2016 was a banner year for television. From the high art of HBO and Netflix to the absurdism of FX and Comedy Central to the fantastic trash of The Bachelor, there was no shortage of great television moments and episodes. I’ve done my best to watch them all, whether to relax or to laugh, to think and to review. I started the site reviewing Atlanta, South Park, You’re the Worst and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and still haven’t written my final wrap-up for them, but don’t believe for a second that it’s because I wasn’t watching them (although I did fall an episode behind on C-EG. I’ll fix that very soon). And now that the year has finally wrapped up, it’s time to release my final thoughts on the docket of television shows, by announcing my Best Television Moments and my Best Television Episodes of 2016!
Before we get into things, allow me to point something out: I’m just one man. I’m working one job while looking for another, running a website while absorbing as much pop culture to keep the site going. There’s only so much television I can watch a year. That means I haven’t seen lots of shows that are on people’s top ten lists. I didn’t see The Americans or Insecure, Westworld or Horace and Pete, Transparent or Better Call Saul, and so on. I’ve done my best to see the best of the best these past few weeks, but I can only do so much. Therefore, some shows may have eventually made this list had I finished the whole season. Black Mirror (which does get one episode) and The Crown are chief among these. Now that you understand that I am human, let’s break down these two lists.
Best Television Moments of 2016
*Spoilers Below, Scroll to Television Episodes to avoid*
“Television Moment” is such a blanket term. It could be anything, from twenty seconds to twenty minutes of an episode. It’s just some instant that either transcends the art of drama, or transcends the art of comedy, depending on the goal. It features a perfect blend of direction, acting, writing and filmmaking to create a perfectly crafted moment that makes you laugh, makes you cry, or makes you say “Damn, how did they do that?” These are the moments like the massive one-shot take in the first season of True Detective, or when Amy Schumer did “Football Town Nights” last year. Moments where culture should have (or did) stop talking about anything and everything else to address a modern day water-cooler moment. This year had no shortage of great moments, including The Factory Scene from BoJack Horseman, Dennis’ Meltdown in “Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs” as well as Charlie’s Night of Passion in “The Gang Hits The Slopes” (both from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). I was particularly taken with Gerald’s Trolling Montages set to Boston and “Steal My Sunshine” in the South Park episode “Skank Hunt.” And there were very few moments that had me laughing as hard as The Rap Concert on You’re the Worst.
However, there were only three moments that had me grinding my teeth until the very last minute. The first came in the South Park episode “Oh Jeez.” After having to change their entire episode at the last minute due to the surprise victory of Donald Trump, Trey Parker and Matt Stone offered a surprisingly bleak take on the election that allowed a swear word to end up sneaking onto television. People have debated what happened with that uncensored word, but I read it as a political statement. They may not have wanted Hillary Clinton, but it was the most clear moment that made people take a step back and say, “Wait, we elected WHO?” It was a surprising and memorable moment no matter who you voted for. Moving away from politics, there was also an amazing season of The Bachelorette, which allowed us to spend time with Chad. Watching Chad’s meltdown was one of the greatest television experiences of the year for me, but I could not, in good conscience, put this on my Top Ten. And had it not happened at 11:45 on December 31st, I would seriously have considered putting Whatever the Hell Mariah Carey Was Doing On New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. However, it still does not make the Top Ten. What moments were deemed worthy? Check it out for yourself!
10. Lorelai Calls Emily-“Fall” (Gilmore Girls)
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life was something of a mixed bag for fans of the show. For every moment that dragged, or felt out of place (what the hell was going on with Rory all season?), there were moments that made it all seem worth it. The first fight between the older Gilmore women in “Winter,” the too-long but still funny Stars Hollow: The Musical in “Summer,” and the now-infamous Final Four Words in “Fall” all helped give the show a sense of absurdist magic that made people love the show in the first place. However, for my money, I’d say Lorelai’s Phone Call to her mother at the halfway point of “Fall” is the type of drama that the show does best. It features the best acting that Lauren Graham has ever done, some of the best work of Kelly Bishop’s career, and features the type of writing and familial emotion that makes the show sing. This was a high point for the miniseries, the show in general, and television of the year.
9. Dre’s Speech-“Hope” (black-ish)
black-ish was one of the smartest comedies of the year. Combining the usual sitcom tropes with commentary on modern African-American society, along with smart writing read by great actors (the cast of child actors may be the best on television). Normally, the show sticks to lighter, funnier episodes. However, this past season, the show decided to have its first (and only) “Very Special Episode” and take on the instances of police shootings that have plagued our news the past few years (and, more likely, many years). Most of the episode plays like an episode out of All in the Family, combining humor with serious commentary, until the very end. Near the end of the episode, an unusually overzealous and nervous Dre (Anthony Anderson) gives a speech about the fear that comes with being a black man in America. It’s a powerful, poignant scene in a funny show, and shows how much talent that entire cast and crew has.
8. The Morgue Scene-“The Morgue” (Ash vs. The Evil Dead)
Truth be told, I don’t watch Ash vs. The Evil Dead. I enjoy the movies, and love the musical, but I don’t have Starz, and I don’t have enough interest to find a way to watch it. However, when I had one particular scene described to me, I had no choice but to drop everything and find the episode. And honestly, it did not disappoint. Upon discovering that the Necronomicon (The Book of the Dead) has been hidden inside a corpse in the morgue, Ash breaks in to locate it. Unfortunately, the corpse has been brought to life, and Ash finds himself in a fight with the Deadite’s large colon. What follows is one of the strangest, most disturbing scenes in television history, and it doesn’t work without Bruce Campbell’s knack for physical comedy. Enjoy, but WARNING: INCREDIBLY NSFW.
7. Justin Bieber Gets Tackled-“Nobody Beats the Biebs” (Atlanta)
Atlanta was the breakout show of the year, and it featured no shortage of great moments. Two particularly genius moments were a moment in which Donald Glover’s Earn finds himself in the middle of a prison argument while waiting to be arraigned and a moment during the surrealist “B.A.N.” when a children’s cereal commercial takes a dark turn halfway through. However, neither of these moments spoke to me in the same way as the episode “Nobody Beats the Biebs.” Exploring the way white celebrities are treated as opposed to black celebrities, the show features a douchey Justin Bieber stand in played by a young black actor. This Bieber is just as bad as the real world Bieber-in fact, he may be worse. However, he still gets a pass from most people. This leads to a showdown during a celebrity basketball game against Brian Tyree Henry’s Paper Boi. The game grows more and more heated as Bieber shouts his catchphrase “I’mma dunk on a b*tch!” Finally, it climaxes in what may be the funniest visual I’ve seen all year. I have not been able to find it, but if you look up the episode, you’re in for a treat.
6. The Elementary School-“Kissing Your Sister” (Veep)
I have not watched Veep the way I’ve always wanted to. The episodes I’ve seen are brilliant and smart, and I’ve eaten them up. However, I’ve only seen one brief scene from season four of the Emmy Award-winning show. Thankfully, it is this great scene, where show douchebag Jonah Ryan proves why he should not win the spot in Congress that he is striving for. This is the hardest I’ve laughed at anything all year. Listen to how perfectly this fantastic line is delivered, and how great the film is shot. This is comedy at its best.
5. Negan Kills Abraham and Glenn-“The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” (The Walking Dead)
I’ve kind of lost interest in The Walking Dead over the years. After the Governor, I just didn’t have the same zest for it. However, this season offered up the best chance at redemption, with the offensive yet brilliant twist of “Who Will Negan Kill?” With the entire lineup of leading characters on their knees below Negan’s bat, someone was going to get offed, and the tension was palpable. I, like many others, tuned in to see who got the bat. The episode decided to toy with us for a half-hour before revealing the poor souls. It was nice to know who it was, even if it was very obviously Abraham and Glenn. However, that joy soon turned to horror, as it became painfully clear how brutally this was going to be. My God, it was unnecessarily heinous. This was one of the worst moments of the year for television, but it was certainly one of the most memorable. Watch below, if you can.
4. Joyce Reads the Lights (RUN)-“Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly” (Stranger Things)
Stranger Things was the breakout show of the year. It’s throwback vibe was thrilling, intelligent, and fun. It does, however, have a bit of a slow introduction. It slowly builds its mystery before things really get going. The moment the show really comes into its own comes in the third episode, when Winona Ryder’s Joyce discovers that she can communicate with her missing son through Christmas lights placed along the walls. She begins to ask the wall questions, the music slowly swelling, before the wall warns her to “R-U-N.” As a monster breaks through the wall to pursue her, audiences became aware that they were watching something truly special.
3. Bern Your Enthusiasm-“Larry David” (Saturday Night Live)
Saturday Night Live has been having an incredible season so far. Almost every sketch from 2016 was a winner, including “Crucible Cast Party,” “Space Pants,” the incredible “Farewell Mr. Bunting” (I found it impossible to breathe for several minutes after watching that sketch), and the obvious picks of “Black Jeopardy” or “David S. Pumpkins.” However, I’m going with a sketch from the great Larry David’s episode. And no, it’s not “Kevin Roberts,” although that is also fantastic. I’m going with “Bern your Enthusiasm.” Everything about this sketch is perfect, from its portrayal of Bernie Sanders to its spot-on spoof of Curb Your Enthusiasm (this is the closest we’re coming to a new season for a long time) to the fantastic satire of Iowa. It’s one of their smartest sketches in a long time, and helped kick off a fantastic year for the show.
2. The Battle of the Bastards-“The Battle of the Bastards” (Game Of Thrones)
Game of Thrones promised an episode to remember in the final battle between the goodhearted Jon Snow and the sadistic Ramsay Bolton. And as it turned out, it was truly a moment to remember. Not only was it one of the most watched television episodes of the year, it featured some of the greatest filmmaking as well. The action perfectly shot, the action perfectly executed, the writing superb…everything about it was solid. It was one of the most impressive moments in television history, and it took a lot for me to not rank it number one.
1. You Stupid B*tch-“That Text Was Not Meant For Josh!” (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
The musical moments on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend have continually pushed the envelope all season, getting better and better with each outing. The only thing I knew for sure was that whichever moment I picked was going to be the Best Television Moment of 2016. I had several options for which song to pick as the best moment of the year, including “Having a Few People Over,” “Group Hang,” “Research Me Obsessively,” “Cold Showers,” and “It Was A Sh*t Show.” However, it really came down to only one, in the episode “That Text Was Not Meant For Josh!” With Rachel Bloom’s Rebecca at her lowest, she launches into a Barbra Streisand/Bernadette Peters solo explaining the inner monologue of someone with depression. It’s dark, it’s funny, and above all, it’s accurate. The brilliance of her demanding everyone sing along and claiming “Yes, I deserve this!” It was one of the most heartfelt moments of the year, and combined with sharp satire. It was a moment after my own heart, and I can’t think of any moment as brilliant.
Oh, and while I really wasn’t going to do sports moments on this list, you can assume that if I were, the moment the seventh game of the World Series went into overtime, leading up to the first World Series for the Chicago Cubs, definitely would be tied for first. That was truly something to witness.
Best Television Episodes
And now we’ll look at the best episodes of the year. My only rule is that I will only pick one episode per show, so no matter how many shows had multiple fantastic episodes, only the best of the best will make it in. So that means shows I loved like Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life didn’t get in for “Fall,” nor did It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia for “Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs,” “The Gang Hits the Slopes,” or “Charlie Catches the Leprechaun.” Longtime favorite program The Middle decided to make one of their more brilliant episodes yet with the funny-not funny episode “Look Who’s Not Talking,” which found the humor in the show’s most realistically dark situation yet. And as much as I am enjoying The Crown, “Smoke and Mirrors” just missed out on making the list. Now that this is settled, allow me to announce my Top Ten Television Episodes of 2016.
10. San Junipero-Black Mirror
San Junipero is one of the more lighthearted episodes of the modern day Twilight Zone’s run. It’s so different, I almost didn’t include it on this list. However, I was won over by its sweet message, fantastic performances and excellent use of “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” by Belinda Carlisle (I love that song). The episode takes place in the 1980s, in a nightclub in San Junipero, California. Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) is a shy young woman who has trouble interacting with others. She meets the outgoing Kelly, who begins to flirt with her. Their attraction grows, but their romance can only last once a week until midnight. The first few minutes are kind of slow, but once it introduces you to its twist, it builds and builds, forming one of the sweetest, most romantic episodes of any show this year. Charlie Brooker really outdid himself with this episode, and I think you will agree upon watching it.
9. The Panic in Central Park-Girls
I won’t lie to you-I’ve kind of fallen off of Girls since Lena Dunham’s show first aired. I loved season one and two with a great passion, and enjoyed season three. However, once I lost my cable, and the friends I watched with all scattered to the wind, so I just kind of let it fall out of my queue. However, last April, one of my friends messaged me to tell me about one episode: “The Panic in Central Park.” I told her I’d watch before blowing her off-critics hadn’t complimented the show in years, I doubted it would be any good. And then it started appearing on Top Ten lists. So I decided to check it out for myself. And it really is great. It captures the humor and the pathos that has always made Dunham’s humor sing, with a ton of great zingers (“I know what you’re thinking-how does someone fit THAT much action into such a short amount of time? Well, I am only 25 and a half years old…” “Yeah, that seems right…”) as well as some horrifically realistic pain, as the most unpopular character Marnie learns what has become of her ex-boyfriend Charlie (former main cast member Christopher Abbott). I’m a huge fan of one-off episodes focusing on one specific character (there will be two more appearing on this list); however, it is a risky move to pick the show’s most disliked character. I’m not sure why Allison Williams’ Marnie is so disliked. Maybe it’s because she whines and complains as much as the others, despite lacking their personal issues (she doesn’t have Jessa’s addiction, Shoshanna’s naiveté, or Hannah’s mental illness). However, thanks to this episode, we finally get to see Marnie with a pathos, shaken to her core by some truly frightening truths, and thanks to Dunham’s great writing and Williams’ performance, the episode is truly a high mark in the show’s run.
8. Nobody Beats the Biebs-Atlanta
Donald Glover’s Atlanta is one of the best television shows of the year. It was smart, surreal, funny, and dark all at the same time. Many critics are awarding the episode “B.A.N.” as the show’s crowning achievement. And I’m really hard pressed to disagree with them. It’s a dark and surreal episode for sure, filled with sharp laughs about white liberal outrage. However, I’m going to go with “Nobody Beats the Biebs” as the show’s best episode, as well as one of the best episodes of the year. Why? Because it is every bit as satirical, funny, and surreal as “B.A.N.,” but ramped up to a million. You realize something is up when Justin Bieber shows up on the show as a young bratty black man. The Bieber stuff is my favorite in the episode, but there’s more to it than that. The thorough putdown of Earn, who is mistaken for someone named “Alonzo,” is an excellent critique of the way white people can turn on even their “black friends,” as well as the whole “all black people look the same” problem. And then there’s Darius (LaKeith Stanfield, one of the year’s best characters, getting in an altercation at a gun range because the rednecks shooting at human target dummies are appalled that he would shoot at a dog dummy. “Our kids come here!” they shout, simultaneously pumping their human cutout full of lead. It’s a bizarre, surreal episode that has given me some of my biggest belly laughs of the year. I still shout “I’mma dunk on a b*tch!” whenever the chance arises. Watch this show, and watch this episode.
7. That Text Was Not Meant For Josh!-Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been the little show that could for one and a half glorious seasons. It’s a very simple premise, but watching it get all convoluted is half the fun. Basically lawyer Rebecca Bunch moves across the country to be with her high school boyfriend because he’s the last time she felt happy, regardless of his current girlfriend, and also it’s a musical. Still with me? Good. Now, most of the episodes focused on Rebecca worming her way into Josh, the ex-boyfriend’s, heart. However, earlier this year, one episode deigned to change all that. “That Text Was Not Meant For Josh!” saw Rebecca at her craziest, literally breaking into Josh’s apartment, faking a break-in at her own home, and slowly watching every lie she’d told throughout the series come bubbling to the surface. The episode decidedly does not end with the glimmer of hope the other episodes had, and it featured two of the series’ best songs. The first, “Textmergency,” was performed by my favorite character actor Jeff Hiller and served as a satire of technology’s inherent flaws and hair rock. The second was “You Stupid Bitch,” and was the best moment of 2016. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend managed to create a funny, sobering episode that flipped its entire premise on its head, and they did it at the halfway point of their first season. That takes guts, and Rachel Bloom’s fantastical little experiment certainly has them in abundance.
As mentioned above, black-ish decided to spend this past season pushing the network sitcom envelope by taking on a Very Special Episode about police brutality. Very Special Episodes often run the risk of becoming too preachy-or worse, bad-and feel out of place, but creator Kenya Barris helps the episode feel right at home. Featuring the parallels between the three generations of African-American heroes standing up to the system-Pops looks up to James Baldwin, Dre quotes Malcolm X in full African garb, and Junior has begun to read Ta-Nehasi Coates-brief asides to make sure that the victims aren’t completely glorified (Junior points out the victim had been seriously high and endangering the neighborhood when he was stopped), and finding the humor in a dark situation-one classic moment features the family trying to explain what’s going on to the children, only to constantly be corrected because they are thinking of a different police brutality case. In the end, the episode finds that there are no easy answers, and sometimes bad things happen in the world. However, through staying together as a family, they can rise above and hope for a better tomorrow. It’s a poignant episode, filled with laughter and tears, but in the end, rises above the Very Special Episode label to find the core of the show’s message, in the most beautiful way possible.
5. Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly-Stranger Things
Stranger Things is incredible from episode one, when a young boy disappears and a group of friends rally to save him. However, if there’s a moment of the show that hooks you until you can’t stop watching, it’s the series’ third episode “Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly.” It pulls you in from the opening scene, which cuts between the romantic intimacy of one girl’s first time and another girl being viciously murdered by a monster (#justiceforBarb). The episode goes on to properly introduce us to Eleven (a wonderful Millie Bobby Brown), her tragic backstory and her awesome powers, takes us through high school bullying, and yet never loses sight of the plot and the action. The final two scenes involving Winona Ryder and the Christmas lights and the discovery of the missing boy’s “body” in the lake are two of the best scenes in the entire series, let alone all of this year’s television. If there’s any episode that demonstrates the Stephen King-meets-Steven Spielberg vibe that made the show a huge sensation, it’s “Chapter Three: Holly, Jolly.”
4. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia-The People v. O.J. Simpson
Like many, I tuned in to watch The People v. O.J. Simpson as a joke. I mean, did you see the publicity photos of John Travolta, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and David Schwimmer as the Kardashian patriarch? This show was going to be the epitome of “So Bad It’s Good” television. And then something strange happened: the show was good. Like, really good. Best of the year good. Every episode was absorbing, enthralling, and expertly acted, with several good actors giving career-best performances and many once-good actors showing us why they used to get awards buzz (see: the three I named above). However, if there was one episode that truly changed the game, it was the sixth episode “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” While most of the positive attention from the case was on the more charismatic O.J. and Johnnie Cochran, all negativity seemed to be focused on one specific person. And it wasn’t the accused murderer. No, it was the woman trying to prove his guilt, Marcia Clarke. The series portrays Clarke as stubborn and a bit overconfident, but still just trying to do what was right. Which makes it all the more heartbreaking to follow her everywhere she goes being hounded by the press for being too b*tchy, too shrill, too racist, too mean, and too ugly. It becomes worse when you learn that on top of all these personal attacks, she’s also going through a vicious divorce in her private life, and trying to prove that she can take care of her kids. Actress Sarah Paulson gives one of the best performances of any medium as Marcia Clarke, slowly being pushed to her breaking point. Watching her confidence slowly fall away after thinking she’d changed her look with a new haircut (the infamous perm) is truly heartbreaking, even if the mood is lightened by the hilarious and gif-worthy shot of Travolta’s Shapiro giving her a thumbs-up. The episode also serves to flesh out her relationship with Chris Darden (a fantastic Sterling K. Brown), and to show how and why they became each other’s rocks during a difficult time. And I haven’t even begun to discuss the fact that they reenacted the famous “N-word exchange” between F. Lee Bailey and Mark Fuhrman, which is fantastic for two reasons. First, it made Fuhrman look the fool, which was deserved (the real life Fuhrman bashed the show for taking O.J.’s side, which was soon revealed to be inaccurate and his way of trying to redeem his legacy). And second, it gave us the most disturbing visual in television history: Nathan Lane, Broadway legend and voice of Timon, using the n-word. Umm, ok. Look, I can go on explaining every fantastic moment in this issue, but I’ve already gone on long enough. I’ll just leave you with this: if there’s one episode of this show that will draw you in and hook you, it’s this one.
3. Battle of the Bastards-Game of Thrones
I was really surprised I didn’t put this one at number one. This episode is up there with “Ozymandias” as one of the greatest technical accomplishments in television history. It was the ultimate portrayal of “good vs. evil,” and it featured two of the greatest action sequences of the year. While most people focus on the massive battle, they forget when Khaleesi and Tyrion unleash the dragons and officially defeat and execute all of the slave masters. Damn, that scene was exciting, I want Khaleesi as my Queen. And when she teams up with the Greyjoys? Sh*t’s about to get real! However, there’s a reason the episode isn’t named after her arc. We finally get to witness Jon Snow, the show’s most unflappably good-hearted character, leading an assault against Ramsay Bolton, the man who killed his (supposed) brother, sister-in-law, and adopted mother, tortured and castrated his childhood friend, stole his title, and married and raped his (supposed) half-sister. They’re terribly outnumbered, his best soldier is a giant named Wun-Wun. But the minute Ramsay starts to toy with Jon by toying with and threatening (and then murdering) his (supposed-God this is getting annoying) half-brother, everything unleashes, and the Battle of the Bastards is on. And it’s up there with the best of Lord of the Rings and Braveheart. There’s a two-minute tracking shot that is so chaotic and so perfect, I honestly don’t know how they did it. And when the bodies pile up so high it literally creates a wall? Holy sh*t. It all builds up to the most satisfying ending I’ve ever seen on Game of Thrones, and made for a damn-near perfect episode of television. Add to that the fact it’s one of the most watched episodes of any show this year, and you have one of the all-time great television episodes. However, there were two artistically better episodes that I want to shout out, and they are…
2. Twenty-Two-You’re the Worst
Anyone who follows this site knows I was a huge fan of this season of You’re the Worst. While seasons one and two had what I believe to be more interesting overall arcs, this season really got down to the heart of what the show’s about: bad people realizing how to have fully functioning relationships. It laid out the themes even-handedly all year, both as a study of how terrible these people are, and what it’s like to begin to understand how to have a proper relationship with the people you love. However, if there’s one person that really has never felt like “the worst,” it’s Edgar. Desmin Borges has helped give Edgar a heart that none of these other characters have. He’s a sweethearted former drug dealer/Iraq War vet ridden with PTSD and has the catchphrase “I didn’t know it was a school…” (God, I love this show). He’s not so much a terrible person as he is a well-meaning person who either makes the wrong choice for the right reason or gets sucked into his “friends’” terribleness. However, he really began suffering this season after flushing his PTSD medication down the toilet. His issues built up all season until “Men Get Strong,” when he acts like a douchebag for the first time, filled with sarcasm and venom. At the time the episode aired, I commented on how out-of-character it seemed for him, and wondered why that would happen. And then “Twenty-Two” aired. And we saw that previous episode from Edgar’s point of view. And we got a glimpse into the mind of a man with serious mental issues trying to get by in the world. The episode perfectly balances the life of a man with PTSD, seeing bombs everywhere, and helping us see what it looks like from Edgar’s point of view-funny lines delivered by Jimmy and Gretchen in the previous episode have an extra bite and pain when seen from Edgar’s perspective. A scene set inside the V.A.’s office is awkward and painful, both offering laughs and making you legitimately angry about the way we treat our troops. And when you learn that the title comes from the number of veterans who kill themselves every year, things become even more tragic (the fact that Edgar almost joins that number is too heartbreaking to even fathom). This episode doesn’t work without Borges’ Emmy-worthy performance, and he is single-handedly the reason that You’re the Worst ends up providing the second best episode of the year.
1. Fish Out of Water-BoJack Horseman
It’s funny to think about how the critically reviled show that I alone loved is now everyone’s pick for the Best Episode of 2016. However, while I considered going another direction, I’m not going to argue. BoJack Horseman did, in fact, create the best episode of television of the year. It’s already a risky move for a show that’s so heavily based on the fact these are talented actors reading brilliant lines to attempt a silent episode, but Raphael-Bob Waskberg doesn’t do things the easy way (see: how painful every second to last episode is, the fact this Family Guy-seeming show was always secretly about depression, etc.). What he ends up giving us is a Technicolor cornucopia that combines Lost in Translation with Charlie Chaplin, following BoJack the horse as he travels through Pacific City, an underwater metropolis, where he has gone to promote his Oscar-contender “Secretariat” at a major film festival. It’s like if the Toronto Film Festival took place in Japan. Unfortunately, BoJack can’t work his speech helmet, can’t drink his bourbon, and can’t understand the language. Upon seeing his former director Kelsey Jannings, the only woman to ever have faith in his acting ability, and whom he completely screwed over, BoJack sets out to find a way to apologize to her. His adventures trap him on a bus, where he helps a Sea Horse give birth to his kids (because, as the title of the book reads “Yep, it’s the males that give birth”), and notices that one baby sea horse has chosen to follow him instead. So BoJack embarks on a mission to get the little fella back to his dad, bonding, grappling with his human side, and eventually finding himself in a salt water taffy factory that seems straight out of Modern Times. Without dialogue, the emotions ring truer, the melancholia hits harder, and the desperation for interaction reaches an all-time high. The episode is truly an astonishing achievement, and I feel no shame in joining with every other critic out there to pick an episode from my favorite show as the #1 episode of the year.
Well, that wraps up this massive article. Tune in next week to learn what the best overall shows were of the past year, and please let me know in the comments what you think of this list, and if there’s any that you think I missed.