TV has really come into it’s own in the past few years and 2012 has been a smashing success for this media. With film stars flocking to the small screen and writers of the highest caliber working on these shows, the time is ripe for the TV fan. The introduction of the first U.S. TV festival in Austin this year, ATX TV Fest, as well the quality of panelists and attendees finally gave the industry the validation and boost it has needed for so very long.
2012 was also the year of strong women in television with not only an impressive list of female characters and actresses, but extraordinary women writers and show runners. Take your pick from the strong women in shows like Parenthood, with Kristina (Monica Potter) whose current struggle is moving beyond words, The Walking Dead with the kick-ass Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) who never gives up in Parks and Recreation. Female writers who have come into their own this year include Liz Meriwether (New Girl), Jane Espenson (Once Upon a Time) and Mindy Kaling, creating, writing and starring in The Mindy Project. It is, indeed, a great time to be a woman in TV.
One of the best things about television is the variety of content and subject matter that is available for consumption. It is so wide-reaching, there are so many channels, genres and series to choose from that pretty much anyone can find something they enjoy. Add to that options like Netflix and Hulu to help us get caught up on shows we may have missed or as an introduction to new series and there is no end to the possibilities for viewing enjoyment. As it turns out, television in 2012 is so varied that there was very little agreement between our writer’s on favorite shows. That being said, this is not a typical “Best of” or “Top (Insert Number Here)” list, but simply a feature with our writers’ favorite TV shows and web series from 2012. Read on to see what shows have become our favorites over the past year.
Though many of us are not always forthcoming with this information, most of us have at least one or two reality shows that we watch either religiously or keep tucked away in case there is “nothing else on”. Here are some of our writer’s favorite reality TV shows from this past year.
Eric Ambler – I would never recommend TruTV’s Hardcore Pawn, a reality series about a sketchy family-owned Detroit pawn shop, as an essential viewing experience. It’s basically a louder, more depressing knockoff of Pawn Stars, with meaner staged bits of familial discord and pathetically sad haggling (unlike Stars, this is a true blue pawn shop, not a dressed-down collectibles store). However, its combination of actual dysfunction and economic desperation maintained a compelling train-wreck watchability across almost 40(!) episodes in 2012. Hardcore Pawn might not be anyone’s idea of great art, but embedded within its typical genre histrionics is a jarring depiction of “reality” that most unscripted programming can only dream of.
The Amazing Race
Jim Napier – I love being able to live vicariously through teams traveling around the world competing for a prize of $1 million and prizes. The teams usually have some form of existing relationship, which adds to the tension of the show. My wife and I enjoy watching this show, and it feels as though we are traveling right along with the teams as they compete. The Amazing Race is a cut above the typical reality show competitions, check it out if you have not watched it yet.
Catfish: The TV Series
Brian Rudloff – Nev Schulman brings the online identity investigation skills from his hit documentary to the small screen in the immensely suspenseful and highly captivating Catfish: The TV Series. There is something sadistically entertaining about knowing and watching the inevitable disappointments as the twisting truths about online lovers is revealed. However, it is Schulman’s enthusiasm, compassion, and genuine desire to better the lives of his documentary subjects that really makes the show special. In the final episode this year we had the privilege of witnessing true love, real love, an unconventional and unconditional love, bloom before our eyes. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen on reality TV.