Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Top Performances of the Past TV Season

Last year around this time, I came up with a list of 25 of my favorite TV performances from that season. That post was a major hit, generating more comments than I usually get in a fortnight, so, of course, I'm doing another one to hopefully cash in on that popularity. This year, after expressing my continuing dissatisfaction with TV in general, I had to change this post up a lot in order to stay true with what really fascinated me this season. I expanded my definition of "performance" to include reality TV performance since, in its on way, those appearing in reality TV are doing their own version of "acting."

Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Liz Lemon was her usual wonderful Liz Lemon self this past season of 30 Rock, marching toward middle age still alone, bitter and as relatable as ever.

Joel McHale, Community
McHale's Jeff is the walking definition of a "dickweed," but it's all part of the roguish charm he casts over us and the other misfits in his study group at Greendale Community College.

Jane Lynch, Glee
By the end of the season, the show was an absolute chore to sit through. Lynch's omnipotent villain, Sue Sylvester, however, was always worth waiting through the shitty melodramatics and dumb karaoke numbers to discover. Her constant attempts to bring down the Glee club, often through manipulation, blackmail and out-and-out cheating (not to mention her many insults of Mr. Schu's hair) were always funny, even when the show refused to change anything up plot-wise. All in all, I love the way Sue sees it.

Keir Gilchrist, United States of Tara
While working through the facets of his sexuality on this season of Tara, Marshall, under the guidance of Keir Gilchrist, became quite possibly the most complex gay character on TV right now. If not, he's definitely a breath of fresh air from the usual drama queens and depressed souls we're usually assaulted with.

Snooki, Jersey Shore
From the moment this construction-cone-orange Oompa Loompa with a big ole pouf on her head arrived on the scene, my life has never been the same. At first, she looks like the typical Real World skank who drinks too much and then gets verbally abusive while looking for some penis. Somehow, over the course of Jersey Shore's brilliant first season, she became its heart and soul, the emotional core of the entire show. The moment when she is wrongly punched in the face by some random guido at the bar made this clear, as we all took this action as a call to arms to hunt that asshole down and punch him in the face. After that, however, Snooki became our favorite sexually promiscuous girl, constantly looking for her juicehead gorilla but always coming up with the short end of the stick. Oh, that Snooki, always looking for love but never quite finding it.

RuPaul, RuPaul's Drag Race
Not only was she damn fabulous every week--seriously, 99% of women never come close to looking as good as Ru on an off day--but she was an endearing and oh so lovable mama bear to all of the queen cubs, spouting words of wisdom like "Don't fuck it up!" or "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love someone else?" (my new personal mantra). And who can forget her line reading of "It's time to LIP SYNC....for your LIFE"?

The Cast of Wizards of Waverly Place [Selena Gomez, David Henrie, Jake T. Austin, Maria Canals-Barrera, David DeLuise, Jennifer Stone, Dan Benson]
The Russos are, without a doubt, the realest family on TV since the Millers on Still Standing. They lie, cheat, manipulate and cast spells to get what they want, but there's never any doubt that love is what bonds them together (or the fact that they have nowhere else to go). As far as acting goes, Gomez is a deliciously "dark" alternative to the typical Disney starlet. Henrie has a natural gift for comedy that makes his gay older brother a treat to watch. Austin does stupidity with intelligence. Canals-Barrera and DeLuise resist the urge to play broad as many adults on tween shows seem to do. Stone plays her character's eccentricities for endearment rather than cheap laughs. Bonus points for Dan Benson who plays Justin's best gal pal Zeke and his overwhelming dorkiness/homosexuality.

Sterling Knight, Tiffany Thornton and Demi Lovato, Sonny With a Chance
Whenever these three are involved in the main plot of an episode, you can rest assured that amazingness will ensue. I've already aired my complaints with the current season, but when these three are on (as in the celebrity funeral parody when Gassie, the farting dog, passes away), few actors their age, Disney or not, can match them.

Suze Orman, The Suze Orman Show
Since I started watching The Suze Orman Show a few months ago, I've come to the conclusion that Suze isn't merely a TV show host. Rather, she is a TV Personality with a capital "P." The way she calls everyone "girlfriend" or "boyfriend," the way she yells "DENIED!" at those who really can't afford whatever treasure they want on the Can I Afford It segment, even the way she gives one of her patented Suze Smackdowns betrays a woman who not only knows what the fuck she is talking about, but, also, a woman who knows how to make 401(k)'s and eight month emergency funds as entertaining as possible.

Becki Newton, Ugly Betty
TV's greatest fag hag since Grace Adler brought the funny every time she appeared on screen this season, even in the dire first half of the season where no one seemed to know what the fuck they were doing anymore. In the four years Ugly Betty has been on the air, she has gone from resident bitch to comedic genius. I can't wait to see what she can do on her new show this year.

Nicole Anderson and Chelsea Staub, JONAS
The Jonas Brothers may be the stars, but it's the women of JONAS who rule the show week in and week out. Staub, with her regality and no-holds-barred approach to her character, remains the mostly sweet, occasionally bitter heart of the show. Anderson, who could have become annoying five minutes in as the fanatic fangirl, constantly pushed herself to make the unremarkable material fresh and funny (I especially loved her breathless texting and site updating while on a date with Joe).

Team Griffin, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List
They always bring the funny, but Kathy and her team (which consists of mother Maggie, assistant Tiffany and tour manager Tom) constantly had me in stitches on this past celebrity-filled season of My Life on the D-List. The show isn't "reality" anymore, if it ever really was, yet that doesn't really matter.

Kirstie Alley, Kirstie Alley's Big Life
I nearly peed my pants the moment when she started pulling that huge branch across the driveway live an ox plowing the field. What I thought would be a self-conscious and ungodly account of a woman who won't shut up about being fat was actually one of the most spirited riffs on reality television since My Life on the D-List. Bravo!

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
In what has sadly become the final season of Old Christine, Louis-Dreyfus continued to bring the laughs as alcoholic, over-dramatic, loser mama Christine Campbell (who somehow makes Liz Lemon look like a winner). My favorite moment of hers was when she accidentally kidnapped a woman she used to torment in junior high when she wouldn't accept her apology. Only Louis-Dreyfus could make a plot as ridiculous as that work. This show will be missed.

4 comments:

Glenn Dunks said...

I don't really watch much TV on actual TV (and not DVD) these days that isn't "Masterchef", but I loved Gilchrist on the first season of Tara and can't wait for the second season. I prefer Brie Larson, personally, but I won't argue.

Liz Lemon is amazing, but haven't seen season 4.

Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer are the reasons I still watch Glee every week.

Snooki? I couldn't even fathom watching that show week to week to be honest. Garbage, bringing "fame" to worthless, disgusting people (I've seen them interviewed and on the internet and that's what they appear to be and I doubt there's more to those people than meets the eye.)

Becki Newton and Michael Urie were always so criminally robbed by Emmy voters. How could they nominate Sean Hayes every single year and not Urie once? Shame. I hope Newton gets some of the sunlight to herself on her new series.

Old Christine? Oh man. I love that show more than I suspect it deserves. Dreyfuss is just so very good. It hasn't been on down here for a while, but these shows have a knack of remaining the same for years and years so I'm sure she's still the same.

Adam M. said...

You beat me to it again :P (mine's in production!)

Interesting choices. I have to say that our tastes really diverge when it comes to TV. I would never describe the Jersey Shore as "brilliant," but I will admit it was addicting. I'm not sure if it has any actual value though, beyond a basic excitement that comes from watching a cage-match or a car-wreck.

And it's equal parts hilarious and wonderful to see a college grad giving the Disney Channel such a strong endorsement. Though something tells me Mickey wouldn't be too happy with you assuming that there's a gay in the House of Mouse (of course, I'm assuming that you're assuming the Wizards brother is gay, as opposed to it being acknowledged by the show).

But I have always loved Suze :)

Dame James said...

Re: Snooki & Jersey Shore: When I say "brilliant," I mean it in the sense that it's a work of genius that they managed to make such horrible, shallow people so fascinating to watch week after week. I shouldn't have cared at all, like I normally do with The Real World, but these people are so awful and trashy, you can't stop watching them. As for my girl Snooks, I'll be the first to admit she has no depth (and I'd be willing to bet she'd second that statement). But she's a fascinating character, and I appreciate her commitment to being as ridiculous as possible.

As for the gays invading Disney, the show tries to pretend that Justin and Zeke are both straight, but in any given episode there are at least 3 or 4 moments where you go, "Really? Are you seriously trying to pass him off as a pussy hound?" And, in all honesty, the two of them are so perfect for each other, they just have to end up together.

Adam, when have our tastes ever converged? ;)

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