TOP 10 TV SHOWS OF 2014
As we are starting the new year, I still have to look back on 2014 and pick out my favorite shows of the previous year. There were more options than ever before. Not only do you have to keep up with broadcast, cable and premium cable networks: online services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are putting out incredible shows as well. I probably have a few blind spots that I should be watching (The Americans) but I’m really happy with this list. We should be grateful we are living in a time with so many outlets for writers and performers to tell their stories.
1. Orange Is the New Black
The show got even stronger in its second season. The show got even more expansive in its own universe. More inmates to discover, new storylines to explore. It might seem overwhelming, but the show never faltered once. The characters only got more interesting and fascinating to watch. And honestly, if the Supporting Actress Comedy category at the Emmys next year is only made up of women from OITNB, it wouldn’t surprise me and it wouldn’t be undeserving. All of the women on this show are doing stellar work and creating the best show on television.
Amazon Prime is going to have one of the best shows of the year? I wouldn’t have believed it. After watching the first season of the Jill Soloway-created series, I absolutely believe it. I can’t think of a television family that has a better cast. The Pfeffermans aren’t the most likable family in television history, but the cast and writers have developed rich characters that give you insight into their mostly questionable behavior. Jeffrey Tambor, having numerous successful shows in television history, gives the performance of a lifetime as Maura. He deserves that long awaited Emmy in September.
This show gets better every season. The history and relationships of the entire ensemble of characters gets deeper and richer every year, which creates a more satisfying viewing experience. The show was entertaining enough watching Selina run for president. But the big twist in the final 2 episodes of the season gave this show high stakes and a sense of urgency that any drama would kill to have. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has never been better either. It might’ve been boring to see her walk away with her third consecutive Emmy. But anybody that watched the show this season can’t deny the level of work she’s doing can’t be matched.
I thought this show was slightly overrated in its first season. But the second season completely kicked it into high gear. I was expecting the show’s arc this year to be one for its final season. Everything that the show had been guarding and keeping secret from its characters blew up. The tension between Will and Dr. Lecter built up from episode-to-episode and concluded in an incredible finale that leaves me wondering where the show goes in its third season. This show is unforgettable in a number ways: brilliant writing, amazing performances, and gruesome murder scenes that are burned into your psyche.
5. The Affair
An affair between two married people in the Hamptons during the summer. How the hell is this show going to sustain that plot for 10 episodes? Somehow it did it perfectly and became one of the most engrossing shows of the year. Dominic West and Ruth Wilson are a huge reason why this show works so well. Their performances and chemistry with each other are absolutely electric. The writers of the show weren’t afraid to burn through plot lines either. It had the perfect touch of when to reveal certain plot details without seeming too rushed or too drawn out. I’m on the edge of my seat to see what season 2 has in store for us next season. I have complete confidence in the creative team.
6. Bob’s Burgers
Creative. I can’t really think of a better word to describe the show. The story lines that the writers on this show come up with are unbelievable. What’s even more unbelievable is that they are executed so well, filled with jokes, and end on an uplifting note without being cheesy. I enjoy every single half-hour I spend with the Belcher family. Some episodes don’t work as well as others, but the core characters are so unique and consistent that I can sit through a misstep in a plot and just enjoy the characters interacting with each other. The show deservedly won an Emmy this year. While it would’ve been preferable if it was for the brilliance of “The Equestranauts” episode, a win is still a win.
This show was back on track in its third season. The first two episodes that the show premiered with in January were two of the weakest in the shows’ history, but that was a fluke because the rest of the season was aces. “Beach House” will remain a high point in not only this show, but any episode of television this year. It was three seasons of tension that boiled over in an incredible episode of television. Lena Dunham only improves as an actress each year. Her turn in “Role-Play” could go up against any comedic performance in television in the past 20 years.
8. The Leftovers
I read the original book by Tom Perrotta and I was curious how they were going to adapt this for the small screen. The show took some creative liberties and it paid off. The first season of the show had some weak elements, but overall it was a rewarding experience with a satisfying ending. The performances were outstanding from the entire ensemble, with Carrie Coon being the stand out. The show burned through all of the material from the Perrotta book. According to Deadline, major casting changing and possible location changes are going to occur when the filming for the second season commences. Hopefully they won’t lose what worked so well with this premiere season.
I’ve always felt this show was underrated by most people. It has always been enjoyable and entertaining, but it never really peaked creatively until this season. John Wells and Showtime decided to submit the show as a Comedy to the Emmys this year, which is weird considering it was its darkest and bleakest one yet. Fiona’s downfall was difficult to watch, but it gave Emmy Rossum some great material to work with and she turned out great performances every single episode. William H. Macy’s Frank Gallagher has usually been a weak spot in the show’s other seasons, but this year even he had great material. That scene in the finale on Lake Michigan between Frank and Carl was unforgettable.
An FX miniseries event that is going to remake the classic Coen Brothers film? That’s what I initially thought when I heard about this series. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Creator Noah Hawley took inspiration from the tone and some minor plot elements of the 1996 film, and created something entirely unique to television. The epic tale of the people involved with this incident in Bemidji couldn’t have been more entertaining. Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman are both well-respected veterans of film and television, but it was newcomer Allison Tolman that stole the show from both of them.
HONORABLE MENTION (11-20) [Unranked]
Beyonce (Beyonce: X10, Beyonce & Jay-Z: On the Run Tour, The 2014 MTV Video Music Awards)
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife