Listen. 2017 has been a bit of a dumpster fire. We all know that. But just because we’ve all watched the world as we know it start to crumble around us doesn’t mean that there haven’t been moments of beauty and moments of joy and moments of “OMG this is AMAZING television!” That’s why we do these lists every year. We actually keep a running list that we add things to periodically but it almost always comes down to me and Sage shouting at each other over gChat on an afternoon in December as we remember all the great things that happened in television over the year. I’m sure we’ve forgotten some. That’s fine. These are the twenty that stood out the most to us. Enjoy the first ten! — Kim
1. Tom Holland Burns Lip Sync Battle to the Ground
It makes perfect sense to cast a dancer as Peter Parker, yet it took three tries to figure that out. Adorbs Brit Tom Holland grew up on stage, playing Billy Elliot, the miner’s son with a song in his heart, on the West End. He charmed all of us in his Avengers: Civil War as a happy-go-lucky, recognizably teenage version of Spider-Man. Tom is a proper trained dancer who looks like the boy next door, which is why we were all SO SHOOK by his furiously sexual appearance on Lip Sync Battle, during the press tour for The Amazing Spider-Man.
His performance, to a mash-up of “Singin’ in the Rain” and Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” is a gift that keeps on giving, because there is SO MUCH THERE. First of all, Tom is serving up some Dr. Frank-N-Furter realness in his vinyl shorts, fish-nets, and halter top. Like, hello Religious Right, why are you so concerned with “boys being boys” and “girls being girls” when androgyny is so. fucking. hot? And then there are the moves, which range from club-ready body rolls to a DEATH DROP IN THE RAIN. We were all his co-star and rumored girlfriend Zendaya, losing her shit in the background when this all went down. But I think what I love most about this moment is that Tom is not playing any of this for a joke. And you can tell, while he rolls his hips, purses his lips, and grinds up on his prop umbrella, that he FEELS sexy. That’s why people latched onto this so hard — it’s not femininity as a performance, but a femininity that’s been in there, just wanting to be expressed. I’ve had it on repeat all year. –Sage
2. We’re in The Bad Place on The Good Place
We already talked about the mother of all twists that was the season one finale of The Good Place when it won the best “WHAT THE FUCK” moment for the 2016-17 Feelies season. That’s fine. We can talk about it again. Because we would be completely remiss in leaving it off the Best of the Year list. IT WAS THE BAD PLACE THE WHOLE TIME. The fact that Mike Schur flipped the ENTIRE premise of what up to that point had been a clever but innocuous little sitcom and turned it into some work of evil genius is going to go down in sitcom history. Twenty years from now, I’ll be living in my commune with Sage and the rest of our girl gang. We’ll be drinking our boxed wine on the porch and we’ll STILL be talking about how lucky we were that we saw the season one finale of The Good Place live. THAT’S how good it was. — Kim
3. “More I Cannot Wish You” from The Flash
The Flash musical episode was a delight from top to bottom, and has not yet been cleared off of my DVR. Finally, the CW took advantage of the wealth of musical theater talent across their superhero shows, and that talent did not disappoint. It was all gold, from Kara and Barry’s “Super Friend” duet (co-written by our girl, Rachel Bloom) to “Running Home to You,” the Barry/Iris love theme that would follow them to their first wedding. (Grant Gustin sings like a damn angel, you guys.) But how how how could we have picked anything other than Victor Garber, Jesse L. Martin, and John Barrowman putting their own spin on a Guys & Dolls ballad? They all look dapper in their wide ties and suits. (And Jesse should wear a fedora at all times, imo.) The whole thing is so inside-baseball for theater people, who know the origin of the number and had heard of all three of these song-and-dance men before they booked comic book shows. And in this AU, Iris (I mean Millie) has TWO loving fathers, who just want her to be happy. Last season was a dark one for The Flash, and we needed this moment and this episode to help us get through it. Now, about “Duet: Part 2″… –Sage
4. Donnie & Allison’s Orphan Black Duet
So how did we land on Donnie and Alison’s bittersweet duet that closed out episode 3? Well first of all, we’ve always had a soft spot for our favorite neurotic soccer mom turned drug dealer and her former monitor turned teddy bear accomplice. “Beneath Her Heart” served as closure for the whole drug and murdered body of Dr. Leekie hidden in the garage storyline for the Hendrixes and it was a NAILBITER. (Sage and I the whole time: #ProtectDonnie.) It culminates with Donnie accidentally drinking Alison’s pill-laced cocktail and collapsing in front of the whole school during his performance at the fair. Almost losing her husband is a sobering moment for Alison and she decides she needs to walk away and find herself outside of this whole mess. It’s such a sweet moment as she and Donnie sit down and sing together because it’s so full of hope. Hope for the future, hope for them as both a couple and individuals. Orphan Black worked best when it was a complex character study of all these wildly complicated women who happened to share the same DNA. The final season did right by every single one of them and that’s why this moment stands out so much. Plus Alison’s journey of self discovery brought her back to us with purple hair and who can argue with that? — Kim
5. Frank and Karen in the Elevator on The Punisher
As far as I’m concerned, Daredevil Season 2 did a thorough job of establishing that Matt and Karen are not and have never been right for each other, and the arrival of Frank Castle was a big part of that. So by the time The Punisher came around, Frank and Karen were already solid OTP status for me. Deborah Ann Woll only appears in a handful of episodes in the first season, but what an arc it is. I could talk about how Frank starts calling her by her name instead of “ma’am” or how it’s like she can finally breathe again when she gets her arms around him for the first time. I could talk about how Frank tells Sarah that he might have found something to care about and hold onto or how he tells David that Karen is his “family.” But today, I want to talk to you about the elevator scene, aka the last time we see the journalist in Season 1.
It’s the standout episode, first of all, which goes down non-linearly in a hotel when the troubled Lewis attempts to assassinate a senator. Lewis takes Karen hostage (Frank: “I will come for you.” Me: *perishes*), and just when I think the show is about to damsel her, she and Frank orchestrate her escape together. The cops show up after Lewis detonates the bomb he’s wearing, and whoops, Frank is still very, very wanted. So this non-verbal communication THING that they have re-engages again — Karen lets Frank put a gun under her chin so they can escape. Once they’re safely on the elevator, only few words are spoken, because they’re not necessary in this moment. Frank hands the gun off to Karen without instruction; she can handle herself. And they both know that he has to get up and away immediately. So they stand there together and just LOOK at each other, covered in their own blood, and probably each other’s. I think a lot of us were hoping for a kiss this season, but somehow this form of contact — their foreheads pressed together — seems even more loaded. And it’s not just UST — it’s exhaustion and loneliness and despair and resolution. They’re acknowledging that they did for each other — what they WOULD do for each other. It’s star-crossed and fucked up and SO delicious.
Deborah Ann Woll and Jon Bernthal are just electric together, and they played this almost dialogue-free scene with such desperation and connection. I can’t wait to see how this dynamic develops as the Netflix/Marvel universe moves forward. –Sage
6. Karen Says Goodbye to Rosario on Will & Grace – K
Our Will & Grace recapper Sarah put it way more eloquently than I ever could, so I will just say this: when Karen Walker cries, we cry. When it was announced that Shelley Morrison wouldn’t be returning to the revival, we knew something like this would be coming. I mean we knew, but we didn’t KNOW. Megan Mullally gets a lot of glory for her comic skills because she IS a comic genius. BUT man she knows how to land an emotional punch when the moment calls for us. After an entire episode of stuffing down her grief and taking it out on Jack and Grace, a simple hug and an “I’m so sorry” from her secret BFF Will gives Karen the strength to face the goodbye that she never thought she would have to say. And that’s what it comes down to really. “I need for you to not be gone,” Karen says simply. What is so fucking brilliant about this scene is how Megan manages to balance the genuine emotion and pain that Karen is feeling (“I’m just going to sit here with you for a while.”) with her signature acid wit (Immediately pulling out cleaning supplies). It kept the moment poignant without ever slipping into treacle and heavy-handedness. “That’s Karen sad,” Jack says. That’s Megan Mullally proving why her shelves are collapsing underneath the weight of all the awards she’s won for playing Karen Walker, I say. — Kim
7. The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Ladies Generalize About Men
This entire season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been excellent so far. (Is there any other kind of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend season but an excellent one?) And we could have gone anywhere with this pick. But in the season 3 premiere, CXG announced its return with this little number, tapping directly into the zeitgeist.
I’ve memorized it. I’ve showed it to everyone I know. I will riot if it doesn’t get an Emmy nomination. It’s all so beautifully realized, from the coordinated suits to the 80s-concept-of-futuristic salon backdrop. And “Let’s Generalize About Men” is a certified bop. But it’s on this list because of the subject matter and how it spoke to every woman who is so tired of experiencing/hearing about terrible men that it seems reasonable to lump them all together and be done with it. This song understands the flaws in that plan (“All men are stupid and childish, even the ones who are smart and mature”) and how straight women fetishize/are way more forgiving of gay men. (“They’re never mean, just sassy! They’re all completely adorable and fun.”) But as catharsis, you can’t beat it. And it’s more about Rebecca’s GurlGroup4Evah bonding over their horror stories than it is anything else. –Sage
8. La La Land Wins Best Picture for Two Minutes and 45 Seconds.
The 89th Annual Winner of Best Picture felt like a done deal long before Oscar Night. La La Land was a candy colored ode to jazz and to Old Hollywood. It was starred the modern version of Hepburn and Tracy in the form of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. It was a movie that any struggling actor could relate to and it had a lot of old money and power producers behind it. It was also blindingly full of white people SAVING jazz and old Hollywood (as white people do). Moonlight was too indie, too full of unknown and up and coming actors, too focused on men of color, and way too gay to ever win Best Picture. Not at the Academy Awards anyway.
So when Warren Beatty said La La Land after opening up that Best Picture envelope, no one at my Oscar Party was surprised. Disappointed and Sad, but not surprised.
Listen, we all thought we were being punked. The entirety of Team Moonlight thought they were being punked. (Honestly, I blame the third asshole who KNEW they had lost and got up to thank his parents and then goes “We lost by the way.” WHO DOES THAT? Entitled white guys, that’s who.) My Oscar party AND the Kodak Theatre were dead silent and then people started CRYING. The team on stage was crying. Celebrities were crying. The guy from the accounting firm who mixed up the envelopes cause he was busy tweeting instead of doing his job was crying. WE WERE ALL CRYING. The independently made no-name produced and starring picture about men of color and homosexuality slew the Hollywood BEAST. We all won that day. — Kim
9. Jake Pulls Off The Best Halloween Surprise Ever On Brooklyn Nine-Nine
What is it with Mike Schur shows and Halloween proposals?
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Halloween episodes are always stand-outs, and the annual heist competition always ends with a surprise. That surprise reveals which member(s) of the team were three steps ahead of all the rest, and this time, it was Jake. What gave him the advantage in planning this proposal is how deeply he knows and understands Amy, the opposite of which she tried to hold over him earlier in the episode. (“Letting me into your life was the worst mistake you ever made.” “Cool. Fun take on our relationship.”) He knew exactly where they’d end up at midnight, and he was ready.
Like Parks & Rec, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been schooling the rest of television on how to make a happy couple interesting and funny. (You only have to keep breaking up and putting your OTP back together if you’re a bad writer, and that is the tea.) Hence the whole fandom bursting into happy tears over this development and/or fainting, like Boyle. Jake has always been a good guy, but being with Amy has changed him; I mean, he threw the whole heist just so he could give her a magnificent, personal proposal, and a personalized belt of her very own. The heist captures the playful antagonism that characterized the will-they-won’t-they early part of their relationship, and it’s fun to watch them pit their considerable deviousness against each other, even if Jake knows of an endgame that Amy does not.
In his proposal speech, Jake talks about Amy’s smarts, her kindness, and how good she is at her job. (I’m going to have to speak to you about your FACE, Andy.) And her butt, but that’s mutual. It’s always meant a lot to me that the show didn’t use Jake to chill Amy out to a point where she was unrecognizable. She’s still a huge Type-A nerd, and he TREASURES that. (He decided to ask her to marry him when she was complaining about a crossword puzzle typo.) Over five seasons, Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago have remained friends above everything else. And I can’t wait for their toit nups. — Sage
10. Ruth & Debbie Duke It Out for the First Time on GLOW
So we were all in with GLOW from the moment it was announced. Lady wrestlers, the 80s, Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin (who had just blown our minds on Masters of Sex), and Marc Maron? Sign us the fuck up. The pilot did a great job with setting Ruth up as our put-upon heroine, a struggling actress who just wants a job and a boyfriend that will be nice to her instead of the married guy she’s been sleeping with on the sly. A girl who leans on her married best friend Debbie as they take jazzercise in their glorious leotards. But this is where GLOW is brilliant: the married guy that Ruth was sleeping with? It’s her supportive best friend’s husband. Ruth KNEW it was Debbie’s husband and Debbie is PISSED. (As she should be.) Way to subvert the heroine, show.
What makes this moment work so well is that Marc Maron’s Sam Sylvia is JUST about to walk away from the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling. Debbie gets in the ring with her friend turned nemesis and proceeds to kick her ass. And then Sam sees it. He sees the sparkly costumes and the characters and the choreographed moves and the roar of the crowd. It’s all scored to Journey. It’s GLORIOUS. I remember watching the pilot on the treadmill and CHEERING. — Kim
The second half of our fave TV moments is heading your way soon! This was HARD, you guys. Let us know what you think in the comments.