Season Finale Report Card, Part II

Let me catch you up.  Last time, we did part one; this time we’re doing part two because counting.  Any questions?  Good!  This second crop of episodes brought their shows’ respect seasons to a close with some expected tropes: engagements, weddings, explosions, interpersonal conflict, the death of modern privacy.  You know, typical stuff.  But even when these shows leaned heavily on such traditional narrative developments, the best of the bunch still managed to leave us salivating for the fall.

All right, time to dispatch with the generalities and dive right in.  Without further adieu, here we go!


Arrow, “Unthinkable”

I’m just going to say it, after the outstanding quality of the two preceding episodes–“City of Blood” and “Streets of Fire”–I went into Arrow‘s second season finale with the kind of enthusiasm reserved only for the most anticipated of television events.  Make no mistake about it, “Unthinkable” brought it home in many ways, but can I also admit I felt a tad let down?  I know, I know.  Shoot me in the face with an exploding arrow because I’m a dumb-dumb.  But hear me out!

After upping the ante big time vis-a-vis Moira’s murder at Slade’s hands (sword?) and the general pandemonium in Starling City caused by Blood’s super-soldiers, I wanted even more sh*t to go down.  It felt like Arrow was going there, and I wanted the show to tumble even further down the rabbit hole.  Unfortunately, it didn’t.  Look, it’s probably the right choice to bring closure to the first two seasons with Oliver triumphant and Slade burried deep within an A.R.G.U.S. prison beneath the sand of Lian Yu.  But am I the only one who found Oliver’s take-down of Slade far too easy?  Not to mention, of course, it took those of us ‘shipping the U.S.S Olicity and ripped our hearts out.  What a cruel trick, Oliver, you heart-breaking rapscallion.


Still, I enjoyed the way Arrow went out of its way to set the table for a new chapter both in the present and past narratives.  A.R.G.U.S seems poised to take a more prominent role in Starling City’s myriad goings-on, with Amanda Waller at the controls.  I dig it.  Plus, for the better part of season two’s back-half, the flashbacks on Lian Yu were progressing at a glacial pace, so I loved the reveal of Oliver waking up in Hong Kong and meeting Waller.  And at its best, that’s what this finale did so well.  It closed the two-season chapter on the show we’ve grown to love: the rise of The Arrow.  Now onto bigger and better things, I hope!  For instance, more of this, please:


The finale sent off our secondary characters with variable success.  Pros: Thea, sick of the lies, aligns with Papa Malcolm and Diggle needs to pick out a crib ’cause he gonna be a daddy!  The meh: Quentin succumbs to his injuries and collapses in a bloody heap in Laurel’s arms, and Sara rejoins the League of Assassins as repayment for their clandestine assistance in stopping Slade.

For me, the pros outweighed the cons, and the second season proved itself a vast improvement over the first: more cohesive, more balanced, more confident.  So, in that regard, I’m looking forward to season three, but I can’t shake the wish that Arrow  had given us just a little something more.

Grade: B+


Chicago Fire, “Real Never Waits”

I’m not going to lie: Chicago Fire played it safe in its finale.  It didn’t swing for the fences; instead, it seemed more content to tick off the boxes needed to put a bow on a solid and improved second season.  Boden marries (at 51 because duh they’re family) with Mills officiating; Dawson passes her firefighter’s test; Casey proposes to Dawson at Boden’s wedding (Lt. Casey, ye hogger of limelight) but an emergency interrupts her response; a fire at a boarding school shakes Severide to his core, prompting him to buy a junky motorcycle rather than feel his feels; Shay continues to see the ragamuffin thief who ripped her off earlier in the season.


Narratively speaking, none of this would set the world on fire (ha! puns!), but it was serviceable and did its Chicago Fire thing throughout, so good for it.  My favorite part of the finale, however, has to be the pairing of Eamonn Walker’s Boden with David Eigenberg’s Hermann.  Sure, Eigenberg deserves more than B-plot status as Boden’s best man, but I’ll take whatever the show gives me.  Season two made incremental improvements in giving this talented and underrated actor some better material (Lieutenant Hermann!), but I want to see that trend continue into season three.

I’m a sucker for a good cliffhanger, even if said cliffhanger relies on something obvious like a building explosion.  But, man!  A building exploded with all of 51 inside!  The sequence played out with palpable tension, and we knew too much joy and reconciliation amongst the members of the squad would not last long.  Hence, boom.


And what a chilling ending to the episode: Boden screaming into his radio for somebody–anybody–to report.  REPOOOOOORT!

Grade: B


The Good Wife, “A Weird Year”

If you haven’t been watching The Good Wife this year, then you’re missing out on one of the best seasons of network drama in recent memory.  Seriously, throughout its twenty-two episodes, The Good Wife managed to reinvent itself not once but twice.  First with Alicia and Carey branching out from Lockhart/Gardner to start their own firm and then with one of the best small screen shockers ever: Will Gardner getting gunned down in a courtroom.  Since Will’s death, Alicia has been reeling, and the show used her personal catastrophe to enrich and deepen arguably the best female character on television.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is how you prevent a show from stagnating.  Holy cow!

What’s even more impressive, next year seems headed on an exciting trajectory sure to give season five a run for its money in terms of quality.  Despite concluding a season typified by shake-ups and surprises, this episode dealt mostly with the theme of inevitability.  Alicia and Carey, after a seeming blissful start to their partnership, inevitably devolve into acrimonious debate over the issue of merging with Lockhart/Gardner; Zach graduates and inevitably leaves the nest; Finn’s District Attorney campaign inevitably crashes up against the reality of Chicago politics and ends before it began; Jackie inevitably butts in where she doesn’t belong; Diane inevitably leaves the firm she co-created (David Lee and Louis Canning are just the worst…don’t ever change) and asks for a position at Florrick/Agos.  Such a wonderful sense of closure to this tumultuous (in the best sense of the word) season.  Great stuff.

the-good-wife-a-weird-year-czuchry and margulies

But then the doozy, the definitive period to end this season’s litany of game changers: Eli, struck by a sudden epiphany, turns to Alicia and asks if she would like to run for District Attorney.  Mic drop.  Fade to black.  Yeah, you thought for a moment that Eli would confess to Alicia about deleting Will’s voicemail back in season two, but no.  The ghost of Will Gardner would not face such summary dismissal; he’ll linger for a while longer, of that I have no doubt.

All in all, a fantastic finale to a brilliant season of television that, this deep into its run, had no business being this good.  Is it September yet?

Grade: A


Nashville, “On the Other Hand”

At this point, Nashville is what it is: a night time soap that has lofty aspirations it cannot execute.  Now, I’ll grant that this finale stands as a marked improvement over last year’s sudsy debacle, but that’s still not saying a hell of a lot.

I admit I am not the target audience, so the show’s “big moments” don’t land with me like Nashville hopes they will.  Luke’s arena-staged (and super awkward) proposal to Rayna did not imbue me with giddy delight; likewise, Deacon’s counter-offered proposal later that night did not send me swooning.  Sorry, but can we not end each season of this show with a proposal?  Hey, wait a tick!  You know what’s better than one proposal?  Two?  Can you sense my rolling eyes?


Scarlett’s character needs some serious revisiting, with her nervous breakdowns lacking pathos and coming across as unintentional comic relief.  Gunnar seems to have persuaded her to stick around and not slink back to her po-dunk town (thanks to the gift of song because duh), but I don’t really care.  Meanwhile, Teddy’s Teddying all over the place (ugh), Juliette shows up drunk to a sobriety event (stay classy), and Will comes out to his fiancee, unaware that a well-placed camera recorded his confession.

Hear that?  It’s the sound of me straining to care.

Like I said, this show is what it is.  It’s never going to be my favorite or even something I’ll admit to watching in public, but look: I dig the music, Connie Britton’s the best, and my wife likes it, okay?

Grade: C


Person of Interest, “Deus Ex Machina”

So we’re all in agreement that Person of Interest is now officially the scariest show on television, right?  I mean, sheesh, with Samaritan not only up and running but also–if the closing shot of the episode is any indication–beginning to adopt a sentient sense of self, PoI pretty much warns us about the death of privacy in the modern world.  And it’s terrifying.  Yes, by the end of this fantastic episode, Greer and Decima Technologies emerge as the victors, and the cost is steep: our core group disbands to evade the watchful eye of Samaritan thanks to a bit of handy work from Root that essentially creates identity blind spots.  Quick question: um, what’s the deal with Fusco?  He should totally get out of Dodge, too, right?  Fusco?


Person of Interest fully embraced the dark realities of surveilling citizens this year, turning in its strongest run of episodes yet.  Season three will prove difficult to top, but I’m thrilled for the next chapter.   One small point of contention: apparently, Peter Collier, the Vigilance leader/kangeroo court baddie, found himself at the wrong end of Greer’s long con.  That Greer created Vigilance as a tangible threat to national security in order for him to prove the worth of Samaritan to the US government is one of those classic villain plots that makes no sense when given a millisecond of scrutiny; come on, Person of Interest, you’re better than that!  Then again, I suppose we don’t have to bemoan this fact too much because Greer fired Collier very aggressively.  Namely, he shot him.

Still, what a brilliant and frightening hour of television!  Highlights of the episode included the intense trial (um, Control rocked my world) and the genius pairing of Reese and Hirsch kicking ass and taking names.  Talk about a match made in heaven!  Speaking of which, RIP Hirsch, you loony ‘toon you!


I absolutely cannot wait for the fourth season of this fantastic show because this finale left me with so questions swirling around my brain.  How will our fateful heroes find each another again?  How far will Person of Interest  take this terrifying vision of government surveillance run amok?  And, most important, how’s Bear?

Until the fall!  And remember: Samaritan’s watching…

Grade: A


Thanks for reading, TV fanatics!  Look for the third and final season finale report card next week!

Season Finale Report Card, Part 1

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
With the networks all yelling
And everyone praying “Hope to see you next year!”
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
It’s the sad -saddest season of all…
With those end of year meetings and depressing greetings
When cancellation comes to call
It’s the sad – saddest season of all…

There’ll be  execs for roasting,
Unresolved plot lines for toasting,
And angry tears by moon’s glow.
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of
Beloved shows lost long ago!

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

That’s right, folks!  Amidst the veritable bloodbath that is May sweeps, with networks axing approximately nine-tenths of their current lineups (*), we’ve still got to dust ourselves off, put our pants on, and face the world.  Sure, we feel like curling up into the fetal position and never leaving our houses again because Community‘s been cancelled, but our ever-exploding DVRs are, as we know, cruel mistresses and do no halt recordings because we’re feeling all the feels.  I mean, we’re swimming the stormy seas of nonstop season finales, am I right?

(*) Disclaimer: This statistic is in no way based in scientific fact and is–in the interest of candor–completely made up.  But Community, noooooooooo!

Now that the first batch of shows have wrapped up for the season, I thought I’d do a quick report card, rate the shows for their final episodes only.  Will you indulge me?  Of course you will, you flirt!  Let’s get to it!


Archer, “Archer Vice: Arrival/Departure”

While the whole “Archer Vice” experiment this year met with some divisive reactions from fans, I settled firmly in the “I dig it” camp.  I mean, Archer had no real need to reinvent itself but chose to just for the sake of creativity.  You gotta admire that.  Fortunately for detractors, the season finale essentially assured us that this was a single season exercise, as the closing minutes of the episode find Mallory strong-arming the CIA into reestablishing ISIS.  Along the way, the reign of Cyril met its end point, Ray hit on Christian Slater’s animated counterpart and arms dealer Slater (“So, what’s your deal?”), Krieger might or might not be a cloned version of himself (obvi), Lana gives birth to a baby girl while firing a machine gun, and Archer learns he’s a dad.

Archer As with most Archer episodes, not every joke lands, but so many get fired at us, it would be impossible to keep up if they did; still, I enjoyed the finale thoroughly (um, do you see the picture above because duh it was funny).  I can’t wait to see where these plotlines take our characters next season.  Will Pam kick the coke habit?  (God, I hope not.)  Will Charlene continue her rise up the country music charts?  Only time will tell, and I’m anxious to see our favorite spies thrust back into the espionage danger zone next year.  Why aren’t we saying phrasing?!

Grade: B+


Community, “Basic Sandwich”

Clearly, you weren’t rubbing your nipples hard enough as Prof. Borchert encouraged because Community is over, cancelled just shy of fulfilling its #sixseasonsandamovie prophecy.  I don’t want to talk about it.

I reviewed the episode already, so follow the link here.

Grade: A-


Hawaii Five-O, “O ka Pili ‘Ohana ka ‘Oi”

This show is an absolute blast, and if you’re not watching it, you should be.  Look, it’s not the most original show around (it’s both a remake and a cop show, which is, I’ll grant you, sort of the double whammy of television recycling), but the game, up-for-anything cast, lead by Alex O’Loughlin as Steve McGarrett, Scott Caan as Danny Williams, Daniel Dae Kim as Chin Ho Kelly, Grace Park as Kono, make this show work.  More than a standard CBS case-of-the-week procedural, Five-O has weaved itself an impressive serialized narrative over the course of its run, and the handling of the story in this way has–in the past–resulted in some of the absolute best season finales on television.  Seriously.

Five-O‘s fourth season ender had its moments but failed to live up to the previous finales in its canon.  Nick Jonas’s cyber-terrorist Ian Wright reappears and kidnaps Grover’s (the amazing Chi McBride Chi McBriding all over the place) daughter as leverage to help steal $100 million.  The plot moves along at the show’s patented lightning-quick pace and leads to a happy ending: daughter rescued, Wright dead, and Grover offered a spot on the Five-O task force after getting the boot from HPD.

But, unlike in previous years, I’m not begging for more.  Sure, Wo Fat is out there now, having broken out of a Colorado Maximum Security Prison after making a toilet bomb with his nitroglycerin heart meds (sure…), but the episode just sort of lets the Wo Fat stuff fizzle out after he shoots Ian.  It’s disappointing since the season seemed to gear up for some more on this front with the revelation that Steve’s mom killed Wo Fat’s mom back in the day.  Oh well, at least we got to see Steve and Danny tooling around Honolulu in that minuscule pseudo-car.  Hilarity ensued.

O Ka Pilo 'Ohana Ka 'Oi (Family Comes First)

In the end, fun episode but a tepid finale.  ‘Til next year, Dano!

Grade: B-


The Mindy Project, “Danny and Mindy”

The show’s title is terrible and opening credit sequence equally bad, I’ll give you that, but the fact remains that Mindy Kaling’s hilarious show has quietly and confidently become one of television’s best comedies.   Peppered with clever homages to the romantic comedies with which the show’s heroine is obsessed (Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail get the most play), Kaling created a truly romantic half hour that can cause shippers to rejoice: Danny and Mindy are like totally a thing now!

I’m not going to spoil the journey to the finish, but by the time you see Mindy lying on the observation deck of the Empire State Building gasping for air, you’re guaranteed to have a smile spread across your face.  The tone for the finale felt damn near perfect, balancing outlandish comedy (attacking a foreign grad student on the subway, anyone?) with the kind of genuine, heartfelt emotion that grounds the show’s forays into hilarious absurdity.  It doesn’t hurt that Morgan, the on-staff male nurse and ex-con, is one of the funniest sitcom creations in quite awhile.

Take note, television comedies: this is how you craft a season ender.  I cannot wait for season three!

Grade: A


New Girl, “Cruise”

New Girl, New Girl, New Girl.  What’s gotten into you lately?  You used to hold the mantel of “appointment television,” but now it feels like a real chore just to get through your paltry twenty-three minutes.  Many critics lay this season’s myriad problems at the feet of the doomed Jess-Nick pairing, but I think that’s a simplistic answer to a very complicated question.

The finale served as a microcosm of this season’s central issue: a lack of focus.  I mean, this puppy’s been all over the place.  Schmidt moved out, Schmidt moved in, Winston’s showering with his cat, Cece’s dating an Australian dude, Nick has an inherent fear of bank accounts, Winston’s a cop, Coach is back.  Huh?  Slow down there, New Girl.  In trying to be all things to all fans, you ended up being nothing of consequence to anyone.

However, I will admit it took a brazen level of confidence to set this episode on a cruise ship, almost daring detractors to levy “jump the shark” declarations.  The driving force of the narrative, Nick and Jess engaging in a post-breakup couples cruise (with the gang in tow bc duh…forgive the nautical pun, Schmidt!) because they couldn’t get a refund, had its moments as the two endured crotch-rubbing yoga and champagne under the stars, but too much choked the narrative to mine genuine comedy out of anything: Schmidt’s continued timid courtship of Cece (seriously, this story is moving at a glacial pace…too soon?), Winston playing matchmaker, Coach’s WAY over-the-top fear of boats.  The only scene that sort of worked was when the gang found themselves trapped in the stateroom, forcing a cathartic truth-telling sesh.  But, again, that was what, two minutes?

New Girl

Fortunately, it seems like New Girl hit the reset button.  In the end-tag, Nick and Schmidt rekindle their roommate love, an indication that things might be reverting back to a semblance of normalcy in the loft, whatever that means.  All I know is that this finale–and season–was a mess but, what’s worse, it wasn’t even funny.  Better luck next year, New Girl.

Grade: D


Parenthood, “The Pontiac”

It’s been renewed for a sixth and final season!  Hurray, the Braverman clan will return for thirteen more episodes or, as I like to call them, thirteen more opportunities to rip my beating heart from its ribcage and stomp on it until I cry my eyes out.  In other words, I can’t wait!

Parenthood - Season 5

I already reviewed this episode, so check out the link here if you want a reminder or haven’t read it in the first place:

Grade: A-


Parks and Recreation, “Moving Up”

As if Parks and Recreation needed to cement its title as “Best Comedy on Television,” it went ahead and had The Decemberists (and the rest of the Unity Concert lineup) joining Andy Dwyer and Mouse Rat in a Li’l Sebastian tribute song.  That the Unity Concert proved an unbridled success did not, in and of itself, surprise, but that’s not to say there weren’t surprises galore in what I would call one of the show’s best episodes ever.

To wit:

Ron outed himself as Duke Silver at the Unity Concert to prove to himself (and Tammy) that he is now a changed man.  On the back of the influx of celebrities in Pawnee for the concert, Tom’s Bistro takes off (even if Donna had to threaten her baby cousin Ginuwine into making an appearance), Dr.  Saperstein buries the hatchet with Tom and expresses interest in becoming an investor in the restaurant, Ben learns his accountant friends applied for a copyright to Cones of Dunshire in his name, Jean-Ralphio continues to be magical (“The only reason I wouldn’t be there is if I get pulled over… for violating my house arrest!”), and Leslie proves she can have it all, accepting the federal parks gig while also remaining in Pawnee thanks to a swift, metaphorical kick in the rump by Michelle Obama.

Sort of sounds like a series finale, doesn’t it?  As the episode unfolded, you couldn’t help but notice that it continued to go out of its way to close out long-running plot lines and provide tangible resolution.  But all of that was in service of the final twist: a time jump three years in the future.

That’s right, Leslie’s rocking bangs, Andy’s broken his arm, Ben’s abuzz with importance, Terry (aka Jerry) is still the worst, and then the triplets walk in!  MIND EXPLOSION!  Or, as Ben would say while watching Letters of Cleo from backstage:

Parks and Recreation

I absolutely loved this finale and the brilliant decision to implement such a gutsy time jump leaves me salivating for next season (even though NBC has not, as of this writing, put it on its schedule). Also, I very much hope Jean-Ralphio and Craig are best friends in this near future because this cute-meet happened:

Jean Ralphio: “I like your energy, hombre.  What do you say you and I ride go karts later?”


Hands down, this was my favorite season finale I’ve seen so far!

Grade: A+


Part two coming soon, so please check back in next week to see how some other favorite shows wrap up their seasons!

5 Reasons “Hell’s Kitchen” is TV’s Best Feel-Good Hour

If you’re not watching Hell’s Kitchen, currently airing its 4, 652 cycle of chefs doing a terrible job of being chefs, then what gives?  Or as Gordon Ramsay would say:


Right?  Dude’s got moxie.  Look, some shows are misunderstood, and this is one of them.  I mean, sure we tune in for our weekly televised version of primal screaming, but really, this show stands as one of the most heartwarming on television.  We’re talking a show that will just warm the crap out of the cockles of your heart.  And if it doesn’t, I guess you’re just RAW IN THE MIDDLE!

Still don’t believe me?  Here are five reasons Hell’s Kitchen is TV’s best feel-good hour.

1) There’s Comfort In Its Predictability

Newsflash: it’s a kooky world out there, folks.  Our daily lives are rife with such tumultuous uncertainty that, at times, giving yourself over to routine has its own comfort.  And let me tell you, if you wear your TV reliability like a warm blanket on a rainy night, then consider Hell’s Kitchen a Snuggie.

Point is, if you’ve seen one episode, you’ve seen ’em all.  Structurally speaking, of course.

The minute you hear the sweet words, “Now, the continuation of Hell’s Kitchen…” the table sets itself. (Ha!  Culinary puns!) The remaining contestants shuffle off to the dorms after Gordon bemoans their “dreadful” or “embarrassing” performance (usually inviting them to “piss off”), the teams swear to bounce back, contestants wake on a new day to a random challenge that always comes down to the final two dishes, one team gets whisked away to a reward (impromptu trip to Vegas anyone?), the other team undergoes a torturous punishment (with a fifty-fifty shot of consuming offal or goat testicles for lunch just cuz), dinner service becomes an invariable horror show, Gordon screams, scallops find themselves undercooked, Gordon punches raw fish even though the fish might not deserve it, a team wins (usually), a team loses, two (or perhaps four) people find themselves up for elimination after a spirited debate that typically keeps censors on their toes, the two on the chopping block pathetically beg to remain, Gordon aggressively points at someone and kicks them out, said dismissed contestant gives up his or her jacket and walks off slow-mo down the hallway before confessing to the camera that Gordon has it wrong (spoiler: he never does), Gordon tells the remaining contestants to step it up and sends them away, dramatic redemption music cues, Gordon stomps up to his fake office (his zinger-filled voice-over eviscerating the “skills” of the discarded chef as he does so), he impales the coat on a hanger, and the eliminated contestant finds his or her picture incinerated by an unexplained force of Gordon Ramsay black magic.

Sound familiar?  The answer is yes because duh.  I mean, we have variations on this theme.  For instance, sometimes the lamb gets massacred during service or some buffoon humiliates himself or herself doing table side service, but even these fall in the familiar repertoire of Hell’s Kitchen.  In these chaotic times, it’s nice to know there’s some stability out there.   And it will never not be amazing to behold the wonder of a Gordon Ramsay kitchen-clearing drive-by: “You.  You. You.  You.  GET OUT!”

Ah, the comforts of routine…

2) The Contestants Make You Feel As Fit as an Olympian

I’m not one to criticize someone for their girth or lifestyle choices, but damn, Hell’s Kitchen contestants!  I’ll admit that, over the years, the sizes of some of them have been downright alarming on a moral level but oddly encouraging for a good ego boost.  Human nature, am I right?

Contestants, keep doing whatever it is you are or–more likely–are not doing because this show does wonders for one’s self esteem.  Skipped a month on the treadmill?  Well, at least you don’t get winded slicing onions!  Indulged in that extra slice (or three) of pizza?  At least an on-staff medic hasn’t deemed you physically unfit to cook spaghetti!

You might think those who work in the food service industry would have a better understanding of nutrition and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but boy don’t these contestants seem (almost universally) to smoke more than any single person you currently know or have previously known?  Next time there’s a clip of them shooting the breeze or angrily ordering one another to go back to the supermarket, check out that ashtray: looks like a model of the Amazon jungle that uses cigarette butts for trees.

The bottom line?  Watching Hell’s Kitchen will provide your questionable eating and exercise choices with a heaping portion of perspective.  You’ll walk away saying, well at least I’m not like that.  Thanks for the schadenfreude, HK!

3) The Contestants Make Your Friends and Family Seem Far Less Dysfunctional By Comparison

Each subsequent season of Hell’s Kitchen manages to one-up the previous year in terms of absolutely insane contestants.  And talk about anger!  You remember that bald dude from the original Night of the Living Dead who bursts out of the basement and is instantly furious for no real reason (setting aside a zombie apocalypse)?  Well picture upwards of sixteen people exactly like that crowded into a high pressure work environment and slovenly dorms.  Fireworks ensue.

The perpetual dorm squabbles, verbal battles, and interpersonal bickering is a highlight of this show, and it certainly makes those politically charged holiday meals you share with your family seem considerably less dramatic.  Thanks, Hell’s Kitchen for proving that no matter how crazy you feel like your family and friends are, there’s always a group of batsh*t crazies just around the corner.

But enough talking.  If pictures are worth a thousand words, then cozy up for the photographic version of both War and Peace and the unabridged edition of The Stand combined.

How about these two besties?

HK 1

Or these affable chums?  Hint: They are not about to make out.

HK 3

Let’s not forget about that one cousin who gets drunk on holidays and starts defending her poor decisions.

HK 2

Or how about this mentally unstable character?

HK 5

See, don’t you feel better about your family and friends already?  Thanks, Hell’s Kitchen!  I have no idea what I’d do without you in my life to help me through the tough times and provide me with some much-needed perspective.  Probably, I’d be making this face a lot more often:

HK 4

4) You Don’t Suck This Badly At Your Job

Seriously, if your boss gets on your case for mismanaging your time or taking too long on that spreadsheet, just think about the chuckleheads on Hell’s Kitchen.  I’m convinced more raw (“It’s RAW IN THE MIDDLE!”) and overcooked scallops (“It’s like a ******* hockey puck!”) have been thrown in the garbage due to this show than have ever existed in the world’s oceans since the dawn of time.

And don’t even get me started on the risotto!

That’s to say nothing of the general milieu of incompetence that seems to beleaguer every blue team at the start of this competition.  I don’t have a clue where they find these men from, but holy hell, this group of dim-witted simpletons can never seem to get out of their own way.  I’m talking unable to dress a salad!  Raw chicken!  The works!

And we wouldn’t have it any other way, would we?  HK fills us with hope, week in and week out, that even if our own jobs are difficult and overwhelming, at least we’re able to function at our workplace.  Plus, Gordon Ramsay restores our faith in humanity; at the end of each episode, the biggest bumbling fool of the bunch gets the boot.  Ain’t it refreshing to see that incompetence isn’t rewarded for once?

I feel better about my career (and the world in general) just thinking about it!  Thanks, Hell’s Kitchen!

5) Gordon’s Priceless Life Advice

Never settle in life.  In his own rage-fueled way, that’s the point Gordon wants to get across, and doesn’t that sort of fill you with hope for a better tomorrow?  Have a little integrity, a little resolve, and life will reward you.

To wit:

“Everything you’ve touched tonight, so far, has been screwed.”

“Look at that. Overcooked on the bottom, crispy as **** and it looks like Ghandi’s flip flop!”

“Oh my God. Right now I’d rather eat poodle **** than put that in my mouth”

“Try not to throw it on there, yeah? We’re cooking, we’re not playing darts!”

“It’s fitting that you made this in Vegas because whoever eats this is sure to get the craps.”

Game.  Set.  Match.

I’m telling you, you’ll never feel better about your life than after finishing an episode of Hell’s Kitchen.  Currently in its twelfth season, it airs on Thursdays on Fox at 8:00.  Set your DVR!  Self-esteem guaranteed to improve when you watch this, the most feel-good show on television.