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2016: Alternanoise Retrospective (TV Edition)

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"Nothing is more important than television, and no one more important than the people who make that television." - J.D. Sallinger 

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1 hour ago, Mike said:

What is this?

Same thing as the other Retrospective thread, only TV-oriented. A safe space for everyone to share and discuss their favorite series/performances/episodes of the year. 

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I've enjoyed a few shows this year.  Game of Thrones, How to Get Away with Murder,  The Walking Dead, are the ones I've liked and have watched for a while. 

Started watching Secrets and Lies, it's a really good murder mystery.  

Bull is another new one, it's really good.  It was weird seeing Michael Weatherly as another character at first, but he's done a good job of portraying Jason Bull.  

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Best Performance in a Comedy by a Male:
Related image
Walton Goggins as Lee Russell, Vice Principals ("Circles")

Full disclosure: Walton Goggins is probably my favorite working actor right now. But with his track record, it's really hard to feel any other way. Consider this: It was in 2002 that The Shield premiered, a series in which Goggins stole the show with an incredible performance and eventually acting as something of a second lead to Michael Chiklis. When that series ended in 2008, it was the same year when Justified premiered, in which he gave an iconic performance as series villain/anti-hero Boyd Crowder. That series concluded its run in 2015, and it's only a year later that Vice Principals is on the air.

It wasn't necessarily a slam dunk right off the bat. Showrunner Jody Hill (Eastbound and Down, Observe and Report) has a commendable but mixed track record, as does his regular collaborator Danny McBride. Goggins was cast completely against type in a relatively unfamiliar genre. I don't think anybody was expecting some of his finest work to come from such an unlikely source, but boy, did it. Acting opposite Danny McBride (also tuning in possible career-best work), Goggins proved nothing short of magnetic, with the ability to deliver any stupid line and make it comedy gold. The character isn't a total departure from his bread and butter--Lee Russell shares the thick accent and sociopathic tendencies of Boyd Crowder, but is played with a flamboyant southern dandy spin that I never would've expected. Vice Principals, as is the case with most of Jody Hill's work, is equal parts imperfect and brilliant, the performances of its leads (and especially Goggins) elevate it and deliver even in moments where the writing gets choppy.

Honorable Mentions:
Chris Geere as Jimmy Shive-Overly, You're the Worst ("No Longer Just Us")
Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendrix, Silicon Valley ("The Empty Chair")
Will Arnett as Bojack Horseman, Bojack Horseman ("That Went Well")
Aaron Paul as Todd Chavez, Bojack Horseman ("It's You")
Desmin Borges as Edgar Quintero, You're the Worst ("Twenty-Two")
Brian Tyree Henry as Alfred Miles, Atlanta ("Go for Broke")

Best Performance in a Comedy by a Female:
Image result for pamela adlon better things

Pamela Adlon as Sam Fox, Better Things ("Alarms")

Longtime Louie writer and guest actress (and Emmy-winning voice actress) Pamela Adlon's Better Things was one of the year's best, most overlooked new series (premiering the same week as critical juggernaut Atlanta on the same network surely didn't help), and that falls almost square on the shoulders of its creator and lead actress. With Louis CK producing, writing, and directing alongside Adlon, it was inevitable that the series would share a simialr tone to Louie and that it would be heavily compared to that show, but where Louie is based mostly on Louie finding himself in a huge array of various scenarios, Better Things zeroes in on Sam Fox and her jobs as a single mother, working actress, and daughter. Adlon wears the fatigue and stresses of juggling those three commitments at all times, in a nuanced performance that showcases both her immense wit and her dramatic talent.

Honorable Mentions:
Zazie Beetz as Vanessa Keefer, Atlanta ("Value")
Aya Cash as Gretchen Cutler, You're the Worst ("You Knew It Was a Snake")
Kristen Schaal as Sarah Lynn, Bojack Horseman ("That's Too Much, Man")
Maria Bamford as Maria Bamford, Lady Dynamite ("Jack & Diane")
Suzanne Cryer as Laurie Bream, Silicon Valley ("The Uptick")

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Best Ensemble Performance in a Comedy:

Image result for you're the worst the last sunday funday
You're the Worst
Chris Geere as Jimmy Shive-Overly
Aya Cash as Gretchen Cutler
Kether Donahue as Lindsay Jillian
Desmin Borges as Edgar Quintero
Allan McCleod as Paul Jillian
Todd Robert Anderson as Vernon Barbara
Collette Wolfe as Dorothy Durwood
Brandon Michael Smith as Sam Dresden
Darrell Britt-Gibson as Shitstain
Allan Maldonado as Honey Nutz

This wasn't a difficult choice, and given some of the other comedies on the air, that only speaks to just how strong the cast of You're the Worst was this year. It was a season that suffered to an extent from rather disjointed plotting, giving generous plot real estate to a wide variety of characters beyond the leads, and overall it's hard to put it on quite the level of the series' incredible second season. But where that spread out plot may have been a detriment to the pacing of the season, it's hard to complain about because the supporting cast knocked every ball out of the park that it received, with one of the most packed collections of great performances I can recall on a show. Everybody on that list delivered a standout performance at one point or another. I didn't even include Janet Varney or Samira Wiley, who were more than game in their parts. Whether it was Desmin Borges's powerhouse dramatic work in "Twenty-Two", or Todd Robert Anderson and Allan McCleod delivering one of the funniest episodes of the series with literally none of the main cast appearing once, or Smith, Britt-Gibson, and Maldonado's persistently funny as fuck rapper characters, greatness kept coming from unexpected places all season long.

And that's without making mention of Chris Geere and Aya Cash continuing to do some of the best work on all of TV in the lead roles. Cash was never going to top her work in season two, but she was once again at the very top of her game, working against Geere, who gets the more prominent arc of the two leads this year, taking Jimmy through dealing with grieving, existential crises, self-discovery, and nasty narcissism, nailing every absurd comedic or raw dramatic beat asked of him. This season may have been a case of writers falling too in love with the cast, but with the way it turned out, I don't think anybody could blame them.

Honorable Mentions:
Silicon Valley
Bojack Horseman

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