This isn’t a critical review of what makes an episode flawless, it’s a list of the TV episodes I found myself either revisiting after completion or the ones that I couldn’t look back on that continued to haunt me long after the credits stopped rolling. These are the episodes that left me in complete and utter awe. They’re the episodes filled with the most evocative performances and the most beautifully moving moments that touched my heart in a way I won’t forget easily.
The Good Place
One year later, and I still think about this episode at least a few times a month. It is without a doubt my favorite episode of The Good Place and the one I could potentially write an entire thesis on. “Pandemonium”, and especially the final few moments of the episode were utter chaos. “Embrace the pandemonium, find happiness in the unique insanity of being here, now.” There’s a great amount of happening in this episode like Michael panicking and then freaking out when he sees the soul squad together. There’s beauty in the montage created for Chidi and Eleanor. There’s beauty in Jason promising he won’t let Eleanor down. There’s beauty in Eleanor taking charge even while she’s afraid.There’s beauty in Tahani realizing what she’ll have to do when face to face with the person who’ll bring out the worst in her. There’s beauty in the humanity that’s found its way into Janet’s life. And there’s beauty in Michael’s faith in his Soul Squad.
The episode is simply put, special. It forces us to look within ourselves and confront the whys. It forces us to question existence, life, and even the afterlife. But it’s the perfect, most unique way of saying, smile because it happened. And I feel it’s safe to assume that we all know that’s nearly impossible to do, anything but the words we actually want to hear in a moment of sheer of frustration; however, it is what it is. Life is pure, unbelievably unfair chaos sometimes, and the only way to get through it is to embrace what’s bound to make us better. As mere mortals who are incapable of understanding what the afterlife entails, it’s also easy to just believe that we’d grow just fine without trials in our life, but the reality is, we don’t know that. We don’t know why life has to be the way that it is, but we’re here because of it, and there’s a whole lot of beautiful in between those tragic moments, which The Good Place captures perfectly in “Pandemonium”. While it is without question one of the saddest episodes on The Good Place, it succeeds in also being the most hopeful.
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.
We don’t all agree on everything, but I feel it’s safe to assume that the majority of us in this community of writers are under the rightful belief that this has been a stupendous year for performances. Especially where limited series are concerned. Vulnerability isn’t an easy emotion to master when acting, but the people who’ve excelled this year mastered it with impeccable and inimitable nuances. Some of these names are familiar ones, but a large majority of the performers in this category are new faces to Marvelous Geeks. Their performances have stood out beautifully throughout the year making my absolute honor to write about them.
1. Phoebe Waller-Bridge
I’ll be frank, I didn’t see the appeal in Fleabag while watching the first season, but the moment season two began, I was floored and ready to give every single award to Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Waller-Bridge is simply put, a mastermind — the brilliant meticulous decisions in her performances throughout the year have been strikingly moving and filled with flawless range. We see prodigious growth in Fleabag throughout the season, while Waller-Bridge ensures that her charm is stapled inflexibly and rightfully in every corner. The work she does in “Episode Four” alone is unparalleled and should stand as the very example of what it means to find the balance between comedy and drama. In Fleabag’s ways of breaking the fourth wall, Waller-Bridge enlightens viewers with brilliant ease that connects us further to the unbelievably relatable chaos inside her mind. It’s in her eccentric mannerisms and potent transparency that make her such a vulnerable character we’ve all found ways to connect to. Fleabag isn’t perfect, but Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s performances surely are and her expressive features deserve a category on their own, for the breakdown of every compelling look could result in a full length novel. Waller-Bridge leads the audience towards captivating profundities and astonishing pinnacles throughout the course of six episodes, which alone deserves continuous praise for its exclusivity in the world of television.