I didn’t watch as much TV this autumn as I have in months past, probably because I spent a good chunk of that time watching scary movies for Horror Bingo instead. (And, like, also writing. I do that too, occasionally.) Regardless, it’s time for another round of my seasonal TV Superlatives!
Here’s your quick catch-up for how these work: I will bestow whatever TV shows I’ve recently been watching (whether they’re currently airing or not) with awards like Favorite Fight Scene, Least Favorite Ship, Chief Asshat, etc. As always, any awards with spoilers will be very clearly marked.
As a reference point, here are the shows I’ve been watching for the past few months:
Hotel Del Luna
Barry (Season 1)
The Good Place (Season 4)
She-Ra (Seasons 3 and 4)
Busted! (Season 1)
Let’s get started, shall we?
Baby Yoda – The Mandalorian
Look, I’m not calling this one a spoiler; Baby Yoda was everywhere approximately four seconds after the first episode of The Mandalorian landed, and considering the hordes of people online who immediately swore to die for this little dude . . . yeah, Baby Yoda had this in the bag pretty much the second Disney Plus went live.
Honorable Mentions: Jason (The Good Place); Scorpia (She-Ra); Emily (She-Ra); Sehun (Busted: I Know Who You Are!); NoHo Hank (Barry)
MOST FABULOUS FASHION
Man-Wol’s Entire Wardrobe – Hotel Del Luna
Look, I know I’ve said before that picking someone’s entire wardrobe is cheating, but . . . nope, I can’t help myself: the fashion in this show is AMAZING. Man-Wol wears at least four different outfits per episode, and I like almost every single one of them, which is impressive all on its own. At a certain point, I just had to give up trying to list every single fabulous dress or jacket or hat . . . like, I just want Man-Wol’s whole closet, okay? Pretty please? For Christmas? I’ve been a relatively good girl for 34 years running!
Honorable Mentions: The Return of Jason’s Bad Place Suit (The Good Place); Jason’s Jags Funeral Suit (The Good Place); Catra’s Crimson Desert Jacket (She-Ra); Glimmer’s New Hair (She-Ra); Nancy and George’s Fancy Party Dresses and Hair (Nancy Drew); George’s braids and waitress uniform (Nancy Drew); Lisbeth’s suit (Nancy Drew); Uncle Six’s purple shirt and tie (Wu Assassins); Uncle Six’s Oregon sweatshirt and sweatpants (Wu Assassins); Zan’s killer stilettos (Wu Assassins); The Tiger Suit (Hotel Del Luna)
Scorpia – She-Ra
I waffled on this, mostly because “sidekick” applies better to Scorpia in Season 3 than Season 4 . . . but to hell with it, she is the absolute best: earnest and kind and loyal to a fault. In a show jam-packed with fantastic characters, Scorpia is easily one of my favorites. She is too pure for this world, and we do not deserve her.
Honorable Mentions: George (Nancy Drew); Bess (Nancy Drew); Bow (She-Ra)
Catra – She-Ra
Like I said, all of She-Ra’s character work is fantastic, but the show handles villains particularly well. Even the ones you never thought you’d care about, like Hordak? I’ve even become invested in Hordak; how has this happened?
Of course, Catra was sympathetic right from the start, but the evolution of her character is so great throughout Seasons 3 and 4. We watch her climb and backstab her way to the top, and we see how she handles all that power and responsibility, especially in the wake of some very Big Events. (Spoilers: she doesn’t always handle it well.) Catra is a complicated character: smart and grumpy and often completely blinded by her own insecurity and lingering envy. She’s been offered and rejected redemption so many times now; I’m very curious to see how her story resolves in Season 5.
Honorable Mentions: Ji-Won (Hotel Del Luna); Shaun (The Good Place); Zan (Wu Assassins)
Brent – The Good Place
Like Baby Yoda, Brent had this in the bag pretty much from Day 1: he’s an insufferable, racist, misogynistic, entitled little ash-hole. Probably no episode encapsulates this better than “A Chip Driver Mystery,” where Brent decides to write a laughably terrible golf spy thriller thing, a book that’s so offensive one of the nicest characters on the show actually punches him in the face. (Well, I mean, kind of. It’s certainly a contributing factor.) But what really makes this character sing is how his story arc resolves in “Help Is Other People,” and Ben Koldyke gives a standout performance here. I won’t say anymore about that now, non-spoilers and all, but I will say that if you haven’t quite caught up on The Good Place, and are wondering if this dude is gonna pay off? For my money, he absolutely does.
NoHo Hank – Barry
Look, I’ve only watched the first season of Barry so far, but NoHo Hank is just precious, you know, in a super friendly, mafia sort of way. Of course, I’ve always been a sucker for a right-hand man, and this whole cast is just fantastic–like, Bill Hader is SO damn good in it–but still Anthony Carrigan somehow manages to steal, like, every scene that he’s in just by being so adorably pleasant. It’s super impressive, actually, and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of him in Season 2. (If he gets killed off in the premiere or something, let it be known now that I will Not Be Pleased.)
Honorable Mentions: Entrapta (She-Ra); Scorpia (She-Ra); Victoria Fan (Nancy Drew); Ted Fan (Nancy Drew); Baby Yoda (The Mandalorian); Choi Seo-Hee (Hotel Del Luna)
FAVORITE INDIVIDUAL SONG
Wu Assassins leans heavily towards cheese, and I was pretty disappointed by the season (possibly series?) finale, but there are some really great things working in the show’s favor: an awesome and predominantly Asian cast, some fucking amazing fight scenes, and a fantastic soundtrack. One of the fight scenes from the pilot is set to this bouncy Kpop hit, and it is so good. This is the scene that convinced me to keep going with the show. (And, naturally, I had to put this song on my exercise playlist immediately.)
Meanwhile, I just fucking love this music from Hotel Del Luna’s OST. (If you think it’s possible you might watch Hotel Del Luna someday, maybe don’t actually watch the video at the link, just listen?) It is my favorite goddamn song, so is it available to download, you know, like every other song from the OST? No, of course not. Still, “Near and Far” is haunting and lovely and just, like, full of melancholy and revenge. While it’s used many, many times throughout the season, my favorite moment is probably when [character redacted] attempts to curse [character redacted] in Episode 8. That was such a good fucking scene, people. In fact, I think it needs its own new superlative: FAVORITE REVEEEEEEEENGE.
Honorable Mentions for Favorite Song: “7 Rings” – Ariana Grande (Nancy Drew); “Convolution” – Kaleida (Wu Assassins); “Ces bottes sont faites pour marcher” – Eileen (Wu Assassins); “Down” – Run the Jewels, feat. Joi (Wu Assassins); Moonlight Sonata (Hotel Del Luna); “Friends With Friends” (She-Ra)
Man-Wol/Gu Chan-Seong – Hotel Del Luna
Eleanor/Chidi – The Good Place
These are both very epic romances, albeit in wildly different universes. It took me a bit to warm up to Gu Chan-Seong; it helps, I think, once he finally gets comfortable with ghosts and has more opportunities to be playful, like, I’m not gonna lie: boy’s got a super cute smile. Once that happened, I really got into this ship. The show didn’t go the totally predictable route in regards to backstory, which was a welcome surprise, and I really love the dynamic of their relationship: Man-Wol protects Chan-Seong from various evil spirits and monsters; Chan-Seong protects Man-Wol from her more monstrous impulses (and, also, excessive spending habits). These two are really cute together. Tragic, sometimes, but also really adorable. I like them a whole lot.
Meanwhile, I wasn’t initially a huge Eleanor/Chidi shipper, like, I never minded them as a couple, but I also didn’t need them to get together? I liked their dynamic whether it was romantic or platonic. Lately, though, I’ve really gotten into these two. Watching Eleanor hide her feelings for Chidi this season for the sake of the Experiment (and, you know, the whole universe) has been both hilarious and heartbreaking, often at the same time. (“I made God cry!” continues to crack me up, every time I think of it.) And Chidi and Eleanor in “The Answer?” Oh, man, romantic AF. They might’ve been a gradual ship for me, but I really enjoy the hell out of them now.
Honorable Mentions: Bess/Lisbeth (Nancy Drew); Jason/Janet (The Good Place)
BEST PLATONIC RELATIONSHIP
Eleanor & Michael – The Good Place
Man, Kristen Bell and Ted Danson have crazy good platonic chemistry, and their scenes together–doubting one another, supporting each other, working together to save the literal universe–are always just magic. I especially love Eleanor and Michael’s relationship in “Tinker, Tailor, Demon, Spy.” Ever since the second season, it’s been clear these two have an awful lot in common, and I’ve really loved watching their relationship grow over the past few years.
Honorable Mentions: Michael & Janet (The Good Place); Man-Wol & Yeon-Wu (Hotel Del Luna)
BEST SIBLING RELATIONSHIP
Jenny and Tommy Wah – Wu Assassins
I’ll admit, I often get bored of the whole “responsible vs. irresponsible” sibling dynamic in stories, but the Wahs work for me better than most. For one thing, I really love both Li Jun Li and Lawrence Kao’s performances; they’re easily my favorites of the side characters in this show. But also, I really like that despite how different they are, Jenny and Tommy consistently try and help each other out. Tommy has a serious Moment of Awesome when he stands up for Jenny against their kinda terrible parents; meanwhile, Jenny is constantly taking care of her perennial screw-up brother; in fact, her beat down of Tommy’s drug dealers is my FAVORITE FIGHT SCENE of the season. (This is probably the shortest fight scene in this whole series, I know, but it’s SUCH a badass moment. I wish I could link it for you; I could seriously rewatch Li Jun Li kick someone’s ass all day.)
Honorable Mentions for Favorite Fight Scene: Replay of Hallway Fight Scene (Wu Assassins); Jenny vs. Zan, Fight 1 (Wu Assassins); Jenny vs. Zan, Rematch (Wu Assassins); Six & Kai vs. Oregon Diner Racists (Wu Assassins); Kai vs. Earth Wu (Wu Assassins); Jenny & CG vs. Zan (Wu Assassins); The Mandalorian vs. Cara Dune (The Mandalorian)
FAVORITE NEW SHOW
Yes, these are two very, very different shows. But I really enjoy them both: Barry is dark and funny and brilliant, and it makes bold choices that I find extremely interesting. I will forever be a sucker for violence and comedy and emotional trauma. Plus, like, assassins, right? You’ve gotta like assassins. I’m really excited to see where this one goes; from everything that everyone’s told me, I’m expecting even more terrific acting, terrific writing, and some huge holy shit! moments.
Still, it can’t always be award-winning shit, right? Cause, look, I grew up on Nancy Drew books, and I think this might be the first TV or movie adaptation that I’ve actually liked. (In fairness, I don’t think I’ve ever watched any of the other movies/shows all the way through. The clips and trailers I’ve seen, though, have not impressed.) I mean, I don’t know whose decision it was to make Nancy Drew a ghost story, but I’ve gotta tell you, I’m kinda here for it. I fucking adore the pure what-the-fuckery of this haunted ass town. Plus, I can’t tell you how much of a relief it is that A) I actually like Nancy, and b) the friendship between the three girls, while not easy, isn’t full of pointless, petty bullshit. Which is why Nancy, George, and Bess are all winning for BEST LADYMANCE.
Honorable Mentions for Best Ladymance: Eleanor & Tahani (The Good Place); Adora & Glimmer (She-Ra); Scorpia & Entrapta (She-Ra)
MOST WELCOME RETURN
The Good Place
I love this show so damn much. I can’t believe I only have five more episodes until it’s all over. *SOBS*
You have officially entered the Spoiler Section. Prepare yourselves accordingly.
Bess is a lesbian, and she and Ace aren’t going to be a thing – Nancy Drew
So, in the pilot, Ace (our affable stoner with a secret or two of his own) hits on Bess a few times; Bess, for her part, shows no interest in him whatsoever. It seemed like an obvious setup for some Nice Guy “I will wear you down with the force of my love” bullshit, so I was both surprised and delighted when I watched the second episode and discovered A) Bess is a lesbian, and B) Ace is absolutely up for being her wingman and bro. Queer rep and platonic friendships instead of gross outdated “romantic” shit? Yeah, I’m here for it.
Honorable Mentions: The Experiment is over, only seven episodes in (The Good Place); I’m . . . invested in Hordak/Entrapta? (She-Ra)
BEST DYNAMIC DUO
Hordak +/ Entrapta – She-Ra
Like, I don’t know if I ship them–maybe–or if I just want them to be platonic buddies who do evil science together or what? Either way, this is a pairing that completely took me by surprise, and I very much enjoyed watching them in Season 3. I definitely hope we get more from them in the final season because I absolutely adore Entrapta, and she makes Hordak so much more interesting.
Honorable Mentions: Catra & Glimmer (She-Ra); Adora & Scorpia (She-Ra); Man-Wol and Choi Seo-Hee (Hotel Del Luna)
Bad Janet is Impersonating Good Janet – The Good Place
Just masterfully done. I loved this whole episode, but especially the moment when Jason, of all people, realizes who the real saboteur is. “Not a girl.” YES. Fucking perfection.
Honorable Mentions: Bad Janet has not only switched sides; she’s brought ALL the Janets with her (The Good Place); Bess is actually a poor English girl (The Good Place); the 50-year-old target is Baby Yoda (The Mandalorian); Glimmer is the one who let Double Trouble free (She-Ra)
LEAST FAVORITE SHIP/MOST ANNOYING ROMANCE
Detective Young-Su/Lee Mi-Ra – Hotel Del Luna
It’s funny, actually: I’m often way more invested in side characters ships than any MC romances, but that’s very much not the case with this show. Because as much as I adore Man-Wol/Chan-Seong, I don’t really like the other ships in Hotel Del Luna. Unlike most people, I’m not a huge Yu-Na/Hyun-Joong shipper, mostly because that romance kinda becomes Yu-Na’s whole story, which I found disappointing. Still, it’s really the Young-Su/Mi-Ra ship that I just cannot deal with.
See, in her past life, Mi-Ra was an evil princess who ordered sweet Yeon-Woo’s execution. And just to be super mean about it, she forced Man-Wol, Yeon-Woo’s BFF, to watch. In modern day, Mi-Ra isn’t quite so bad–she’s a spoiled, selfish socialite, sure, but not a particularly mean-spirited one–but that doesn’t mean I’m interested in watching her get together with mild Young-Su, who, you guessed it, was Yeon-Woo in his past life.
Like, romances with past life melodrama can totally work (Goblin, for instance, does a much better job with this), but you’ve really gotta want those characters to get together, right? Preferably before you find out one of them used to be an evil little asshole? It’d be one thing if Mi-Ra and Young-Su ran into each and you just couldn’t help ship them and their adorable chemistry, but here, no one really bothers giving us a reason to invest in these two; God Mago just decides to intervene and throws them together on a lark, and . . . yeah, it really just left a bad taste in my mouth. Yeon-Woo and Young-Su deserve better.
Honorable Mentions: Yu-Na/Hyun-Joong (Hotel Del Luna); Gene/Janice (Barry)
Chris – Barry
Man. This was a Moment. This scene was how I knew Barry wasn’t fucking around; they were really gonna go there. Like, I’d been enjoying the show up till this point, don’t get me wrong, but when Barry murders Chris–a dad, fellow marine, and basically just an overall nice, harmless dude–that’s when I realized the show didn’t have any illusions on what kind of man our protagonist is. He’s odd and funny and weirdly sweet, and I totally wanna give him a hug, but he’s also a goddamn murderer. I’m really impressed that this show never forgets that. (Also, this scene is winning for MOST HOLY SHIT MOMENT.)
I don’t know exactly how Barry’s gonna end, especially considering I haven’t even started second season yet, but whatever way it does go? I’m pretty sure it won’t exactly be a happy, romantic road trip out of town a la Grosse Point Blank. (BTW, no shade: GPB is my jam.)
Honorable Mentions For Best Death: Scholar Kim (Hotel Del Luna); Choi Seo-Hee (Hotel Del Luna); Man-Wol (Hotel Del Luna)
Honorable Mentions For Most Holy Shit Moment: Barry kills Janice, probably (Barry); Man-Wol’s Attempted Revenge on Mi-Ra (Hotel Del Luna)
FAVORITE INDIVIDUAL EPISODE
“Tinker, Tailor, Demon, Spy” – The Good Place
“Ladies Night” – Wu Assassins
“Mer Mysteries” – She-Ra
“Episode 8” – Hotel Del Luna
“Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast, and Keep Going” – Barry
“Chapter One” – The Mandalorian
“Pilot” – Nancy Drew
“The Mysterious Gentlemen” – Busted!
Clearly, I can’t be bothered to pick just one episode, so, one episode for each show instead! I like this method. I may continue using it going forward.
Honorable Mentions: “The Answer” (The Good Place); “Help is Other People” (The Good Place); “The Funeral to End All Funerals” (The Good Place); “Chapter One: Make Your Mark” (Barry); “Chapter Eight: Know Your Truth” (Barry); “Operation: Criminal Transport” (Busted!)
That’s all for now. Until next time, friends!