Perhaps genre confusion was one of the reasons “Enlightened” was robbed. Yes, it’s a half hour show, but it’s often more serious than funny. “Enlightened” was part of a select group of shows committed to reinventing the half hour format. To call it a failed experiment would be unfair though; it now belongs in the pantheon of great shows cancelled too soon. Co-creator Mike White did something that was nearly unthinkable by making a bunch of unlikable characters, including one who’s basically the equivalent of the girl you wish you hadn’t started a conversation with at a party, very likable through his kind touches of empathy. Until the show’s legacy kicks in, at least we have Laura Dern’s nomination for Best Actress to carry us through.
Key Episodes: Higher Power, The Ghost Is Seen, Agent of Change
At first, “New Girl” was nothing special. Two seasons later, it’s the funniest sitcom on network television (RIP “Happy Endings”). I could cite it’s rapid fire dialogue, or the mere presence of Schmidt (Max Greenfield) alone. But the real triumph of season two was that it brought new life to the “will they or won’t they” arc. The moment where Nick (Jake Johnson) and Jess (Zooey Deschanel) finally kiss is surprisingly electrifying. It is so well done that I found myself watching it over and over again and feeling just as surprised on each viewing. If season one of a TV show is all about introducing us to the characters, season two is about building character history and further familiarity. In that and many other regards, “New Girl” triumphed where others would fail.
Key Episodes: Fluffer, Cooler, Virgins
Michael Cera (Arrested Development)
The new season of “Arrested Development” was a mixed bag that didn’t really take off until its final stretch. While it’s great to see Jason Bateman up for an Emmy, he wasn’t the only one worthy of the prize. I didn’t want to fill the list up with “Arrested Development,” and it was hard to choose from the likes Will Arnett, David Cross, and Jessica Walter. In the end, I decided to go with Michael Cera. Those who say that Cera always plays the same character should look no further than this current season of “Arrested Development” to see his incredible range. In the episode “It Gets Better,” it is such a joy seeing Cera turn George Michael from timid and awkward to a confident liar of a Bluth man. Cera is not just good comic support; he is a full fledged leading man.
Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation)
It’s okay I guess that the Emmy voters have snubbed the man who plays Ron Swanson for five years. He already wins at life anyway.