its 200th episode, they were bound to start questioning the value of a show that “just shows how shitty things are.” When Randy and Sharon Marsh broke up, it seemed like a thinly veiled commentary by Parker/Stone on the series itself (“Every week it’s kind of the same story in a different way, but it just keeps getting more and more ridiculous”). It was so jarring that some people expected it to be a surprise series finale. Of course, I’m happy Parker and Stone are continuing with the series, and the fact they are willing to question the value of the show is part of why it’s so great.
Nervous about the rankings?
Well, we promised rankings of the second season of Louie, and we followed through. It took us several weeks, but we followed through. If you want to see how Josh and John S broke down this summer’s best comedy, just keep reading… Continue reading
What we read while contemplating the art of winning an unfair game…