It’s the end of the year and you know what that means – it’s list time! Television rocked my socks big time this year. And judging by the amount of big name movie stars showing up on the small screen, it rocked a few Hollywood A-lister’s socks as well.
It feels a bit like this year was the year cinema screens were left for the multi-million dollar blockbuster action spectaculars and all the incredibly well written scripts were left to the small screen. In fact there were so many good shows, it’s lucky companies like Netflix and Amazon have allowed us all to embrace binge watching, otherwise I have no idea how I’d ever get out of the house.
So here’s my picks for the best TV shows of 2014.
This list is in no particular order, but if someone put a gun to my head and made me choose (because that’s likely), I’d probably sayTransparent, about a transgender parent attempting to come out to his self-possessed family, was number one. It was so good I wrote a whole post on it, so have a read here.
This show gave us one of the most original (and quotable) characters on the small screen in a long while in Matthew McConaughey’s often incoherent babbler, Rust Cohle. Except for my one little niggle with the totally out of character actions of Rust in the ending, it had me a virtual shut in while I binged my way through all eight hours. True Detective wasn’t just dark, it was a lesson in nihilism.
Speaking of dark, Fargo reached new heights of black humour. Martin Freeman absolutely nailed it as hapless Minnesota-ite, Lester Nygaard, who gets caught up in a web of evil after being pushed that little bit too far by his ball-busting wife. If ever there was a more perfect morality tale to illustrate the saying ‘one bad deed begets another’ this is it. Billy Bob Thornton and his man-bangs were equally as brilliant as the menacing psycho Lorne Malvo.
Set in a small, British seaside town, Broadchurch follows local detective Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) and out of towner Alec Hardy as they search for the murderer of an 11 year old boy.Watching this show drained me, but in the best possible way. It’s a deeply moving series, to put it mildly, one where not just the subject matter, but the tone, the music and the landscape work hard to give you a big old emotional smack in the face. Watch this before you see the American version, Gracepoint (which apparently has a different ending).
The woeful pilot episode almost made me give Babylon a miss, but stick with it as episode one shows you its real potential. Set amidst the communications office of the London Police, it stars Brit Marling as an American rising star brought in to work her magic on the force’s ailing public image. Although Lena Dunham gets raves for being a young female writer/ director/ star, Brit Marling ticks all those boxes too (although here she only acts) but gets much less of the accolades. If she’s decided something is worthwhile enough to act in, it’s a sure bet for me the project is a good one. Her decision in this case was probably helped along by the fact that Babylon is directed by Danny Boyle and written by the same team who did the excellent ‘Four Lions’.
With all that doom and gloom and murder and mayhem, Silicon Valley was a light hearted relief. Set in the title city, home of all things ‘start-up’, the show is about a group of super-techy nerds who take on the giants of the computing world to start their own… errr… start up. It’s a light but deceptively cleverly written satire on the effects of money and success in a world where whole careers can begin and end in a matter of days.
As well as the new shows above, my favourite returning shows were (somewhat obviously) Orange is the New Black Season 2, Game of Thrones Season 4, Sherlock Season 3 and House of Cards Season 2. If you haven’t watched previous seasons of any of these shows, ohhhhh, lucky you. There’s your whole winter sorted.