The twelve months since we celebrated our favorite television moments of 2012 have flown by, possibly because we spend most of that time watching television. The time has come again to revisit the surprise guest stars, transcendent performances, and surprisingly skillful dance numbers that had us laughing, crying, and texting each other, “PLEASE tell me you just saw that.”
In no particular order, here’s the first half of our top 20 television moments in 2013. Look for part two later this week.
1) The Red Wedding – Game of Thrones
While these 20 moments that made our year in TV aren’t ranked in any way, there’s a reason why The Red Wedding came to our collective mind first. And that reason is that it was a trauma from which we’ll never recover.
I haven’t read any of the George R.R. Martin novels, because I just don’t have the stamina. (Or the knack for mentally cataloging hundreds of almost identical names. I still refer to most characters as “that guy.”) So every death and double-cross on Game of Thrones comes to me as a surprise. And “The Rains of Castamere” ended with a surprise of the very, very worst kind.
I’m not saying that Robb and his party shouldn’t have been just a little more on top of things. The situation with Walder Frey was about as stable as a grenade, and they went waltzing into that banquet hall like a good 3/4s of the Seven Kingdoms DIDN’T want to see every last Stark dead. But while a sense of doom pervaded the wedding feast, it couldn’t have prepared anyone – even people who read the book – for the brutality they were about to witness. There was no holding back – this was television designed to shock and unsettle. (Fun fact: “The Rains of Castamere” was directed by David Nutter, who helmed 15 episodes of The X-Files, including “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” “Ice,” and the “Duane Barry” trilogy – all on our Top 15 list.)
And it unsettled the hell outta me. ROBB STARK WAS MY ONE TRUE KING OF WESTEROS. He was my horse in the race. My favorite character. My Marry in the M/F/K of Robb Stark, Jon Snow, and Jamie Lannister. And didn’t it just make sense for him to avenge his father and bring his family to glory? Of course it did. And that’s exactly why Martin took him out.
I had a crisis of faith. Why even bother anymore? Why keep on watching a show when a character so central, so beloved, yes, so ridiculously sexy can be struck down in an instant? Of course, for most Game of Thrones fans, that’s exactly the reason.
2) Nick and Jess Kiss – New Girl
Some kisses are destined for the annals of television history. Ross and Rachel at Central Perk. Ben and Leslie at the end of “Road Trip”. Jeff and Annie in “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited”. And in “Cooler”, New Girl gave us another one for the books.
In the weeks building up to the airing of “Cooler” the crafty promo department at Fox had teased that the long simmering sexual tension between Nick and Jess would come to head during a game of Strip True American, where they would be forced to kiss. We even SAW Jess, in a lovely purple and white bra, begging Nick to just DO it already. I had the feeling all along that no kiss would come out of that moment…it was much too obvious right? So while I wasn’t surprised that no kiss happened, I DID fall off my couch when a panic filled Nick shouted “NOT LIKE THIS!!!”. Meaning…as we had long suspected…Nick HAD thought about kissing Jess, and what’s MORE is that he wanted it to be SPECIAL.
After that highly charged moment, the episode continued and we all believed that the New Girl writers had faked us out once again. The last minutes of the show rolled around and Jess, in her bathrobe, and Nick, in his pajamas, said good night and looked at each other longingly. And then. AND THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN.
Nick Miller made his move, grabbing Jess and crushing her to him, and proceeded to kiss her in the way that you can only dream about. Desperately. Passionately. GENTLY. And then pulled back and said, “I meant something like that.”
And THAT, my dear readers, is how you do it.
3) Ben and Leslie Get Married – Parks and Recreation
“I promised myself I was not going to cry tonight. And I have already broken that promise five times.” – Chris Traeger, also me.
Television weddings can often mean big obstacles and game-changing revelations meant to keep us guessing until (and sometimes after – I’m looking at you, “I take thee, Rachel.”) the couple goes down the aisle. But Ben and Leslie, you could put good money on. This was happening and it was just a question of how.
In pure Parks style, of course, with lots of laughs and a wide-open heart. Mike Schur leads a room of writers who have such affection for their characters. They would never throw any of them into a huge life event without hashing out every single detail. So from Jamm’s Grinchy sabotage to Ben and Chris’s teary best man moment to Ron finding himself wholly unable (and unwilling) to let Leslie get married without letting her know how much she means to him, “Leslie and Ben” represented the best of this show and these actors.
4) Jennifer Lawrence at the Oscars
Queen Jennifer Lawrence was our runner-up for the Head Over Feels Entertainer of the Year (post with the winner to come soon!). JLaw was everywhere this year, with her refreshing wit and self-deprecation (and constant need of food), but she was never more delightful than she was during Awards Season, the pinnacle of which was the 2013 Oscars, where she took home the Best Actress Trophy for her work in Silver Linings Playbook.
JLaw was the favorite to win going into the Oscars, having won both the Golden Globe and the SAG, so naturally, the cameras were on her for her reactions most of the night. She didn’t disappoint. She was giddy and silly and clearly having a blast being there. We could probably do an entire Scandal gif-cap in Jennifer Lawrence gifs. Challenge Accepted?
And then she WON. And as she ascended the steps in her beautiful pale pink and white gown, every actress’ nightmare happened…she tripped. And rather than burst into tears, like Anne Hathaway probably would have done, she laughed it off and dismissed her standing ovation as one of pity. Let it also be noted that because she is a LUCKY BITCH, both Hugh Jackman and French Fox Jean DuJardin rushed to her aid when she fell.
And lest we forget…SHE IS ONLY 23. We’ve got years and years of Jennifer being delightful, and I pray that she never changes.
5) *N SYNC Reunite – VMAs
Don’t care that it was only 90 seconds.
Don’t care that the guys looked a little rusty.
Don’t care that the reunion was overshadowed in the media by Miley Cyrus and her tongue.
Don’t care that the performance wasn’t an amuse-bouche for a new album or, heaven help me, a tour.
All I care about is that it happened. That Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone and Justin Timberlake got together, banged out a little dance rehearsal, and performed together as *N Sync. I’d been told not to hold my breath. Justin would never go back to that well. I don’t believe that MTV held him to the wall and made him do this to get the Moon Man; besides Taylor Swift and her “LOOK AT MEEEE” reactions, he was the most famous person in that theater. I accept it as a tribute to that part of his musical history, and it was satisfying – as it always is – to watch him recognize it. (When I saw the FutureSexLoveShow in Pittsburgh, he shouted out his “best friend Chris” in the audience before launching into “Gone.”) I’ve accepted that the window for *N Sync to return as they were is closed, but I’ll settle for frequent confirmation that still love each other.
6) “That’s what she said.” – The Office
We all KNEW it had to happen. Steve Carell had been cagey about returning to The Office for its series finale, but much like David Tennant in regards to appearing in the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, we all knew in our heart of hearts that Hottie McHotterson Carell was FULL OF SHIT. Now it was just a question of HOW they would get Michael Scott back to Scranton…and honestly, they could not have done it in a more perfect way. Dwight’s best man Jim, in the ultimate wedding day prank, got Michael to the wedding, and a tearful Dwight exclaimed “I can’t believe you came!” And the camera panned around to an equally tearful Michael who replied, “That’s what she said.”
Cue me and Sage weeping and screaming. Apologies to all of my neighbors, but you should be used to that by now. And then we learned that Michael had gotten everything he had ever wanted…a family cell phone plan. MORE SOBBING.
The last few years were rough for The Office. It damn near lost me in Season 8 and I found most of Season 9 to be dull or alternately manufacturing too much drama. It completely assassinated the character of Andy Bernard. Jim and Pam gave me the vapors every week with their marriage troubles. It was like all the heart got sucked out of the show, and I was really only watching out of obligation. But suddenly as they pulled into the homestretch, the show once again became the show I fell in love with. And the finale? Greg Daniels stuck the landing Kerri Strug style. And nailing the landing can smooth over many many mistakes. Some critics found the finale to be way too sentimental, but clearly, those people are dead inside. The most important thing about a finale (to me) is knowing that these characters you have spent so much time with are going to be okay. And we know all of our friends in Scranton will be.
I think the finally was summed up perfectly in both Dwight and Pam’s final lines…
Dwight: Do I get along with my co-workers? Well, first of all, I don’t have co-workers anymore, I have subordinates. So… have I gotten along with my subordinates? Let’s see. My supplier relations rep, Meredith Palmer, is the only person I know who knows how to properly head bang to Motorhead. Oscar Martinez, my accountant, is now godfather to my son. Angela Schrute, my former accountant is now my wife. My top salesman, Jim Halpert was best man at my wedding and office administrator Pamela Beesley Halpert is my best friend. So…yes. I’d say I have gotten along with my subordinates.
SOBS. GUYS HE CALLED PAM HIS BEST FRIEND.
And the fact that Pam, who had grown SO MUCH in the 9 years we spent with her, got the final line of the show? NAILED. IT.
Pam: I thought it was weird when you picked us to make a documentary. But all in all…I think an ordinary paper company like Dunder Mifflin was a great subject for a documentary. There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?
7) John Krasinski and Jimmy Fallon Lip Synch for Their Lives – Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
Jkras is a good ol’ fashioned life ruiner, as charming as he is talented. And Jimmy Fallon is the antidote to the Late Night Wars era: engaged and goofy. A true fanboy. Put them together, add some ’90s R&B, shake well, and you’ve got this little number that went viral immediately.
Jimmy’s rendition of “Don’t Cry Out Loud” will bring a tear to your eye; his knowledge of slightly obscure early ’90s hip hop is not to be questioned; and I’ve got to respect a man who carries a particularly transformative Star Search performance in his heart. But that guy’s chances were slim to none against the power of the Krasinski.
John starts lip synching “Teenage Dream” and I want to buy him a corsage and take him to the prom. I would pay good money for an iPhone app that funnels my entire musical catalog through his obscenely handsome face. He throws open his jacket right on “Let’s go all the way tonight.” He drops the mic AND catches it after (fake) spitting a verse of Run D.M.C.’s “Peter Piper.” (“It looks expensive!”) And then, knowing exactly what he’s about to do, breaks us all with an impassioned performance of that seminal slow dance classic, “I’ll Make Love to You.” Jimmy and the Roots are all giggling like this is some kind of joke and every woman in the audience is like, THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS, QUEST. And then clothes started coming off.
Anytime you miss your weekly dose of Jim Halpert, may we suggest revisiting this clip? And if you full-screen it and get real close, you can pretend – just for a second – that he’s made plans to be with YOU.
8) “Ozymandias” – Breaking Bad
Going into the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad, we ALL knew shit was going to go DOWN, we just didn’t know HOW. For months I had been envisioning a Shakespearean ending on par with Hamlet (my predictions were only strengthened by this photo shoot for Entertainment Weekly). Meaning errybody was going to DIE. Jesse and Walt would kill each other. Skyler would smoke that Ricin cigarette. And Hank Schrader, like Horatio before him, would be the last man standing.
I can hear Vince Gilligan laughing even now.
Much of the final eight episodes was like watching a chess match. The tensest and highest staked chess match in the universe, but a chess match nonetheless. We as an audience waited with bated breath for it all to unravel for Walter White and the proverbial shit hit the fan in the second to last episode “Ozymandias”.
Watching “Ozymandias” was like getting punched in the face. Over and over and over again. Hank gets shot after Dean Norris says “You can go fuck yourself” with pure and utter relish. BOOM. Walt spies Jesse hiding under a car like a scared dog and betrays him to the Nazis. BOOM. Walt at his most loathesome taunts Jesse with the fact that he watched Jane choke on her own vomit. BOOM. (I believe my tweet after that was “BURN IN HELL WALTER WHITE”). Marie taunts Skyler with the fact that Walt has been arrested when she has no idea that her husband is dead and Walt is on the run. BOOM. Walt Jr. FINALLY learns the truth about his dad. BOOM BOOM BOOM.
And that was just in the first 20 minutes. It didn’t stop to breathe and neither did we. The image of the PHENOMENAL Anna Gunn (who would win her first Emmy the next week) running down the street after Walt, screaming as he ran away with baby Holly will be forever burned into my brain. The final phone call between Walt and Skyler, where he attempted to get her off the hook by BERATING her, had me literally howling in rage because I couldn’t see that is what he was doing at the time because *I* was so upset. Even Baby Holly turned in an Emmy Worthy Performance as she cried for her mother in the car.
It truly was one of the most masterfully executed episodes of television I have ever seen and I never want to see it again.
9) Amy Poehler and Tina Fey at any awards show
For as dedicated as Kim and I are to watching award shows, there are few that don’t have us at one point or another sprawled out on Kim’s couch, purple-lipped from red wine, and loudly complaining, “WHEN WILL THIS BE OVER?” Amy and Tina to the rescue. And we’ve got TWO MORE YEARS of them!
Finally the powers at be had come around to what most of us had proclaimed over many happy hours to be a brilliant idea. Tina and Amy started the year out hosting their first Golden Globe broadcast, and either they had no critics or those people were too terrified to speak up, because the reviews were snark-free. They looked fabulous; threw just enough harmless shade to not be boring; and really encouraged us all to take a second look at one of 2012’s most underrated films, Dog President. They brought celebrities into their jokes instead of alienating them; Glenn Close showed us how to gauge whether or not she’s having a good night and E.T. lookalike Daniel Day-Lewis gladly obliged when Tina asked him to “Do the finger.” On behalf of the women living under the regime of the Hollywood Foreign Press, I’d like to thank Amy for retroactively introducing Bill as “Hillary Clinton’s husband” and Tina for not singing a song about whose boobs we have and have not seen.
You can also count on Tina and Amy to flawlessly execute the necessary duties of a host, like making apologies for absent stars (“Meryl Streep is not here tonight. She has the flu, and I hear she’s amazing in it.”) and providing any support the nominees need.
After the international nightmare that was the 2013 Academy Awards, Amy and Tina showed up at the Emmys to (I like to think) skewer that twisted broadcast by heckling Neil Patrick Harris. Thanks to them for coining a new word (“Yeah, it’d be degrading, but we’d be de-grateful.”) and for providing a Twitter cover photo that will be hard to replace.
It must be a rough life for people with no sense of humor, and Taylor Swift used some sketchy judgement in deciding to draw a line in the sand between her and America’s real sweethearts. In response to their slowball (“Taylor Swift, stay away from Michael J. Fox’s son.”) in her direction – her rich, famous, privileged, and very public direction, Taylor said, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Coming from the girl who thinks it’s okay to hate other girls just because they wear “short shorts,” this is rich. I can’t think of two women in this industry who are more supportive of their peers than these two, and particularly of each other. When Tina accepted her 2013 Screen Actors Guild Award, she thanked her friend Amy, who she’d known ever since she was “pregnant with Lena Dunham” and celebrated her as a new kind of performer.
If Tina and Amy are going to hell, I hope they save me bar stool.
10) Ichabod calls NorthStar – Sleepy Hollow
Honestly, the gif set is self-explanatory as to why this is the moment we chose to highlight from Sleepy Hollow. If Tom Mison’s Ichabod Crane didn’t steal your heart in that moment…then really, I can’t help you. It is in this moment that the humor that sets Sleepy Hollow apart from everything else in its genre. It is in this moment that Tom Mison’s commitment to his performance became clear. It was in this moment that I decided that I was ALL IN with this show and where ever it took me.
And the fact that this throwaway scene from a bat shit crazy Sci-Fi fantasy show was the funniest thing on television that week speaks WORLDS about the current state of comedy. But that’s another post altogether.
And that’s it for today, folks! We’ll be back later this week with the rest of our top 20 of 2013! Till then…what are YOUR favorite moments from the year?