The Top 20 Television Moments of 2015 – Part One

tv-and-life

Posted by Kim and Sage

Another year has passed and again, Head Over Feels has spent most of it parked in front of a screen of some kind. Regrets are for wimps.

Since 2015 began, we’ve been bookmarking all the television events that have made us weep, cheer, and clutch our pearls like the innocent flowers that we are. And as we get ready to welcome all the entertainment 2016 has to offer, the time has come to pay tribute to 20 unforgettable moments from this year in TV.

1) The White Party – Empire

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Empire never does anything small, so I’d figured that Jamal’s eventual coming out wouldn’t be a quiet affair. And yet, how could I have been prepared for his barrier-smashing performance at the label’s annual White Party in “The Lyon’s Roar”? Empire drew praise and jeers in its first season for its portrayal of homophobia in black culture and the unofficial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the mainstream music industry. I’m not qualified to offer comment on the show’s socio-political responsibilities in these areas, but I can tell you about the impact this storyline had on me as an individual viewer.

First of all, the scene is visually stunning, from the mansion setting to the fabulous achromatic costuming. (To Most Handsome Young Man nominee Jussie Smollett, who looks quite delicious, as per usual.) Empire has this great tradition of closing up the distance between musicians and audiences, so that every performance scene looks like a house party instead of a concert. I love that I can hear the guests singing along to the track. I love that I can read the reactions on individual faces when Jamal changes his shitty-ass dad’s lyric to “this the kind of song that makes a man love a man.” I love Jamal’s joyful defiance, and the way he turns directly to Lucious to look him in the face while he stands up and claims his own identity. And Cookie loves it too. The mother/son relationship between these two was the heart of season one to me, and she is incandescent with pride in this scene. Remember that Lucious wrote this song for CookieWith their marriage in the shitter (because Lucious is a GARBAGE PERSON), Jamal gives “You’re So Beautiful” welcome new meaning for the person who never stopped telling him it was okay to be who he was. He gave the world a show. And the world didn’t end. –Sage

2) Peggy and Stan Are in Love – Mad Men

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Never in my wildest dreams did I think that Mad Men would give us such an overtly romantic ending for my queen Peggy Olson. I had ALWAYS shipped Peggy and Stan but I had made my peace that it was never going to happen on the show. No one got to be happy on Mad Men! EVER.  So imagine my surprise and delight when Peggy and Stan finally figured their shit out in “Person to Person”.  I watched the finale in the wee hours of the morning after I came home from a two-show day and I started screaming at 3 AM when Stan confessed his love in the most perfectly Stan and Peggy way…over the phone. Their phone calls were one of the hallmarks of their relationship over the course of the series, so it was only fitting that it happened this way.

Peggy: I mean, I’m going to stay.
Stan: Good, because I didn’t want you to leave.
Peggy: Then why didn’t you just say that?
Stan: Because every time I’m face to face with you, I want to strangle you. And then I miss you when I go away. And I miss you and I call you on the phone and I get the person I want to talk to.
Peggy: That’s not true.
Stan: Yeah, well, I don’t know what it is, but when I’m standing in front of you, I bring out something terrible. I think about how you came into my life and how you drove me crazy and now I– I don’t even know what to do with myself because all I want to do is be with you.
Peggy: What? What did you just say?
Stan: I want to be with you. I’m in love with you.
Peggy: What?
Stan: I love you, Peggy.
Peggy: Oh, my God. That’s what I thought you said.

My heart dropped when it seemed that Peggy was about to reject Stan. Because of course she wasn’t in love with him, right? I mean we all knew she was in love with him, but did SHE? Watching her figure out that she was in love with him was a MARVEL. What a performance by Elisabeth Moss. She goes from disbelief to confusion to sudden realization in a matter of moments and it’s beautiful.

Peggy: I– I– I don’t know what to say. Whew. I feel like I can’t breathe almost. I mean, I don’t even think about you. Uh I mean, I do all the time, because you’re there. (touches her heart) And you’re here. And you make everything okay. You always do. No matter what. I mean, I must be. Because you’re always right. I can’t believe this. I think I’m in love with you, too. I really do. Stan? Are you there? (silence) Stan?

ME: OH NO STAN DID YOU REALLY HANG UP HOW COULD YOU MISS THIS WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME SHOW? Cue Stan appearing in Peggy’s doorway, out of breath because he SPRINTED to her office as soon as he realized where this was going. Is this Mad Men or my favorite romantic comedy?

Stan: What were you saying?
Peggy: I love you.

All my tears. –Kim

3) The Diner Fight – Agent Carter

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I love that we live in a world where Agent Carter exists. I love that it’s a show run by women and I love Peggy Carter (and Hayley Atwell) for being an icon of femininity and badassery. There are definitely more emotional Agent Carter moments we could have picked for this list. Peggy’s “I know my value” speech was instantly iconic. If you didn’t cry when Peggy laid Steve Rogers to rest by pouring out the vial of his blood on the Brooklyn Bridge, I question your humanity. But we chose the diner fight scene because it’s just so much FUN. It’s stylistically gorgeous, with the bright colors of the diner and the big band music roaring in the background. It’s hilarious with Jarvis bumbling in the background while Peggy singlehandedly takes down all the men. And it just serves as a reminder that Peggy Carter is not to be trifled with. Harrison Ford once said that Indiana Jones wasn’t the BEST fighter but he was the SMARTEST fighter because he used what was around him to serve to his advantage. That is exactly what I see here, especially in the way Peggy uses that plate as the world’s deadliest frisbee. And she does it all in a gorgeous period suit because even when she is kicking ass, Peggy Carter is a LADY above all things. –Kim

4) “You’re a stone cold bitch.” – The Mindy Project

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I have to confess something. I’ve fallen SUPER behind on The Mindy Project.  And the things I have heard about the episodes post-Leo’s birth don’t make me want to catch up anytime soon. But this moment? This is perfection. Dramatic births in unconventional situations is a sitcom staple and Mindy plays the stereotype to the max. There is absolutely no way Danny would have ever been able to get to her on a stalled subway car but we forgive it because we don’t watch television for reality. We watch for the way our hearts swell when Danny makes it just in time for the birth of his son. We watch TV for the way Danny calms a panicked Mindy because NO ONE wants their lady parts exposed on a dirty subway car, much less push a baby out there. I love how Danny knows EXACTLY what to say to her to get her to calm down and believe in herself. He may be an ass some of the time, but he always comes through. That’s why we watch. Who knew that being called a “stone cold bitch” could be the most romantic words in the universe? –Kim

5) Stevie Wonder Carpool Karaoke – The Late Late Show

called to say
Anyone worth hanging out with knows how to properly jam in the car.

Maybe I’ve seen American Graffiti too many times, but isn’t there a beautiful sense of freedom that comes with being behind the wheel of a car? The Late Late Show‘s Carpool Karaoke series leverages the comforting familiarity of the road trip singalong, a “the stars, they’re just like us!” sense of bonding, and host James Corden’s authentic fangirling and driver’s seat chair-dancing. From the very first edition of this sketch (with a totally game Mariah Carey, thank you), it’s been a favorite of our blog and the bit with the most viral traction. Knowing us, you perhaps you expected to see One Direction’s Carpool Karaoke on this list. But even a choreographed performance of morning wood anthem “No Control” couldn’t quite steal the slot from Stevie Wonder. Because he is Stevie Wonder, as James’s wife confirmed firsthand.

A late night host has every opportunity I’ve ever dreamed of to make lasting memories with cool celebrities. But I think even James would admit that it’s going to be real hard to top sitting in a car with Stevie Wonder and listening to him sing “I just called to say James loves you…” to the woman he married. (When James cries, I cry.) The 10+ minute bit includes James and Stevie harmonizing on the artist’s ridiculous catalog (“Superstition,” “Isn’t She Lovely?” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”…you know, those hack jobs), but it’s James’s “indulgent” request and his heart-melting reaction that put this Carpool Karaoke on the top of a very entertaining heap. –Sage

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“I just wanted you to think you came from something good.” – The Mindy Project Recap

fighting

The Mindy Project Season 4, Episodes 6 & 7
“Road Trip
” & “Mindy and Nanny”
Posted by Sage

When last we left the Lahiri-Castellanos, they were dealing with a family emergency. Danny’s half-sister called to tell him that their dad had had a heart attack, and “Road Trip” sent Danny off to California to play the good son. Because that’s what he is, even when he wishes he weren’t.

I assumed at first that Danny wants to drive across the country because he no longer likes to fly without Mindy. (Who’s going to hold his hand during turbulence? Morgan, probably, and his hands smell like dozens of wet dogs.) But Morgan rightly guesses that Danny has a secret mission tucked into this pilgrimage, and he won’t shut up until he finds out what it is.

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I do believe we’re losing Messina for a few episodes to movie shooting after this, not just “Mindy and Nanny.” So “Road Trip” gave us a Danny-centric episode to hold us over, leaving Mindy and Leo back in New York to their respective Danny-mobiles. (“I have one for myself, but it’s just pictures of your weiner.”) I suspect that Mindy’s motives in assigning Morgan to be Danny’s road buddy weren’t completely selfless. This way, she can sleep a little sounder knowing that her boy isn’t making the trip by himself and get her self-assigned personal assistant/worshipper/best friend out of her hair for the week. The Morgan and Danny dynamic is amusing because it’s always going to be combative. Morgan doesn’t think that Danny is good enough for his queen, and he’s always on high alert for some way to prove that to her. Danny almost hands that proof to him in this episode when he introduces him to his other firstborn son, Eric.

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But there’s plenty of other on-the-road fun before we get to that bombshell. Danny avoids the main roads in New Jersey because he doesn’t want his New York plates to get him “the old Hoboken hello”; Morgan physically spanks him when Danny tries to leave him at a motel; and Morgan’s motion sickness is no joke, christening the car with projectile vomit before Leo even gets a chance to sully it himself. Danny tries to shake Morgan again by pretending to entertain his obsession with the 101 Best Celebrity Pet Graves In America. They detour to visit Eddie from Frasier‘s monument, and before Morgan can catch up with Danny’s obscure Kelsey Grammer reference (“Eating tossed salad and scrambled eggs in heaven.” “What the hell does that even mean?”), Danny is booking it back to the car. I’m sure I don’t want to know how he obtained it, but Morgan follows Danny onto a suburban, Oklahoman street on a little girl’s bike and demands to know heeeeyyy, eyyyy, eyyyyy, what’s goin’ on? (“Who’s in that house? Are you gay? Are you attracted to me? Why not?”)

Danny’s secret isn’t quite as scandalous as it initially sounds. He was young, single, and no doubt already beautiful, and how was a Staten boy like that supposed to resist the siren call of the only woman at the Billy Joel concert who knew all the words to “We Didn’t Start The Fire”? (“Peter Piper, pee-pee poopy, daddy ate a squirrel!”) In fact, his reaction to being clued in finally to Eric’s existence is exactly right. (“The only reason I wasn’t here was because I didn’t know about you. But hell, we can start right now.”) Once they meet the sweet, hopeful kid and his apologetic mom, Morgan decides that his theory about Danny’s secret family isn’t exactly correct and instead turns his deductive powers to grilling Danny’s ’99 fling. (HOWEVER, THERE WAS ZERO SLUT SHAMING IN THIS EPISODE, CAN I GET AN AMEN.) It doesn’t occur to Danny to question the truth of his paternity, since Eric’s mother never asked him for a thing and Eric, well, he’s not asking much either.  Just for Danny to move out to Oklahoma and marry his mom so that they can be a real family. I can almost hear Mindy’s knife sharpener now…

Danny proudly shows off photos of Mindy and Leo to Eric, who’s distraught that his nuclear family dream isn’t going to happen and is taking it out on his name, which is nowhere near as cool as Leo. (“Eric Stoltz? He was almost in Back To The Future.) Meanwhile, Morgan wants to get to the bottom of how Danny’s genes contributed to a blue-eyed kid who won the ribbon for reaching things on a tall shelf. (He would have been much less suspicious if Eric had won a prize for profuse sweating, or hating the Red Sox.) The lie is a thin one, and it falls apart right as Eric punches his not-quite dad in the face. Eric’s mom knew that Danny wasn’t the kid’s father, but his real one didn’t deserve the title either. “I just wanted you to think you came from something good,” she tells her son, and can I just? This lady had a one-night stand with Danny after locking eyes during “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” and still she remembers him as worthy of her kid’s long-distance hero worship. This was pre-Christina, before Danny broke a little, and now all I can think about is this handsome med student who was so respectful during what was probably hurried backseat car sex that this lady would have chosen him as her only son’s father. This does nothing to calm down Eric, who is too square to even rebel correctly. (“If my friends ask for me, just tell them I’m up in my room, looking up how to do drugs.”) Danny feels taken advantage of and moves to leave (“I don’t know what’s worse about Castellano men: how gullible we are, or how much we hate the feel of condoms.”), but Morgan didn’t come all this way not to be a hero. And even if it’s not his queen’s honor he’s defending, he’s damn sure going to help out someone. After all, we’ve all got problems. He stays for Eric’s birthday party, Danny leaving his Thelma & Louise fantasies in the dust.

"My front's a mess."

“My front’s a mess.”

Back in the car, Danny checks in at home and hears something that makes him turn back around. “Aren’t you lucky to have such a great dad?” Mindy absentmindedly asks Baby Leo, and that sparks something in Danny. It’s not Eric’s fault that he was beckoned to Oklahoma over false pretenses, and what kind of father would he be to Leo if he abandoned any kid who needed him? He strolls into Eric’s party just in time to distract from Morgan’s fall down the stairs (“I’m back from the golf club and I’m ready to meet your friends!”), and saves the day. Eric is already a “great kid” who didn’t need him at all to grow up that way. All he needs at the moment to have that father figure itch scratched; he wants to stand tall in front of his friends with a man who’s going to clap him on the back and be proud of him. And though they only spent one afternoon together, Danny is.

Early in the episode, Mindy told Danny that she hoped he’d let go of his anger towards his father. And I think he symbolically did that when he handed over the keys to his car to Eric. None of it matters. Fuck the past. He can blame his dad all he wants for what how his leaving shaped him, but all that matters is what Danny does now. And now he’s getting on a bus with Morgan Tookers, a hell he wouldn’t have considered before he met Eric, and starts the last leg of his journey to put all that hurt and resentment to bed, for once and for all. Dr. Phil’s work here is done.

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“The greatest scam on earth.” – The Mindy Project Recap

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The Mindy Project Season 4, Episodes 4 & 5
“The Bitch Is Back
” & “Stay At Home MILF”
Posted by Sage

A few years ago, a friend of mine was fretting to me about not being ready to take care of her first child. “Are you kidding me?” I asked. “Do you know how many idiots have raised kids and managed not to kill them? Trust me, you’re going to be fine.” Anyway: Mindy and Danny.

Little Leo has joined the family, and neither of his idiot parents are having any trouble bonding with the little guy. In “The Bitch Is Back,” Mindy is relishing the last days of her maternity leave, marathoning Dora (“Thanks for turning me on to this show, Leo.”) and looking beatific while she shames grown men into giving up cabs for her. Leo is set to meet his weird aunts and uncles who, to be clear, should never be left alone with him, during his first visit to Schulman & Associates. Over breakfast, Danny tells Mindy that she may not have to give up her time with the only person in the world she loves more than him (“And I was like ‘Danny? Who dat?'”); she can decide to be a mom full-time, and let Danny be the breadwinner for the both of them. We all saw this coming.

Leo gets a little peckish on their way into the office, so Mindy discreetly starts to breast feed him on the train. A scandalized Southern gentleman played by Raising Hope‘s Garret Dillahunt shames her for it, so unappreciative he is of a mother’s duty to care for her child and how lucky he is to be exposed to his fellow commuter’s “beautiful cans.” His reaction offends Mindy deeply, because she doesn’t fuck with the idea of strange men policing women’s bodies, but also because she’s used to doing whatever she wants, whenever she wants. Face it, ladies, she’d fight just as hard for her train buddy’s right to clip his toenails on a rush hour trip. This is why we love her.

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Southern train prude turns out to be Jody Kimball-Kinnery, Jeremerrry’s childhood playmate and the new doctor at S&A. He’s been hired along with his nurse sister Collette Kimball-Kinney to fill the gaps left by Mindy and Adrian (who?). Jody prides himself on upholding traditional gender roles, meaning that he prefers the ladies in his company to be ladies. This partiality does not bode well for his working relationship with Mindy, who was apparently the sole reason for the sheer bulk of the practice’s monthly toilet paper order. He’s charmed everyone else, however, leaving Mindy to rage at Danny about how Jody is the one-man opposition to all her personal beliefs. (“Like the right to hate-watch other people’s wedding videos?” “No. Women’s rights, or whatever.”) Danny takes advantage of Mindy’s discomfort with the new guy by lightly suggesting that maybe, just maybe, she’d be better off avoiding him completely and staying at home with Leo. He does this while making a tiny model of New York City, so that wins him back 1/2 a point on the “Danny Needs To Step Off” Index Of Control.

The new dad may share some of Jody’s stone-age parenting ideals, but lucky for Mindy, “The Today Show and Big Bracelet” have sold Danny on the idea of the “push present.” Beverly and Tamra look on in disgust as he tries and fails to come up with an adequate thank you for what his fiance did to bring his kid into the world. Attempt #1 is a another choreographed dance, hilariously now a hackneyed blow-off gift when it comes from Danny. And attempt #2 is a “luxurious cranberry turtleneck sweater” from a mom gift guide that Mindy mistakes for trash and gives to Morgan. (“If you saw the garment, you’d understand.”) Tamra takes pity on Dr. C mainly to save her the secondhand embarrassment of his terrible ideas; she takes him jewelry shopping and learns the real purpose of the diamond baby ring he’s about to buy for Mindy. He wants her to choose to be a stay-at-home mom, but he’s subtly trying to push her into it so she’ll remember it as her idea. It makes fiscal sense, he argues. And she misses Leo when she’s not with him. Tamra is not buying it. But Danny may be buying her silence.

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Mindy is on the case for another solution to the Jody problem; she’s looking for a reason for Jeremy to fire him. But if the boss isn’t sufficiently embarrassed by reminders of all his “coward’s forfeits” in the family’s pre-supper wrastling bouts to kick Jody out of the practice, the forced confessions of Mindy’s patients aren’t going to do it. Though she is able to round up some pretty damning evidence. Mr. Morrison wasn’t permitted to watch his child’s birth so that his memories of his wife’s lady parts wouldn’t be tainted. Mindy’s horrified reaction to this is the most wonderful (“Your vagina’s not supposed to be a mystery!”); I bet she made Danny get in there with a magnifying glass after Leo came out, just so he could see exactly what he did to her. Mrs. Morrison insists that Jodi was otherwise “the perfect gentleman,” and won’t be further part of Mindy’s coup. Get it together, Mrs. Morrison.

Mindy confronts the office with this new information; it’s an intervention that leads to her accidentally squirting breast milk into Jody’s face. Before that though, Jody gives an impassioned defense of his self-diagnosed sexism – the patronizing, man-trashing version that’s supposed to make women feel good about being considered other. Men come out worse in Dr. Kimball-Kenny’s scenario, he insists, so Mindy and her sisters should be happy not to be lumped in with them. Mindy knows that it’s condescending bullshit, but everyone else seems to buy it. (Beverly: “Do racism next!”) Jeremy demands she apologize to Jody, but Mindy Lahiri doesn’t take anything she did back except the unintentional super-soaking. She quits the practice, reasoning that she doesn’t fit in there any more. (I.E. She’s no longer the strongest personality in the room. Also Jody is most definitely a dick.)

Danny can’t help himself; he’s so thrilled that Mindy’s decided to be with their son all day, even though Mindy came to that choice under extenuating circumstances. He’s still projecting the pain of his childhood onto her. But Danny does take some of Tamra’s aggressive lecturing to heart. And he takes it quite literally. I die. And yet, I can’t help but feel cheated of the preceding scene. Danny crying about his all-consuming love for his firstborn child while a bored Brooklynite inks him? DVD extras, please.

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“Smug breeders” – The Mindy Project Recap

leo

The Mindy Project Season 4, Episodes 2 & 3
“C Is For Coward
” & Leo Castellano Is My Son
Posted by Sage

I’m so sorry, you guys. Leo Castellano arrives and I just abandon you! I’m a deadbeat recapper. I’m so ashamed.

I wasn’t having a baby on a subway car or anything, but there was some travel and life stuff going on. But I’ve returned with my sincere apologies, and a double recap for the second and third episodes of The Mindy Project season 4. These were big ones, with our characters making more huge strides, so let’s get straight to it.

This show just rolled right through that pregnancy, didn’t it? Mindy is ready to burst at the beginning of “C Is For Coward, both with child and with crazy-making sexual frustration. Because Danny is an old-school dad, he’s got an old-school sitcom dad problem with sticking his little guy into his other little guy’s uterine oasis. ( “How would you like it if you were minding your own business and a big penis just came and hit you in the face?” “That’s my life you’re describing.”) That weird insecurity gets a grudging pass, even though it had Mindy cheating on him “with a banister.” The real dick moves come later, when Danny gets a load of Mindy’s birthing plan: Step 1) check into the most luxurious birthing suite in the city; 2) get injected with all the drugs; and 3) wake up when baby is placed in her arms.  So far, I’m not seeing any problems.

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No mother of his child is “checking out” for the birth, so Danny empties his arsenal of birth-inducing techniques to get the kid on the way before Mindy’s appointment for the “5-Day C-Section Knockout Package” comes around. I don’t buy that Danny had to tip Brendan Deslaurier for this information; granted, everything I know about-pregnancy and birth has been gleaned from sitcoms, but wouldn’t a regular-person OBGYN who knows that “paleo birth” is a ridiculous scam also know the spicy foods trick? Plot hole aside, that detour got us Brendan suggesting that Danny “initiate a conversation on race” and insinuating again that the dad-to-be’s control issues stem from an inappropriate relationship with a priest in his past, plus Danny’s reaction to both of those things, so it’s fine.

As soon as Danny makes a move on Mindy on the couch (“Did you just tweak my tit”? Thanks, Hulu!), she wises up to what’s going on. And it’s another opportunity to enjoy The Mindy Project‘s imperfect feminism in all its shoddy, hungover glory. Yeah, Mindy’s ideal birth is indulgent and outrageous, but is it any more so than the Earth Mother package sponsored by the Deslauriers, the smuggest of the smug? In this episode, there are two camps of dudes advocating for an idea of this process that they’ve romanticized on their own – and in the midwives’ case, commercialized too. Mindy Lahiri doesn’t wake up every morning planning to be a feminist crusader, but sometimes she stumbles over it, just by arguing for what she wants. “Why should only women have to suffer through pain?” she asks her fiance. “Why don’t you get your next cavity filled without Novocaine?” SHOTS FIRED. The idea that a mother needs to experience every ache and cramp and (I’m sorry but it’s true) poop on the birthing table in order to be considered a member of some warrior sisterhood is stupid and damaging, and also just another way to pit women against each other in some arbitrary Olympics of having a vagina. I’d drop the mic, but they’re expensive.

But just because Mindy doesn’t choose pain doesn’t mean she can’t take it. And Danny wouldn’t be Danny if his misguided attempts to steer Mindy’s birth plan over to the stoic Catholic lane didn’t come from a place of pure love for his future child and its mother. In the season premiere, we saw what Mindy’s life would be like if she was with someone who never once tried to challenge her. It’s no good. “She’s scared,” Danny tells Jeremy about Mindy’s plot to essentially skip the birth. And he doesn’t realize that that paralyzing fear is what’s driving her until that moment. Instead of sharing that fear and taking some of it off her shoulders, he told her what to do. But the baby is on his way, and with a fast enough Castellano sprint, he still has time to fix it. (“My girl’s havin’ a baby.”) God, I love it when he runs.

Both Mindy and Danny’s birthing plans are in the shitter, and Mindy’s water has broken onto Brendan’s feet on the (let’s assume) 1 train, scattering bed bugs everywhere. Public births are well-worn sitcom territory, but not like this. Mindy begs Brendan to knock her out with the only tools he has (besides sage: nature’s anesthetic): his bare hands. (“Mindy, I’ve wanted to punch you in the face for so very long.”) With her ‘Yonce mix inaccessible, she has to settle for Duncan’s ukelele rendition of “I Been Workin’ On The Railroad.” And she even courts the Beygency in order to provoke Tamra into an attack that will hopefully end in Mindy unconscious. (“Beyonce’s really 44…that did nothing, and I betrayed Beyonce.”) Finally, Danny makes his way onto the car. Because as annoying as he is when he thinks his word is law in this family, at least he fucking cares. (Stay tuned: that’s the theme of the next episode too.) And when the chips are down, and baby Lahiri-Castellano just won’t wait any longer, Danny knows the exact right things to say. He believes them. It’s a nice bonus.

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stronger 3 stronger 4
 

All my romantic dreams for the rest of my life will be of some man calling me a “stone cold bitch” with this much fearsome love in his eyes. Well done, Ma and Pop. And welcome to the world, Leo Castellano.

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Fan Video Friday – Welcome Back TV!

please come back

Posted by Kim and Sage

Summer is fine. It’s the season of re-watches. Of catch-ups. Of Cat Deeley. But even with all the changes the medium has undergone over the last couple of decades, fall is still the best time to be a TV fan. We’re about to embark on the first of several premiere-heavy weeks, and the only emotion that can match our giddiness is ice cold fear that we won’t be able to keep up with it all.

The 2015 crop of pilots isn’t too promising. We’ll be lucky to get a regular timeslot or two out of it. But who cares, when so many old friends are returning? This week’s Fan Video Friday post is a tribute to the shows we’ve missed so thoroughly all summer and can’t wait to have back in front of our faces. Happy watching.

–Sage

“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” – How to Get Away With Murder

Sage: Like most things Lana Del Rey does, this cover is ridiculous and lacking in subtlety, which makes it an excellent choice for fan-vidding a soap-y melodrama like How To Get Away With Murder. The freshman season of the Shondaland legal thriller held back nothing…except most of the answers and all of Annaliese Keating’s motivations. I’m eager to see where Season 2 takes Professor Keating and her little murder minions, once the Lila Stangard case is put to bed.

Edit: this cover is actually by Lorde, but all opinions about Lana Del Ray still stand.

“Latch” – Jane the Virgin

Kim: No offense to Brett Dier’s Michael (he just wants a Feeling Award, you guys), but I am FIRMLY on board the S.S. Jafael and have been from the very beginning.  Yes, they’ve had their issues (mainly stemming from Rafael’s insecurities and fucked up family). Yes, they have different value systems and come from different worlds.  The odds are stacked against them, quite frankly, and their relationship will ALWAYS be hard work. But there’s no denying that when these two find themselves on the same page…magic happens. Much like Jane, I see the sparkles whenever these two share the screen. “Now I’ve got you in my space, I won’t let go of you. Got you shackled in my embrace, I’m latching on to you…”

“Worth It” – Flash and Arrow

Sage: WHEW, am I glad we picked a Flarrow ladies tribute video. Because I am not speaking to Stephen Amell right now.

Titular comic book heroes mostly come straight out of the text; it’s the development of compatriots and especially love interests that set a truly great superhero show apart from the just okay. The Flash and Arrow aren’t above criticism for how their female characters fit into the world around them (see: Season 1 Laurel and 2/3 of Season 1 Iris), but overall these ladies are serving up intelligence, sarcasm, and courage, and handily carrying their own storylines. P.S. I will always ship Barry and Felicity AND Barry and Caitlin a little bit, and nothing you do can stop me.

“Love Me Like You Do” – Nashville

Kim: In last week’s installment, we spotlighted the tortured OTP of Deacon and Rayna.  However, the reason I tune into Nashville every week is Juliette Barnes.  We’ve made it no secret that she’s our favorite.  I hate hate hated what they did to her at the end of last season (Super crazy postpartum depression pushing her marriage to the brink of destruction? Be a little more original, show.) so I am super curious how they are going to right Juliette’s path now that Hayden is back on the show full time.  Less Crazy Lady and more Bad Ass Country Diva, please and thank you.

“You and I” – The Mindy Project

Sage: OKAY, this video isn’t the newest Mindy and Danny video on the YouTubes. But think of it as capturing a particular moment in time, the hesitation right before the sparring partners figure not just that they’re crazy about each other but that it might be time to act on it, instead of boo-hooing about past loves gone wrong. Also, it’s to one of the greatest ballads in the One Direction discography and the Secret Santa hug hits right at Zayn’s legendary high note. Multi-sensory bliss.

“XO” – Sleepy Hollow

Kim: OH MY GOD I HAVE MISSED THESE TWO IDIOT FACES.

Season Two of Sleepy Hollow may have had its rough patches (HA) creatively but what never wavered was the fact that Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie are beautiful and that Abbie and Ichabod have all the eye sex and UST a viewer could want. We have a lot of changes coming in Season Three…a new showrunner, dead weight cut loose (bye Katrina and Henremy, we won’t miss you), and NOT dead weight cut loose (WHY FRANK WHY I DON’T UNDERSTAND).  But one thing will remain steadfast, no matter what: Ichabbie’s devotion to each other. Witness represent.

Also…for those of you who still care (and plenty of you do, judging by Twitter) a recap of “Tempus Fugit” IS coming your way next week.  I promise.

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“I’d like to be wrong.” – The Mindy Project Recap

supposed

The Mindy Project Season 4, Episode 1
“While I Was Sleeping”

Posted by Sage

The Mindy Project is now a Hulu Original, and lucky for those of us who’d follow Mindy Kaling’s vision anywhere, almost nothing has changed. The only difference between Fox-Mindy and Hulu-Mindy audience-wise is a couple extra minutes of content and a very sophisticated “Mature Audiences” disclaimer. (For Fassbender threesome daydreams and several references to the “s-ing of the the d,” I assume.)

“While I Was Sleeping” picked up immediately where the season three finale left off, with Danny Castellano shvitzing on the Lahiris’ doorstep. You’ll recall that he spontaneously flew to India after a blow-up with Mindy about his aversion to marriage, a fight that left Mindy feeling hopeless about their future. (“Life would be so much better if I’d just fallen in love with someone else.”) I dig the structure of this premiere, because it leaned into the story’s soul purpose: to get Mindy and Danny back on solid ground. I miss Beverly, Jeremy, and Tamra when they’re gone, but the show is better served by Kaling’s refusal to concoct extraneous B and C-stories just to make sure everybody gets their three minutes of screentime. The Sliding Doors/dream conceit of Mindy’s action in this episode became public when Joseph Gordon-Levitt was cast as Dr. L’s “husband,” and again, I’ve got to hand it to the writers. Mindy is prone to acting out when life isn’t as she wants it to be; having her spend most of the episode unconscious was a brilliant way of avoiding the consequences of whatever crazy thing she would have done while still giving her crazy things to do. Also, there was a 13 Going On 30 reference, so you know I’m happy. Razzles are both a candy and a gum.

JGL mindy project

“We can play Monopoly!!”

But back to Danny, who was being really, really brave for a minute. The “I’m in love with your daughter” bit was wasted on a non-English speaking house servant, and Dr. C backs off from the confessions once he gets a load of the machete in the other Dr. L’s hand. (Now we know where Mindy gets her penchant for sleeping with knives.) His fear is misplaced though; the Lahiris are warm and great, even when they find out that this colleague of their daughter’s isn’t the one who sent them the Rat Pack poster on their wall. (“Morgan has never once forgotten my birthday.”) Danny’s clamming up is silly, because surely they’re going to find out that he’s the father of Mindy’s unborn child eventually, but it does give him the opportunity to observe a happy marriage – the one that gave his girlfriend her faith in the whole concept.

And to be clear: Mindy’s parents? Are perfect. I’m hoping that this season gives Ajay Mehta and Sakina Jaffrey the kind of focus that season three gave Rhea Pearlman, because they deserve it. The running joke about the Lahiris is that they’re overly indulgent of their daughter and that that’s how Mindy’s staggering confidence was born. Their arranged marriage gives us a little context though. These two people were so different on paper, fell crazy in love against all odds, and transferred all their glee and appreciation for that inordinate amount of luck onto their firstborn child, who’s a perfect combination of both of their personalities. I love the moment where Danny realizes where the hell Mindy came from. He sees her ambition and professional dedication in her dad (“His office hours are poorly attended because he teaches it right the first time.”) and her flair for drama, sparkle, and getting the attention she deserves in her mom. (“I decided the part was too small and didn’t get it. What a relief.”)

morgan

Danny’s visit becomes a conference of all the people in the world who think that Mindy makes it go ’round (except Mindy herself, of course) when Morgan of House Tookers shows up, fresh from the clutches of the Taliban. He’s there to ensure that his queen gets the king she deserves, whether that be a Danny who’s sheepish enough to don a , Red Sox sweatshirt or Kunal Nayyar from The Big Bang Theory, who tbh is looking pretty fly. Morgan is most certainly insane, but his strategy of calling Danny’s bluff works like a charm. “Ohhh, my feelings. My quaaaalms,” he taunts Dr. C, and honestly. Danny’s concerns about marriage seemed so valid to him when he was in his own world, looking at his Ma, and sleeping in a bed he used to share with Christina. Once he gets out of that space, they seem ridiculous. Mindy wants to get be married, he loves her, and what, is he going to let her go so she can end up with a guy who thinks a 35-year-old pregnant lady is “a lemon”? (“Did you just call my daughter a piece of sour fruit?”)

Or maybe she’d end up with a guy like Matt: lover of group sex, best friend of Andy Cohen, possible victim of marriage blackmail. When Mindy and Danny got together, Kaling promised that the show wouldn’t get bogged down by their relationship. One of the great joys of being a Mindy Project fan is watching Mindy interact with new dudes, preferably well-cast famous friends of the showrunner. The show has found plenty of ways to bring in those new elements, from Lee Pace as a college ex to John Cho as a sophisticated drug dealer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role is another excellent example of cute-guy integration as Mindy’s potential fate if she’d kept on looking for outside jerks instead of just picking the jerk in the next office over.

mindy project girl problems mindy project girl problems
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The Winners of the Second Annual Feelies!

one direction what did we win

Posted by Kim and Sage

The time has come! Welcome to the prestigious (in our opinion) Feelies award ceremony, where we announce the winners of our second annual reader poll! Voting opened last Monday for several categories in TV drama and comedy. (You can check out the nominee post here.) The competition has been fierce, especially where our nominees’ official social media accounts got involved (what up, Jane the Virgin?!), and, in some cases, the leaderboards have been constantly changing. But in the end, each race could only have one winner. We’re proud to bring you those winners today.

The Feelies go to….

Best Comedy Series

The nominees were: Broad CityJane the VirginThe Mindy ProjectParks and RecreationSelfie, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

THE WINNER IS: Jane the Virgin

Kim: Much like last year’s winner (and this year’s runner-up) Parks and RecreationJane the Virgin is a comedy that is driven by its heart.  On paper, the premise is a little ridiculous (a virgin is accidentally inseminated when going in for her annual check-up) but Jane the Virgin is so much more than its telenovela roots.  At its core, Jane the Virgin is about family, both the family we are born with and the family we choose. It’s about three generations of women being there for each other no matter what. It’s about love. It’s about the eternal struggle of balancing reality and dreams (I FEEL you and your writer dreams, Jane!). It’s about the choices we make and how they define us. It’s the most delightful show I’ve watched in a long time and I am so proud that it won.

What makes Jane the Virgin so special is the way it deftly balances the comedy and the drama.  It plays with telenovela stereotypes and fully commits to every outrageous twist and turn. It gives you the giant romantic gestures we all want to see on TV (who DOESN’T swoon when Rafael and Jane finally kiss?) and then turns around and drops truth bombs everywhere (the Immigration issues with Alba).   The show is peppered with fantastical elements like posters of Rogelio coming to life and talking to you. And yet the outlandish is always grounded in the reality of Jane’s journey.  There is not a weak link among the ensemble.  The writing is the definition of sharp.  Every character is fully realized…and has been from the very first episode.  This is clearly a show whose team knows what they are doing.

It would be so easy to make fun of Jane’s choice to save herself for marriage or to make her insufferably sanctimonious about it.  The show does neither. I love how the show doesn’t judge any of its characters.  They are just who they are and no one makes apologies for it. Jane struggles with her choices on a daily basis and that’s what makes her so REAL.  That’s really the best word to describe this crazy little telenovela that should have never translated to American audiences. REAL. That’s why it’s connected with audiences.  All the female empowerment and pretty men are just a bonus.

Best Drama Series

The nominees were: Agent CarterBroadchurchDoctor WhoThe FlashMad Men, and Masters of Sex

THE WINNER IS: Agent Carter

Sage: Everybody say, “Heeeey, Miss Carter…”

The voters have spoken, and they know Agent Carter‘s value. In eight short episodes, this freshmen Marvel series courted a devoted fanbase with tight plotting, dope period costuming, elegant ass-kickings, and true emotional beats. Peggy Carter isn’t an Avenger. There isn’t a SHIELD to speak of yet. But her story is one worth telling. Why? Because she says so.

As we reported in our SDCC posts, Agent Carter was being repped all over San Diego this July. Red fedoras were the headwear of choice. Peggy fan art was selling out all over the place. And any mention of the show received more enthusiastic Ballroom 20 cheers than its panel mate, Agents of SHIELD. The love that Agent Carter has engendered is passionate. Because this is what the people want: Hayley Atwell’s holy light, sexual tension that knows no gender, and the most feminist piece of art in Marvel’s collection.

Best Actress in a Comedy

The nominees were: Karen Gillan (Selfie), Ilana Glazer (Broad City), Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project), Ellie Kemper (The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), and Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin)

THE WINNER IS: Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin

Kim: What a GIFT Gina Rodriguez is. She’s so refreshingly pure in her performance as Jane.  She just IS Jane.  We don’t see any seams in her performance.  It’s rare to see an actress know her character so thoroughly from the VERY START of a series and that’s what Gina Rodriguez did this season. It’s one of the most honest performances I’ve ever seen and I can’t WAIT to see what else she is capable of doing.

What’s amazing about Gina is her ability to deftly switch between the comedy and drama of Jane the Virgin without skipping a beat.  She’s not afraid to fully commit to her performance and that’s WHY everything about the show works. Because while the circumstances may seem ridiculous to US, they are not ridiculous to Gina (and therefore Jane), so we the audience is willing to go on the journey with her. Plus, girlfriend can cry on command and do it BEAUTIFULLY. Teach me your secrets, you wizard.

 
Like Peggy Carter, Jane Gloriana Villanueva is a character we NEED on TV right now.  She’s just so GOOD but not insufferably so.  She believes in herself and she always wants to see the good in others. She dreams of being more than she is and she struggles with her sense of responsibility.  She’s devoted to her family. She demands the best out of those around her.  She’s both sass and compassion.  She’s sunshine and rainbows.  She’s a character that you root for and a character you truly want to find happiness and success. Basically, she’s perfect.

Best Actress in a Drama

The nominees were: Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter), Caitriona Balfe (Outlander), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who), Olivia Colman (Broadchurch), Eva Green (Penny Dreadful), and Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)

THE WINNER IS: Caitriona Balfe, Outlander

Sage: Following in the footsteps of last year’s winner (and this year’s runner-up) Tatiana Maslany, Cait Balfe is another brunette force of nature. Outlander itself is technically genre, but it doesn’t really feel like it. That’s because its leading lady (and man, we’re getting there!) deliver the material that they’re given with all the ferocity and gravity that they’d offer to the most A-list, Oscar-bait costume drama. The time travel conceit is almost beside the point; there’s so much else to know about nobility, commitment, and survival.

Cait is everything that she needs to be. And that’s a lot, since Outlander is essentially her story. She meets Claire’s challenges with courage when necessary and humor when it suits her. Claire stands up for herself and for the downtrodden, but still listens and respects her place as a newcomer to this culture and this time. There are “strong women,” composed entirely of sassy comebacks and barely concealed damseling, and then there are just women, who deal as best as they can with the shit they’re given and enjoy some good 17th-century castle oral every once in a while.

So thank you, Sassenach, for being at the forefront of one of TV most pro-lady shows. While I’m sure the paychecks and those love scenes with your costar are reward enough for your efforts, now you’ve got a Feelie to go along with them.

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Vote for the Second Annual Feelies!

Posted by Kim and Sage

Welcome to The Second Annual Feelies, where we herald our favorites of the television season and seek to right the wrongs of the Emmy Nominations.  While there may have been less to quibble with in this year’s nominations (TATIANA FINALLY), the Television Academy still shows an unbearable bias against genre shows, which are showcasing some of the best work on television.  There is no such bias here.  In fact, the only thing we could be accused of is TOO much bias towards niche shows.  What matters to us is not subject material but the EXECUTION of the material and how the actors and shows make us feel.

While we may have determined the nominees, the choice is in YOUR hands.  We encourage you to vote with your heart and NOT be like the Emmys and just click on a name because you like the show or the actor. Be discerning.  Be passionate about celebrating good work. Be better than the Emmys. We WANT you to struggle choosing a winner.  We very much sat cackling wickedly as we thought about asking you to choose between Tatiana Maslany and Hayley Atwell or between John Cho and Chris Messina.  That’s the POINT.  May the best performances win.

Voting will be open through Friday, August 7th.  Vote hard, vote often, campaign for your victor.  It’s all in your hands.

AND THE NOMINEES ARE….

**choices of header gifs in no way disclose preferences in each category**

Best Comedy Series

Broad City
Jane the Virgin
Parks and Recreation
The Mindy Project
Selfie
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt  

Sage: Broad City continued its gleeful assault on comedy norms in its second season, with the girls – still the most loving, loyal friendship on TV – taking on consignment stores, dog weddings, oral surgery, and (“This is the greatest day of my LIFE.”) pegging. We bid a fond farewell to Parks and Recreation, but not before an inspired look into the future of our dear Pawnee friends. April found her calling, Ron and Leslie finally acknowledged what they mean to each other, and Jean Ralphio (poorly) faked his own death. Meanwhile, on Netflix: Ellie Kemper, whose Office character I always found a little grating, stepped into the role she was born to play on Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s new series, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Kimmy had all the wacky set pieces and inexplicable running jokes as 30 Rock, plus a dark and gooey center, a new and unexpected take on the rich and bored Upper East Side trophy wife, and some Peeeenoooo Noiiiiiiiiiiirrrrr.

Kim: The concept looked ridiculous on paper but Jane the Virgin delivered in spades, giving us a hilarious and ridiculous telenovela that had a HUGE heart that grounded it in reality.  The circumstances surrounding the characters may be farfetched but the exploration of family dynamics, the bonds between mothers and daughters, and the struggle of pursuing dreams versus adhering to responsibilities made them all relatable.  Selfieas we have often said, was a show too beautiful to live on network television.  More than just a modern My Fair LadySelfie was about two lonely souls looking for connection in all the wrong places and it was a caustic takedown of our obsession with social media. It’s truly the great tragedy of the TV season. The Mindy Project defied all the critics who worried that Mindy and Danny being in a relationship would kill the show.  Its third season seamlessly moved from a yearning romantic comedy to an honest exploration of what it’s like to be in a relationship in your 30’s.  TMP didn’t shy away from showcasing Danny and Mindy’s emotional issues that were stumbling blocks towards their happiness.  It was often raw and honest and tough to watch (yet never lost its sense of humor)…and that’s what made it great.

 

Best Drama Series

Agent Carter
Broadchurch

Doctor Who
The Flash
Mad Men
Masters of Sex

Kim: The arrival of Peter Capaldi completely invigorated Doctor Who.  Series 8 saw the Doctor going through an identity crisis, questioning everything about what made him a “good man”.  This crisis lent itself to Clara Oswald, free from the “Impossible Girl” device, becoming a fully realized character who brought strength to the Doctor’s weakness.  Their journey from the Doctor being unable to tell her apart from Strax to “Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?” was a thrilling one that kept us glued to our screens every week. We said goodbye to Mad Men in style as we watched Don Draper wander the country aimlessly before a moment of zen helped him realize that he’d like to buy the world a coke. The Flash built on the foundation laid down by big brother Arrow, deftly balancing bad guys of the week with its overarching mythology. While Arrow faltered in its third season, Barry Allen and company hit all the right marks in their debut season, building to a finale that left us positively breathless.

Sage: Agent Carter‘s arrival wasn’t as hyped as that other (and messier) Marvel Television production Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but damn if Tara Butters and her fellow EPs didn’t show their colleagues a little something about storytelling. Carter is equal parts fun and sorrow; Queen Hayley Atwell regularly kicks the asses of full-grown men and trades banter with the real live Jarvis, but she also spent the season putting Steve Rogers to rest in her heart. The whole cast is terrific, but Peggy Carter is a character we need on TV right now. We can’t wait to see her again. After the dismal American version finally took a step off those northern California cliffs, the original and far superior Broadchurch rose like a phoenix. A rumpled, grumpy phoenix. Alec Hardy finally solved the case that haunted him throughout the Latimer investigation, but let’s be honest: Broadchurch 2 is about Hardy and Miller, the Former Detectives Club – now partners by choice. Masters of Sex dug deeper into its fathomless characters in its second season. More impressive guest stars were pulled into the wake churned up by the partners’ research (Keke Palmer, Betsy Brandt, Christian Borle), as Bill and Virginia became more intertwined.

 

Best Actress in a Comedy

Karen Gillan as Eliza Dooley, Selfie
Ilana Glazer as Ilana Wexler, Broad City
Mindy Kaling as Mindy Lahiri, The Mindy Project
Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation
Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva, Jane the Virgin

Sage: Clearly, we were predisposed to like Amy Pond in anything she’d do after. But then Karen Gillan had to go and pick a nuanced romantic comedy and a stereotype-smashing reforming party girl character, both of which were doomed by their own quality. As Eliza, Gillan was funny, sexy, and vulnerable, and nailed her American accent which, frankly, Scots’ usually mangle. (Sorry, guys. We love you anyway.) It hurts not to be able to co-nominate Ilana Glazer and her co-star Abbi Jacobsen, but such are the rules of the Feelies. On Broad City, Glazer is a bundle of filthy joy, an accidental style icon, and questionable life hero. In other words: yas, kween! Mindy Kaling has always been a phenomenal writer, but her performance leveled up in this past season of The Mindy Project. Dr. L realistically struggled with a potential cross-country move, an unplanned pregnancy, and a shoplifting Staten Island Italian, and she did it all in style.

Kim: Ellie Kemper‘s inherent sunniness makes her makes her a perfect Kimmy Schmidt, a character that in lesser hands would have been a one-note punchline.  Bedecked in her signature bright colors, Kimmy is joy personified, but Ellie never lets her fall into caricature and she lets you see the steely edge beneath the innocence. You can’t help but cheer for her. Amy Poehler‘s Leslie Knope is both a feminist and television ICON and the fact that she only has one Golden Globe to show for it is one of television’s greatest injustices. Leslie doesn’t need your praise…she’s too busy running the country.  Gina Rodriguez was the revelation of the TV season and is the giant heart at the center of Jane the Virgin.  She can have you rolling on the floor with laughter one minute and then weeping the next. Her performance is achingly honest and I had her marked to WIN the Emmy this season…and then she didn’t even get nominated. Whatever.

 

Best Actress in a Drama

Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Agent Carter
Caitriona Balfe as Claire Beauchamp, Outlander
Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson, Masters of Sex
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald, Doctor Who
Olivia Colman as Ellie Miller, Broadchurch
Eva Green as Vanessa Ives, Penny Dreadful
Tatiana Maslany as The Leda Clones, Orphan Black

Kim: As Sage pointed out, Peggy Carter IS the character we need on television right now and Hayley Atwell embodies her so fully you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. She knows her value…anyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter. Lizzy Caplan continues to do incredibly nuanced work on Masters of Sex, defying the critics who had labeled her as solely a sardonically comic actress.  Her Virginia is a woman torn between traditional duties and her dreams of changing the world with her work.  She’s truly ahead of her time. Speaking of characters ahead of their time, Caitriona Balfe imbues Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser with ferocity and gravitas that grounds the fantasy of Outlander in reality. She’s a heroine for the ages, staunchly uncompromising her beliefs to mold into the gender roles of 18th Century Scotland.  Olivia Colman‘s Ellie Miller is a wounded animal recovering from the devastation of her family.  She masks her pain behind a steely demeanor but is never afraid to let the cracks in her armor show.  Series Two is all about Ellie’s journey BACK to the person she was before and Colman brings incredible depth and vulnerability to the role.  Never count out DS Miller, people.

Sage: With the character evolution of Clara Oswald came new opportunities to appreciate what Jenna Coleman is doing with the part. She clicked immediately with Peter Capaldi, but let’s not give chemistry all the credit. Clara made some controversial choices this year and Coleman grounded those choices in palpable human emotion. Series 9 is a victory lap well-earned. Penny Dreadful might be too camp for some, but rest assured that former Bond girl Eva Green is doing work on that show. She approaches the haunted Vanessa with such intensity that you don’t know whether to be scared for her or of her. Let’s go with both, just to be safe. But maybe the hardest working woman on television is Orphan Black phenomenon (freak of nature?) Tatiana Maslany. She just keeps on slaying; we’ll never not be flabbergasted by how fully she possesses so many completely rounded characters. And season 3 brought us a new Leda (and an immediate fan favorite): the perceptive and sweet nail technician Krystal.

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