With New Year’s so close, I’ve put off my list of favorite television shows of 2014 long enough. Surprisingly, this list wasn’t as hard to figure out as I originally thought it would be. Of course, as Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorkerrecently pointed out, these six series aren’t the end-all-be-all of the television I watched in 2014.
Starz’s Black Sails was an addictive and politically complicated pirate drama, while the network’s Outlander provided a fantastic adaptation of a cool sci-fi novel. Arrow and The Flash on The CW as well as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC have revitalized the superhero genre on TV. Syfy hooked me with two new shows that have wildly different premises: Helix and Dominion. Orange is the New Black returned for a second season on Netflix and gave me my favorite quote of the year:
Photo via Tumblr
Bob’s Burgers and Brooklyn Nine-Nine continued to keep Fox’s block of Sunday night comedy interesting. Meanwhile, Once Upon A Time returned from a boring Neverland/Peter Pan plot to provide an interesting take on The Wizard of Oz, as well as a slightly-bonkers live-action adaption of Frozen. Orphan Black had a decent second season with an exciting twist in the finale that left me wanting the third season immediately. Parks and Recreation also featured a series-changing finale in their sixth season that will provide an interesting final season.
All in all, 2014 was a good year in television. But, even after looking at the best of the shows mentioned above, these are the six series that really stood out to me this year.
After waiting about a year for the sophomore season of My Mad Fat Diary, the show did not disappoint. Although naming My Mad Fat Diary as the best new show of 2013 raised my expectations for the show’s second season, it had no problem delivering. There was Rae’s (Sharon Rooney) difficult return to college, her rocky relationship with her best friend Chloe (Jodie Comer), and the unexpected surprise bestowed on their family by Rae’s mother, Linda (Claire Rushbrook). The second season was just as much of an emotional rollercoaster as the first season–and just as enjoyable.
Photo via Ciara Baxendale on Instagram
Many season one characters returned–while others did not–and viewers were even introduced to new characters such as Liam (Turlough Convery). Although I was disappointed that Rae’s primary tormentors (who turned a corner at the end of season one) did not return, they did make way for the mean girls of college: Stacy (Sacha Parkinson), Amy (Susie Potter), Vicky (Jodie Hamblet), & Lois (Kirsty Armstrong). The handsome Dr. Nick also did not return, but Kester (Ian Hart) seemed to be doing alright following his divorce and breakdown last season. These were the answers to some questions I had about season two before it began. Now that all of My Mad Fat Diary’s seven-episode second season has aired, let’s talk about the answers we got to the bigger questions. (Beware, there will be major spoilers.)
One more sleep! After almost exactly a year off air–the first season finale aired Feb. 18, 2013–E4’s teen drama series My Mad Fat Diary is back tomorrow! Before I even finished the pilot of My Mad Fat Diary I was convinced it had become my new favorite show (well, it’s currently fighting with MTV’s Teen Wolf for that honor) or at least, the best new series of 2013. By the end of the year, after I had watched countless pilots and older series I had never seen, I was confident no other show surpassed My Mad Fat Diary. The show is easily relatable to anyone, the music is fantastic, and the cast is amazing. (They’re also adorable, have you seen their Instagram photos?) It’s hard not to love My Mad Fat Diary; in fact, I don’t know anyone who has seen it that hasn’t become obsessed with it.
Photo via ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ on Facebook
Since the second season premieres tomorrow with the episode “Alarm,” it’s time to take a look back at the loose lends left by season one (for those who don’t have time for a complete rewatch of the series). When last we left the gang, Rae (Sharon Rooney) had come out as a total mental case to her friends at her mother’s wedding reception–she also reconciled with her best friend Chloe (Jodie Comer). Chop (Jordan Murphy) finally admitted his feelings for Izzy (Ciara Baxendale) and the two got together. Archie (Dan Cohen) almost admitted he was gay. Finn (Nico Mirallegro) told Rae how he felt about her–though there is some speculation among fans whether he said he loved her or he liked her. Additionally, Rae is back on good terms with her mum, Linda (Claire Rushbrook) and her mum’s new husband, Karim (Bamshad Abedi-Amin), as well as her therapist, Dr. Kester (Ian Hart). But Rae and the gang aren’t going to live happily ever after; in season two they must go back to school, which proves to be a bit of a struggle.
Every year, Oprah Winfrey puts together a list of her favorite things–aptly called “Oprah’s Favorite Things”–that’s meant as a gift guide for everyone. Since this blog is more about books, music, movies, and television rather than ‘things’ (also since the holidays are over,) I thought it might be fun to discuss my favorite media from the past 12 months. As a year, 2013 was pretty good in terms of the big blockbuster films, latest installments of franchises, new television series, music discovery, and delving into new book series.
This year alone I tackled The Maze Runner trilogy, the Percy Jackson series, and A Song of Ice and Fire. According to Spotify, I have 443 tracks on my 2013 playlist, as opposed to 220 songs on the 2012 mix. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch every film I wanted to in theaters, but I saw a majority of them after they were released on DVD. However, I did watch almost every new pilot that aired this year, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Now it’s time to take a look back at the books, music, movies, and TV shows that I discovered in 2013–all of which I highly recommend.
Music plays a pretty big part in E4’s seriesMy Mad Fat Diary, though it didn’t quite make it onto my list of Why ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ Is the Best New Show of 2013. Music got lumped in with all the other 90s aspects of the show–like clothes and slang. But after rewatching My Mad Fat Diary again (for the third time,) I realized just how instrumental the soundtrack is to the characters and plot of the show. Rae uses music as an initiation into a new group of friends, she bonds with another character in particular over music, and the soundtrack helps to set the tone of many scenes throughout the series. After finding Tumblr user Cliffpantones’s gifset of the six best music moments from season one, I thought I’d try to come up with my own list.
Check out all those Oasis shirts. Photo courtesy of Facebook.
Although it’s been six months since I declared MMFD would be the best show to premiere in 2013 (and we still haven’t quite gotten through fall premiere season,) I still believe the show has the best television soundtrack of the year, if not of the past five years. You can check out all 113 tracks from the show in my playlist: My Mad Fat Diary MegaPlaylist. From Oasis to Blur, The Cure to Radiohead, whoever picks the music for MMFD should win some kind of award. Not only is the music quality, each song also fits perfectly into whatever scene in which it’s featured. So, while I rewatched MMFD recently, I took note of every scene that was perfectly matched with a 90s tune and narrowed it down to 10–which was difficult–in order to celebrate the best music moments from season one.
‘My Mad Fat Diary’ premiered in January 2013. Photo courtesy of ColouringWithScreencaps on Tumblr.
If you haven’t been watching My Mad Fat Diary, you have been missing out. It’s been a while since I’ve loved a show as much as this one, and I think I’ll be hard-pressed to find another show this year—or even the next few years—that I like half as much. Which is kind of a big deal since it’s only been slated 6 episodes for the first season. That’s only six hours spent with Rae in her crazy, messed up world–and the last of those 6 episodes airs tonight. It’s hard for me to believe it’s been so little time, especially because I don’t know when Rae will be back. Cue my sobbing.
My Mad Fat Diary tells the story of 16-year-old, 220-pound, Rae Earl as she deals with mental illness coupled with body image problems and the normal pressures of being a teenager. She’s trying to reconnect with her best friend, Chloe, and form new connections with her gang: Archie, Izzy, Chop and Finn. Although I’ve only known about the show for about a week, from what I can tell, fans love it. I certainly love it enough to constantly recommend it to anyone who will listen. It’s hilarious, it’s heartfelt, it’s freaking fantastic! It’s, as Sam Wollaston at The Guardian said, “honest and painful, real, and very funny.” If you’re still not convinced, here are a few more reasons you should watch it.