Last week, I went through the honorable and dishonorable mentions, and so without further adieu, here are my top ten favorite television shows of 2014. (And as before, there are no spoilers.)
10. Nathan For You
Part reality show, part documentary, part mockumentary, part hidden camera, part business show— I don’t even know how to classify Nathan For You, except to say that it is hands-down, the funniest show on TV right now. Nathan Fielder reminds me a lot of another Canadian who had a hilarious show on American cable: Tom Green. I love Nathan’s awkward deadpan style of humor, and some of the business ideas he comes up with for the show are actually quite brilliant.
9. Regular Show
I hadn’t even heard of this animated comedy on Cartoon Network until a year or two ago, but I have since caught up and loved every episode. It may be on the kids version of the channel, but it wouldn’t be out of place on Adult Swim either. I love the randomness of the characters like a high-five ghost, a gum-ball machine, and Rigby, who made wise-cracking raccoons popular before Guardians of the Galaxy.
8. The Colbert Report
Colbert’s final season has been as brilliant as ever. Who knows what he’ll do with The Late Show, or if we’ll ever see his Colbert Report character again, but regardless, it’s been an amazing run.
Community had been my favorite sit-com since it debuted in 2009, but the show just wasn’t the same after creator/showrunner Dan Harmon was fired. Then surprisingly, Harmon was hired back and picked up right where he left off, even with the loss of key actors Chevy Chase and Donald Glover. I love the pop culture references littered throughout the show as well as the theme episodes like the one entirely in G.I. Joe animation.
6. Mad Men
I didn’t catch up to Mad Men until the third or fourth season. It isn’t an instantly addictive show that rewards binge-watching. There are no cliff-hangers or giant mysteries. It’s simply an expertly written and acted drama, probably the best of its kind, not that there’s anything else like it.
5. The Leftovers
I seem to be the only one on the internet who still supports Damon Lindelof. Lost was one of my favorite television shows of all time, and I loved Prometheus. The Leftovers is a very different show than Lost. It’s much darker and can get genuinely depressing at times, but it’s nevertheless fascinating. There are plenty of Lost-esque mysteries, most of which may never be explained, but that’s okay. The show also has one of the best scores on TV and also uses other artists’ songs well.
4. Silicon Valley
This show became an instant favorite of mine immediately after seeing the pilot. It’s like Entourage for geeks. It made me want to move to Silicon Valley and form a technology startup of my own. While I may never do that, I will vicariously enjoy watching the guys of Pied Piper.
I loved the Coen brothers movie, but I have to say I had my doubts about it being adapted into a TV show. I wasn’t even planning on watching this show, until the initial positive reviews starting coming out. The miniseries may be set in the world of Fargo the movie, but it’s really its own thing. I love the mini-series format— a long-form novel-like story told over a series of episodes with a clear beginning, middle, and end. It’s what I hoped The Killing would be. Fargo blew out my expectations with its perfect blend of comedy and violence and became one of the best crime dramas, be it TV or movie, of the year.
2. Game of Thrones
What is there left to say about Game of Thrones? It’s like Lord of the Rings meets The Wire. It’s like watching a big-budget fantasy adventure movie every week, except Game of Thrones is better than most actual big-budget movies. I haven’t read any of George R.R. Martin’s books, and probably won’t until after the series ends, because I like being surprised and watching the story unfold on screen with no expectations. I love just about every aspect of the story, and the only thing holding it back from #1 is the fact that the story is still incomplete.
1. True Detective
It would have had to have taken something monumental to knock Game of Thrones off the top spot of my list, and True Detective was just that: MONUMENTAL. I already talked about how I love the mini-series format with Fargo, but True Detective was an even better version of that. My favorite genre is the whodunit detective story, and True Detective featured one of the best detective characters in film and TV history: Rust Cohle. His philosophy and metaphysics helped create a truly unforgettable character, and with two timelines, we got to see two different versions of that great character. It didn’t hurt that Rust was being portrayed by one of the best actors working today in Matthew McConaughey, and directed by a fantastic filmmaker in Cary Fukunaga. More than any other TV show or mini-series, True Detective felt like one long movie, and at that, a movie deserving of multiple Oscars. As much as I’ll miss Rust Cohle, I love the idea of rebooting with an entirely new cast and case for season two and can’t wait to see it.