Tag Archives: Better Things

Best of 2017: TV Shows

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BETTER THINGS – Pictured: (L-R) Pamela Adlon as Pam, Olivia Edward as Duke). CR: Colleen Hayes/FX

The annual list is back again for another year – the list that only begins to take any real form or shape late in the year once the influx of shows, new and old, have made their way into our homes.

Last years list saw eight of the twelve classed as “new entries” and this year is no different with only two shows managing to hold onto a spot within the coveted top twelve.

That said, if the list went longer than the specific twelve, I don’t know where I could actually stop and find an appropriate cut meaning some shows such as The Walking Dead, American Housewife and Wentworth become glaringly absent.

Honorable Mention: Big Mouth Season 1 [New Entry] – Netflix Australia

Netflix’s new animated comedy Big Mouth is silly, disgusting, funny, shocking and rather awkward too – which is much like the tween characters featured in this outrageous ‘coming of age’ laugh fest.  Underneath all the gross-out jokes and masturbation references though lies a sweet friendship between Andrew (John Mulaney) and Nicky (Nick Kroll) as they both traverse the sweaty, pimply and smelly puberty years.

12: Schitt’s Creek Season 3 [New Entry] – Netflix Australia

Season Three has the Rose’s being contempt with life in Schitt’s Creek – Moira (Catherine O’Hara) has cemented her position on town council, Alexis (Annie Murphy) completes her high school education and David (Dan Levy) opens up his own ’boutique’ store.  Another fantastic season filled with gif worthy quotes.

11: How To Get Away With Murder Season 4 [#7 in 2016] – 7Flix

Laurel (Karla Souza) is trying to solve Wes’ (Alfred Enoch) murder while the rest of the scooby gang have moved, trying to rescue their fledgling legal careers after Annalise (Viola Davis) fired everyone including Bonnie (Liza Wiel).  The mid season finale with heavily pregnant (and bleeding) Laurel trapped in an elevator was one of the most horrifying and traumatizing scenes on television this season.

10: Playing House Season 3 [New Entry] – USA Network

Absent from last years list thanks to a year long absence (Thanks USA Network – wtf?!) Playing House’s third and sadly final season continued along with the shows much loved theme of two best friends being there for one another no matter the circumstance.  Emma’s (Jessica St.Clair) brush with breast cancer was highly emotional along with Maggie’s (Lennon Parham) attempt to dive back into the dating pool.  A wonderful comedy ending on a seriously hilarious high.

09: The Sinner [New Entry] – Netflix Australia – Netflix Australia

The ‘whydunit’ of the year became a surprise hit thanks to stellar performances by leads Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman and the power of word-of-mouth.  A graphic murder, memory loss, sickness and bad memories all play out over eight incredible episodes as we find out why Cora committed murder.

08: Orphan Black Season 5  [New Entry] – SBS

The final season of the sci-fi/clone drama saw the clones pulled apart in an attempt to finally put an end to the Dyad/Castor/Brightborn saga that has played out over the past four seasons.  A surprise return in favorite Delphine (Évelyne Brochu) made many fans happy while star Tatiana Maslany continued to shine in her ability to portray multiple, layered, characters.

07: Greys Anatomy Season 14 [New Entry] – 7Flix

In all honesty, it’s been some time since I have been ‘really’ excited about an episode of Grey’s but the series’ 14th season (currently on a mid season break) has seen a return to form with many characters and their multi-season story arcs all culminating into this fantastic season.  Owen’s (Kevin McKidd) long thought dead sister reappears, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) wins the long mentioned Harper Avery award and the shows 300th episode brought glimpses of past favorites such as Christina (Sandra Oh), George (T.R Knight) and Izzy (Katherine Heigl) in the form of look-a-likes.

06: Star Trek Discovery Season 1 [New Entry] – Netflix Australia

It has been some time since a “Trek” series was on television (12 years to be precise) and the CBS All Access/Netflix outing is a sleek, flashy, violent and welcome addition to the franchise that, unlike previous Treks, sets its sights firmly on the theme of war against an uprising band of Klingons.  Discovery offers up a perfect mix of battle seriousness and somewhat-kooky characters that the Star Trek series has been known for.

05: Game of Thrones Season 7 [New Entry] – Showcase

Winter is coming, that’s for sure.  A gigantic season that brought about a tense meeting between Cersei (Lena Headey) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), the death of Littlefinger (Aiden Gillen), Arya (Maisie Williams) back home to Winterfell, the truth about Jon Snow’s (Kit Harrington) heritage and the white walkers to the north’s door.

04: Better Things Season 2 [#5 in 2016] – FX (USA)

The sixth episode of Better Things’ second season titled Eulogy might just be one of the best episodes of television aired this year and is why it sits number four on this list.  While Sam (Pamela Adlon) was actually quite annoying to watch in this series’ first half (I found her to be quite aggressive and selfish, especially when it came to dating) all that was wiped away with one single heartwarming (and affirming) episode in which Sam, frustrated with her children’s lack of interest in her acting career, forces them to perform a fake eulogy at her fake funeral.

This episode was also the last work for late actor Robert Michael Morris who passed in May this year – his scene with Sam in the bar truly encapsulated a heart weary man who missed out on the best years of his life with one single line “Nobody could be gay until I was too old to have any fun.”

03: Will & Grace Season 9 [New Entry] – STAN

It’s like there wasn’t almost a 20 year break between seasons.  That’s how good Will and Grace’s long wanted return to TV has been.  On point with cutting remarks on quips on current day politics, technology and pop culture, the gay old gang are proving they still have the goods they had many moons ago.

02: Big Little Lies [New Entry] – Showcase

A season that consisted of eight episodes that moved so slowly yet managed to tell so much with each and every episode, Big Little Lies featured an all-star cast including Nicole Kidman, Reece Witherspoon and Alexander Skarsgård and kept us guessing about the big “what happened” and “Whodunit” right up until the final moments.  Good news too – Season two is in the works with Kidman and Witherspoon back for more lies!

01: The Mick Seasons 1 and 2 [New Entry] – Fox8

Crass, rude, violent, bloody, crazy – there’s no one real word to describe The Mick to really hammer in just how un-sitcom this show is other than it’s funny as all get-out.  Saddled with looking after her sisters three children, hustler Mickey (Kaitlin Olson) finds herself adapting to sudden parenthood and living the high life in their mansion all the while trying to not loose her rough and tumble past.

I’ll just let the trailer show what i’m trying to say….

 

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Best of 2016: TV Characters

Standing out is hard to do in a television land that is as wide and varied as it is today.  In most cases, it’s the lead who takes front and center and other times, it’s those side characters who just pull you in and make you love them.

From an actress and a single mother trying to balance work and home life to a brassy best friend who tells it like it is to a family keeping many secrets to an actress blurring the lines between acting and reality, check out my list of the 12 best TV Characters for 2016.

12: Doris (Ali Wong) – American Housewife [New Entry]

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Playing on her ‘non threatening Asian diversity’ within the snooty town of Westport, Doris (Ali Wong) has been able to share the dismissive views of best friend Katie (Katy Mixon) while also being able to mingle with the popular green-smoothie-drinking fit moms, who Katie literally hates.  Doris has no qualms about pushing her take-no-prisoners, hands on approach to parenting (which involves lots of yelling and eating strange meats in broth) onto Katie’s children.

11: Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) – American Crime Story [New Entry]

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Finding herself playing in the big league with the OJ Simpson trial, Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) found herself facing a giant brick wall right from the go.  From her personal dealings of a crumbling marriage and a nasty custody battle to how she dressed and did her hair for court, Clark, it seems was never going to win.  Thrust into the public eye, Paulson’s Clark offered up a deeper and thoughtful look into the most talked about woman of the time that was often overlooked for lesser, inessential topics.

10: The Morgans – Home and Away [New Entry]

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When Tori Morgan (Penny McNamee) first appeared in Summer Bay as the new doctor, none of us were prepared for the overloaded baggage she was hiding – her and her brothers (James Stewart, Jackson Heywood and Orpheus Pledger) were in witness protection.  Their parents killed by top dogs within a drug syndicate, their covers were blown, had no one they could trust and faced having to run again.  The Morgans added a major dash of drama to the bay that has been sorely missing since Charlotte’s (Erika Heynatz) murder last year.

9: Darryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) – The Walking Dead [Re-Entry from 2014]

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The confident, lone wolf we’ve all come to love has been through the wringer this season on The Walking Dead.  His lash out at Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) resulted in the death of good friend Glenn (Steven Yuen) and subsequently saw him taken into Negan’s custody, thrown into an isolation cell and tortured in an attempt to break him.  Holding onto the grief and guilt of Glenn’s death is the only thing keeping Darryl sane while being tortured.

8: Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) – Game of Thrones [New Entry]

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The pint sized warrior, the Lady of Bear Island Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) proved herself to be a formidable leader as she held the cards to back Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and Sansa Starks’ (Sophie Turner) attack on Ramsey Bolton to reclaim Winterfell.  Her blistering speech to the bickering houses of Manderley, Glover and Cerwyn showed that while Jon may have finally killed Ramsey, Lyanna is the one who has become the people’s champ and a force to be reckoned with.

7: Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) – Wentworth [New Entry]

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With all focus this past season on Joan (Pamela Rabe) entering Wentworth as a prisoner, the side story arc to this season featuring the blossoming romance between Bea (Danielle Cormack) and Allie (Kate Jenkinson) showed a more open yet vulnerable side to the prison top dog.  While the relationship was used to expose Bea’s weaknesses to both Joan and Kaz (Tammy Macintosh), this relationship ultimately proved to be Bea’s strength, believing Joan had given Allie an overdose, she sacrificed herself to put Joan behind bars for a very long time.

6: Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates) – American Horror Story: Roanoke [New Entry]

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While the premise for this latest season of American Horror Story was fantastic, the second half of the season became a total mess with one shinning mark – that of Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates) AKA – The Butcher.  Agnes’ became a victim of her own sudden rise to fame after My Roanoke Nightmare became a massive television hit and earned herself a Saturn Award best actress nomination.  After delving right into the role of The Butcher, Agnes was diagnosed with  schizoaffective disorder, unable to distinguish between fact and fiction and wholly embodied the woman with a penchant for meat cleavers.

5: Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) – Game of Thrones [New Entry]

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Season 6 of GoT was one full of loss for Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) as he mourned the death of his daughter Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) and was removed from his position in the Kingsguard by his own son Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) who, later on, also died taking his own life after his mother Cersei (Lena Headey) set alight half of Kings Landing.  Discovering that the woman he loves was responsible for the act that pushed Tommen to take his own life looks set to push Jamie into darker personal territory as he struggles with alliance next season.

4: Bonnie Winterbottom (Liza Weil) – How to get away with Murder [#8 in 2015]

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We’ve seen Bonnie (Liza Weil) fall back into old habits this past season of How to get Away With Murder as she continuously battled with boss Annalise (Viola Davis) over the treatment of Annalise’s former right hand man Frank (Charlie Weber) now on the run after his murderous past was fully revealed.  With Laurel (Lauren Velez) and Annalise trying to find Frank, Bonnie took it upon herself to track him down and try and coax him back after discovering he had killed her abusive father leading the two to spend a very intense and revealing night together.

3: Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon) – Better Things [New Entry]

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There’s no high glamour or Hollywood high life when it comes to Better Things‘ Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon).  She’s not a struggling actress but she’s also not readily recognized on the street by the everyday person.  She’s an actress and it’s her job and it’s this level of fame she attains while also a single mother to three girls, all of whom require a bulk of her attention to make it through each and every day, that makes Sam relatable.  Woman on the verge…..perhaps.  Woman trying to get a minute to have ‘dirty facetime’ with a recent hookup..seems to fit better when describing Sam Fox.

2: Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) – Stranger Things [New Entry]

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Joyce Byers (in a defining comeback role for Winona Ryder) is a single mother, relatively poor and wanting answers regarding her missing son Will (Noah Schnapp).  Her less than affluent standing within the small town of Hawkins, Indiana has the locals not believing her son has gone missing, but despite her lack of influence within the town, she challenges each and every person – right up-to the Police Chief.

When she discovers she can communicate with her missing son through lights, Joyce finds a confidence and a voice to believe in what she is doing is actually real despite the constant knock downs from those telling her, her son is dead.

1: Quinn King (Constance Zimmer) – UnReal [#2 in 2015]

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Walking into season two of UnReal (and the new season of Everlasting) shouting the motto “MONEY, DICK, POWER!!” and ready to hand over the reigns of Everlasting to Rachel (Shiri Appleby) Quinn (Constance Zimmer) found herself not ready to let go when former boss Chet (Craig Bierko) returned to the fray looking to take control back of ‘his’ show. Quinn’s battle to maintain a hold on the show all came to a head in the fourth episode when she learns her father has died and only able to internalize her pain for a short while, Quinn literally opens the biggest can of whoop-ass ever seen.  No one, not even the studio office was saved from her scathing breakdown that saw her literally throw monitors across the room.

But Quinn is a quick one to recover.  She’s a smart ballsy woman who has this inane ability to see the knife coming before it hits her back and has a counter-attack already in play by the time that knife is on it’s way down.  By the end of the season, Quinn retained control of Everlasting and her Money, Dick, Power relationship with Rachel was as strong as it started out at seasons start.

 

Best of 2016: TV Shows

How does one pick just 12 TV shows to make a “best of” list without going insane?!  It’s a struggle I had last year and with an influx of impressive new shows, it doesn’t get any easier.  That said, I chained myself to my desk, a list was made, shows were culled and now here it is, my Best of 2016 TV Shows list.

12: American Crime Story Season 1 [New Entry]

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There was going to be no shock surprises with how this real life re-telling of the sensational OJ Simpson case ended yet somehow, we all watched with baited breath to see what was coming next.  What made this series so exciting to watch comes down to the genius casting and slick handling of how this story was told.  Sarah Paulson as lawyer Marcia Clark, Cuba Gooding Jnr as OJ Simpson and John Travolta as Robert Shapiro equaled perfect casting and played so well along the story telling that at times we flitted between feeling for Clark and her battle to win what should have been an open and shut case and Simpson who, while clearly guilty, was dealing with the possibility of losing everything his glorified sporting career had gotten him.  In the 90’s the OJ Simpson trial was must-watch TV and today, American Crime Story was also must-watch TV.

11: The Exorcist Season 1 [New Entry]

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It was a big effort for the supernatural show breathing new life into the timeless horror classic but with surprising plot twists, impressive special effects, strong story lines and the star power of Geena Davis, The Exorcist has managed to deliver a show worthy to sit among the Exorcist timeline.

10: Grace and Frankie Season 2 [#10 in 2015]

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It was a very strong and solid outing for the second season of this Netflix comedy starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin about two 60+ year old women facing life as singles after their husbands them them for each other..  Feeling much more confident in this outing, Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin) deal with the fallout of Sol (Sam Waterston) and Roberts (Martin Sheen) relationship breakdown.  The topic of mortality was often seen throughout the season, especially towards the back end of the season in which a touching story line involving a long time friend suffering from terminal cancer decides to end things on her own terms.

9: American Housewife Season 1 [New Entry]

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This light-hearted comedy about a middle class family living a fish-out-of-water life in the rich Connecticut town of Westport hit many funny notes in its first outing.  A family based comedy at heart, topics of body image, fitting in and making the most out what life has handed to you featured heavily throughout the season all while never taking itself too seriously.  Katie Otto’s (Katy Mixon) friend time spent with  Doris (Ali Wong) make up a large portion of what makes this a great show to watch.

8: Australia’s Next Top Model Cycle 10 [New Entry]

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Celebrating 10 seasons, the model search reality show competition pulled out all stops from the addition of Megan Gale to the judging panel to an impressive line-up of worthy competitors to the guest list of world famous models (Elle McPherson and Miranda Kerr to name a few) that popped up along the way to offer some sound advice.  The photo shoots were more glamorous and the resulting photos even more stunning.   While the scoring system still remains the shows biggest downfall, this recent cycle proved why our version of this show remains one of the best in the world.

7: How to Get Away With Murder Season 3 [#4 in 2015]

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Another season, another murder, another set of flashbacks bringing us to a spine tingling revelation, surrounded by weekly court cases.  It’s a solid system that works for the legal/murder drama but season three changed things up by killing off one of the series main stars in a glorious and shocking mid season finale while tying in major events that had occurred throughout the first two seasons bringing everything together in one very neat package.

6: Wentworth Season 4 [#7 in 2015]

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Bringing Joan ‘The Freak’ Ferguson into the walls of Wentworth prison was not this season’s shining glory.  While it played out nicely over the season and created one heck of a finale, it was the Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) and Allie Novak (Kate Jenkinson) romance that really spurred this season along.  The tender yet volatile relationship between the hard as nails ‘top dog’ and prison junkie was put to the test by both Joan and Kaz Proctor (Tammy Macintosh) that it ended up with such brutal heartache.

5: Better Things Season 1 [New Entry]

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Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon) is a working actress, mother to three daughters and a woman with not enough time on her hands.  Better Things had no big fanfare around it’s premiere, instead relying on very strong story telling revolving around the circle of motherhood and powerful performances from lead Adlon and her on-screen offspring (Hannah Alligood, Olivia Edward, and Mikey Madison).  There’s also a list of brilliant cameos from David Duchovny to Constance Zimmer to Julie Bowen and Lenny Kravitz.  If one needs to know more, just watch the season one finale titled “Only Women Bleed” where Sam comes across all kinds of obstacles just getting her three daughters dressed and ready for school before dealing with a very real and confronting personal situation involving her middle daughter Frankie.  It’s pretty much a perfect half hour of television.

4: The Walking Dead Season 7 [New Entry]

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Controversial choice considering the backlash from fans with the introduction of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the very graphic deaths of Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Glenn (Steven Yuen).  This season of TWD has once again split our survivors into multiple groups, each of which are discovering have all had the same dealings with the bat wielding pack leader.  From Ricks’ (Andrew Lincoln) submission to Negan to Darryl (Norman Reedus) playing prisoner to Carol (Melissa McBride) unsuccessfully going it on the road alone, the tension and raw emotion has never been higher.

3: Ink Master Season 8 – Peck Vs Nunez [New Entry]

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How to change up a slightly stale reality competition series without bringing back past fan favorite contestants over and over?  Do it the Ink Master way!  Pitting judges Oliver Peck and Chris Nunez against each other with hand picked teams of tattoo artists has breathed new life into this show, boasting a massive line up of contestants that were being eliminated from day dot.  The flash challenges have been more interesting, the tattooing more intense and the girl power all female alliance – never seen before on Ink Master – has proven to be one of the greatest alliances ever on the series and put two females (Ryan Ashley Malarkey and Kelly Doty) into the live finale.  Another season like this is highly recommended!

2: Stranger Things Season 1 [New Entry]

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Most of us were instantly drawn into this Netflix series just off the awesomely authentic 80’s synthesized opening theme.  It played so well into this tale of medical experiments, a missing child, a seriously creepy ‘underworld’ and a nameless little girl trying to survive – all set in the mid 1980’s.  The flash and meme worthy series (Barb anyone?!) offered up cover-ups and government conspiracies, utter scares and touching moments given by pretty much all over the main cast.

1: UnReal Season 2 [#2 in 2015]

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Always a sketchy move coming off a bumper first series but UnReal kept doing what it does best – offering up must-watch TV that is smartly written and skillfully acted.  Rachel (Shiri Appebey) goes fully fledged into girl power territory by becoming BFF’s with her boss Quinn (Constance Zimmer) after the breakup of her romance with season one bachelor Adam (Freddie Stroma) and makes the bold move to introduce Everlasting’s first ever black suitor in NFL quarterback Darius Beck (B.J Britt).  The perusing episodes throughout the season slam into us like a steamroller on steroids as Rachel and Quinn constantly butt heads and egos, both trying to take control of the show and climb up the Hollywood glass ladder.