There’s no denying it: Girls ruled scripted television in 2012. And, for the first time in a long, long time, it wasn’t just blue-eyed, blonde haired girls either. TV expanded and evolved to include black female heroines, mentally impaired government agents, poverty-stricken families, and, yes, even awkward Asian lesbians. Here are my picks for top television series of the year:
O1 | Happy Endings
Last year’s runner-up rose to the challenge in 2012, with a near flaw-free second season and a cast of comedians (half of whom were fresh faces in 2011) who seemed to have seasoned overnight into sitcom vets. From Brad and Jane’s slapstick charm to Penny’s tragically hilarious love life, Happy Endings continues to win as TV’s most lovable primetime sitcom.
O2 | Shameless
As the first successful UK adaptation to American screens since The Office, this Showtime gem masters the balance between cringe comedy and gut-wrenching drama like no other series on television. William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum are undeniable standouts, making Shameless the best family dramedy of the year.
O3 | Being Human
While the U.K. version took a serious hit losing two of its three cast members in its fourth series, the U.S. adaptation grew legs of its own in 2012 and rather impressively made the mythology their own (all the while surpassing True Blood when it comes to vampire lore). Dare I say the Americans have finally matched the Brits in 2012?
O4 | Scandal
Celebrated for her diverse casts and colorblind characterization, Shonda Rhymes finally delivered a genre show for everyone in 2012: The political conspiracy drama. Kerry Washington made waves as the first black lead in a (successful) primetime serial in almost ten years and, for what it’s worth, she more than makes up for lost time. Scandal succeeds for its effortless marriage of human drama and the endless supply of political intrigue.
O5 | Community
With its fired showrunner, disgruntled cast members, and delayed season, Community may just be the most underrated sitcom for this much press surrounding it. The verdict’s out on whether all the backstage breaking news will attract more eyeballs for Season 4, but one thing’s for sure: Dan Harmon’s quirky community college half-hour was as funny if not funnier in 2012 than it was in its freshman year. Six seasons and a movie indeed!
O6 | Homeland
What do you get when you combine American paranoia post-9/11, razor-sharp writing you can only find on Showtime, and a former teen star no one could have possibly known is this good? Homeland, of course, the most addictive spy drama of 2012, which seems to take elements of every spy drama that came before it… and improve the formula tenfold.
O7 | The LA Complex
Who would have ever expected the most honest depiction of Los Angeles from the likes of Canadians and The CW? Well… apparently, no one, since the series only aired in the summer to half a million viewers at most (it ran for two shortened seasons between April and August). Nonetheless, The LA Complex defied the mindless camp that was expected of it and delivered a fun, darkly humorous, and, yes, at times needlessly soapy mini-series about what’s it REALLY like to work paycheck-to-paycheck in Hollywood.
O8 | The Mindy Project
The Office darling Mindy Kaling leapfrogged into her own single-camera Fox vehicle in 2012, as a hopeless romantic and fledgling doctor who narrates her life in real-time and lacks the ability to make a public speech without subsequently ruining everything. And we love her for it.
O9 | Doctor Who
For avid fans of David Tennant’s Doctor who could never quite land on the past two Matt Smith years, the latest installment of the British cult phenomenon was a return to form. From a tear-jerking farewell to the Ponds to the introduction of a deliciously enigmatic new companion named Clara, Series 7 has breathed new life into the Doctor Who franchise in a big way.
1O | Girls
Say what you will about Lena Dunham’s HBO show – its rattling hipsterisms, its depiction of a minority-less world, etc, etc – you can’t deny that it’s one of the first shows to capture the culture of the millennial generation (for better or for worse). It’s not a perfect show by any means, but it is refreshingly unglamorous See: Lena Dunham’s sex scenes) and disturbingly honest (See: the HPV storyline).
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Awkward, Modern Family, Misfits, Catfish, Weeds, Political Animals, & Underemployed