We here at PopBytes have never been a huge fan of ‘best of’ lists. They always seem to miss our favorites. So when it comes to looking back at the best television of 2012, we like to hand out some TV superlatives here and there. Class clown? Most likely to succeed? They’re all here. Enjoy!
Best in Show: Girls
Of all the shows that hit the air in 2012, no show had such a uniquely original voice as HBO’s Girls. Lena Dunham’s surprising, fresh comedy proved to be one of the most divisive series of the year, splitting audiences straight down the “love it / hate it” middle. But no matter what shit you could throw Girls way (“who the fuck eats a cupcake in the bathtub while her roommate shaves her legs?”), the one thing you couldn’t argue is just how fascinated you were with Dunham’s voice. Original characters, captivating storylines, and some well-placed Generation Z anxiety, Girls stood out by refusing to fit in. The season two premiere (January 13th) can’t come soon enough!
Homeland Homeland’s second season got a lot of flack for its plot holes and implausible twists. But damn if it still wasn’t the best drama on TV. That finale? For Christ’s sake, did you see that finale? It made all the hit-and-run, drag-a-guy-into-the-woods, video-chatting with Abu Nazir bullshit totally worth it. With consistently great performances by a superstar cast, lead by Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, and Mandy Patinkin, Homeland is can’t miss TV.
Breaking Bad It’s amazing how much the Breaking Bad writers can pack into thirteen episodes. Season five was no exception. But more than just a great season, you have to think about the overall arc of the entire series. Have you ever seen a character on any other show go through as much of a change as Walter White? What a phenomenal journey this has been.
Juiciest Guilty Pleasure: Scandal
Olivia Pope is such a badass. Kerry Washington’s flawless character is a killer fixer, who can cover-up any crises. Except her feelings for the goddamn President. It’s one of the hottest affairs on television you never saw coming, in one of the most addictive procedurals around. Get on board – Scandal is TV’s hottest soap.
Watch What Happens Live Who would have thought that a talk show could be the source of so much juicy gossip? But Andy Cohen has turned Watch What Happens Live into a delicious half hour of tea spilling. With super-fun celebrity guests, silly games, and the best theme song on TV, WWHL is late night TV at its best. Besides, have you ever seen a more captivating half hour of TV this year than the one-on-one Jill Zarin episode? DOUBTFUL.
Best Show to Hate-watch: SMASH
There was so much about SMASH to love to hate. The main thing was the shows obnoxious decision to turn Karen Cartwright into the hero of the piece. Why anyone would root for her to play Marilyn over Ivy Lynn is completely ludicrous. Try as they may, there was no way Karen Cartwright was going to happen. So no matter how annoying all the fringe characters were (see: Karen’s awful boyfriend Dev, or the eavesdropping assistant Ellis, or Julia’s annoying child Leo) – none of them were as hateful as our obnoxious hero. Season 2 (premiering Feb 5 on NBC) will probably be just as ridiculous, with Jennifer Hudson joining the crew. Get your hate-watching goggles ready!
Gossip Girl The shows shortened fifth and final season was completely nonsense, and littered with more insane plot twists and turns than the previous four seasons combined. Like … Dan was gossip girl? Are you fucking serious? Ahh Gossip Girl. We’ll miss hate-watching you.
The Real Housewives of <insert city> It used to be that watching a Real Housewives episode was a joyous guilty pleasure. Now they’ve turned into a total parody of themselves, littered with women desperate for fame sans any sort of substance. The formula in every season is pretty much the same. There’s always a villain. There’s always some bitch trying to start a singing career. Someone is always fighting with someone else’s husband. Someone is always writing a book. Or just wrote a book. Or got a book deal. And every episode has an formal cocktail party where there’s a fight at the inappropriate “time or place.” It’s like ever season is a rerun. We love to hate them all!
Class Clown: Parks and Recreation
They won the title last year, and this year, Parks and Recreation returns for a second swing at the “Class Clown” title. How’d they manage it? Well, by being laugh-out-loud funny with a whole lotta heart. Outstanding writing, loveable characters, and hands down the best cast working in television today (Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, Retta, Jim O’Heir – they’re all perfect) makes Parks and Rec true must-see TV. Bonus points for airing the best proposal on TV in years.
30 Rock Tina Fey has given us a flawless final season. Only a few more episodes before we say goodbye for good and we’re already tearing up in anticipation.
Most likely to succeed: The New Normal
Here’s what happened when you stopped watching The New Normal. Ryan Murphy and Allison Adler’s half-hour comedy went from obnoxious and patronizing message theater to a charming and sweet show about family. And boy, was that a welcomed change. Ellen Barkin’s racist grandma pulled back, showing shades of vulnerability and kindness. Bebe Wood’s Shania showed wisdom beyond her years. Justin Bartha and Andrew Rannells portrayed one of the healthiest, mature, loving relationships on television. And NeNe Leakes stole every goddamn scene she was in. You won us over, The New Normal. Keep up the good work.
Nashville There’s a bunch of stuff happening in Nashville that we don’t give a fuck about. All that nonsense with Rayna’s father? No one cares. That stuff about her husband running for mayor? Boring. The entire relationship with Scarlett and her boyfriend? We fast forward every goddamn time. But the tension between Juliette and Rayna? And the music? And the hotness that is Charles Esten? That’s what keeps us coming back! Oh, that and the fact that we’ll follow Connie Britton to the end of the world.
The Mindy Project There’s still a lot about The Mindy Project that we find unbearable (basically everything about Mindy’s work life and her relationship with her coworkers, for example). But Mindy Kaling still has the uncanny ability to bring a smile to you face.
Happiest Welcome Back: Lisa Whelchel
Lisa Whelchel was probably best known for her mean girl portrayal of Blair on the 80s hit The Facts of Life. Until Survivor: Philippines came along. That’s when Lisa left Blair behind and let us all fall in love with the sweet, sensitive, smart woman that she is. Lisa played a flawless game on Survivor: Philippines. She was real until the end, battling her inner goodness and desire to play a cunning game. And despite not winning the “Sole Survivor” title, Lisa snagged “Fan Favorite” and a new gig co-hosting The Jeff Probst Show this spring – proving that her likeability and charisma is what makes her the real winner. Welcome back, Lisa. We missed ya! Now quick – someone give her a juicy role on a weekly show (something on ABC Family, perhaps?) so we can see if she’s still got that acting magic!
Best friends forever: Happy Endings
Dating, sex, friendship – Happy Endings isn’t exactly charting new television territory. Yet a pitch-perfect cast makes Happy Endings rise above where other comedies have failed. Eliza Coupe, Zachary Knighton, Adam Pally, Casey Wilson, Elisha Cuthbert, and Damon Wayans Jr. are a phenomenal group of comedic actors with outstanding chemistry.
Modern Family Still the most predictable comedy on television. But hey, if the formula ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
How I Met Your Mother It’s crazy that HIMYM is still bringing the laughs, eight seasons in. But you gotta hand it to that cast. They’re so good, at this point, we don’t even care who the mother is.
Most improved: Glee
As Glee’s third season came to an end, it wasn’t really clear how the show would continue on. Half the New Direction members were graduating, and the ones who were left weren’t exactly the most captivating (oh Tina…). That, and … well … season three was a total clusterfuck of storylines. Remember when Quin went from goth to psychotic to paralyzed to nice girl, and no one cared? Or the fact that Rachel and Finn were going to get married? Ugh. And then season four came around, and everything changed for the better. We followed a few choice graduates on (Rachel and Kurt to NYC, Finn back to McKinley to lead the Glee club). And while we miss a few of the regulars (Santana, Mercedes – come back!!), and still haven’t fallen for a few of the new kids (that cheerleader girl is so fucking annoying, we can’t even care to learn her name), Glee’s episodes have been tight and daring. They broke up all the couples, after all. That takes balls! We can’t wait to see what comes down the line.
The Walking Dead Remember how boring the first half of season 2 was? How everyone just wandered around and nothing fucking happened? Well … then came new showrunner Glen Mazzara, and everything got way better. And by the end of season 3, The Walking Dead had become the dangerous, zombie-killing bloodbath series we all hoped it would be from the beginning.
Most in need of a second glance: Awake
The pilot for Awake was so strong – so ambitions – so compelling – we were certain Awake would be TV’s next great hit. Jason Isaacs played a cop who survived a car accident, but now simultaneously lives in two worlds: one in which his wife survived said car accident, the other in which his son survived. You just couldn’t look away. But then … things fell apart pretty quickly. Plots got confusing. Explanations never came. And by the end, we kind of fell out of love with Awake.
On second thought, we were probably being brats. Awake could have been better, sure, but if we had more time to focus – more time to sit down and give it the attention it deserved – Awake could have won us back. We’re hoping a Netflix marathon helps us look back on the series with brighter glasses.
Most likely to scared the bejeezus out of you: AHS: Asylum
Bravo Ryan Murphy. We thought you’d fuck up the second season of American Horror Story, but you only made it waaaaaaay scarier.
Hardest goodbye: Desperate Housewives
Life on Wisteria Lane didn’t always make for good television – especially towards the end (Sorry Vanessa Williams – we love you, but your character was a total bore). Still, you have to admit – you miss the fuck out of Lynette, Brie, Susan, and Gabby. Even at their worst, they were still more entertaining to watch than any of the other programming ABC’s thrown our way since (we’re looking at you, 666 Park Avenue). Come back to us ladies!