This has been a great year for TV. I love that there were so many great new shows that they warranted their own list even if I didn’t get to as many as I wanted. I love the shift away from the antihero that happened this year and what it means for this new era of TV and I love the complexity and diversity of characters that we got to see this year. So in no particular order, here were my picks for the best new shows of the year.
Masters of Sex I have not shut up about this show since September but I will happily talk about it some more. I love this show. I love learning about the research of Masters and Johnson, the acting is fantastic, and I have completely fallen in love with the women on the show. It is a show that manages to combine my academic love for sex research with my love for great characters so it’s pretty much perfect for me.
Orphan Black It’s impossible to talk about this show without highlighting the incredible work that Tatiana Maslany is doing on it. It is really a testament to her that I’m able to forget that she’s playing several different characters. However, it also says a lot about the show that her talent isn’t the only thing that makes the show great. All of the clones are genuinely interesting characters, Felix is just the greatest in general, and I was completely drawn into the story.
Orange is the New Black If you like shows that feature complex female characters, stop what you are doing and watch Orange is the New Black if you haven’t already. I loved the use of flashbacks to show how some of the characters got to where they are today and I cannot wait to see more of them in season 2. These characters aren’t just criminals – they are allowed to be people with hopes and fears and insecurities and strengths. We understand them and fall in love with them as Piper’s perspective widens and she starts to care for them as well. On a lesser show, Suzanne would have remained Crazy Eyes and Tiffany Doggett would have remained Pennsatucky the religious nut. It is this show’s commitment to its characters and telling the stories of women that are rarely shown on television that make this show such a success.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Parks and Rec is my favorite show so it wasn’t a huge surprise that I would enjoy another show by the same people. Just like Parks and Rec, it is funny and warm at the same time. Captain Holt cracks me up with his complete lack of expression at anything and Andre Braugher plays him perfectly. It feels like it’s been around for longer than half a season because the characters all feel fully formed and that’s something to be impressed by.
Trophy Wife This show was an unexpected treat. The name is a bit off-putting at at first glance, the characters seem like they could be one-dimensional but that hasn’t been the case at all as the season develops. They are an unconventional family but that is exactly what they are – all 4 adults and 3 children. It’s warm, funny, and gave me one of my new favorite Christmas episodes of TV.
Hannibal This show is incredibly beautiful and has a very talented cast, but what I liked most about the show was their portrayal of violence. The crimes were gruesome and often disturbing but they were never taken lightly. The violence didn’t exist for the sake of violence and through Will, we got to see the consequences of that violence. It took a toll on him and it took a toll on the viewers as well. It’s a heavy show and not one you’d want to binge watch and I appreciated that.
The Fosters I was hesitant to watch this show because I don’t have any luck with ABC Family shows. The last two shows I loved were canceled after one season and I wasn’t ready for that to happen again because I knew this would be a show that I would get attached to. It reminds me of the best aspects of Parenthood but features a different family dynamic and more of a focus on the kids. The Fosters are such a warm and loving family that you can’t help but care about them. I have been very impressed by the show’s ability to handle issues without turning them into “Very Special Episode” material. It’s a very different show than many others on TV right now and I’m so grateful to have it. [The theme song] completely captures what the show is about and it’s a message that I will never tire of seeing on TV.
Sleepy Hollow This show is so much fun. The plot is wacky and combines things that don’t seem like they would mesh well at all on the surface and it just works. The leads are strong and their chemistry is the best part of the show. The introduction of Jenny and the addition of Irving to the team has been great and I can’t wait to see those relationships developed even more. Of all of the new shows this fall, it’s been the one that has made me the happiest.
The Carrie Diaries I absolutely adore this show. Carrie was easily my least favorite of the girls on Sex and the City so I wasn’t expecting much from this show even though the source material is different. I love all of the characters and each episode just makes me happy to watch. I love that they kept the voiceover bookends on the show and the addition of Samantha this season to tie the story into Sex and the City. There are so many great relationships on the show between the girls and Walt and Sebastian and I enjoy them all.
The Americans In retrospect, I probably should have written about the relationship between Elizabeth and Philip on my earlier Best Of list. Their staged-but-maybe-sometimes-inching-toward-reality relationship was the most interesting part of the show to me. It’s a complicated relationship because of their situation, which makes the non-physical intimacy that becomes evident from time to time that much more compelling. These people have grown to care about each other when they really shouldn’t have and it’s been a joy to watch. I like the actual plot of them being spies, but for me, the relationship is what will bring me back to the show in February.
What new shows did you love that I missed this year?