It’s that time again: our winter TV Superlatives!
A quick reminder 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 Bromance, Favorite WTF Moment, Best Profanity, 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:
Busted! (Season 2)
His Dark Materials
DC Universe’s Harley Quinn
The Expanse (Season 4)
A Black Lady Sketch Show
Barry (Season 2)
The Good Place (Season 4)
Star Trek: Picard
Legends of Tomorrow (Season 5)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Season 7)
Let’s get to it, shall we?
“Holden. Do not put your dick in it. It’s fucked enough already.” – Avasarala – The Expanse
FAVORITE TITLE CARD/OPENING CREDITS
Legends of Tomorrow
I love these new credits. I don’t know if they properly prepare you for the madness you’re walking into with this show, but what could, right? Anyway, these are great.
Number One – Star Trek: Picard
Look at this good boy. I can’t decide which delights me more: that Picard has a pitbull or that he named it Number One. Obviously, I need to see Riker and Number One sharing a scene ASAP.
Honorable Mention: Baby Geralt (The Witcher)
MOST FABULOUS FASHION
Sister Night’s Uniform – Watchmen
This is very hard because I want every single thing that Chrisjen Avasarala owns, obviously, and also I’m obsessed with this whole video from behind the scenes of Legends of Tomorrow . . . but I mean, damn, Sister Night’s uniform? Instantly iconic. I can only assume there will be many Sister Nights at Comic Con this year, and I am already eager for the inevitably cosplay pictures.
Honorable Mentions: Avasarala’s Entire Wardrobe (The Expanse); Lady Trieu’s Hat (Watchmen); Poison Ivy’s “I’m Not Dating This Dude” Outfit (Harley Quinn); French Revolution Ladies (Legends of Tomorrow)
MOST OH-MY-GOD PAINFUL MOMENT
Barry rips the awful stitches in his back wide open – Barry
But it’s okay because Fuches has superglue to, you know, kinda push his skin back together. It’s all right. It’s fine. Everything’s fine here.
“The Brick” – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Watchmen
Look, I know everybody loved “Toss A Coin to Your Witcher,” but honestly, I barely even noticed that song when it played in scene. I did come to appreciate it later, of course (particularly the metal version), but unlike the rest of the planet, I actively had to work to get it stuck in my head.
Meanwhile, Watchmen easily had one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in a long time. And I was especially fond of “The Brick,” which was used to absolute perfection in “She Was Killed By Space Junk.” Though, admittedly, I’m kind of a sucker for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, as you may well notice in the Honorable Mentions below.
Honorable Mentions: “Nun With a Motherf*&*ng Gun” – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (Watchmen); “Objects in a Mirror (Are Closer Than They Appear)” – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (Watchmen); “You’re My Thrill” – Billie Holiday (Watchmen); “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” – Eartha Kitt (Watchmen); “Clair de Lune” – Claude Debussy (Watchmen); “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher” – Joey Batey (The Witcher); “Poison” – Jes Macallan (Legends of Tomorrow)
Amos & Holden – The Expanse
Again, the obvious choice here is probably Geralt and Jaskier. Assuming they’re not your OTP, of course, which, like, I wouldn’t object to that? But also I don’t need it, either? Man, this is Sterek all over again.
Still, much as I enjoy those two, I ultimately had to go with Amos and Holden here because they’re kinda like rare pair friends, characters who don’t normally share many emotional arcs together on screen, and yet have still managed to develop and grow a relationship over the past few seasons. Season 4 feels like a culmination of that relationship, like, we really see how far they’ve come. Remember back in S1 when Holden holds a gun to Amos’s head? (And when Amos is hilariously nonchalant about it?) Now we get to watch Holden telling Amos he can’t lose him, and it’s just such a lovely scene, unexpected but also earned. I was really happy with these two this season.
Honorable Mentions: Geralt & Jaskier (The Witcher); Chidi & Jason (The Good Place); Jake & Boyle (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy – DC’s Poison Ivy
So, here’s the thing: I definitely went into this show thinking of Harley and Poison Ivy as platonic best buds, and I was actually completely okay with that. Like, there was one episode where I remember thinking, Wait, wait . . . are they actually going to commit to the ship?! But then afterwards I was getting mostly platonic vibes again, and I didn’t mind because I’m passionately excited about platonic relationships and positive lady friendships in SF/F/H. Besides, I really enjoyed the dynamic between these two: Poison Ivy is clearly the BFF we all need in our lives, and Harley owns up to her mistakes by the end of the season and apologizes to Ivy, which I thought was nicely handled.
All that being said, the creators have gone on record saying that Harley/Ivy will be canon in Season 2. And while we’ve all been burned before with crap like this, Season 2 is literally gonna air in about a month. That doesn’t feel like the typical “we’ll keep the door open maybe, sorta, someday in the distant future” BS to me. So expect Harley and Ivy to switch categories in our next round of superlatives, if the creators honor their word.
Honorable Mentions: Naomi & Drummer (The Expanse); Bobbie & Avasarala (The Expanse); Bess & George & Nancy (Nancy Drew); Eleanor & Tahani (The Good Place); Robin, Ashley, Quinta, and Gabrielle (A Black Lady Sketch Show, specifically the ongoing apocalyptic sketch series)
Sara/Ava – Legends of Tomorrow
It honestly took me a while to fully warm up to Ava in Season 3. But she’s grown on me, and her relationship with Sara has been particularly delightful this year. Sara fondly watching Ava get drunk and have fun singing terribly on stage, for instance, or Ava anxiously trying to help Sara feel better after the death of a friend. (She kind of fails, but she fails in such a perfectly Ava way.) Also, they’re an amazing battle couple, and it turns out I am a huge sucker for battle couples. This is absolutely the best clone/resurrected assassin ship on TV right now.
Honorable Mentions: Angela/Calvin (Watchmen); Jake/Amy (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); Chidi/Eleanor (The Good Place); Jason/Janet (The Good Place); Ray/Nora (Legends of Tomorrow)
FAVORITE BATTLE SCENE
Magic Battle – The Witcher
This is possibly a cheat because when I say “battle scene,” what I really mean is “battle episode,” but . . . I care not. This whole thing is spectacular: so much magic! So many badass women! I want more episodes like this immediately.
FAVORITE NEW SHOW
TV has been good to me the last few months. I’ve been absolutely delighted by all sorts of new shows, but Watchmen was pretty special; Watchmen was like nothing I’d ever seen before, which is why it’s also winning FAVORITE SUPERHERO OR SUPERHERO ADJACENT SHOW, despite the stiff competition in that field right now.
If you haven’t tried Watchmen yet, like, prepare yourselves: it is regularly bonkers, just completely and utterly bizarre, while simultaneously doing a better job at teaching US History than most US History classes. This show is a complex, entertaining story full of twists, turns, superheroes, and squid storms; it also does a fantastic job of really delving into character, trauma, PTSD, police brutality, racial injustice, and so much more. I can’t say enough good things about the cast, either. I will riot if Regina King doesn’t get a Best Actress nod, and I’d really love to see Jean Smart, Hong Chau, Jeremy Irons, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Tim Blake Nelson get some Emmy love, too.
When I first heard about this show, I didn’t expect it to be anywhere near this good. On this, I’m very happy to have been proven wrong.
Honorable Mentions for Favorite New Show: DC’s Harley Quinn; A Black Lady Sketch Show; The Witcher
Honorable Mentions For Favorite Superhero or Superhero Show: DC’s Harley Quinn; Legends of Tomorrow
MOST DISAPPOINTING NEW SHOW
His Dark Materials
Sadly, there’s always going to be some new show that doesn’t land for you personally, and for me, that is His Dark Materials, which Mekaela and I watched for about three or four episodes before giving up. I haven’t read the books or seen the original adaptation, so it’s possible that people more familiar with the story are likewise getting more out of the show? But despite a potentially interesting universe, a pretty great cast, and the sheer magnificence of Ruth Wilson, who I absolutely adore in this, I just can’t seem to get invested. The story feels convoluted, the pacing feels off, and ultimately there are just too many other things on right now that I’m more interested in watching. Maybe I’ll try again at a later date, but for now, His Dark Materials just doesn’t seem to be my thing.
MOST WELCOME RETURN
Finally, finally you’ve come back to me! Never stay away so long again!
The spoilers start off light, but we’ll get to the real ones in a hurry. This is your last warning, my friends. SAVE YOURSELVES.
Yennefer/Geralt – The Witcher
I told you, I like a battle couple. Also, kisses that are not just fun but practical!
Honorable Mention: Ava/Sara after Rasputin blows up (Legends of Tomorrow)
Soji and Narek’s sorta-romance – Star Trek: Picard
The Artifact itself is fascinating. I’m excited by the Reclamation project. I straight up adore Hugh and will be most displeased if he gets killed off later this week. (It’s becoming something of a habit for this show, killing off minor canon characters.) But Conflicted Narek romancing subconscious secrets out of Soji? Yeah, this has been dull as hell because I don’t care about either of these people separately, much less together. Six episodes in, and Soji still feels more like a MacGuffin than an actual character. I’ve sat here for ten minutes trying to come up with a single personality trait for her, and all I’ve got is “empathetic” which is . . . okay, I guess, but I’m mostly basing that on one scene.
Meanwhile, Narek has apparently fallen in love with Soji, you know, For Reasons but, like, what reasons? There’s nothing of any substance here. Seriously, who is shipping this? And all of his other scenes are with his sister, Narissa, who excited me for half a second before the show decided to go the whole boring, evil, vaguely incestuous twin route. Just because I wanted Jaime to kill Cersei and go live happily with Brienne in Game of Thrones does not mean I want this, show. Which is why Narek and Narissa are also winning for WORST VILLAINS.
Thankfully, Soji has now escaped the Borg Cube, so hopefully plot advancement? Please?
FAVORITE WTF MOMENT
Veidt sails through a portal to the moon and makes an SOS out of the corpses of Mr. Phillips and Ms. Crookshanks – Watchmen
Jim Gordon befriends Clayface’s detached hand – DC’s Harley Quinn
Decapitated Marie Antionette with a flamethrower – Legends of Tomorrow
Spoken messages from the real world drop all around Nancy as actual letters in the Dream World – Nancy Drew
Look. I’m not gonna lie: I just gave up and decided to choose one moment (or in Barry’s case, an entire character) from multiple shows here. And you know what? It was still really hard. Do you know how much gloriously fucked up shit I’ve been watching? A LOT.
Honorable Mentions: A giant magnet drops down, attaches to Angela’s car, and whisks it–and Will inside–away into the sky (Watchmen); Lube Man (Watchmen); The Trial of Adrian Veidt (Watchmen); Sy is a Transchanger (DC’s Harley Quinn); The Atom kills Rasputin by regrowing to normal size while inside of him (Legends of Tomorrow); Backseat Creepy Priest (Nancy Drew); I mean, honestly, pretty much ALL the ghost shit (Nancy Drew)
Will killed Jud – Watchmen
Young Will is Hooded Justice, the first superhero – Watchmen
Ryan was supposed to die, not Tiffany – Nancy Drew
I really like all of these twists for different reasons. The fact that Will was Hooded Justice is probably the best twist in terms of how pivotal it is, how much depth it adds to the story and the understanding of Will’s character. It’s a fantastic development, one of the best moments in the whole season. But when you see Will (or rather, when you see the old black man in the wheelchair whose name we don’t know yet) sitting calmly by Jud’s body, like, that’s such a good shock moment. From right then, I was hooked.
Still, I have to give some love to Nancy Drew as well because they just pulled off a twist I didn’t see coming at all. It never once occurred to me that Ryan was the intended target instead of Tiffany, even though he’s definitely the kind of guy people would wanna murder. This was an incredibly solid plot twist that 100% feels supported, and I was pretty excited by it. I’m really hoping Nancy Drew can stick the landing because for the most part, I’m really enjoying the hell out of this fun, silly show.
Honorable Mentions: Calvin is secretly Dr. Manhattan (Watchmen); Lee Seung-gi is the Flower Killer (Busted!); Loach wants to hire Barry, not get revenge for Moss (Barry)
Ashford – The Expanse
Eleanor – The Good Place
I never thought I’d care so much about Klaes Ashford when he first appeared on The Expanse; in fact, I was absolutely dreading the inevitable drama between him and Drummer (who is, of course, the Absolute Best.) But by the end of Season 3, I was really impressed with how the dynamic between those two characters had changed, and I only loved them that much more in Season 4, when they shifted again from reluctant allies to actual friends. (Hence Ashford and Drummer winning BEST PLATONIC FRIENDSHIP.)
So, when Ashford says he’s going after Marco, I was like, “Oh no,” and when Drummer decided not to go with him, I was like, “OH NO. Don’t do it, Ashford, don’t go!” But of course, he does go, and of course, he dies. And I really wanna be mad at it, but it’s all just done so well. For one thing, Ashford’s death is an obvious reversal of the scene where Drummer could’ve spaced Marco and chose not to. But also, dude just goes out like a badass: refusing to beg, literally singing a tune, and getting out a secret message just before he dies. That scene haunted me for, like, at least a week.
But Eleanor’s death–that is, her choice to walk through the Door–also emotionally fucked me up for a while. And I’ve gotta say, until its penultimate episode, it never occurred to me that I’d spend so much time sobbing through the series finale of The Good Place, but goddamn. Overall, I think the whole thing was handled really beautifully, but watching Eleanor walk through the door and become this positive energy that led to a good decision and a small moment of happiness for Michael . . . that was both lovely and melancholy AF. Appropriately, both Ashford and Eleanor also tie for JIMMY, NOOOOOO!
Honorable Mentions For Best Death: Senator Joe Keene (Watchmen); Dr. Manhattan (Watchmen); Judd Crawford (Watchmen); Chidi (The Good Place); Jason (The Good Place); Rasputin (Legends of Tomorrow); Barry’s Chechen Padawan (Barry); Chandra Wei (The Expanse); Kuill (The Mandalorian); The Mercenary Mouse (Harley Quinn)
Honorable Mentions for JIMMY, NOOOO: Renfri (The Witcher); Queen Calanthe (The Witcher); Dr. Manhattan (Watchmen); Chidi (The Good Place); Jason (The Good Place)
Honorable Mentions for Favorite Platonic Friendship: Picard & Laris & Zhaban (Picard); Eleanor & Janet (The Good Place); Michael & Janet (The Good Place); Holt & Diaz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine); Sara & Constantine (Legends of Tomorrow)
CHARACTER WHO REALLY NEEDS TO JUST DIE ALREADY
Marco Inaros – The Expanse
I knew Marco couldn’t actually die in Season 4, of course, not before we had at least one scene between him and Naomi, but also, can he just get hit by a space truck already? Like, can he and Filip just . . . go? Yes, I know these guys have already been cast as regulars for the upcoming season*, and I’m sure they have big time plot stuff to do–clearly, I haven’t read the James S.A. Corey books yet–but man. The thought of having to spend another whole other season with Naomi’s Smarmy Evil Ex (and his secretly evil son, who I suspect will be very whiny) sounds exhausting. Cause Marco is so smarmy, like, I’ve seen all these thirst tweets for this asshole, and I genuinely do not understand them. Especially after Ashford. Like, I need someone to kick Marco straight into the goddamn sun. (Obviously, Marco is also winning today for CHIEF ASSHAT.)
*Along with Clarissa Mao, of all goddamn people. Of all the characters to get promoted to series regular, why can’t it be Anna or Prax or Dr. Okoye? Maybe Lucia or Nancy Gao? Hell, even Murtry I would’ve taken. Why does it have my absolute least favorite character of Season 3? (I know. The answer is Plot Reasons. I’m still depressed about it.)
Honorable Mentions for Character Who Really Needs to Just Die Already: Cahir (The Witcher); Stregobor (The Witcher)
Honorable Mentions for Chief Asshat: Starfleet (Star Trek: Picard); Senator Joe Keene (Watchmen); Toro Calican (The Mandalorian); Mando’s Obnoxious Jail Heist Prison Team (The Mandalorian); Stregobor (The Witcher)
Lady Trieu – Watchmen
Honorable Mentions: Jane Crawford (Watchmen); Murtry (The Expanse); Fringella (The Witcher); Joker (Harley Quinn)
FAVORITE SCENE STEALER
Renfri – The Witcher
Bane – DC’s Harley Quinn
I almost didn’t continue watching The Witcher after the first episode, mostly because both ladies who interested me died in the goddamn pilot. I’m glad I did, ultimately, because I enjoyed the show a whole lot, but Renfri’s death hurt. I fell in love with her immediately and would still accept basically any cheap plot device if it meant she was resurrected in Season 2. (Yes, it won’t happen, but a girl can dream.) Renfri was a badass, and her sword fight vs. Geralt was my absolute FAVORITE FIGHT SCENE–even though *sob* it ended up killing her.
But I can’t help but give another shoutout to Bane from DC’s Harley Quinn because, damn it, this walking Tom Hardy parody just makes me smile. (If you watch the clip, Bane himself comes in around 1.25.) Honestly, this whole show makes me smile, but there’s something about Bane’s specific brand of slightly absurdity that really just works for me. And honestly, the fact that he always wants to blow up something is pretty relatable these days.
Honorable Mentions for Favorite Scene Stealer: Lily (Barry); Laris & Zhaban (Star Trek: Picard); The Rios Holograms (Star Trek: Picard); Seven of Nine (Star Trek: Picard); Ray (Legends of Tomorrow); Marie Antoinette (Legends of Tomorrow); Téa and Véa (The Witcher); Queen Calanthe (The Witcher)
Honorable Mentions for Favorite Fight Scene: Geralt vs. Soldiers at Ball (The Witcher); Barry vs Lily (Barry); Barry vs. Ronny (Barry); Hooded Justice vs. Cyclone (Watchmen); Armorer vs. Storm Troopers (The Mandalorian); Sara + Ava vs. Telekinetic Serial Killer (Legends of Tomorrow); The Legends and Badass Lady Cops vs. Genghis Khan and Criminals (Legends of Tomorrow)
Timothy Olyphant – The Good Place
Because holy shit, Justified was one of my favorite shows of all the time, and this was AMAZING. There are no words to express just how goddamn delighted I was by this scene.
FAVORITE INDIVIDUAL EPISODE (PER SHOW)
“She Was Killed by Space Junk” – Watchmen
“The One-Eyed Man” – The Expanse
“Chapter Seven” – The Mandalorian
“Hell of the Gods: Tartarus” – Busted!
“Your Boss Knows You Don’t Have Eyebrows” – A Black Lady Sketch Show
“Being Harley Quinn” – DC’s Harley Quinn
“Much More” – The Witcher
“Ronny/Lilly” – Barry
“Whenever You’re Ready” – The Good Place
“The Sign of the Uninvited Guest” – Nancy Drew
“Pimemento” – Brooklyn Nine-Nine
“Slay Anything” – Legends of Tomorrow
“Remembrance” – Star Trek: Picard
Yeah. This is definitely better than just picking one favorite episode every three months.
Honorable Mentions: “This Extraordinary Being” – Watchmen; “A God Walks Into Abar” – Watchmen; “See How They Fly” – Watchmen; “Saeculum” – The Expanse; “Cibola Burn” – The Expanse; “The Jimmy Jab Games II” – Brooklyn Nine-Nine; “Chapter Eight: Redemption” – The Mandalorian; “A High Bar” – DC’s Harley Quinn; “Devil’s Snare” – DC’s Harley Quinn; “What?!” – Barry; “The Truth Has a Ring to It” – Barry; “The Whisper Box” – Nancy Drew
That’s all for today. Check back in three months for more TV nonsense and shenanigans!