But there was TV I loved this year; oh, there was. The Big C came rushing into my life and somehow became the most devastating show I could imagine, bleaker than its partner show Weeds (which, for the record, I love again), bleaker even than Breaking Bad sometimes, and I'd thought that was as bleak as it could get. The thing is, even on Breaking Bad, there's some intrigue and even some lightness, sometimes, in figuring out how Walt will get out of this latest spot; on The Big C, "comedy" though it may be, there's no way out but death.
It was a kick in the stomach every week, and so Friday Night Lights has been — both in its fourth season and in what I've seen so far of this glorious fifth, the season I never dared dream would happen, this gem of a show getting to finish telling its own story on its own terms. The smoothness with which they've turned over nearly the whole cast continues to boggle me, and week after week there are Coach and Tami at the center, and I cry every time because I know I'm one hour closer to the end of this most unlikely survivor.
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Breaking Bad continued to prove my gut instinct to stop watching after three episodes was terribly wrong, and this year, it sometimes seemed to turn all of television on its head. I have never felt more in suspense or felt more richly rewarded by a payoff than I did during some episodes in the middle stretch of this season. Things cannot end well on this show, they just can't, but I'm so far beyond rooting for a happy ending.
I've watched every episode of Mad Men religiously, and I never doubted that I would eventually come to love it, but it took till this season to click for me. I think it's the richness of the supporting cast now; Peggy and Joan have always been strong, but now they feel like the soul and the center.
My popcorn shows remain just that, and I love them for it. I went out of my way to watch So You Think You Can Dance in Portland, begging friends for TV time and watching in hotels when I traveled and tracking it down online if I had to. And Make It or Break It — well, I was being generous to myself when I put it at No. 10 last year; it was clearly higher. It's silly and it's sappy and totally unrealistic and manufactured and OH WHATEVER, if I'm being at all honest with myself and accounting for what I most enjoy and crave watching, it's top five.
And one that's a true comeback: Grey's Anatomy. It's been a punching bag, sure, but last season's finale and nearly every episode this season have been stellar. It reminds me why I loved that show so much for so long.
I can't think of another year when I've picked up exactly zero new fall shows; I would have been all-in with Lone Star — I still have the only two episodes on my DVR — but that obviously mattered little. Maybe that's OK, though. I've got my hands full as it is.
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Photo courtesy of Showtime