This is always the hardest category to write about but simultaneously my absolute favorite. The best part of it is remembering the very first time I watch the episode and think, “Yup, I need to talk about this for year-end reviews.” But it’s interesting because I was a little stumped this year. I didn’t want to repeat episodes from shows and I wanted a wide variety. We can thank Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place for making my choices so hard with a ton of amazing episodes. Oh how I adore the comedies on TV right now.
For more end of the year reviews, check out our Top 10 Performers, 10 Characters, and 10 Relationships.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I don’t know how Katie (Nerdy Girl Notes) would cover this show weekly because I could never find the right words. And I especially can’t find the words for “Start.” The final episode of The Americans needs to be seen by every single TV enthusiast in the world. I can understand that the genre may not be everyone’s cup of tea, in all honesty, at times, it was even too heavy for me, but I’m grateful to know that I’ve seen the best thing on TV. (This sentence was not meant to rhyme, but we’re sticking to it.) “Start” was the perfect conclusion. It wrapped the series up in the most finely crafted bow I’ve ever seen, tying loose ends so wondrously not many before it have mastered. It gave its audience some of the most haunting images to hold onto and I’m sure, without even trying, rendering many of us utterly speechless. Maybe eight years from now when I’m less distraught over “They’ll remember us. They’re not kids anymore.” I’ll be able to talk about just how encompassing “Start” was, but today’s not that day. Or maybe when I’ve finally gotten Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell’s meticulously somber expressions and the stoic, yet crumbling physicality out of my mind, I’ll be able to talk about it more. But for now, let this just serve as my plea to get you all to watch The Americans because it’s truly unmatched. There are no words that could rightfully encapsulate the magnitude of this finale’s greatness.
There’s nothing I appreciate more every year than performances that make me want to ramble and scream about over rooftops. Performances that are so well done, words suddenly become nonexistent. And this year especially, the top performers were so fascinating, I couldn’t even choose as easily as I often do. I almost added more than I could write for because there were a far more than 10 of them I wanted to talk about.
For more end of the year reviews, check out our Top 10 Characters, 10 Relationships and 10 Episodes.
- Matthew Rhys
The Emmy winning performance of the year. (It gives me unbelievable pride and joy to say that, as if I know Rhys myself and he is some distant uncle of mine.) But truly. There’s been nothing quite like this year’s most intensely gripping performance that I’ve yet to find the words for. Phillip caught a bit of a break from the spy life this season, but that meant a lot more work for Rhys in order to show us sides of him that we’d not known in the last five years. And while Phillip was seemingly calmer, Rhys was actually showing us a more frantic angle, especially when it came down no longer understanding his wife or being able to converse with her. It was during the simplest, most quiet moments that Rhys was reminding us of just how much is at stake and just how fleeting this new life of his would be. But then the final few moments of the series happened and just when you think Rhys has probably outdone himself, the confrontation we’ve all been waiting for takes place, and the greatest mic drop in TV history occurs. The Americans excels in a number of ways, but its strongest suit has been the carefully nuanced performances, and although this was the scene we’ve long waited for, I don’t think any of us could’ve imagined the vulnerability it would’ve been filled with. Vulnerability we should’ve probably been prepared for, but at the end of the day, we could never — or rather, at least I couldn’t have. The sheer pain and utter shame Rhys projected while they “confessed” everything to Stan was nothing short of brilliant. The faint break as he states “I finally got caught” or the most sincere reveal throughout the confrontation, “You were my only friend in my, in my whole shitty life” shattered me. Finales in the espionage genre often have their actors go out with a bang, but with The Americans, the bang surprisingly doesn’t involve a gunshot, instead, “Start” concluded with a man and a woman on a bridge, in a country they can no longer call theirs, trying to remain hopeful. And hope is an emotion The Americans has had a special way of revealing. Rhys’ tensed jawline, the palpable dejection in his eyes, and the damaged, hollowed spirit that stood before us was the very paradigm of greatness. Matthew Rhys (And Keri Russell) have always spoken far more in silence than they have with words, and such robust silence can only be described with so few words, it demands to be felt. And it was.
They are the scenes we watch over and over again — the scenes we can never seem to get enough of, and the scenes we remember for years to come. The Little Gems category was started last year for the moments that effortlessly became my favorites — the moments, which I found myself being moved by the most. While it was a little tough to choose them this year, we managed. And without further ado, our final installment of article for the year of 2017, our 17 favorite little gems.
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.
Best for last, don’t forget to check out what Heather (TV Examined) and Katie (Nerdy Girl Notes) had to say about their favorites this year. The best part of our year-end reviews is sharing them with such incredible, perfectly gifted writers — always managing to convince me to watch whatever it is they’re writing about.
| May 11-30 |
We’ve finally reached the end of an overwhelmingly powerful spring season with fantastic finales of The Americans, Prison Break, and Riverdale.
“Lotus 1-2-3” | The Americans
Where TV’s been concerned, a lot of small, brief moments left lasting impressions this week. Once Upon A Time’s “A Wondrous Place” layered princess Jasmine beautifully. When Calls the Heart showcased that Gowen’s heart may not be as dark as we’ve imagined. (Plus, it displayed Lee and Rosemary’s relationship in a uniquely entertaining way.) Prison Break’s season five debut was solid and enticing. Black-ish reminded us of how much Zoey will be missed when she’s off to college. Chicago P.D. gave us a sweet heart to heart with Voight and Burgess. And Superstore subtly told us that Amy’s feelings for Jonah are more than what she displays. But it was The Americans which left me in a state of complete awe.
(P.S. I didn’t watch the New Girl finale, but because everyone’s been buzzing about it, it’s inspired me to catch up again, and I’m bummed I ever abandoned this show.)
“Lotus 1-2-3” | The Americans
There are always scenes I’ll find myself replaying — scenes that either broke me or have somehow fixed me. Scenes that may not be thematic masterpieces but rather little moments that set everything in motion. In this final installment of our 2016 Year-End reviews, you’ll find the scenes that have left the biggest impact on me this year. The scenes that I’ve found myself wanting to talk about over and over and over again. The scenes that I considered the loveliest little gems.
And before we part ways until the new year, be sure to check out the incredible choices Nerdy Girl Notes and TV Examined have been writing about.
25 Nearest and Dearest 17/25
The Jennings Family (The Americans)
FX’s The Americans is without a single doubt one of the greatest series currently on air. While on the surface it appears to be your typical spy drama, at its core it’s a series about marriage and family. The Americans captures families as they are — imperfect and messy, but never loveless. And not to mention the fact that The Americans is one of the very, very few shows that represents teens as they are. Despite its greatness, The Americans isn’t always the easiest series to watch — it’s dark, and at times, very real and though I personally long for the happy-go-lucky series, the relationships on The Americans have managed to instantly capture my attention. At the end of the day, no matter how dark The Americans gets, I trust this show, and most importantly, I trust that Philip and Elizabeth will do anything and everything to protect their children. Secrets and lies are common in the lives of spies, but at the end of the day, love is the driving force between the Jennings.
“Travel Agents” | The Americans