3. Girls, HBO
Her HBO comedy had no shortage of sexual cringe-gasms – but this one really took the cookie. Dunham's dysfunctional heroine goes to her asshole boyfriend's house to tell him she's through. We figure we'll never miss him and neither will she. Except. Except then he starts beating off and Hannah yells at him and he gets into that and she gets into it. Suddenly she's humiliating him, degrading him, taking his money. "You heard me, you filthy boy. I want cab money. Twenty! Thirty! Because I also want pizza and gum!" That's the moment when Girls jumped from good to genius. Who says romance is dead?
2. Louie, FX
Louie had his share of hideously horrific dates, from Melissa Leo to Chloë Sevigny, this year, but he met his match in his rooftop rendezvous with Parker Posey, who comes on as an even bigger mess than he is. (When your date orders a drink and the bartender tells her, "Not after last time," that might be considered a warning sign.) How many movies have you seen where there's a romantic moment on a roof or balcony? But they never show you the couple schlepping up the stairs (huff, puff, wheeze) or details like how anxious Louie gets when Parker wanders too close to the edge (which is what would totally ruin the night for me). Like everything else on Louie, it was funny, scary, poignant and deeply frustrating in the best possible way.1. Mad Men
For the first half, Season Five wasn't just the best Mad Men season – it was shaping up to be the greatest run any TV show has ever had. It didn't quite get there – the title is still held by Season Four. But this was the White Album of Mad Men seasons, a risky mess where Don Draper and his crew of hustlers finally meet their match in the madness of 1966. Draper couldn't even make it all the way through his first listen toRevolver. The whole season was a full-on portrait of America in the Sixties: drugs, blow jobs, civil rights, Sally's go-go boots. And if this was Mad Men's White Album, Roger Sterling's LSD trip was the "Dear Prudence." You always knew somebody at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce was going to get psychedelic, but who the hell thought this guy would be the one to chase the white rabbit? In the summer of 1966, Roger – the last guy you'd ever call cosmic – gets a weird psychedelic glimpse of his future and peeks into the nearest faraway places in his lost soul. He sees everything that's wrong about his life. But then his spiritual bliss wears off and he goes back to being his corrupt, cynical self. That's bad news for him – but good for us, because Mad Men just keeps peaking creatively and is still far ahead of anything else out there on TV.
List without comment:
1. Mad Men: Roger Sterling's acid-trip
2. Louie: Louis C. K. meets Parker Posey
3. Girls: Lena Dunham goes Dominatrix
4. Fox News: Election Night Freak-Out
5. Breaking Bad: Walter vs Mike
6. Community: Dan Harmon's cosmic goodbye
7. Game of Thrones: Tyrion Lannister looks in the mirror
8. Homeland: Carrie confronts Brody
9. Burning Love: The ladies fondle Ken Marino's Hose
10. Saturday Night Live: Kristen Wiig says Goodnight to 'SNL'
11. Sherlock: the Bitchiest Holmes ever.
12. Downton Abbey: the Notorious Maggie Smith
13. CBS and NBC: Letterman and Fallon during Sandy.
14. Parks and Recreation: Ben and Leslie get engaged.
15. DNC Convention: Bill Clinton delivers the full Bubba.