Clearly, both Ana and Thea are bananas, and in addition to reading and reviewing obscene amounts of books, we also obsess over multiple television shows, movies, video games, and all other manner of geekery. With that in mind, we needed to create ANOTHER list (we are list makers, yes we are) for our end of the year celebration. We give you our very own BEST OF THE REST (everything that isn’t a book).
Well. Well, well, well. I knew this moment would arrive one day. And that day is here: books and TV shows have taken over my life! I simply have no free time to dedicate to another hobby. Games WHAT? Movies WHEN? Movies are so outside my radar I actually had to Google to make sure that Avengers was a 2012 movie (and it was AWESOME, loved it). I only watched a tiny number of movies (including the last Batman, which I shall pretend it never happened) this year and as such I don’t really feel like I have a lot to say.
But TV? Holy moly! I watched loads: from old favourites (The West Wing rewatch!! ALL AGATHA CHRISTIE’S POIROT AND MARPLE!) to those I have been watching regularly for a few years. I still find Castle extremely amusing and I love Modern Family. I am (begrudgingly) still watching Dexter and I am so NOT happy about the direction the show has taken this last series. Game of Thrones (AKA Kill the Little Shits Named Joffrey and Theon Greyjoy) was pretty cool as expected but I guess I wasn’t head over heels in love with it. Of the new batch of shows, I really tried to watch Arrow, I really really did. But no. NO. It was SO BAD. The only new show I am really enjoying is, surprisingly, Nashville for all of its female characters, their arcs and interactions (also, drool-worthy Deacon).
Interestingly, of my top 5 shows from last year’s Best of the Rest, I stopped watching 3: Revenge (got SO BORING halfway through season 1); Doctor Who (I KNOW. But I couldn’t bear to see Rory and Amy go. Plus, reviews of the first few episodes were not that exciting so I just didn’t feel like watching it) and Once Upon a Time (I got kind of tired of it more than halfway through season 1). I am not even going to mention series 3 of Downton Abbey because of REASONS. [1. Ok. FINE. It was somewhat better than series 2 but still overall, the series was a mixture of hopeful watching and bitter disillusion. Will I watch series 4? HELL YES.]
All that said, there were ten series that knocked my socks off this year (and we might just go ahead and call it the Year of Danish TV):
If there is one show on this list that makes for some conflicted watching, Homeland is IT. I sat down one day to catch up with season 2 then all of a sudden is hours later and I am still glued to the TV. This is the type of show that is BOTH frustrating and amazing. There were times over the course of season 2 that I felt I was watching an episode of 24 and at some points the thriller-like developments were a bit too much but then there comes Brody and Carrie meeting up and I am like: WHAT IS HAPPENING. Seriously, half the time, I do NOT TRUST what is happening before my eyes. And yes, I dislike intensely any show that goes “BUT THE TERRORISTS” because it is so easy to associate and reduce entire cultures, countries, religions and peoples to this one single thing and that is so often a slippery slope of Doom and I am not sure I like where this is all going with Brody, etc. BUT then that last scene with Saul and Carrie?
9. Moone Boy
Moone Boy is a Sky TV semi-autobiographical sitcom written and co-starred by Chris O’Dowd who plays the imaginary friend of the cutest boy ever – it is all about growing up in Boyle (Ireland) in the 80s. And it is so funny but also lovable and the fact that a lot of storylines are inevitably historical (feminism! religion! politics!) is the cherry on top. ALSO: Irish accent, why you so awesome? And I will never forget the Pavlova Tuesdays dinner scene.
8. Horrible Histories
Horrible Historieswould inevitably be here: season 4 was hilarious as usual, and I constantly rewatch sketches on Youtube. This latest series also had FABULOUS songs and my two favourites this year were:
7. Scott & Bailey
Scott & Bailey is a police procedural on ITV (British channel) featuring two female cops – Rachel Bailey and Janet Scott – who are cop-partners and close friends. The show features these two complex characters as good, competent (if fallible) cops, struggling with cop-life and personal-life and it is all so well done and engaging. I do enjoy police procedurals but most of the time it is all so male-focused (even when the main character is female she is often partnered with a male character) that it is extremely refreshing to see one focusing 100% on these two fantastic women. Actually, make it three: the amazing, demanding, tough police chief Gill Murray almost steals the show every single time. Series 3 stars in May and I cannot wait.
Whenever I think about Sherlock I always think back to the article How to be a Fan of Problematic Things. This show is AWESOME. This show is EXTREMELY problematic (omg the treatment of Irene Adler and every single female character in the show this season? No). But I love it: both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are so incredibly talented and that last showdown with Moriarty was sheer genius.
5. Mad Men
I think season 5 was my favourite yet? Maybe. I felt like Don Draper took a backseat this year and we saw less of his self-centred arc? In any case, I loved Megan’s arc, loved to loathe Pete Campbell (Another Little Shit) and to root for Peggy Olson. This season though was stolen by Joan’s arc and I don’t think I have ever seen anything as heartbreaking as the storyline involving her climbing to the top via sexual favours. It was so fucked up, so sad and so freaking UNFAIR and I loved that this was portrayed so well, in a way that was so complex: Joan was portrayed as both victim of the system/sexism culture and not victim (if that makes any sense?). Wondering if any of you felt the same way? I know I was a slobbering mess by the end of that episode with the injustice of it all at the same time that I was like, Go Joannie!
4. The Walking Dead
Another one for the “I can like problematic things” list. Despite the treatment of the PoC and female characters (the fact that someone decided to change Andrea, the most awesome character, into someone unrecognisable; despite the fact that Michonne’s performance so far seems to be reduced to grunting and staring), I still felt that this season of Walking Dead was my favourite yet. I loved it because it was tense and heartbreaking, because I never knew what was going to happen, because Rick and Karl’s reaction to Lori’s death were heartbreaking, because The Governor is freaky, and because all of a sudden Glenn and Maggie were superheroes.
3. The Killing
Now, we finally get to the Danish shows. A bit of context: I am in the UK and the past year has seen the BBC bringing over tons of Danish TV shows over here. And.They.Are. AWESOME.
The Killing is a police procedural featuring, the serious, driven, extremely smart detective Sarah Lund. The show has three seasons (the third just finished and it was the last one ever) and each season features one crime – the plot has twists and turns and on top of the investigative work it often follows the victim’s family’s struggles as well as the politics of the country – often around the Prime Minister’s office. It is just so good, despite it being dark, gloomy and cynical and Sarah Lund is an amazingly dysfunctional character.
I still don’t know how I feel about how it ended though. Part of me thinks that Sarah WOULD NEVER DO THAT. Part of me doesn’t think anything because mind=blown.
And please, if you have watched The Killing US, please know this: it is nowhere near as good as the original.
2. The Bridge
The Bridge is another crime drama, co-produced by Denmark and Sweden. It follows a police investigation following the discovery of a dead body on the bridge between Denmark and Sweden and two lead detectives – one from each side. Just like The Killing It is another twisterific show that follows not only the investigation but also the lives of the characters involved with it and it also observes and criticizes politics and social injustice in the countries it depicts. One of the lead detectives – Saga Norén – is an extremely competent cop who also happens to have Aspergers Syndrome.
I saved the best for last. Borgen was my absolute favorite show of 2012. Another Danish drama, this one is all about politics featuring the life of the first (fictional) female Prime Minister of Denmark, Birgitte Nyborg. Over the course of its two series (series three – its last – starts next year in UK) it follows Birgitte, as she navigates the treacherous waters of Politics at the same time that she tries to juggle her married-with-two-kids life (and fights overwhelming sexism in the meantime) with the top job in the country. Secondary storylines include the troubled Spin-Doctor Jasper and the ultra ambitous and awesome journalist Katrine Fønsmark. This show has everything: interesting politics, an amazing plot with great storytelling, lots of heartbreak and a side of great romance too. I seriously don’t think I can wait for season 3.
So there you have it. My favourite non-bookish things of 2012. Thea will be posting her own list soon. What about you? Any TV Shows and Movies that rocked your world in 2012? Do share!