If I Had An Emmy Ballot: Drama Categories

In many ways, writing about dramatic television series is considerably easier than doing so for comedic series.  There’s something inherently subjective about comedy, so you might have been incensed that I didn’t include Modern Family on my list and absolutely mystified by my inclusion of Togetherness.  People look for different things when it comes to their comedy, but we seem more in consensus over what qualifies as superb dramatic work.

Sure, the matter of subjectivity still applies here, but my statement that Downton Abbey doesn’t belong within one hundred yards of a Best Drama Series nod likely wouldn’t make you as irate as my declaration that I’ve never found The Big Bang Theory funny.  Why is that?  I don’t have anything like a sound answer, but comedy just seems so personal, as if what makes us laugh is an extension of our personality, and — I suppose — it very much is.  Dramas entertain and provoke, sure, but for whatever reason, they do not seem as imbued with sentimental meaning as our favorite comedy shows.

And yet, we can’t deny the fact that not all dramatic moments achieve the desired effect in every viewer.  For some, the closing moments of Sons of Anarchy‘s finale might have felt shocking and powerful; to me, the whole thing came across as silly, buckling underneath the weight of its unearned pretension.  Maybe the season finale of Game of Thrones knocked you off the couch, or maybe it simply evoked a shrug of the shoulders and a confirmation that it sucks to be a Stark.  Maybe Bloodline bored you to tears, or it might have gripped you from the first frame.  Opinions are still opinions, after all.

Having said that, it’s time for me to imagine what the dramatic categories would shape up to look like if I had an Emmy ballot, so — submitted for your approval by the Midnight Society (yup, that happened) — I present to you the following:


Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

dever    lavin    Episode 109

rigg    smith    tyson

Dream Nominees: Kaitlyn Dever, Justified; Linda Lavin, The Good Wife; Julianne Nicholson, Masters of Sex; Diana Rigg, Game of Thrones; Lois Smith, The Americans; Cicely Tyson, How To Get Away With Murder

Why these ladiesWhen you’re a performer that can absolutely floor me within minutes of appearing on screen, then you’re one masterful actor or actress, guest or otherwise.  Dever’s Loretta grew into one tough cookie over the course of the series (not to mention heir of the Harlan County drug business, so good for her, I guess?), but she deserves the recognition just for the look on her face when she kicks the gun out of Boone’s grasp in the finale.  If you saw it, you know what I mean.  Elsewhere, no one plays sassy manipulator like Rigg in her turn as Lady Olenna, and Linda Lavin took an otherwise token character and gave her such complexity and depth that I looked forward to seeing her pop up.  Cicely Tyson crushed it from the first word as Annalise Keating’s mommy dearest, and Julianna Nicholson plumbed brilliant depths as Dr. DePaul, a woman driven to professional goals in female health due, in part, to her own diagnosis.  But, for me, it’s #AllAboutThatSmith; in just one episode, Smith created a tragic arc for a tragic woman caught at the wrong place at the wrong time, and her death by episode’s end — foretold the minute she appeared on screen — resonated so deeply, so profoundly that it were as if I mourned the death of a series regular.  A powerhouse.


Outstanding Guest Actor In a Drama Series

cole    coleman    goggins

fox    pierce    vance

Dream Nominees: Gary Cole, The Good Wife; Chad L. Coleman, The Walking Dead; Walton Goggins, Sons of Anarchy; Michael J. Fox, The Good Wife; David Hyde Pierce, The Good Wife; Courtney B. Vance, Scandal

Why these gents?  I know, I know: lots of love for The Good Wife herebut with good reason.  Pierce was a breath of fresh air as Alicia’s opponent in the State’s Attorney race, Frank Prady, a man struggling to run a clean contest but sometimes falling short.  Gary Cole continues to shine as Diane Lockhart’s husband Kurt; the whole he’s-a-Republican-she’s-a-Democrat shtick found a new gear here and resulted in great dramatic dividends that Cole managed nicely.  Fox has already been nominated three times for his turn as the cunningly manipulative man you love to hate, Louis Canning, but Fox’s charm also gives this huckster a compelling nuance.  As for those non-Good Wife candidates: Coleman — always a force on The Walking Dead — gave Tyrese a fitting send-off, Walton Goggins turned his character from a seeming joke into a fully realized human being (and love interest of Tig!), and Vance portrayed the father of a young man — killed by the police — with heartbreaking pathos.  Well done, gentlemen, well done.


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

acker    aduba    baranski

headey    toussaint    Parenthood - Season 6

Dream Nominees:Amy Acker, Person of Interest; Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black; Christine Baranski, The Good Wife; Lena Headey, Game of Thrones; Lorraine Toussaint, Orange is the New Black; Mae Whitman, Parenthood

Honorable Mentions (not pictured): Maura Tierney, The Affair; Sissy Spacek, Bloodline; Holly Taylor, The Americans; Emily Bett Rickards, Arrow

Why I’m pulling for them: Aduba (who won an Emmy last year, in the Guest Actress category) and Toussaint were brilliant in Orange‘s second season, with the latter striking the perfect balance between charismatic leader and ruthless manipulator and the former taking the brunt of Vee’s deception.  It was because of these two that the tension in the sophomore round of the Netflix series reached such a fever pitch, so they should be rewarded accordingly with the credit.  Meanwhile, three of the best shows currently on or recently departed from network television get the support from a trio of performances: Acker’s Root couldn’t be a more enigmatic or compelling creation, Baranski’s Diane Lockhart had a great deal to work through in the wake of her partner and dear friend’s death last season (inevitably finding her way, of course, back into the fold), and no one on TV emoted better than Mae Whitman as Amber Braverman.  Over in Westeros, Headey showed us — often with the steeliest of expressions — just how hard it is out there for a Lannister, culminating in a forced act of public degradation that showed Cersei at her lowest (and we thought seeing her, a few episodes prior, lick water off a dungeon floor was bad).  Is there a way we could have a six way tie?  #dreambig #Emmywishlist


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

czuchry    goggins    mckean

mendolsohn    Celebrities Visit SiriusXM Studios - February 17, 2015    williams

Dream Nominees: Matt Czuchry, The Good Wife; Walton Goggins, Justified; Michael McKean, Better Call Saul; Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline; Jussie Smollett, Empire; Michael Kenneth Williams, Boardwalk Empire

Honorable Mentions (not pictured): Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul; Vincent D’Onofrio, Marvel’s Daredevil; Timothy Dalton, Penny Dreadful; Jimmy Smits, Sons of Anarchy; Michael Shannon, Boardwalk Empire; Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones; David Eigenberg, Chicago Fire; Craig T. Nelson, Parenthood; Jere Burns, Justified; Tobias Menzies, Outlander; Frank Langella, The Americans

Why I’m pulling for them: This was, probably, the hardest category for me to whittle down — see my interminable list of honorable mentions as proof of that.  Ultimately, I decided on those performances that showed me something new and fresh, leading me, first off, to choose McKean over the fan favorite Jonathan Banks from Better Call Saul.  It’s likely an unpopular position, but Banks had a reserve of goodwill accumulated during his time on Breaking Bad, so — whether it’s fair or not — we expected excellence and got it from Banks in spades.  However, McKean, as Jimmy McKill’s brother Chuck, was an unexpected revelation, a man whose mental illness obfuscated the the hidden cruelty lurking within him.  It’s a gut-punch of a performance.  Speaking of punches directly in the feels, Goggins earns his spot (his second on my roster for those of you keeping score) almost solely based on his conversation with Raylan in the finale.  #wedugcoaltogether  Michael Kenneth Williams, meanwhile, capitalized on his last opportunity to break our hearts as his Chalky White met a heroic and inevitable end with his head held high.  Over on what you’re likely thinking as my obligatory Good Wife nomination (I’m sorry I’m not sorry that the acting on that show is unbelievable), Matt Czuchry finally had a season to shine, with his crushing realization of Kalinda’s departure landing brilliantly.  Jussie Smollett absolutely killed it as Jamal on the Fox megahit Empire — his is a performance of such confidence, such swagger, and such heart that you can’t help but be cast under Smollett’s spell.  That leaves the most revelatory for last: Ben Mendelsohn deserves every award for his turn as prodigal son Danny Rayburn, whose nefarious activities and general duplicity catalyze the firecracker of a plot underpinning Bloodline.  It’s a performance with so much depth and complexity that it’s difficult to capture in words; suffice it to say, Mendolsohn never shies from the darkest corners of Danny’s psyche, making for sometimes difficult but always gripping viewing.  So yeah, there’s just a smidgeon of talent on display here.  Just a tad.


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

balfe    davis    green

henson    The Deep Web   russell

Dream Nominees: Caitriona Balfe, Outlander; Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder; Eva Green, Penny Dreadful; Taraji P. Henson, Empire; Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife; Keri Russell, The Americans

Honorable Mentions (not pictured): Kerry Washington, Scandal; Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex

Why I’m rooting for them:  I have one word for you: C-O-O-K-I-E.  Seriously, I love all the women here, but holy cow does Henson absolutely destroy every scene she’s in, bringing her character to the edge of cliche without ever — and I mean ever — pushing her over.  It’s a finely tuned performance and an acting masterclass.  Not to be outdone, Viola Davis embodies Annalise Keating and all her myriad foibles and insecurities; who can forget that scene in Murder in which she takes off her wig and makeup and appears before us vulnerable and stripped of pretense?  It’s a wordless sequence and the perfect example of how much Davis can do without uttering a syllable.  Months later, that scene still resonates in my mind.  Eva Green is doing outstanding work on Showtime’s underwatched but fantastic gothic drama Penny Dreadful as Ms. Vanessa Ives, a woman marked by the Devil and struggling to control the demonic impulses that grip her; this is the kind of acting that pushes an actress to the brink: demanding, grueling, but ultimately completely satisfying work.  Balfe, of the Starz hit Outlander, grounds our time-traveling protagonist in reality even in the face of a plot that is anything but; because her Claire Beechum (later Fraser) is such a strong-willed, confident, kick-ass, and brilliant woman, her palpable humanity serves as the perfect entrance into this otherworldly world.  Keri Russell continues her acrobatic work on The Americans, and I’m not just talking stunts; it takes a special kind of skill to balance the innumerable crosses, double-crosses, deceptions, and counter-deceptions that her Elizabeth must handle, but she does so with breathtaking craftsmanship and assiduity.  Oh, and hey there, Julianna!  You’re still doing your wine-swilling, butt-kicking thing on Good Wife, so say hello to all the other nominees from your show.  You guys should start a fan club or something.  It was a great year for TV acting, and few could hold a candle to the women listed above.  You go, girl(s)!  Too much?


Outstanding Lead Actor In a Drama Series

chandler    hamm    heughan

d5bf6475-8d08-14e1-3dc0-82efc7b2b099_BCS_101_UC_0604_1124.jpg    olyphant    rhys

Dream Nominees: Kyle Chandler, Bloodline; Jon Hamm, Mad Men; Sam Heughan, Outlander; Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul; Timothy Olyphant, Justified; Matthew Rhys, The Americans

Honorable Mentions (not pictured): Terrence Howard, Empire; Dominic West, The Affair; Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex; Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire

Why I’m rooting for them: I’ve never been a regular watcher of AMC’s Mad Men, but I did watch the finale, and Hamm prevented the whole thing from collapsing under the weight of itself, and he’s always been good, so there’s no reason to deny him a nod for the series’ victory lap.  Likewise for Olyphant, who gave Raylan Givens a more than worthy send-off and enough to justify (see what I did there?) a nod — if for no other reason than the scene that earned his co-star above my stamp of a approval.  #wedugcoaltogether  Seriously, it’s a great scene, you guys.  Rhys manages to make his performance more compelling with each passing season, particularly as the show continues to push Phillip into situations that increasingly test his morals — as this third year did time and time again.  Kyle Chandler showed his edgier side in Bloodline as eldest sibling John Rayburn — Coach Taylor he is not — and this new gear made for an exciting performance from this perennially excellent actor.  Meanwhile, we all knew we loved Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman, but who knew this guy could more than carry a show entirely on his own?  I was consistently impressed with Odenkirk’s ability to walk the tight rope upon which his character is built: a mostly good person struggling to do right when it’s so much easier to do wrong.  It’s a gripping performance, and Odenkirk allows us to peer into his character’s depths to feel the weight of his decisions.  Miraculously, we root for him, even though his becoming a complete shmuck is a foregone conclusion.  That leaves Sam Heughan, whose work on Outlander impressed, particularly when that series ventured into darker territory; as a victim of repeated torture and sexual abuse, Heughan’s Jaime becomes a creation of resilience and bravery in the wake of heinous degradation.  It’s tough stuff to watch, but  Heughan (who auditioned for roles on Game of Thrones myriad times  to no success) committed to the role in ways few actors would.  These gents all brought their A-games, and Emmy would be foolish to overlook any of them.


Outstanding Drama Series

americans    saul    bloodline

thrones    good wife    justified


Dream NomineesThe Americans; Better Call Saul; Bloodline; Game of Thrones; The Good Wife; Justified; Orange is the New Black

Honorable Mentions (not pictured): The Affair; Masters of Sex; Empire; Parenthood; Penny Dreadful; Person of Interest; Banshee; Outlander

Why I’m rooting for them: I could extoll the virtues of each of the series I’ve listed (not to mention the excellent shows that narrowly missed the final cut in my honorable mentions list), but I’m going to keep it simple and limit myself to ten words per series.  Here goes nothing.  The Americans: Truths, unearthed with devastating consequences, ratchet up the stakes.  Better Call Saul: Brilliant, standalone companion piece holds own against Breaking Bad.  Bloodline: Closest thing to a novel on television; patience earns dividends.  Game of Thrones: Dany riding a dragon; Olly being a butt face.  The Good Wife: Characters finding their ways after friend’s death; surprising as always.   Justified: Perfect swansong for TV’s coolest show; they dug coal together.  Orange is the New Black: Red versus Vee; Susanne caught in middle; crazy tension.  Well, that was fun!


There you have it, folks, my drama Emmy ballot.  What do you think?  Was on I the mark or completely off-base?  John Stamos and Uza Aduba will announce the nominees on July 16th, so we’ll see if my wish fulfillment exercise has any basis in reality!  Thanks for reading!

If I Had An Emmy Ballot: Comedy Categories

If you love television, then you have to come to terms with an alarming factoid about yourself: you’re also a masochist.  Sorry to reveal this dark corner of your psyche, but think about it.  You fall in love with a new series, only to find yourself lamenting its loss once said show finds itself cancelled.  You follow a series for many years, only to have your favorite character killed off.  You watch a once-great exemplar of the form descend into a cavalcade of cliches in its later years.    If you choose to follow television closely, these are inevitable outcomes.

However, the apex of masochism for television lovers arrives once a year as the Emmy nominations linger nearby.  We wish, we hope, we plead, we pray, but it is all but a certainty that the shows we treasure and hold dearest to our hearts will more than likely emerge without even a single nomination.  Still, the occasional glimmers of hope — the carrots to tempt us — keep us around like the television deviants we have become.  I’ll be honest, if you guys want to start a support group or something, I’m totally in.  I’ll bring the cookies and juice even– but not fruit punch because that’s just nasty.

Last year, I let my imagination run wild and selected actors whom may or may not have even submitted in a given category.  The result?  Acute and persistent heartbreak.  In order to mitigate this emotional brutality as much as I can for this second go-around, I opted to consult the Emmy submission list and choose my dream nominees from there only.  I forewarn you of this for one major reason: as we discussed last year, the blurring between comedy and drama has become even more difficult to disentangle, so if you see something in comedy that you think is a drama, take it up with the Emmys or write a strongly-worded letter to your Republican presidential nominee of choice.

I love TV, so the list below is the product of much deliberation.  Shows and performers I love found themselves narrowly bested by others I simply could not ignore.  Needless to say, if a show wound up even in my honorable mentions, then it is an excellent performance and/or series that demands your attention.  You’re sick of hearing about “the new Golden Age” of television, but we’re in it, folks.  For all the quality we get week in and week out, maybe the pain is — in the end — worth it.

Without further adieux, here are my dream nominees for performers in a comedy series.


Outstanding Guest Actress In a Comedy Series

adlon    cusack    fey

NUP_148711_0225.JPG    perlman    sedgwick

Dream Nominees: Pamela Adlon, Louie; Joan Cusack, Shameless; Tina Fey, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Kathryn Hahn, Parks and Recreation; Rhea Perlman, The Mindy Project; Kyra Sedgwick, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Who am I really really really pulling for:  I love all these ladies and hope they all get nominated, but Pamela Adlon’s character on Louie is such a bizarre creation.  The fact that Adlon humanizes her at all and refuses to let her devolve into cliche is a testament to this brilliant performance.  Nipping close at her heels, though, is Kyra Sedgwick as Deputy Chief Wuntch, ultimate nemesis of Braugher’s Captain Holt, and Joan Cusack as the perennially-terrific Sheila, a character that literally went out in a blaze of glory, or at the very least a blown-up house and a getaway in a Winnebago.


Outstanding Guest Actor In a Comedy Series

charles    ritter    rogen

schwartz   whitford    STEVE ZAHN

Dream Nominees:Josh Charles, Inside Amy Schumer; Jason Ritter, Girls; Seth Rogen, The Comeback; Ben Schwartz, Parks and Recreation; Bradley Whitford, Transparent; Steve Zahn, Modern Family

Who am I really really really pulling for: If you’ve seen Transparent, then the answer is simple — Bradley Whitford.  But how great would it be to see Ben Schwartz get nom-IN-aaaaated for his series-long stint as Jean-Ralphio, or Steve Zahn for injecting some energy into the Modern Family cast as a cultured yet trashy neighbor of the Dunphys?  As you well know, there’s never a bad time to put #CharlesInCharge, and — as he proved brilliantly in the FNL parody standing at the center of his episode submission — ain’t it good to be the coach?  Seth Rogan did fine work playing a version of himself on The Comeback and gave that show’s solid second season an interesting counterpoint to Lisa Kudrow’s Valerie Cherish, but, I’ll say it again: this one’s about Whitford, pure and simple.


Outstanding Supporting Actress In a Comedy Series

chlumsky    fumero    jacobs

landecker    lynskey    wever

Dream Nominees: Anna Chlumsky, Veep; Melissa Fumero, Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Gillian Jacobs, Community; Amy Landecker, Transparent; Melanie Lynskey, Togetherness; Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie

Honorable Mentions (not pictured): Chelsea Peretti, Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Amanda Peet, Togetherness; Gabby Hoffman, Transparent

Why I’m pulling for them:  Some veered toward the more dramatic: Amy Landecker’s portrayal of eldest child Sarah Pfefferman was so nuanced, so heartbreaking, and so complex that her closest rival is Melanie Lynskey’s equally nuanced performance as beleaguered wife and mother Michelle.  Merritt Wever’s Zoe had a tumultuous final year as she watched her idol crumble to ruins around her.  Meanwhile, Anna Chlumsky had an epic breakdown on Veep, Gillian Jacobs got caught in gigantic prop hand (funnier than it sounds), and Melissa Fumero had the perfect balance of ass-kiss perfection and romantic longing.  Whether they made us bust a gut laughing or broke our hearts, these were performances for the ages.


Outstanding Supporting Actor In a Comedy Series

braugher    burgess    dunn

offerman    woods    zissis

Dream Nominees: Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Tituss Burgess, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Kevin Dunn, Veep; Nick Offerman, Parks and Recreation; Zach Woods, Silicon Valley; Steve Zissis, Togetherness

Honorable Mentions (not pictured): TJ Miller, Silicon Valley; Tony Shalhoub, Nurse Jackie; Cameron Monaghan, Shameless; Keith David, Community; Gary Cole, Veep; Timothy Simons, Veep; Tony Hale, Veep

Why I’m pulling for them: These performances had it all: pinot noir (Burgess is a national treasure), Velvet Thunder (Braugher’s funniest moment yet), and even Hitler quotes as inspirational workplace adages (is Woods playing a long-lost relative of the Fuhrer?).  Meanwhile, Nick Offerman sent off Ron Swanson with his trademark heartwarming humor in tact and Kevin Dunn became the best male supporting player in a show loaded with outstanding support.  But it’s Togetherness‘s Steve Zissis who deserves our special attention here.  Where has this guy been all our lives?  Seriously, this is the ultimate breakout performance: he plays lovable sad-sack Alex, a struggling actor and unlucky-in-love everyman, who is imbued with such humor and pathos that you find yourself rooting for this man even as you desperately want to grab him by the shoulders and shake him.  I guess that’s what captivated me in the end: Zissis is a natural, and his performance felt so damn real it hurt.


Outstanding Lead Actress In a Comedy Series

dreyfuss    falco    kaling

poehler        schumer

Dream Nominees: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep; Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie; Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project; Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation; Emmy Rossum, Shameless; Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer

Honorable Mentions (not pictured): Ellie Kemper, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Aya Cash, You’re the Worst; Lisa Kudrow, The Comeback

Why I’m pulling for them: Lots of repeats here, so forgive me.  But how can you not want to throw every award in the world at Dreyfus, who managed to find freshness in a role four years old as Selina bumbled her way through the Presidency?  Or Poehler’s pitch-perfect swansong for one of television’s best characters ever?  Or Falco’s brilliantly real turn as an addict in search of redemption but struggling to find it?  Or Rossum’s complex pseudo-antihero Fiona on television’s most dramatic comedy series?  Or Kaling’s spot-on balance of bigheartedness and narcissism in a world of tongue-in-cheek romcom tropes?  That leaves breakout star Amy Schumer, a comedienne enjoying ubiquitous popularity in the past year as her fantastic sketch show proved to us that, sometimes, the best way to talk about the tough issues is through comedy.  All these women are brilliant, whether repeat nominees or newbies, and Emmy (award, not actress) had better recognize!


Outstanding Lead Actor In a Comedy Series

louie    mchale    French Me, You Idiot/Indian BBW

middleditch    samberg    tambor

Dream Nominees: Louis C.K., Louie; Joel McHale, Community; Chris Messina, The Mindy Project; Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley; Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Honorable Mentions (not pictured): Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation; Jay Baruchel, Man Seeking Woman; Chris Geere, You’re the Worst

Why I’m pulling for them: While Thomas Middleditch and Andy Samberg did wonderful work proving that their first-season turns were no flukes, Louie C.K. continued to subvert our expectations at every turn, vacillating from a story about hurrying home from the grocery store to poop to one about a recurring nightmare plaguing him after he dismissed a helpless divorcee.  Messina has been good since day one, and it’s high time he got the sparkling accolades Diamond Dan so richly deserves.  McHale also delivered his finest work to date in Community‘s fantastic sixth season as Jeff struggled to imagine a life at Greendale without two of his closest friends.  That leaves us with Jeffrey Tambor’s towering turn as Maura Pfefferman; I can’t recall having been so profoundly moved by a performance — comedic or dramatic — as I was by this one.  Achingly beautiful and beautifully human, Tambor’s Maura is the character we all need, now more than ever.


Outstanding Comedy Series

brooklyn nine nine    community    parks

shameless    togetherness    transparent


Dream NomineesBrooklyn Nine-Nine; Community; Parks and Recreation; Shameless; Togetherness; Transparent; Veep

Honorable Mentions (not pictured)Nurse Jackie; Silicon Valley; Louie; The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; You’re the Worst; Man Seeking Woman; The Mindy Project; The Comeback

Why I’m pulling for them: Comedies are tricky these days: some of them go for the funny bone and strike it consistently, while others take a more dramatic approach and strive to break our hearts more than move us to laughter.  Fortunately, Emmy allows for seven best series nominees, forcing me to consider each show on its own merits and judge it by its successes based upon its goals.  No other show in my consideration even dared to produce 23 episodes of comedy, and the fact that Brooklyn Nine-Nine pulled it off brilliantly, while also remembering to evolve its characters, earned it a spot here.  Veep managed to probe new depths of comedy with Selina in the White House, and no series on TV is as raucously profane.  Parks and Recreation signed off with an outstanding final crop of episodes, capped off by a sweet, nostalgic, and hilarious finale that gave all our characters (okay, so maybe not Jean-Ralphio) the happy endings they all deserved.  Community made the transfer to Yahoo! Screen and seemed rejuvenated by the process; the thirteen episodes hearkened back to the show we all fell in love with (“Ladders,” “Grifting 101,” and “Modern Espionage,” in particular, felt vintage), while the likely series finale hit absolutely every note just right. Shameless continues, inexplicably, to fly under nearly everyone’s radar, even as its storytelling continues to service its motley crew of characters so, so well.  Togetherness felt like an eight-hour indie movie from filmmaking team the Duplass Brothers, a whimsical, sad, wistful, and funny exploration of the no-man’s-land that is life in your late 30s. And then there’s Amazon’s Transparent, the vitally relevant series from Six Feet Under‘s Jill Soloway that uses the coming-out of an erstwhile patriarch as a trans woman to tell a universal tale of identify, love, and family in a way few shows would dare to.  With the exception of a handful of scenes, Transparent didn’t make me laugh aloud, but its bittersweet tone gave me so very much on which to ruminate that we didn’t need to laugh to identify the sometimes heartbreaking but often ridiculously unexpected twists our lives take.  These aren’t the only great comedies on television (see my honorable mentions), but they are very much in need of honoring.


Well, that’s it for now!  Let me know what you think in the comments.  Look for my dramatic series dream ballot to come out by the end of the week.  Thanks for reading!