my guilt is 7 on a scale of 1 to 10

This episode was SO jokes {TVD 8x15 Review}

Hi all! You know the deal. I write my thoughts in real time so anything I saw at the beginning that might be a mistake may be corrected by the end. This review will have anti-Damon, anti-Delena, anti-Steroline, anti-Bamon, anti-Bonenzo sentiments and will most likely have references to other shows and to the misogynoir, anti-blackness and racism in the narrative. If you do not like it, you do not have to read this. Are you ready? OK! Let’s go.

1. So I’m stopping a very promising Kdrama to watch this. The Kdrama is called Mirror of the Witch, I’m on the first episode and already there are more consequences in this drama than all eight seasons of TVD. So far it looks exceptionally dark and mean-spirited, I think it might actually disturb me. Anyway. It’s still entirely ridiculous that Cade’s last words are “Go to hell.” Like why? Also why would Stefan say, “You first”? Wasn’t Cade already in hell? Like didn’t he sort of create it? And now he’s just … dead? What was that dialogue?

2. I like how opening the door to Cade’s world will only destroy everything for “miles”, like that’s such a small scale, shouldn’t it be the end of the world if the devil is walking among us? Or is he not the devil, is Katherine the devil? I’m confused about the Hell hierarchy, you see.

3. Also I should mention I have a cold and I took cough syrup and it SAYS non-drowsy but last night I was knocked the fuck out so if I get a little loopy near the end, it could be that. Or it could be that watching TVD has finally addled my brain. Who knows.

4. They really do hype Katherine way too much.

5. Sorry, pausing because my cat is being extremely affectionate and I would rather play with her for a little than watch what trash this episode is going to be.

6. But now she’s on my keyboard. It’s like she’s trying to spare me.

7. The lighting in this episode seems to be darker than normal, I can barely see anything.

8. I think it’s funny that Caroline keeps waking up expecting to see Stefan and he’s not there.

9. Matt’s hair is SO stupid though. LIKE WHY.

10. I have it paused because the video is loading still but like seriously, he looks thoroughly unattractive like this and out of character I think Zach is pretty cute, so like ugh, why am I subjected to this.

11. Why do we care about Matt’s dad again?

12. Or his mother for that matter.

13. Like remember when she came to town and then made out with Damon and then they discovered Vicki was dead and she made out with Tyler? Or was Tyler first and then Damon? Either way, she’s messy af. The only interesting dynamic was her and Caroline and Elena. She’s pointless.

14. “That was a lifetime ago, things have changed since then” that should just replace the title of TVD. “Didn’t Damon kill your sister?” “That was a long time ago.” “Didn’t Damon kill your brother” “That was a long time ago.” And now apparently abandoning your family because of man pain and cowardice and immaturity is “a lifetime ago” too but oh no, Stefan was a ripper a literal century ago and we need to harp on it forever.

15. Real talk, I already feel kinda woozy but it’s fine it’s like being buzzed and it’s probably the only way I will get through this episode.

16. Why would Dorian agreeing to help them on how to get rid of the “Queen of Hell” be misconstrued as him being “cool” with Stefan though? Isn’t getting rid of someone who is supposed to be the devil Plus be in everyone’s best interest? Like whatever, it was just another chance to take a shot at Stefan. Transparent as fuck.

17. That red looks nice on Kat.

18. I like how Katherine is in this world, everything is supposed to be going to shit and Matt isn’t like “Mom, Dad, I hate you but you need to leave town because you could possibly die” he’s just like yeah fam, I’m rescheduling our awkward dinner date. Like lol. It would be more interesting if he didn’t give a shit if they died but this is just the writers being the writers. In Buffy, when the Mayor is supposed to devour all of Sunnydale, Buffy forces her mother to leave town and tells her if she doesn’t her presence will get her [Buffy] killed.

19. I love Stefan’s face when Damon says “she’s obsessed with Stefan” like BITCH WHO TOLD YOU TO TALK?

20. Why does it have to be a wedding though? It could just as easily be an engagement party or a rehearsal dinner, like sooooooooooo forced.

21. I mean, I don’t blame Bonnie for hating Stefan but Damon was responsible for killing Jeremy and kidnapping Jeremy, Enzo was responsible for suffocating Jeremy and she’s cool with both of them, hell she fell in love with one of them so I’m just like girl, I guess. The writers are ridiculous because it just feels like they don’t know the web they’ve created with these characters and understand that they’ve turned pretty much everyone into a hyprocrite.

22. And as a non-Beremy shipper, I still think Bonnie loved Jeremy more than Enzo and Beremy was a problematic af ship but at least some things were halfway earned, Bonenzo is pure dialogue, fam.

23. Oh and looks.

24. I don’t even know why Damon needs to tell Stefan that what happened to Enzo will haunt him like Stefan isn’t new to guilt. Why are they making it seem like this is Stefan’s first rodeo?

25. My video keeps fucking buffering. I might switch sites because I love myself too much to drag this out longer than I have to. Because I am only eight minutes in, that’s not gonna fly.

26. OK so everything is just buffering. I was supposed to have my data back, what is this.

27. Right now I have it paused on Damon. I really don’t get what anons mean when they tell me his arms are huge. Like I don’t see it.

28. WHO CARES ABOUT MATT’S MOM? What’s her name again? Kelly?

29. Is she dying?

30. She’s dying.

31. Oh she’s dead. Ish.

32. “Oh please don’t be mad at me, Caroline” that actually sounded like Stefan was talking to his mother.

33. Yeah this BE scene is giving me nothing.

34. Liz did a TERRIBLE job protecting MF, who are we kidding? And toasting with your rape victim about how her mother became your best friend and now her daughter will be your family is disgusting.

35. Lol yes use the SE necklace that Damon kept taking to give it to Caroline on her wedding day for Stefan because we’re ignoring how important that necklace was to SE, sure.

36. Seriously, Caroline looks at Alaric with more love than she does Stefan. Like just marry him, y'all are more compatible and have more chemistry than you and Stefan anyway. Like omg.

37. “I hope I get to see this one day with you and Elena” lol the FLATTEST delivery ever. Like do you even mean it? Do you REALLY? Think hard, Stefan.

38. “I want to be a part of your happiness” I mean I guess. I don’t like Bonnie being arbitrary in her blame for Stefan but like can the girl be selfish and feel what she feels when she feels it for once? And indulge? Like??

39. I also find it interesting that Stefan and Caroline don’t have a private moment before the wedding, like I know this isn’t how we wanted to do this blah blah blah. They’re so segregated even when they’re together.

40. Do the writers not know of any alcohol other than bourbon?

41. The slow mo doesn’t change the deadened expression on Paul’s face, guys. Sorry.

42. Also Alaric’s speech is stupid, who becomes “family” with the people who have continuously terrorized your life and are responsible for the people you’ve lost? Like that’s when you see a psychiatrist because you have serious emotional issues.

43. “You saw light in me when all I saw was darkness.” WHEN WAS THIS? NO LEGIT WHEN? I REALLY WANT TO KNOW. Madly in love, you don’t even look madly in love, you look SO chill. OMG.

44. LOL bout you’ve been ready since you saw him at school. You were on his jock for one episode, then you onto Damon and were unfortunate enough to be his victim, then it was Matt, then it was Tyler, then it was Klaus, then it was Tyler then it was Jesse then it was Klaus then it was Stefan. Girl bye.

45. That SC dance looks SO AWKWARD.

46. Of course Matt’s dad isn’t dead. I mean he got stabbed when it was light out and now it’s dark but he’s still gurgling. Jesus. We met him THIS season, Julie, you can kill the irrelevant fucker off.

47. I don’t know why Caroline is STILL wearing the necklace.


49. Why isn’t Caroline vamp speeding into the house?

50. Really? That’s your reaction to your kids potentially dying?

51. So like the smoke is having no effect on Bonnie?

52. And them siphoning her doesn’t hurt?

53. Caroline is legit calm when she thought her kids were dead for a minute.

54. LMFAO SO WHO ISN’T IN HELL? Vicki was in hell, Kelly was in hell, so like ERRBODY GOES TO HELL THEN? WHAT CRITERIA IS THERE? Like if I run a stop light do I go to hell because it’s against the law? What if I jaywalk or accidentally step on an ant or something? BECAUSE SERIOUSLY.


Final thoughts: This episode didn’t enrage me like I thought it would, it’s just thoroughly ridiculous because it attempts to haphazardly rewrite history and Paul was such a lacklustre groom, like faaaam, those vows were horrible. And Caroline and Stefan are just so isolated from each other, like they don’t feel like a couple or a pair, they don’t feel like one, it’s so very cold. Kelly coming back with her daughter to destroy MF is like, I mean I guess, Katherine’s plan isn’t even original, Stefan was going to burn MF to the ground first anyway, like we’re seriously recycling plots in the same season too? This was actually laughably bad.

Half to Death

Genre: Fluff

Word Count: 1.5k

Summary: Dan swears he can’t be scared so Phil tries to make Halloween as scary as possible, and maybe takes it too far

Excerpt: “Fine! Three days,” Phil’s voice was now wavering, the more he thought about it the more he regretted agreeing to the dare. “Expect the unexpected.”

Dan swears he can’t be scared so Phil tries to make Halloween as scary as possible

“Boo!” Phil popped himself out from behind the kitchen corner, his hands nearly smacking Dan in the nose. Dan’s face stared blankly back at him, lips pressed into a straight line.

“Is that it?” Dan pushed past Phil into the the kitchen, reaching into the cupboard to grab some cereal. “It’s only 9 am, I’m way too tired to deal with all this.”

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Top 10 Most Disturbing Fights in Bleach (in my opinion)

As requested by anon. :)

Bleach is no horror anime, but it does have some pretty disturbing moments. And some pretty disturbing fights. So here would be my current picks for the top 10 most disturbing ones!*

*I am still super behind on the manga so forgive me if the Pernida or the Lille fights were super disturbing but aren’t included.

#10: Ichigo vs. Ulquiorra

Let’s start on the less horrifying end of the scale. The fight between Ichigo and Ulquiorra was mostly just stressful for me, because I could not see how Ichigo could possibly win. But then, at the end, when Ichigo turned into Super Hichigo and started rippin’ off limbs and stompin’ on heads, it was like….holy shit. Pus, for me at least, the really disturbing part came when Ichigo turned back into himself and saw what he had done and was himself so horrified at his actions. The poor buddy.

Ulquiorra: I can’t believe he want back on his promise to cut off his own arm and leg, just because I died.

Ulquiorra: His lack of good faith is the true horror.

Ichigo: Um

#9: Komamura & Hisagi vs. Tosen

The fight in fake Karakura Town with Komamura and Hisagi against Tosen was emotionally trying, and Tosen got one of the saddest death scenes in Bleach, in my opinion. But this fight was also a little disturbing - particularly the way Tosen turned into a horrifying insect hollow and told Komamura he was ugly. Not to mention the whole “Hisagi releasing his zanpakuto inside of his ex-captain’s brain” thing.

Hisagi: Personally I put that whole incident into my repression box!

Kira: You cry whenever you hear a cricket.

Hisagi: I didn’t say it worked. 

#8: Szayel vs. Ishida & Renji

Szayel is a pretty disturbing character. That is why he - and his shinigami counterpart Kurotsuchi - will be on this list several times. But Szayel’s fight against Ishida and Renji strikes me as less disturbing simply because it went on for so damn long. In the anime at least, this fight was, like, an endless month-long affair. But anyway. It had its share of disturbing moments. Mostly when they ended up above ground and Szayel’s wings ate Renji and Ishida and made little dolls for organ destruction. The dolls were cute though.

Szayel: The perfect Christmas present, really!

Szayel: I think I’ll send one to Renij and to Ishida, just to let them know I still care.


#7: Rukia vs. Aaroniero

You know who else is on this list a few times? Rukia. Poor Rukia who seems, like Ishida, to end up with the most disturbing opponents for some reason. Her fight against Aaroniero was disturbing mostly because of Aaroniero’s final form, because nobody needs to see a giant squelchy tentacle monster with a sphincter hand. Even before that, though, Aaroniero’s gleeful manipulation of Rukia’s guilt was pretty horrifying in and of itself. 

Aaroniero: Probably, killing the personification of your guilt was very therapeutic for you, Kuchiki.

Aaroniero: So you’re welcome.


#6: Giselle vs. Kurotsuchi

It’s possible that should the Quincy arc ever be animated (fingers crossed!), I would find more of its fights to be disturbing. I am definitely influenced by animation. That being said, you can’t take two characters as disturbing as Giselle and Kurotsuchi, make them fight each other through zombies, and have it not be disturbing. But honestly I don’t really have much to say about this. It’s mostly here because I assume it must have been disturbing but I don’t really remember? Probably it was.

Yamamoto: I can’t believe you have something against zombies.

Yamamoto: Rude.

#5: Rukia vs. As Nodt

Oh hey look it’s Rukia again! As Nodt needed to be on here somewhere, and I went back and forth about whether to include his fight with Byakuya (disturbing because of the image of decomposing Rukia) or his fight with Rukia…and in the end I went with Rukia because it was there that we got to see As Nodt’s nightmare-inducing final form. 

As Nodt (muttering): Not nightmare-inducing enough, frankly.

Rukia: Well you tried.

#4: Soi Fon vs. Barragan

It may seem weird to have this fight so high on the list, given that it was, for the most part, not that disturbing. But its one disturbing moment was, for me, particularly disturbing: namely, the moment when Soi Fon sees her arm dissolving and yells for Omaeda to cut it off. Something about that really got to me.

Soi Fon: I never give that incident a moment’s thought.

Omaeda: Really? I see you poking that arm a lot, like you’re checking it’s still there.

Soi Fon: Nobody asked you, Omaeda. 

#3: Ichigo vs. Aizen

Ah, the top three most disturbing fights. Does the fight between Aizen and Ichigo deserve such a high spot? I actually almost didn’t include it at all, but then I remembered Aizen metamorphosing into his final form, and how his face peeled back like a mask and ended up crumpled up on either side of his new face. Just, a dead empty face all smushed up like a crumpled mask. That was pretty darn disturbing.

Aizen: All that face moisturizing cream, wasted.

Ichigo: Really?

Aizen: Hueco Mundo was very dry.

#2: Kurotsuchi vs. Ishida

Okay, okay. So if you rewatch or reread this fight, it’s not *that* disturbing. It ends quickly, and Kurotsuchi’s bankai doesn’t get much screentime. But you have to think back to when you first saw this fight, and then it’s true disturbing nature is revealed. I mean, Kurotsuchi’s was the first bankai we ever saw. And it was a horrifying caterpillar baby monster that breathed poison. Not to mention how Ishida was tortured throughout this fight, mentally, physically, emotionally. To say nothing of getting to see Kurotsuchi in action for the first time, pulling out his ear to reveal his weird ear blade, rolling his eyes around, turning to goo, torturing his lieutenant. Guys, Kurotsuchi seriously freaks me out.

Ishida: Does Tite Kubo hate me?

#1: Kurotsuchi vs. Szayel

Oh look it’s Kurotsuchi AGAIN! But seriously, this is by far the most disturbing fight in Bleach, in my opinion. Partly it’s just putting two people like Kurotsuchi and Szayel together and letting them be horrifying at each other. But mostly it’s about Szayel’s death, the most disturbing death in Bleach. Szayel was a cruel guy, but even he didn’t deserve to have his death last an eternity, driven mad by his inability to do anything but slowly watch himself die.

Kurotsuchi: I can’t believe you don’t think science is cool.

Top 15 worst acts done by enemies

As requested by johnyrex19. :)

Originally I thought this was just a “worst acts done in Bleach” list, and it was like 80% Kurotsuchi. Then I realized that the request was specifically for terrible acts done by enemies. So I’m limited to things done by the espada, the traitors, the fullbringers, etc. With that in mind, here are my picks for the top 10 worst things done by enemies!

#15: Ginjo stabbing out Ichgo’s eyes.

Ginjo’s stabbing out of Ichigo’s eyes is pretty darn horrifying, although it only makes #15 for a variety of reasons. Like the fact that it helped Ichigo achieve his fullbring. And Orihime healed him soon after, so the trauma was brief. But still. What a dick move.


Ginjo: Yeah, if Urahara was the one to do it, I bet everyone would be okay.

#14: Ulquiorra removing Ishida’s hand.

It will soon become clear that acts by enemies make my “worst” list if they are (a) pointless or (b) needlessly cruel. Like, I can’t fault Grimmjow for beating Ichigo up or even Yhwach for killing Yamamoto. It was a battle. But Ulquiorra removing Ishida’s hand? That makes the list. Because Ishida was supremely incapable of hurting Ulquiorra. Ulquiorra was in no danger. He could have just waited for Ishida to run out of arrows while painting his nails. He just took off Ishida’s hand to get him to shut up.

Ulquiorra: So I am being criticized for efficiency?

#13: Gremmy’s “cookie bones” move.

Speaking of “needlessly cruel”…..turning Yachiru’s bones to cookies was a bit over-the-top, cruelty-wise. Especially since Yachiru, for all her spiritual pressure, still (looks like? is?) a kid. And giving her a condition where her bones break if she moves is too much, Gremmy. Too much.

Gremmy: Yachiru loves candy. Maybe I was being kind.

#12: Tsuksihima planting false memories.

Tsukishima would rank much higher if his mind-fucking was permanent. But even if it wore off, it was still horrible. He stripped people of their ties of friends and family, of their rights as a person, and inserted himself into their memories. Then he coerced them into doing things. His sword is like a roofie and that is incredibly creepy.

Tsukishima: Um….Ginjo made me do it?

#11: Ulquiorra trying to mentally break Orihime.

Like, she had agreed to go with him. She was in Hueco Mundo. She was doing her part. So what, exactly, was the point of trying to fill her with despair and sadness? 


Ulquiorra: I was just making conversation.

#10: Szayel eating a fraccion. 

There is something supremely horrible about eating your own employee. Alive. While her friend and/or mate watches. Like, you couldn’t eat one of the single fracciones, Szayel? You just had to go for one member of a PAIR?!

Szayel: It’s not like I wouldn’t have made a new one.

#9: Grimmjow ripping out Rukia’s stomach.

I get that Grimmjow and Rukia were both combatants, and normally I wouldn’t count injuries sustained in battle for this sort of list. But come on. Rukia wasn’t fighting yet. Grimmjow didn’t even really want to fight her. He was just ripping out her stomach to get a rise out of Ichigo. That’s horrible. Especially since Ichigo will fight literally anyone.

Ichigo: It’s true.

Grimmjow: Yeah, but I bet my way’s faster.

#8: Loly beating up Orihime.

And here we reach the “totally pointless cruelty” portion of my list. I mean, Orihime had done NOTHING to Loly. They weren’t on a battlefield. Loly wasn’t going to gain anything but mercilessly pounding on a girl who wasn’t even going to fight back. She was just being needlessly and repeatedly cruel.

Loly: Needlessly?! Hello!

Loly: That woman TALKED to Aizen-sama! TALKED TO HIM

Orihime: You might need help.

#7: Aizen stabbing Hinamori.

Pointless, insofar as Hinamori was no threat to Aizen. And killing her would serve no purpose. If Aizen had managed to kill her. Which he didn’t. So all this did was destroy the heart and soul of a woman who was in love. Dick move, Aizen.

Aizen: Break-ups always suck.

#6: Nnoitra attacking Nel from behind.

I could have filled most of this list with Aizen and Nnoitra. But I restrained myself. More or less. Anyway, Nnoitra once got so mad that Nel had the AUDACITY not to fight him that he set her up and then attacked her from behind, smashed her mask, and threw her into the desert. It wasn’t a fair fight. It wasn’t a fight that had a point. It was just Nnoitra being the dick that Nnoitra is.

Nel: Also I was kinda his teammate.

Nnoitra: Yeah, but a WOMAN one!

#5: Aizen’s experiments.

I couldn’t decide which experiment to pick. Aizen hollowfying Shinji and all of his friends? Aizen ripping out pieces of various people’s souls, including Matsumoto? Aizen dissolving the bodies of shinigami? Aizen creating a life-form that could not speak or think just so that it would have fire suppressing abilities? Aizen uses science for evil, is what I’m saying.

Aizen: No, I’m pretty sure science is never evil.

#4: Yammy killing his nurse.

I know this is a small moment, but it ranks really high on the “horribleness” scale for me. Yammy’s arm was carefully sewed on by a hardworking hollow in a nurse’s uniform, and he responded by crushing her skull. Just to “test” his arm.

Yammy: I’m confused.

Yammy: That was bad why?

#3: Nnoitra forcibly removing Pesche’s and Dondochakka’s masks.

Which was like skinning them? Just because he wanted to make Nel mad? Even though he was planning on attacking her from behind like a coward anyway? And it was just really horrible? 

Nnoitra: Sometimes I get the feeling I’m not your favorite.

#2: Gin fucking up Kira.

Oh my goodness. This list is making me so depressed. Do I have to talk about this? Gin fucked Kira up. Longterm psychological damage that turned Kira from a a smiling go-getting to an empty shell of sadness. Don’t know quite what he did. Know it was bad, though.

Gin: Kira smiled with me!


Gin: Maybe it was a grimace.

#1: Aizen replacing himself with Hinamori.

Because Aizen did not need to do that. He’s freakin’ immortal. He could defeat the Gotei-13 with one hand tied behind his back. Because Hinamori was already injured and sad and didn’t need to be stabbed by multiple of her friends. It was just a pointless bit of cruelty. And because it meant that Aizen tricked her friends into hurting her, thus saddling them with needless guilt. Because it caused physical and mental pain to a whole group of people for something that didn’t even benefit Aizen at all. Unless he just gets off on being a dick.


Aizen: I didn’t realize that was in question.

Top 10 TV Series of 2015

So I’m finally forcing myself to do it close to a full month into 2016. Games list coming after I finish “Life is Strange.”

2015 was actually a ludicrously good year for TV. How good? Orange is the New Black actually didn’t make my top 10 this year and there wasn’t an appreciable drop in quality from last season. Some TV critics are calling this phenomenon “Peak TV.” There’s simply too much quality stuff out there if you take even the slightest effort to look for it. Which I did. So in horribly biased, non objective ascending order of how much I liked a series, here are 2015′s best.

10. Review with Forrest MacNeil - Comedy Central

At it’s heart, Review is a brutal, unrelenting satire of the degradation and self-deception of modern employment, Review also manages to be a similarly brutal satire of its various “Reviews” of life experiences rated on a five star scale by the ever over-committed Forrest MacNeil (Andy Daly). This is a show that elicits painful, guilty laughs at an unforgiving clip. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone because many of the jokes hurt. But it’s also the show I laugh at with the greatest ease and most consistency, even as I hate myself and the universe for doing so.

9. Daredevil - Netflix

However much I like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I think the Marvel brand is actually better served by television. Comic books themselves are serialized and their stories work best when allowed time and episodes to unfold. While Agents of SHIELD is alternately excellent and the blandest thing on TV and while Agent Carter was generally very good, the Marvel formula really worked best on Netflix. This version of Daredevil is a grim and gritty crime saga with enough comic book grandiosity thrown in to remind us we’re in a superhero story. Charlie Cox owns Matt Murdoch in a way Ben Affleck never did and he carries a masochistic swagger into the role. Vincent D’onofrio is equally essential and game as the visionary Wilson Fiske who will rebuild Hell’s Kitchen even if he has to destroy it to do so. Throw in a great supporting cast and the best action sequences I’ve seen on television and you really can’t go wrong. Bring on the Punisher in season 2!

8. BoJack Horseman - Netflix

The story of a washed up sitcom star trying to become relevant again somehow manages to be an astute Hollywood Satire, and perhaps the most existentialist show on television. BoJack is a difficult character to like, and yet his mix of ambition and self-destructive hatred are all too relatable. He longs to feel worthy, but his own inability to move beyond his own sins and guilt often lead him to do wrong just to confirm to himself that he deserves to suffer. Sound bleak? Well, it is. But the show is also frequently hilarious. The Chicken episode alone makes the second season worth watching. And though Will Arnett is great, I can never mention this show without suggested that not casting Bob Saget as BoJack was a wasted opportunity.

7. Mad Men - AMC

While Mad Men went out with something closer to a wimper than a bang, its final season still shone above most other comers. Some characters ended up where they deserved, some didn’t. Some people evolved, others regressed to who they always were. And yet, even in its truncated half-season, the final seven episodes included moments of wit and grace that no other show on TV could manage. And I don’t think anyone will ever forget Peggy’s Power Walk.

6. Master of None - Netflix

I don’t know why I didn’t expect much from Aziz Ansari’s debut as a sitcom star. I’d watched every episode of “Parks and Recreation” and while I enjoyed his performance as Tom Haverford, I never got the feeling that he was the type of performer to play a lead. I was wrong. I also didn’t expect to see a sitcom in this day and age of crude, guilty laughs that was driven by honest compassion. Master of None is a show that loves its characters even as it laughs at them. It revels in differences while actually respecting them. It took time to demonstrate the joy of little things like a good barbecue sauce or a domino rally playset. I love sharp satire, but Master of None showed that comedy can dull its edges and actually be the better for it.

5. Jessica Jones - Netflix

I don’t know if Jessica Jones is an easy sell or a hard one. Best described as a feminist superhero noir, Jessica Jones features a deeply damaged protagonist who has to face her worst fears over and over and over again to protect people she cares about. And those fears? Kilgrave, perhaps the most loathsome, vile, disgusting villain to ever grace a television set. If the show has a flaw it’s that there is less story than there are episodes. But this show manages to have a heroine who is both strong and vulnerable without feeling like a checklist. Krysten Ritten deserves major points for bringing her plausibly to life. And I don’t think anyone will be able to see David Tennant the same way after Kilgrave.

4. Better Call Saul - AMC

Up against the seemingly impossible task of creating a spinoff of Breaking Bad, my personal favorite TV series ever, Vince Gilligan and co. actually manage to pull it off. Finding comedy and pathos in Jimmy McGill, the man who would be Saul Goodman, Better Call Saul managed to handle its tragicomic tone with aplomb. This series actually forced me to compare it to “On the Waterfront” based on a pivotal scene. All this built on a character who was basically Breaking Bad’s comic relief.

3. Fargo - FX

The first season of Fargo caught me off guard with its excellent mimicry of the Coen Bros. style while telling a similar yet different story of crime and hubris in snowy Minnesota. Yet somehow the second season managed to play down the mimicry while upping the mayhem and unpredictability. Fargo Season 2 was wild. Packed wall-to-wall with memorable characters, loaded with witty writing, and soaked in surprisingly well-earned pathos, this season proved that sometimes more can be more. 

2. The Leftovers - HBO

I almost cancelled HBO this year, but then I wouldn’t have been able to watch this show. Even considering Fargo, the Leftovers is the most ambitious show on television with its heavy themes of loss, faith and doubt in the face of unspeakable disaster. Most critics saw season 2 as a large improvement over season 1 while I saw it as more or less on par. Of course, I thought Season 1 was astonishing so that’s not damning with faint praise. Season 2′s relocation to Jarden, TX introduced new characters and brought in new themes and questions while still maintaining the first season’s frustrating refusal to answer the questions on everyone’s minds. Hell, the new opening credits taunted us with it before every episode. And yet this season managed to reward both faith and doubt in unexpected ways. It’s a difficult, often depressing watch. But I actually felt better after watching this season’s finale than I do watching shows that were more clearly intended to be heart-warming. Few shows walk us through so much pain to allow us to earn the sublime.

1. The Americans - FX

I was a baby when this show takes place, but I’m old enough to remember the sensation of living in the Cold War during the Reagan era. I remember the fear and the sense of having an absolute enemy who really could destroy us. I remember my father and older sister going to Washington to rally for the freedom of Soviet Jews. I remember the sense of the world exhaling when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union was no more. The Americans understands the 1980s. It captures that particular paranoia. At the same time it questions the entire necessity and morality of the Cold War by showing how intensely dehumanizing the conflict was to those involved and to those who were caught as proxies in the crossfire. It portrays, with surprising sympathy, the agonizing realization that you are doing evil things that corrupt every single thing in your life and that in your future you can only hope to look forward to doing more of the same. At what point do the rationalizations collapse? Is it when your children die for no reason in wars far away? Or is it when they turn away from you in disgust? And, knowing what we know about when and how the Cold War ends, if you end up on the losing side, how do you tell yourself it was worth it?

Honorable Mentions:
- The Flash
- Star Wars Rebels
- Key and Peele
- Orange is the New Black
- Agent Carter