The best part of this time of year (besides an abundance of cookies and all that cheer) is the end of the year lists. Not to be left out, I have complied my own list of the best TV had to offer in 2012.
Note: These picks are based only on the shows that I avidly watch and enjoy. Yes, I’m sure Homeland is fantastic, but until I watch it I’m not going to rate it.
Further Note: These shows are not ranked as it was hard enough to whittle it down to 10. Further sorting would have required far too much decisiveness.
There is a reason almost everyone who has ever worked in, been involved in, or has passively watched television calls Breaking Bad the best television show currently on air; it is that good. It is the only show I’ve seen that has not only maintained its level of brilliance throughout its course, but has somehow become better with each passing season. I thought this year’s half of the final season was giving me an ulcer, but the wait for the final half is doing even more damage
Call the Midwife (PBS)
This charming British import worked its way into my heart and therefore onto this list. It quiet, unassuming approach to storytelling is easy to overlook, but the characters were some of the best developed and well-rounded on screen this year. In just six short episodes they managed to do what other shows can’t accomplish in 22; they created relatable characters and gave them interesting and moving lives that keep you invested not only in the principal characters, but the plethora of periphery ones as well.
This is the most underrated show currently on television, in my opinion. While cable comedies like Girls and Louie get all the press Episodes quietly continues to produce something increasingly hysterical each week. Watching Matt LeBlanc try to pop Stephan Mangan’s shoulder back into place is the hardest I’ve laughed at anything on TV all year.
I may be the only one who watched this latest Bravo experiment, but I sincerely hope I wasn’t because I need a second season of this trash. Gallery Girls may as well have been named Real Housewives: The Formative Year. It has all the snarky backstabbing of The Real Housewives franchise, all the awkward eye rolling pettiness of The Hills and all the dirty, ironic pretentiousness of hipsters who think they understand art. In short, it’s the best of everything you pretend not to like.
I resisted the charms of this critical darling for a while. Like a lot of people, I found Hannah incredibly annoying and the connotation that this is what girls my age are like rather insulting, but (for whatever reason) I kept watching and eventually it won me over. It may not be exactly realistic to twenty-something life (at least for me), but it’s relatable enough to equally uncomfortable and hilarious.
Mad Men (AMC)
What else is there to say about this show that hasn’t already been said ad nauseum? It’s brilliantly written, brilliantly acted, and brilliantly produced. This season wasn’t its strongest, but a weak season of Mad Men is still miles ahead of the average TV offerings.
In my opinion this was the standout new comedy of the year. The ensemble is great together and Mindy Kaling quickly proving she is a force to be reckoned with in the new world. Her Dr. Lahari is charmingly flawed but still successful, something most lady comedy is sorely missing.
Modern Family (ABC)
When Modern Family first premiered it was an unmitigated hit that has consequently changed family sitcoms. It has perfected the formula of providing constant laughs mixed with truly heartfelt moments. Many shows have tried to copy this technique, but none can ever come close to the original.
The Newsroom (HBO)
I’ve made my feelings about The Newsroom, and more importantly Aaron Sorkin, very clear, so it should be no surprise that it has landed on my list of the year’s best. The critical reception of the series was exactly that, but the audience response has been amazing. Aaron Sorkin creates magic and has clearly done so again with The Newsroom.
I only discovered this frothy soap recently, so it is landing on this list with a combined score for its first season and its current one. Yes, it is campy and overly dramatic and completely farfetched, but that is exactly what makes it the perfect escape every Sunday night.
Honorable Mentions: Happy Endings, Suburgatory, American Horror Story: Asylum, DWTS All Stars, Veep, Castle, Nashville
– Devin Mainville