Our 10 Most Anticipated Fall TV Premieres

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As September begins to take hold of summer and we retreat into sweatpants, consume copious amounts of pie, listen to nothing but Cocteau Twins, and find ourselves wallowing in a general feeling of melancholy depression, there’s no better time to shoot some tubular cathode rays into our eyeballs from the comfort of our own homes. Here’s a list of the shows we’re most excited to see this fall.

SONS OF ANARCHY (Final Season)
Tuesday September 9 at 10PM | FX

Marilyn Manson guest stars as a neo-Nazi drug addict in Kurt Sutter’s final installment of the West coast biker outlaw epic.

THE MINDY PROJECT (Season 3)
Tuesday September 16 at 10PM | FOX

Mindy Kaling plays a lovable gynecologist bumbling through her personal and professional lives.

TIM AND ERIC’S BEDTIME STORIES (Season 2)

Thursday September 18 at 12:15AM | Adult Swim

Largely overlooked comic genie Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim once again team up for their signature blend of deadpan, satire, and gross-out humor featuring John C. Reilly and Zach Galifianakis.

THE GOOD WIFE (Season 6)

Sunday September 21 at 9:30PM | CBS

A slew of critically acclaimed performances power this political drama about a wife who must make do after a scandal puts her husband, a state attorney, in jail.

MODERN FAMILY (Season 6)

Wednesday September 24 at 9PM | ABC

The mockumentary favorite follows a close-knit and diverse extended family in the suburbs of LA.

HOMELAND (Season 4)

Sunday October 5 at 9PM | Showtime

Claire Danes plays an unstable CIA agent assigned to a dangerous military outpost in the Middle East.

MULANEY (Season 1)

Sunday October 5 at 9:30PM | FOX

Upcoming Seinfeld-esque stand-up-punctuated sitcom created by comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney, who stars as a fictionalized version of himself.

AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAKSHOW (Season 4)
Wednesday October 8 at 10PM | FX

Set in 1950s Florida and based on one of the last legitimate freakshows in history, Freakshow marks the fourth season of the soapy-camp horror tale from writer Ryan Murphy.

THE WALKING DEAD (Season 5)

Sunday October 12 at 9PM | AMC

Post-apocalyptic horror drama series developed by Frank Darabont, based on the comic book series. Sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes awakens from a coma to find a world dominated by flesh-eating zombies.

THE NEWSROOM (Final Season)
November 2014 | HBO

Jeff Daniels plays irreverent news anchor Will McAvoy in the final episodes of the acclaimed political drama.

Alternate Emmys: A Look Back on The Year in Cable TV

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I did not watch Sunday night’s annual Emmy ceremony. The Oscars take up all my live-award-show frustration, and the choices of Emmy voters baffle me even more than the Academy’s  (Jeff Daniels over Jon Hamm and Bryan Cranston? What?). But glancing at the list of nominees —specifically in the Drama category—and reflecting on the wealth of amazing series I’ve compulsively binged on this season (Sept. 2012-Sept. 2013), it occurred to me that this may in fact be the best year of television ever

The creative revolution in cable TV content , that began in 1999 with The Sopranos, has reached such a deafening pitch in quality, that for the first time in my movie-obsessed life, I’m uncertain which medium I’d pick if given a choice: this year’s offerings on the big screen…or its smaller, once-thoroughly-minor-but-now-kicking-all-kinds-of-unholy-ass cousin. Now, I’m not saying this year contains the best shows ever made. Arguably, that would be 2004, which—surfing the first great wave of cable TV—contained The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, and Six Feet Under, all airing a few months apart on HBO. I like to think the second great wave began in 2007, when AMC took a piece of the premium pie with Mad Men, followed by Breaking Bad a year later.   

And this year, with Netflix changing the game by releasing entire seasons of original content at once, I believe the third great wave of the cable revolution has kicked off, with HBO now fighting for the quality crown amidst a whole host of contenders, including Sundance, Showtime, and F/X, with many, many more about to leap into the ring to join them. All this to say that the sheer breadth and diversity of essential cable series has now resulted in the first Top 10 list I’ve ever made for TV, with last Sunday’s Emmys providing the perfect excuse to share it.  

 

Game of Thrones – Season 3 (HBO)

Combine the scope of Lord of the Rings with the character complexity of The Sopranos, and you’ve got the most addictive show on television, which hit a shocking dramatic peak with its now infamous "Red Wedding" episode at the climax of the third season. Marginally lessened by its smattering of laughably gratuitous sex scenes and one particularly un-necessary torture sub-plot, HBO’s medieval fantasy epic is nevertheless top-tier stuff, and a case study in great book-to-screen adaptations, despite the millions of angry nerd cries  bemoaning changes to GRR Martin’s beloved novels. The sheer confidence with which it juggles its sprawling cast of characters and storylines, while consistently subverting  and twisting expectations, has provided some of the most devastating and instantly iconic moments of the current pop culture landscape.

MVP: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, for turning what began as a hiss-worthy villain into the shows’ most complex and strangely sympathetic character, Jaimie Lannister.  

 

Mad Men – Season 6 (AMC)

Every year, Mad Men assumes a familiar cycle, as people complain that the show isn’t "going anywhere" for its first four or five episodes, then subsequently watch in astonishment as each season aspires to—and attains—the artistic heights of great American literature. And with 1968 as its backdrop, the petty ambitions, jealousies and affairs of Sterling-Cooper’s ad agency culminated in one of the most moving, thematically satisfying season finales of its six season run.  

MVP: Jon Hamm, for taking Don Draper’s sixth cycle on the self-destructive merry go round to its darkest depths, and emerging with unexpected, redemptive grace.

   

Boardwalk Empire – Season 3 (HBO)

This criminally underrated show, which many gave up on during its first, feet-finding season, finally became the great, classic gangster epic it’s been building towards for the last three years. Every single character in its impressive cast was provided with a fantastic arc, as the over-arching narrative—the birth of organized crime in America —coalesced into its most mythic season, bringing its young Capones, Lanskys and Lucianos in direct conflict (or collusion) with Steve Buscemi’s semi-fictional head of Atlantic City, Nucky Thompson.  

MVP: Bobby Canavale, for providing an electrifying season villain, by turns funny, charming and psychotic – often all at once.

   

Top of the Lake – 6 Episode Mini-Series (Sundance)

Fusing the moral twilight of (the original) The Killing with the eeriness of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, this six episode mini-series is by far the best thing Jane Campion has directed since The Piano. Elizabeth Moss slightly fudges her New Zealand accent, but gives a committed, nuanced performance as the detective investigating a young girl’s  disappearance in a poor, mountainous region of New Zealand. As the case entwines itself with the secrets of her own past, each episode unflinchingly takes the audience to disturbingly dark places, but with Campion’s unique perspective on the toll it takes for strong-willed women to forge their way through male-dominated social hierarchies (police and criminal alike). Haunting, nail-bitingly tense, and ultimately profound, Top of the Lake is pure cinema in TV clothing.  

MVP: Peter Mullan, as the terrifying leader of a homegrown drug ring, equal parts menace and tragic pathos.  

 

Parade’s End’ – 5 Episode Mini-Series (BBC America/HBO)

This adaptation of a classic novel is British TV drama at its finest, a stunningly scripted labor of love by Tom Stoppard, with astonishing performances by Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall and newcomer Adelaide Clemens. Charting a love triangle that evolves over the course of Britain entering the First World War, it’s a rich, fascinating exploration of the values different people cling to, or shed, as the world changes around them—as well as one of the most genuinely romantic stories you’ll ever see.  

MVP: Adelaide Clemens, for embodying what could have so easily been a fantasy of purity and innocence with grounded intelligence, vulnerability and strength.  

 

Breaking Bad – Season 5.1 (AMC)

Only eight episodes long, the first half of Breaking Bad‘s final, devastating conclusion is mostly set-up for its currently airing conclusion, which is possibly the single most riveting season of television in history. While perhaps less satisfying as a stand-alone season—especially compared to its previous arcs—5.1 is still an essential chapter in the saga of Walter White, described by its creator (Vince Gilligan) as one man’s journey "from Mr.Chips to Scarface." The amazing train heist episode ("Dead Freight") is a clear highlight, and the seamless mix of comedy, tragedy, and thriller elements against New Mexican suburbs and deserts, still combine to create one of the most utterly unique shows around.   

MVP: The best soundtrack choices of the year, bar none.  

 

Enlightened – Season 2 (HBO)

Tragically under-seen, this small gem concluded its two-season story arc, perhaps in the knowledge that it would inevitably be cancelled. Show-runner Mike White’s portrait of an idealistic narcissist waging a one woman war against the evil corporation she works at, is sharp, wickedly funny character-based satire, but with a deeply compassionate heart. Laura Dern gives the performance of her career as Amy Jellicoe, as frustrating and cringe-inducing as she is ultimately heroic. By both tearing down easy new age philosophies, while also examining the complex and profound yearnings for harmony and truth beneath them, Enlightened never gives in to pat, easy answers, but rests in its questions with intelligence, humor and grace. I especially loved how the show allowed itself to sometimes give entire episodes to a supporting character’s point of view, which often produced the most affecting highs of a great final season.    

MVPs: An incredible roster of guest directors, including Jonathan Demme, Nicole Holofcener, Todd Haynes, and David Michod.  

 

Rectify – Season 1 (Sundance)

Another criminally under seen gem, this small, well-observed drama about a man emerging from 20 years on death row, is well worth catching up with. Like its main character, it takes the time to soak in the tiny, telling details that we so often take for granted in our "free" lives, as well as the deep questions that result from a world view created behind bars. It’s a slow burn, but always an immersive one, and over the course of its short six episode first run, an incredibly moving journey into a man’s damaged, but endlessly curious soul. And the good news is that it’s been renewed for a second season, so catch up now while you have the chance.  

MVP: Aiden Young, for saying more with his eyes than most actors do with entire seasons of dialogue.  

 

Orange is the New Black – Season 1 (Netflix)

Adopting a similar comedy-drama tone to her previous show, Weeds, Jenji Kohan’s second stab at cable TV is a real grower, and paints its world of a women’s minimum security prison with well researched insight and depth. What’s most surprising is how elements that are initially off-putting, such as the very white middle class heroine’s cutesy relationship with her straight-laced fiancee, ultimately work in service to the story itself, as Piper Chapman’s world and sense of who she is are gradually stripped away, piece by piece. And while she serves as an effective identification window for the audience, it’s the show’s dedication to exploring its large supporting cast of characters that makes this something special.  

MVP: the casting directors, for filling the prison with real, believable women instead of Hollywood starlets.  

 

Girls – Season 2 (HBO)

Lena Dunham’s divisive, controversial, look at the lives of four young women navigating life in Brooklyn, is in many ways the anti-Sex and the City, more interested in ugly truths than easy trend-setting. Her characters are often selfish, tactless, insecure and hurtful, yet always compelling, and often very, very funny. It’s perhaps the most accurate account of what being young and broke in New York City is like, and how painful and confusing it can be to figure out our own identity while we’re so busy presenting one to a world that demands us to be fully formed in order to meet it. And it’s fascinating to watch such a young writer-performer develop her voice, sometimes stumbling, but always bravely reaching to create art that rings true.  

MVP: Lena Dunham, for her fearlessly authentic nudity onscreen, to the dismay of internet body fascists everywhere.  

 

Honorable Mentions

Homeland S2 was a ton of compulsive fun, if guilty of a few ridiculous plot twists too many (Wi-Fi dispensed heart attack? Come on now). Treme S3 was as enjoyable and affectionate a trip to New Orleans as ever, if a tad meandering. House of Cards was compelling and entertaining, if not quite as smart as it wanted to be. Veep S2  was a blast of great satire, but more of a dessert than a main course.

Now You Don’t Need to Travel Anywhere Thanks to Google Maps

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The other night, after finishing the sixth episode of Homeland, I thought, "You know what? I don’t have time for this." And then I went to Wikipedia and read the synopses for the rest of the first season. I cannot believe that Carrie slept with Brody! I mean, there were plenty of other crazy things that happened, but I don’t want to spoil the whole thing for you. Basically, when you’re a busy man on the go like me, you don’t have time to do things like watch TV, cook food, or travel to see the great wonders of the world. Thankfully, the internet helps us out with those things. Wikipedia! Seamless Web! And now Google Maps. Thanks to Street View, I can totally scrap that trip to the Grand Canyon I was planning on later this year. Who just realized that he has a lot of beer money to spend? This guy. 

[via io9]

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

Before We Say Goodbye to ’30 Rock,’ One Final ‘Ask Tina’

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Tonight, a nation will temper its feelings with night cheese and sob into its bottles of hill people milk. After seven seasons, 30 Rock is ending, and far more intelligent people have said far more intelligent things about this fact, but for now, I’ll say that like you, maybe, probably, I’m really gonna miss it, you guys. It was silly and it was fun and even if it wasn’t always perfect and Tina Fey isn’t a goddess to everyone, it got people to talk about women in comedy and how women and feminism are portrayed in comedy and perceived because of those portrayals and even on the Internet there were really important and relevant conversations happening. And what other show could get Oprah to guest-star as a sleeping-pill-induced hallucination? 

Before Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan and the crew ride off into the glorious sunset that is eternal syndication, Fey returned to NBC for one last session of her fan-mail show, "Ask Tina" ("Memorize how old I look!"). In it, Fey discusses her affinity for Werthers Originals, differences from Liz Lemon and lists all the shows she’s excited to finally catch up on now that she’s done with her own show, from Homeland to Match Game ’72. Guess it’s never too late for now. 

Personal Faves: Having A Sex Dream About Nicholas Brody

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Instead of ending the year with a slew of Best Of lists, BlackBook asked our contributors to share their thoughts on the most important moments in art, music, film, television, and fashion that took place in 2012. Here, Drew Grant discusses why she loved the year’s most popular cable TV drama, Homeland. [Warning: spoilers ahead!]

I fully expected Homeland to be that kind of show I would never watch, for several reasons:

a) I had never seen a single episode of 24, which was created by the same people who adapted Homeland from the Israeli original, Prisoners of War.

b) I wasn’t a huge fan of Claire Danes, who cried constantly—like during the Emmy’s where she won for playing Temple Grandin—and then would be promoting non-drip mascara during the commercial breaks.

c) No one looked that attractive or fun. There was no saucy Sawyer, no cutely-ghetto Jesse Pinkman, not even one measly sardonic vampire to take the edge off what appeared to be (at least from the commercials), a deeply earnest show.

d) Everyone was telling me to watch it, and I am a passive-aggressive pop culture rebel.

So when asked to review Homeland‘s second season, I had to cram the entire first episodes down my brain-gullet in one weekend. And let’s just say: the first few were really hard for me. Claire Danes was constantly crying, and it made me depressed to see how old Mandy Patinkin had gotten since his Princess Bride years.

And that guy Brody? What a downer. His bland stoicism—presented as a protective front against his now-traitorous heart—just struck me as incredibly boring. I imagined Brody pre-war, pre-Abu Nazir, and he just looked like Joe Shmoe. Hell, without the scars, he looked like Joe Shmoe now. He was skinny-ish. He had a weak chin and a wet little mouth that squinched up like a butthole whenever he was supposed to express emotion. The first couple times he tried to have sex with his wife Jessica after being a POW for eight years, it was like watching a really uncomfortable scene from a Todd Solondz movie. Did he just masturbate on her? Gross.

But then came that episode.

You know which one: the cabin episode. The one where Carrie Mathison, the only CIA agent who still suspects that Brody is a terrorist, uses her bipolar brain logic to seduce him (i.e. she lets him fuck her in his car). Then they take a road trip to her family’s summer home—with a nice little detour to brawl with some white supremacists at a bar—and spend the rest of the episode having awesome sex, walking in the woods, and pointing guns at each other.

"Hmm, this show has promise," I thought.

The next night, I dreamt of Brody. I dreamt that we were hiding out in the tree house at the house of my best friend from elementary school (though it looked a lot like my ex-boyfriend’s bedroom, but whatever! Dreams are weird). My friend’s parents were below, and they were trying to make me feel guilty for cheating on my boyfriend with a potential terrorist.

"Oh, so you’d prefer me cheating on my boyfriend with a doctor or shoe salesman?" I shouted down at them. "Not that I am conceding that I am harboring a sexy fugitive up here, mind you, but just hypothetically!"

The my friend’s parents considered it. "Maybe if he was a doctor," they admitted. Brody had to get dressed quickly, and we were giggling as I hid him under my bed. Then, as the parents were ascending the rungs of the tree house ladder, I woke up.

The rest of the day I walked around feeling both guilty and thrilled with my little secret. I understand that it’s completely boring to hear about other people’s dreams, and technically Brody and I did not even have sex (though there was the assumption that we had, and I was just getting to my own storyline late, like someone who forgot to DVR the first half of an episode.)

But you have to understand: I never have sex dreams. Sure, when I was little I used to have this thing with Freddy Krueger appearing and offering his hand-claw in marriage, and sometimes we’d kiss—Freddy Krueger, being able to control dreams, often made himself look like Brad Pitt for me, which was weird because I didn’t think Brad Pitt was that cute when I was eight—but we never got to second base.

When I was thirteen I had a highly disturbing nightmare about having sex with a cartoon Mr. Smithers from The Simpsons. I’m not even sure if that counted, but it was pretty freaky. And from then on…no sex dreams.

Not even sexy dreams, which I always found odd because I spent so much of my day thinking about scenarios where I am engaged in flirty battles of wits with like, um, Jeff Goldblum from Jurassic Park. You’d think some of that would seep into my subconscious, but no, it was Nick Brody: the least talkative man on television. He’s like everyone’s dad right before the divorce. With Carrie though, he transformed before our eyes into someone much more complex than just a Muslim marine/Congressman intent on killing the vice president.

Look at his nuanced sneer in Season Two, when Carrie finally confronts him in his hotel room. Or the way he likes being manipulated by her crazy ass. Or how he was willing to kill the vice president for her. (Though technically, he was planning to get around to that sooner or later. Still, it was much more romantic in a hostage situation). Unlike today’s modern anti-heroes like Don Draper, Walter White, Dexter, and yes, even Rick Grimes, Nick Brody has revealed that behind blue eyes there lies only love. He’s replacing DiCaprio as the tragic Romeo to Danes’s perpetual Juliet.

The second time I dreamt about Nick Brody, we had sex. SCORE! It was like losing my R.E.M. virginity!

So thank you, Nick Brody, for giving that to me. Also by extension, a big thanks to you, Damian Lewis, for playing him, though I can’t watch you in interviews because I find your British accent and light-hearted sense of humor very disconcerting.

Follow Drew Grant on Twitter

‘American Horror Story’: Silent Night, Deadly Night

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I’m not sure if you guys are big fans of Homeland, but if you are, well, you’ll totally understand what I’m saying here about American Horror Story: Even if you are writing about the most implausible, suspend-your-disbelief from a 90-foot crane kind of crazy, you still need to be internally consistent within the dream world you make up. So for instance, no way would Carrie have ever been let back in at the CIA, even if she was right about Brody. That’s just not how it works. She has a mental problem, and it clearly makes her batshit insane, and she hid that information—a matter of national security–and don’t even get me started on this Dana storyline…whatever.

The point is: That is how this season of American Horror Story is shaping up. While it’s certainly more fun to watch than the first three episodes, when things were so staid and boring, right now the show is so cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs that it doesn’t even make sense within the logic of a program about Nazi zombies, the devil, and Jessica Lange’s accent.

For instance: Sister Mary Eunice. Is she just really bad at being the devil? At this point, she seems more like a bitchy Carrie. Her powers are super limited—she can’t see all/know everything, her murdering abilities are the same as normal psychopath, and when she does use her "gifts" they seem totally arbitrary.

For instance, this week when Sister Jude comes back into Briarcliff to kill her (which, by the way, highlights the inconsistency of the institution’s door policy if every disgruntled ex-employee with a knife can just walk in), Mary Eunice uses her MIND POWERS to throw open the cabinet with all the canes on the floor and scatter them about. But like, that’s it: a telekinetic temper tantrum. Then she "takes care" of Frank, the guard who shot Grace last episode and now wants to go to the police, by freeing a crazy-Santa freak inmate and concocting an elaborate plan to have St. Nick murder him? Crazy Santa can’t even do the job, so Sister Mary Eunice has to do it for him by slitting Frank’s throat herself.

Even for THE DEVIL, that seems like a lot of extra work.

And yikers, can we back up and talk about the insane Santa plotline? Because the most far-fetched aspect of this episode was that the producers somehow managed to get IAN MCSHANE to play a convict who, Jean Valjean-style, goes to jail for stealing a loaf of bread only to get raped by five cops in Santa outfits. So, obvs, when he gets out he takes the jolly red suit of his oppressors and becomes a rape-obsessed psycho murderer. The entire episode I was like, "Man, whoever they got to play Santa looks a LOT like Ian McShane." So good twist, when I got to the credits and saw how the mighty Deadwood has fallen. I wonder if he just went back to his trailer and cried at the indignity of what his 30+ years of thespian training in England has brought upon him.

He delivers lines like, "There is no God, but there is a Santa Claus!" or, after caning Sister Jude, "Are you soft enough yet to receive my light? Except it won’t be light you’re receiving." (It will be his penis.) Luckily, Jude stabs him in the neck with a letter opener, which puts her exactly on par with THE DEVIL in terms of magical murdering tricks. Like, she literally just foiled Mary Eunice’s plan, and why wouldn’t THE DEVIL just go kill Jude herself? Also, why would Jude need to be tricked into coming back to Briarcliff in a double-cross by Arden, after he pretends that he now sees how evil Mary is? It seemed unnecessary. Obviously, it is Jude’s top priority to be locked in a room with Mary Eunice, both making vague threats and maybe pulling each other’s hair, and she’s free to come any time thanks to Briarcliff’s open-door policy.

It was especially weird because of the preceding scene, where Arden gives Mary Eunice giant ruby earrings he’d been saving from the bowel movements of a rich Jewess in his Auschwitz days. Instead of being like "Gross, why have you been caring around shit-crusted rubies for years like you were Christopher Walken in Pulp Fiction?" Mary Eunice loves them. And Arden gets upset, because apparently that was a test to see if she was really evil/had a human reflexive gag instinct, and he is obviously torn about his new partner in crime. But I guess he got over it, because the next thing you know he’s helping murder Sister Jude.

Oh, and speaking of that open door policy, someone invited Dr. Thredson to pay a visit to Lana Winterss, despite the fact that his last encounter with Briarcliff was giving it the middle finger. Well, whatever, he finds Lana because "all the newspapers" were talking about the escaped mental patient who came back to Briarcliff after a car accident. Which is off, because Lana tells Kit earlier in the episode that they are stuck at Briarcliff because "no one knows we’re here." Except for all those newspapers.

Anyway, Thredson is about to kill Lana, but Kit, who has been sedated on a morphine drip after he allegedly kills a nun (but it was actually one of those zombie creatures), comes to the rescue and hits Thredson over the head with a trashcan. Then they tie him up and put him in a spare room while they think of a plan. The best minds of their generation, these two.

While disposing of Grace’s body, some aliens appear to Arden in the tuberculosis "death chute" and make Grace disappear. Arden looks mildly shocked, but then again, what’s he going to do? Another day, another dollar full of post-apocalyptic zombies and taking orders from Satan. He doesn’t even have time for this shit.

Follow Drew Grant on Twitter

Stop Telling Me To Watch ‘Homeland’

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No, I didn’t watch the Emmys, either. Go figure.

Look, man: there can only be one show at a time that people harass each other about watching, and right now that’s Breaking Bad. Sure, by now most people are watching Breaking Bad as it airs, but show a little respect—its tenure as That Show You Gotta Watch is almost at an end, so wait your turn, Homeland early adopters.

You don’t make the rules, got it? I watched the Battlestar Galactica remake in fuckin’ 2011. That’s how I roll. I may not ever get around to Homeland at all, though I’m happy to slot it above Game of Thrones in my don’t-even-bother stack. I still haven’t started season two of Deadwood. Plus I might even read a book sometime.

What makes you think I need help with my TV agenda, by the way? It’s basically the one thing every American is qualified to set for themselves: even people in mental wards know that Wheel of Fortune comes on at 7:30. Feel free to tell me about some indie band or cult-hit movie that I’ve never heard of, but don’t come shilling a premium cable series advertised on the side of every third city bus. Unless the nudity is really top-notch. 

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

We Need To Talk About Claire Danes’s Emmy Dress

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Look, I’m not going to pretend that I’m the biggest Claire Danes fan because, in fact, I am not really a Claire Danes fan. I don’t know what it is, exactly; perhaps I’m still bitter over the whole Mary Louise Parker / Billy Crudup mess from a few years ago (and I’m definitely not a Billy Crudup fan). Maybe it’s her attitude that gets me. Last night, when I saw her win her second Emmy—this time for Homeland—I had this general sense that she thinks she is deserving of accolades. She marched right up to that stage and was all, "Whew, I thought I’d be waiting around all night for THIS, my AWARD for BEING SO GREAT." But none of that is important because wtf was she wearing last night???

I know she’s knocked up and all, but why in the world would someone want to wear that giant dress to an awards show? Was she trying to hide her baby bump? Because guess what? Nothing brings more attention to your body that an ill-fitting fluorescent bag. It was so distracting that during the Emmy fawning over Homeland I completely missed Mandy Patinkin. Where the hell was Mandy Patinkin? Did Claire Danes hit him over the head sometime between the red carpet and that unfortunately unfunny opening sketch featuring a bunch of women punching Jimmy Kimmel in the face (FOR NO REASON?) and then stuff him into that yellow-green Glad bag she had draped over herself?

I regretfully admit that her hair looked great. 

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

There Are No Television Comedies Other Than ‘Modern Family,’ Apparently

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So, the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards were last night, and considering we still have a bad taste in our mouths from our inappropriate drunk uncle Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars, for the most part, they were actually pretty fun to watch. Jimmy Kimmel had some funny bits, Giancarlo Esposito and Aaron Paul hugged it out and made us all verklempt, Lena Dunham ate cake naked and Julia-Louis Dreyfuss and Amy Poehler stole the show with their acceptance speech switcheroo.

In terms of the awards themselves, the recipients were almost painfully predictable, especially in the comedy category. The drama awards were mostly bang-on, as the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the most part avoided the soapy pleasure of Downton Abbey and Don Draper’s steely gaze to actually reward what probably are the two best dramas on TV right now, Homeland and Breaking Bad (Aaron Paul’s Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series award made our hearts happy). And Louis C.K. took home two awards — one the writing on Louie and one for his standup special at the Beacon Theatre.

But in terms of comedy, once again, the Academy chose to throw Louie its one bone—the equivalent of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences giving the most envelope-pushing film of the year Best Original Screenplay and then kind of ignoring it the rest of the night—and then choosing to celebrate thoroughly mediocre stuff. In a run similar to the one Frasier made in the mid-‘90s, for the past three Emmy cycles now, Modern Family has dominated the comedy categories to the point where even better stuff from the banal, laugh track-y, Chuck Lorre school of TV comedy was ignored (come on, as eye-roll-worthy as The Big Bang Theory can be sometimes, seeing Mayim Bialik win an Emmy, especially as the show’s saving grace that is Amy Farrah Fowler, åwould have been golden). All four of Modern Family’s big winners—Outstanding Supporting Actress Julie Bowen, Outstanding Supporting Actor Eric Stonestreet (convinced that there is one dude voting in the Academy who is just still totally super shocked that a straight dude can play a preening gay man even though this is 2012, y’all), Director Steven Levitan and the show for Outstanding Comedy Series — are repeat wins, with the show itself and Levitan earning them back-to-back-to-back. This year, the rest of the show’s adult cast members were nominated for acting awards.

I like Modern Family. It’s cute. Ty Burrell and Sofia Vergara are eternally fun to watch. I usually walk away from it not hating myself. My whole family watches it (cross-demographic appeal!). And granted, the Outstanding Comedy Series pool was a little thin this year—the token Lorre (The Big Bang Theory), two former comedy powerhouses that are still very funny but mostly over-the-hill (30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm), and the two other HBO shows, Girls and Veep, which were long shots anyway. But at a time and place where so many awesome things are happening with television comedy, at a time when a fart and smunny show like Parks & Recreation or something that, love it or hate it, can spark an international conversation like Girls or a show that is so funny and so human like Louie or a show that celebrates its dweebiness so joyfully like Community or a great traditional thirtysomethings-in-the-city sitcom like Happy Endings can all exist, it seems a disservice to let more of the same rack up statue after statue. It seems kind of silly to rant—the Emmys will probably never change and TV comedy is full of niches and Modern Family certainly isn’t the worst thing to happen to television ever. But when the whole run of programming is so totally awesome, it would just kind of be nice seeing the celebration of the awesomeness spread around a bit. At least Leslie Knope won her city council election. Better luck next time, Team Dunphy.

So, to make ourselves feel better about everything, here’s Aaron Paul’s acceptance speech again.