We celebrate the gifts that are our families and friends far too infrequently. There’s a specific day set in calendars for couples, and Leslie Knope coined the perfection that is Galentine’s Day (February 13), but even still, while it’s progressive and amazing, it’s just not enough. If a TV show or film doesn’t have a solid, incredible friendship or some sort of platonic relationship, I can’t get into it. As someone who’s so inspired by the people in her life, it’s the one thing I look for in the media I consume. It’s the one thing that keeps me engaged and invested. It’s the one thing that results in excellent character development. And this year especially, I’m happy to report there were too many gorgeous relationships to choose from. I’d rather have too much than not enough to even fill this category, which is always a bummer. We are not created to be alone as human beings, it’s the relationships we form throughout our lives that effortlessly shape us into the people we become and when we’re surrounded by people who believe in us, there’s nothing we can’t do.
1. The Rose Family
When I first started Schitt’s Creek, I could have never imagined how much I’d adore this family and how far they’d come. The Roses are exceptional because they’re absolute weirdos in the most normal way in this ridiculous town, but they stand out because of the love that’s come into their hearts throughout their stay in Schitt’s Creek. This doesn’t just include the immediate Rose family, but Stevie, Ted, and Patrick, too. The family that once only wanted towels and a car out of this town have extended their hearts to the people around them, welcoming them with open arms and a promise to never abandon them. It’s Moira’s belief in Stevie as an unofficial second daughter. It’s the family’s undying love for Patrick and Ted. And it’s Alexis realizing just how much she’s grown to love spending time with them. The series wouldn’t be as brilliant if it weren’t for the family growing to appreciate one another without ever changing their outlandish dynamic and calling one another out on their craps.
“Daisy” | Madam Secretary
Look at the gif above without crying, I dare you. It’s still hard to grasp that it’s the final season of Madam Secretary, but so far, the series has been delivering one strong episode after another, give or take a few minute mishaps. The second we learned that Elizabeth McCord was President of the United States, I couldn’t wait to see the moment where we’d see the reactions to her win. And it was the kind of moment undoubtedly well worth the wait. “Daisy” wasn’t an easy episode to watch, but without exaggeration, I openly wept from beginning to end, but absolutely lost it all during this final scene.
I don’t mean to turn this into a political post to discuss my own personal opinions — but this was the very reaction I’d expected a lot of us to have during the 2016 elections if we had elected the first female President of the United States. And perhaps that’s why I had such a visceral reaction to this episode because for a moment, it felt real, it felt hopeful, and it was executed with such heartfelt, palpable reactions you couldn’t help but choke up. The raw energy in the performances leaves much room for discussion, but simply put, it was remarkably moving in all the right ways.
“Separation Part II” | Madam Secretary
With the perfectly heartfelt premiere of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place’s incredible return episode, TV’s a delightful place again that has me grinning from ear to ear. Last week’s show of choice, Outlander showed us the ramifications of Jamie’s actions and Brianna’s frustrations leaving us with another intriguing episode. But it was Sunday’s return episode of Madam Secretary that I can’t stop thinking about.
Madam Secretary is a special show, it’s the only drama that’s allowed to be 22 episodes long because it’s the one platform that highlights politics in the eyes of a character driven cast. And both “Separation” episodes did what TV at its best does — evokes something powerful by mirroring the world we live in today. Sometimes we need to escape the treacheries of the world with fiction and sometimes, we need fiction to scream about what’s happening because it’s crucial to bettering our lives. We can try to escape and disregard politics all we want, and I’m all for people stepping back if it’s too much to bear at times, but when children are separated from their families, our voices need to be heard. And the two-part story on Madam Secretary refused to stay silent.
A great story is easily driven by its complex, compelling, remarkably exquisite characters. Whether they’re heroes or villains or somewhere in between the spectrum, it’s their stories that make the series riveting — their journey, their life, their interactions. They are the reason a series is special. They are the heart. And while there are a number of wonderfully written characters on TV, these are my personal favorites.
Also, be sure to check out our Series of the Year | Stranger Things article, as the number one performances, characters, relationships, and moments are all featured there first. They deserved their own special tribute.
Plus, don’t forget to head on over to TVExamined and Nerdy Girl Notes to see what Heather and Katie had to say about their favorites this year.
25 Inimitable Men 8/25
Henry McCord (Madam Secretary)
The man beside the woman — the theology professor, NSA operative, former Marine Corps Captain and pilot, but most importantly, a father and husband noble in ways not many in the world are. Henry McCord is, in every sense of the word, a hero. The kind of hero who’s not exactly in the spotlight as one, but when it comes down to his work, he’s proven that time and time again, the lives of those who know him benefit greatly from his presence. Madam Secretary is the kind of show that’s easily filled with a number of good-hearted characters, and Henry McCord is one of those characters. Henry’s ethics, kindness, and empathy make him undoubtedly inimitable and with Tim Daly’s excellent portrayal in every episode, he’s a character who could inspire many.
“Global Relief” | Madam Secretary
It’s been another great week of television as Once Upon A Time kicked off with a phenomenal, character driven episode. When Calls the Heart wrapped up its fourth season with a sweet ending. The Americans messed with our emotions. Prison Break reunited the brothers in a tear-jerker scene. Brooklyn Nine Nine gave us the status of the precinct in what should have been a longer episode. Chicago P.D. featured great moments with Voight’s character. Black-ish gave us two back to back incredibly fun episodes. And Superstore made our shipper hearts soar in an unparalleled moment of sincerity between Amy and Jonah. (This was my second choice, by the way.) But once again, Madam Secretary is the show that has delivered a truly exquisite moment.
“Good Bones” | Madam Secretary
TV took a mini hiatus this week (or so it seems), but what we did see surprised us with a lot of fantastic moments. Once Upon A Time gave us a glimpse into Gideon’s past. When Calls the Heart delivered a letter we were impatiently waiting for. The Americans broke us with Gabriel’s character. Brooklyn Nine Nine delivered a hysterically fun spring premiere episode. And Prison Break kicked things into motion. But it was Madam Secretary that’s left me in complete and utter awe.
There’s no feeling quite as indescribable as finding a fictional character to care deeply for. A character who we perhaps see ourselves in or a character who’s just so well written, it’s difficult to turn the other cheek. There are a number of fantastic TV characters — whether heroes or villains or somewhere in between, they’re so well written, they become a part of us. They become someone we cherish, someone we want the best for. They become someone we’re constantly in awe of. And 2016 has truly been one of the best years in the world of television. It’s been a strong, undeniably powerful year for complex, incredible characters.
And whatever you do, in order to get the best of Year-End reviews, you need to check out the beautiful work Nerdy Girl Notes and TV Examined are doing as well.
25 Nearest and Dearest 10/25
The McCord Family (Madam Secretary)
Infinitely grateful to have Madam Secretary recommended to me by my dear friend Caitlin last winter because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. For those who’ve been keeping up with #100DaysofFanFavorites, it’s clear at this point that I’m the biggest fan of families. And the best, most unexpected part of Madam Secretary is how beautifully the series balances politics with Elizabeth McCord’s life at home. Additionally, so often on television, with the exception of FX’s The Americans teens aren’t written with authenticity today. As opposed to showcasing the reality of what families are like through organic character development, television series often focus more on ridiculous drama . But Madam Secretary is an impeccably well-written series, which reveals the life of the McCord family in intriguing and raw moments making them one of the strongest, most fascinating teams on television.
| April 24 – May 15 |
We’ll be diverting a bit from our usual finale roundup structure to dedicate the entire compilation of categories to CBS’ Madam Secretary — the season finale that has so far been my favorite. “Vartius” dealt with three significantly intricate matters with a kind of grace very few shows have mastered. Often times where there are too many stories told in one episode, it tends to get overwhelming, and that’s especially the case with finales wanting to wrap things up, but “Vartius” reached resolutions that’ll effortlessly and brilliantly bleed into season three.