The Top 20 Television Moments of 2016 – Part Two

Posted by Kim and Sage

2016 is almost over (THANK GOD), and our year-end coverage continues! Earlier this week, we dropped the first half of our Top 20 Television Moments, featuring amazing performances and jaw-dropping surprises from Bones, Outlander, The X-Files, and more. Today we’re bringing you the second half of that list. So without further ado, here are ten more moments that prove we’re nothing as a society without the art we make and the emotions we share on TV. –Sage

1. Kelly and Yorkie drive off into the sunset  – Black Mirror

Source: killbill.tumblr.com

I never know quite what to expect when I start an episode of the techno nightmare anthology Black Mirror, aside from one of its bleak and nihilistic conclusions. So imagine my surprise when the show served up a genuine love story between two radiant women in the exquisite “San Junipero.” The chemistry between Mackenzie Davis’s reserved Yorkie and Gugu Mbatha Raw’s vivacious Kelly grounds the sci-fi plot, which I won’t spoil completely here. And the ’80s are usually remembered as a tragic era for style, but the heavenly recreation the girls visit makes it look like a flawless Westworld for anyone who just wants to dance to the Bangles and have a run at their Pac-Man high score for the rest of eternity.

The pull between the women is palpable, but the circumstances threatening to keep apart aren’t easily overcome. In very anti-Black Mirror fashion (and very anti-lesbians-on-TV fashion), “San Junipero” dares to give its characters a happy ending. An EARNED happy ending, achieved through communication and self-searching. It’s a beautiful, self-contained film that will challenge the rest of the series’ thesis that the more automated we become, the farther we stray from our humanity. Kelly and Yorkie are more themselves in this matrix than they have the ability to be in their physical world. And when they are themselves, they choose to be together. Heaven is truly a place on Earth. –Sage

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2) Beyonce SLAYS the VMAs

Honestly, after Bey’s 13-and-a-half-minute medley from her masterpiece of rage and empowerment, Lemonade, what point is there in having the Video Music Awards EVER again? Nothing will ever beat this. Ever. Quoth Sage, “I’m terrified of her and I LOVE IT.” — Kim

3) “I’m the one on the mound right now. Me.” – Pitch

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I’m invested in the lives of the Pearsons and I’m so impressed with what Speechless is doing in its first season. But overall, my very favorite freshmen series of the 2016-2017 season is Pitch: Fox’s sports drama about a fictional first female Major Leaguer. Feminism, the business of sports, the burden of celebrity, and the pressure of the game all get equal billing on Pitch. The cast is led by the poised Kylie Bunbury as phenom pitcher Ginny Baker and (swoon swoon swoon) a BEARDED Mark Paul Gosselaar as the Padres’ reliable but perhaps past-his-prime catcher, Mike Lawson. Mike and Ginny’s relationship is the beating heart of the show. He’s the first teammate to admit he’s “blown away” by her courage; she becomes the person whose voice he wants to hear when he’s pondering his own mortality in the middle of the night. This ship demands to be shipped, but we’re in for the tortuously slow burn. Because Ginny and Mike are teammates.

We could have gone with the close call from the penultimate episode of the season – that charged embrace when Mike and Ginny’s lips TOTALLY BRUSHED before he got a call telling him his trade was off. But though the sexual tension is very good stuff, ultimately, the show is about a young woman blazing a trail and dealing with all the bullshit that comes with it. In the finale, Ginny is on the mound and on the verge of blowing her no-hitter. She and Mike have been weird around each other, because they are both very aware that they almost crossed the point of no return. She’s being romanced by a Zuckerberg-esque tech billionaire who plays acoustic open mics and wants to kidnap her away on some stupidly impulsive honeymoon. Her brother is conning her out of her money; she fired her agent for being too involved in her personal business; and the ghost of her demanding father still hangs over her success. So when Mike strides into her space to talk her down, Ginny takes the opportunity to remind him whose ass is really on the line right now.

Mike: Okay, Baker, you want to talk? Let’s talk. You were right. It was completely awkward the other night. I mean, not in comparison to how awkward it’s been since then. Now we’re bordering on middle school dance territory. It doesn’t really matter because…
Ginny: Shut up. Stop trying to distract me from the fact that I’m throwing a no…
Mike: Don’t say it. That’s not what I’m doing.
Ginny: Yes, it is. You think I got rattled, so you’re coming out here on your white horse to give me one of your great movie speeches. I don’t need a speech from you today. I don’t need a speech from you or my father or my brother or my agent. And I don’t need some billionaire taking me all over the world, as if I’ve got nothing else to do. He can come watch me train in Arizona if he wants to. I don’t need a man to rescue me. I’m the one on the mound right now. Me. I throw the ball, I give the speeches, and I decide if you and I are gonna talk about what happened the other night, not you. And I’ve decided we’re not, by the way, because we’re teammates. And as long as we’re teammates, that’s how it’s gonna be. So, go back to home plate, put down the sign. And let me finish my no-hitter. That’s right, I said it. I’m throwing a no-hitter. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to keep doing it.
Mike: Fine by me.
Ginny: Good.

There’d be no drama in Pitch if the Padres were unbeatable or if Ginny were a beast from the moment she arrives. She’s shaken by the stress. The team is firmly in the middle of the pack. And this moment stands out because it caps the arc Ginny has been on for the whole first season. She’s figuring out who she is, in the middle of that field, with the spotlight right on her. And she’s accepting that responsibility with everything that she has because it is HERS. (And we love Mike still, because he TRUSTS her with that. No one knows better than him that she can handle herself.) I need Fox to renew Pitch for many reasons, including the promise of a much more self-assured Ginny recommitting to what she came here to do. So, Fox: What else you got? –Sage

source: conzyricamora.tumblr.com

4) “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” – Grease Live

Fox decided to get into the TV musical game in 2016 with the pre-taped Rocky Horror Picture Show and Grease: Live! While RHPS sadly fell flat (why was it so bright and shiny?????), other than a couple of exceptions, Grease was a smashing success that captured all of the fun of both the movie and the stage musical. (Note to NBC, after watching how you tried to copy Grease‘s style with Hairspray, you should PROBABLY start with hiring Tommy Kail.) The morning of the show, Grease took on a whole new meaning when news broke that Vanessa Hudgens, who was playing Rizzo, had lost her father to cancer the night before. Suddenly, the production became the true embodiment of the core principle of performing: “The show must go on.” All eyes would be on Vanessa as she took on the most challenging and vulnerable role of her career in the face of unspeakable tragedy. Would she rise up and prove her mettle?

Of course she would because Vanessa Hudgens is a goddamn PRO. Vanessa sang and danced her heart out that night, showing wonderful comic timing with “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” and showcasing mad dance skills at the Rydell School Dance. She had Rizzo’s sass and attitude down pat and she LOOKED amazing in those pencil skirts and in that Rizzo wig. Vanessa’s shining moment came with her 11 o’clock number, “There are Worse Things I Could Do”. Girlfriend just planted her feet and belted the shit out of it. It’s the first number where Rizzo lets her tough facade fall by the wayside and shows the audience that she’s just as emotionally vulnerable as Sandy. For Vanessa, it was truly the first time she could stop on that soundstage and just BE. It was a beautiful thing to watch because her emotions were so real and genuine and you could SEE the pain in her eyes…but you also never saw it overtake her. She channeled it into her performance and used her grief to show the audience her character’s brokenness and vulnerability. It was the kind of NO FEAR moment that not only showed her strength as an actress but her strength as a PERSON. The whole production was dedicated to her dad’s memory and I KNOW his daughter made him so so so proud.  — Kim

source for both gifs: forcewakens.tumblr.com

5) The Spy’s Goodbye – Agents of SHIELD

Can you believe they wasted this beautiful moment AND Bobbie and Hunter’s entire characters on a spin-off that never made it to a pilot? I have a suspicion that this Ghostrider storyline wouldn’t be quite as dull if they were still on the team. –Sage

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6) Laurie and Val’s Freestyle – Dancing With The Stars

Listen, Laurie Hernandez won Dancing with the Stars as soon as she signed on the dotted line. She was the breakout star of the Final Five (because everyone was already hyped about Simone Biles and Aly Raisman) with her giant emoji eyes and expressive face. Olympic Gymnasts have ALWAYS done well on the show. And getting Russian Teddy Bear Valentin Chmerkovskiy as a partner? Yeah. Laurie was assured a berth in the finals before the dancing even began.

Even though she was a ringer, there was something delightfully unexpected about Laurie and Val’s partnership. Val is normally paired with the hot twenty-something (all the more to fuel those vote-getting showmance rumors) and is ALWAYS super sexy, so I wondered how he would adjust to being paired with a 16-year-old. Laurie’s enthusiasm and spirit was INFECTIOUS and it brought out such a lovely and carefree side of Val (one that was clearly evidenced by all the time he just let his curls run wild rather than slicking them down). It was clear that he adored her and cherished the responsibility of being the one who took Laurie on the journey of the DWTS experience. Even though I was definitely Team James and Sharna (ONE DAY MY GINGER QUEEN), I couldn’t help be caught up in Laurie and Val. Their partnership culminated with a joyous freestyle to “Brand New” that had me in tears by the end because everyone was JUST SO HAPPY. The whole playground set-up could have easily gone too saccharine but there was just something about Laurie in that bright yellow dress, with Val at her side looking at her like she was the best person in the world, the two of them dancing with pure abandon that it just WORKED. It’s the perfect mix of a great dancer and a partner that knows how to choreograph to their strengths. Like I said…I can’t even be mad they beat my favorites. HOW COULD YOU BE? — Kim

7) Elliot confronts Tyrell – Mr. Robot

“Okay, but where’s Tyrell?” – the fandom, after every season 2 episode of Mr. Robot.

Elliot’s partner in Five/Nine chaos finally resurfaced in the next to last episode of the season. Martin Wallstrom spent a lot of time in the dugout after scaring the hell out of all of us with his ambition in season 1. The warehouse denouement of eps2.9_pyth0n-pt2 made up for that absence completely. Tyrell is very much alive, despite what Mr. Robot has been telling Elliot. And he’s chomping at the bit to start the next phase of their anarchic master plan.

Unfortunately for the Elliot side of his personality, the phase his darker self concocted with Tyrell is the destruction of an Evil Corp facility housing the paper records it will use to slowly rebuild its empire. Elliot stands between Tyrell/Mr. Robot and the mass murder of everyone working in that building. It’s a standoff that could very well have been happening all inside of Elliot’s head; I wondered at times if Tyrell were a second Tyler Durden for our hacker hero. But Tyrell proves himself to be very much his own person when he shoots Elliot: his hero, his god. And he does it on Elliot’s own orders. This was Mr. Robot’s long game: giving Tyrell a gun and express permission to sacrifice Elliot for the cause. “You know, when you gave me this, you said to stop anyone who gets in the way of our plan. I didn’t know what you meant, but now it’s very clear,” Tyrell says. “You did this to yourself, Elliot.” If you didn’t get chills, you better check your pulse. –Sage

gifs via mrrobotsource.tumblr.com

8) Kelly Clarkson sings “Piece by Piece” – American Idol

American Idol was finally sent to that great television set in the sky this spring. It was none too soon, in my humble opinion. The show’s glory days were far behind it; it hadn’t produced a major recording star since Philip Phillips (and that’s pushing it with that definition) and much of the audience had migrated to the newer and shinier The Voice. (Though The Voice has yet to produce a LEGIT recording star EVER, which is a whole other discussion to have regarding the flaws of reality singing competitions.) The contestants on the final season of Idol were equally forgettable…but for me, that was not what the final season was about. The final season was about seeing what the show had given us over the span of 15 seasons. Idol was VERY good in its last victory lap in regards to bringing back its past winners and other memorable contestants to remind everyone just exactly what kind of legacy the show is leaving behind.

The highlight of the season came when the original Idol, Queen Kelly Clarkson, stopped by to show all those kids just how it’s done. And at eight and a half months pregnant, no less. Let it never be said that we don’t have double standards here at Head Over Feels because earlier in this post I praised Vanessa Hudgens for not letting her emotions overwhelm her and here I am praising Kelly Clarkson for doing that very thing. Different circumstances, different standards, I say. It was a perfect storm of human emotion for Kelly. She was back on the stage that started her career, singing a song about the father her abandoned her until she had made something of herself (ON THAT STAGE). “Piece by Piece” is ALSO a promise to her child that she’s literally about to give birth to at any minute (seriously, one power chorus could have triggered labor) that she will never be that kind of parent to her. It’s like a lot of shit suddenly got real for Kelly Clarkson in those three minutes and she let it happen and STILL sang the shit out of her song. It’s a LOT. We are ALL Keith Urban watching that performance. — Kim

9)  Seeing the world through Edgar’s eyes – You’re the Worst

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Edgar is the gentlest, most generous character on the FX celebration of bad behavior, You’re The Worst. And he’s the least deserving of the grotesque reality that accompanies his PTSD. Desmin Borges is a bright light in every episode of the show, but in “Twenty-Two,” he’s a goddamn revelation. In an accusatory and cutting bit of cleverness, You’re The Worst rewinds the previous episode “Men Get Strong” in the style of Angelica Schuyler and shows us the events through the lens of Edgar’s relentless mental illness. His sunny manner has always seemed contradictory to the trauma he endured in war; but this episode shows how deliberate his choices are. Edgar is hounded by paranoia. His world is three shades darker than his roommates’. And though he tries to access help and healing through all available channels, he finds that he is alone. “Twenty-Two” is an indictment of this country’s treatment of veterans and of the stigma and misunderstanding of mental illness. It’s a tour-de-force performance. And in its entirety, it’s one of our top 20 television moments of the past year. –Sage

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10) The Cubs win the World Series

As a ride or die Atlanta Braves fan whose season was basically over in June, my only investment in baseball going into late October was whether or not the San Diego Padres would make the World Series on Pitch. However, once it became the Chicago Cubs versus the Cleveland Indians for the championship, I suddenly had a horse in the race, and that horse was HISTORY. Listen, I couldn’t tell you a single name of a current player on the Chicago Cubs (or the Indians for that matter) but all I knew is that the Cubs HAD to win. They had gotten SO CLOSE in 2015, the year that Back to the Future II had predicted that they would win the series, only to fall short in the National League Championship. They hadn’t won the World Series in 108 years. It was TIME.

I basically wrote the series off once the Cubs went down three games to one, including losing two of those games at home in Wrigley. Teams had only come back from that deficit 5 times, it was a near impossible task, especially when they didn’t have home field advantage. But the Cubbies never gave up and they forced a Game 7. The CMAs were the same night, so I was watching those and following the game on Twitter, updating Sage (as if she cared) the entire time. They took a 6 to 3 lead into the bottom of the 8th inning, by which time the CMAs were DONE and I had switched over to the game broadcast, fully remembering why I love baseball so much in the first place. I’m just gonna quote Field of Dreams, okay? “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again.”  That’s SO REAL, okay? It’s why I moaned in agony when the Indians tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. It didn’t MATTER that I had no personal investment in either of these teams, I was just watching a game for the history books.

What I loved so much about Game 7 is it seemed to unite EVERYONE. My entire facebook feed was cluttered with people commenting on the game and stressing out when the game went into a RAIN DELAY after the bottom of the ninth inning. (Seriously, it was a perfect storm of a game.) It felt like the entire world other than Indians fans were WILLING the Cubs to make this happen. I knew that the rain delay would either break the already tired Cubs pitching staff, who had already employed their closer, or it would energize them. The Cubs played their half of the tenth with renewed vigor and scored two runs, which led to me screaming at the top of my lungs in my little apartment circa midnight. (SORRY NEIGHBORS.) I think I held my breath the entirety of the bottom of the tenth, especially when the Indians answered back with a run of their own. Finally, Finally, FINALLY we got down to two outs and there was a grounder to the third baseman and the 108 year curse was over. Cue all the man emotion and me crying tears of joy. This game. THIS GAME.

It should be noted that the final season of Parks and Recreation took place in 2017. When Tom and Andy made their trip to Chicago to see Lucy in the spring of 2017, they commented that she was super happy that the Cubs had finally won the Series. Which means that the Cubs had won the series in 2016. Which means we either live in a world where Leslie Knope is a REAL person who will save us circa 2020 or Mike Schur is an evil wizard who knows the future. Either option is fine with me.  — Kim

Did we leave out YOUR favorite moment of 2016? Let us know in the comments.

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