In my intro to last year’s “Other TV Bests” category, I said, “if 2014 does even this half as well [as 2013], things should look pretty good.” We have achieved it folks, and more than we could have asked for. There just isn’t room for all of the noteworthy TV of 2014. I’ve listed out more than my fair share of bests already, yet there are still more that deserve a mention (and yes, this one I limited to just 10). Hit the jump for the rest of the best.
1. Best Guilty Pleasure: How to Get Away with Murder [ABC] — If you watched it, well, you know. It was the latest Shondaland creation, and the most batshit insane of them yet. Scandal, your time may have come and gone, because HTGAWM was the most live-Tweet-worthy show of the fall.
2. Best Documentary Series: The Roosevelts [PBS] — Ken Burns, ladies and gentlemen. Exploring the lives of the Roosevelts was one of 2014’s most immersive television experiences. Though Teddy and FDR make great subjects no matter who is chronicling them, Burns’ deft hand at documentary made every member of the Roosevelt family a star. Yet another masterpiece from the master.
3. Best Hulu Show: Moone Boy — This Irish series, now in its second season, is still as funny, cute, surreal and nostalgic as its first. It’s also Hulu’s best acquisition, especially in a year where Hulu was pretty quiet when it came to original programming.
4. Best Netflix Show: Orange Is the New Black — This one was a little tough, because I was really, deeply obsessed with British crime series Happy Valley that Netflix picked up this year. But when it comes to their original programming, there are no competitors: Orange Is the New Black returned with its balance better than last year, meaning, a little less self-absorbed Piper, and a little more about the stories and histories of the other inmates, allowing several of them (particularly Red, Morello, and Poussey) to truly shine.
5. Best Show I Don’t Watch: The Walking Dead [AMC] — I just had to acknowledge The Walking Dead somewhere, because it’s all anyone I know talks about when it’s on (it’s also cable’s biggest hit, and that shouldn’t be ignored). So, this is for you, TWD fans!
6. Best Series Finale: Boardwalk Empire [HBO] — Boardwalk Empire tied up its final season with a string that felt a little too coincidental and serendipitous, but, it also was satisfying in its own way. Like Sons of Anarchy, Boardwalk Empire fashioned its final season around making parallels between the past and present, showing that when you live the life of the gangster, it’s hard to break the cycle. We won’t know whether Nucky or Jax really did when it comes to the next generation, but we can hope.
7. Best Oddball Series: The Strain [FX] — Seriously, what was this show? The makeup and effects were so brilliant, but the dialogue and story so, so bad (for the most part, and with only a few exceptions). But it was also a lot of fun. It cultivated the mythology of its band of heroes really well, though, and introduced us to some pretty awesome badasses (as well as the concept of the vampire vanquishing sword/cane).
8. Best Show With a Terrible Name: Selfie [ABC] — Thanks to a terrible name and terrible marketing, this really, really funny show (seriously, I mean it) couldn’t find an audience, and was yanked from primetime by ABC (however, its remaining produced episodes have been airing weekly on Hulu). Selfie had a great cast, a great sense of itself, and most importantly, it introduced us to the fact that David Harewood is a hilarious comedic actor.
9. Best Show Canceled Before Its Time: The Divide [WeTV] — Did you know WeTV was a channel? Did you know it broadcast one of the most complicated and engrossing crime series of the year? Well, it did. The Divide was a show AMC passed up on, so that its sister station could start to cultivate its own great slate of dramas. It didn’t work out. That is a huge shame, too, because the show was really good, and didn’t end its first season with anything tied up at all. Frustrating.
10. Best New Trend: Single-Director Series [True Detective, The Knick, The Missing, Welcome to Sweden] — Bringing a visual cohesion to its narrative, these single-director series made storytelling on television this year a really beautiful thing (even better if the same writer/writing team was on board for all of the season’s episodes as well). Allowing a director to cultivate and fully execute a vision for an entire season really makes the difference with its final outcome, and all of the series mentioned were some of the the richest, most vibrantly and uniquely filmed series not only of the year, but of all-time. More of this cinema on the small screen, please.