We’re continuing our week-long series of year-end thoughts on television from the crew here at Awards Daily TV.
10. Bottom-tier Character Tomozaki
This anime was simply delightful in the tropes it avoided. Tomozaki, a high schooler who is the number one player of Attack Families, declares it is a “godly game,” unlike life. He meets the second best player Aoi, the most popular girl in school, who declares life is the best game ever and trains him like a video game character to up his levels. Despite Tomozaki being placed around a bunch of female characters to learn, he does not develop a harem. He learns from them and they in turn gain something as well. Aoi, while a strong friend, never becomes romantic with Tomozaki making it actually a stronger dynamic for them. A fun and a lot more thoughtful anime than I expected.
9. This Way Up
This dark Irish comedy is simply watching the lives of two adult sisters as they try to make decisions about what they want out of work, love, and life. You can never tell what Áine and Shona will do and that is what makes them so delightfully human. You root for them, laugh and cringe, hoping for the best. Plus Tobias Menzies as Áine’s boyfriend is always delightful.
A tense thriller that takes us through so many twists that it was never clear where we were going to end up. Watching James Nesbitt as he investigates, scrambles, and at times takes control at different intervals throughout the show was mesmerizing to watch. He changed our viewpoint of him as often as the show changed what we were watching. An intense and great binge, I have no idea what season two will be like but hopefully they can keep the tension going.
7. What We Do in the Shadows
While I always thought this show was funny, it didn’t quite break into greatness for me. This season changed that. Putting these goofy vampires in charge of the local vampires, changing the group dynamic, was a stroke of genius. Laszlo and Colin Robinson hanging out was particularly hilarious and unexpectedly became surprisingly touching and heartfelt by the end of the season. Plus Kristen Schaal as The Guide saying “That’s above my paygrade” will never not be funny.
6. Ted Lasso
While the Christmas and Coach Beard episodes didn’t quite work for me, Ted Lasso was still one of the funniest, most touching, and downright great comedies on TV. Avoiding playing it safe, the characters went through many major changes too numerous to name, but Nathan’s slow shift was sad and yet compelling to watch. Ted’s optimism was put to a deeper internal test. But it was Brett Goldstein as Roy Kent with the funniest moments (“Enjoy the game. F*** you. It is you!”) and so many deeper looks at what he is about that the show could become Roy Kent and I wouldn’t complain.
Marvel’s greatest success so far was in not following the Marvel formula. The show’s high concept story combined with the pain and love that Wanda and Vision share made it a deeper story than it had any right to be. A great gimmick of the TV era provides humor, but as more is revealed about the conceit of this world we are given depth of character and pain expressed in new and interesting ways. Then they also blow a few things up! Can’t change everything.
4. Only Murders in the Building
This show just made me smile so often. Capturing the intrigue of a great crime podcast, but with just enough goofy character beats as well as the deep pain the three leads carry, keeps everything moving. The connection these three make as friends is touching and has been set up beautifully for season three. All three leads are great but a special shout out to Martin Short, who can be way over top for me, but was absolutely perfect here both comedically and in his desperation to make something of his life.
3. Mare of Easttown
This is Kate Winslet’s best performance. Period. If that isn’t enough, we also get a great ensemble cast including Evan Peters and Julianne Nicholson, who rightfully won Emmys for their roles. The mystery is an intriguing journey of misdirection and tense moments, but it is watching the people of this town, with all of their pain and secrets, trying to get by that is what makes this so compelling to watch.
This show took me several episodes till it really got me but when it did, woah, what a ride. Jean Smart has never been better and the discovery of Hannah Einbinder and Carl Clemons-Hopkins was a wonderful surprise. These characters are in different places in their lives and especially their careers (both the characters and the actors), but they are all bringing their A game to tell a story about getting by in the world with so much against you no matter where you may be. All while also being really, really funny!
I have read online that many believed this season lacked a focus that season two had plot-wise. I will admit that, while there was less of an overarching arc to everything, I never really thought that because I simply couldn’t stop watching these characters. Even when they made me cringe and want to look away I simply couldn’t. (Looking at you, Kendall!) What has made this show so intriguing is seeing the characters be damaged, desperate for affection, and equally horrible to themselves and each other. While doing a great job of giving everyone their moment to shine, this show still constantly surprises me with so many moments that just pop in my head randomly, including a finale for the ages that leaves me continuously wondering what will happen next!