Here is my extremely overdue list of my favorite shows from 2014. It may be good to know that not all of these were necessarily released in 2014, but were made available through outlets such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. I’d love to hear your list; please leave a comment below! In no particular order.
I am a fan of the mid nineties, Cohen brothers’ dark comedy by the same name. However, when I heard a television adaptation was going to be released, I was skeptical to say the least. It helped that the Cohen brothers were part of the production team, but regardless, my skepticism remained. However, due to fantastic acting by Martin Freeman (The Hobbit) and Billy Bob Thorton (Bad Santa) as well as a fantastic supporting cast, this small Minnesota town came to life in new ways. The off-beat dark humor mixed short bursts of violence, and an excellent ten-episode contained narrative made Fargo one of the stand-out shows of 2014 for me.
The UK sure knows how to do television. Black Mirrors, a show I had never heard of until September 2014 when it arrived on Netflix, is no exception. A near future twilight zone esque show that’s so grounded in a possible future reality it’s enough to make anyone squirm. Though not for everyone, I find Black Mirrors is equal parts thought provoking, depressing, and challenging in a way that no other TV show in recent memory has been. However, though each episode is a self-contained story, the unifying factor is that you will be left with a sense of hopelessness about the human race.
Short lived crime drama The Killing released its final season this year on Netflix. For those unfamiliar with The Killing, it is an American adaptation of the Denmark original series by the same name. It chronicles the the investigation by Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos, Sabotage) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman, Robocop) as they attempt to solve one brutal Seattle murder. I was drawn into this show because, as each episode expands, you begin to see the far reach that the death of a young girl can have on a family, community, and police department. The Killing season four brought about a short, yet satisfying, end to a great show. I would recommend this to anyone who likes cop dramas but is tired of the “case of the week” model.
2014 was a year of espionage and tradecraft for me. While browsing through Netflix, I came upon The Assets. The Assets is the story of CIA counter-intelligence agent Sandy Grimes as she attempts to root out a mole in her organization. Chronicling one of the largest CIA intelligence breaches in U.S. history, The Assets gave me more than I bargained for. It is a fantastic look into tradecraft, deceit, dedication, and perseverance. Any fans of spy espionage thrillers should look into this eight part episodic slow burn based off of true events. For all you history buffs out there, you might enjoy knowing that the ninth episode is a documentary about the real events that inspired the miniseries.
True Detective is a slow burn crime drama that feels more like a lengthy movie than a television show. It follows Detective Rush Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Heart (Woody Harrelson) on their hunt for a Louisiana serial killer that spans seventeen years. With fantastic writing, storylines, and acting, True Detective stands out as one of the best mini series of 2014. Good for fans of thrillers like Silence of the Lamb.
I am not terribly interested in politics or political dramas. Unless it involves Jack Bauer carrying a man purse and a 9mm. “Count me out,” or so I would have said up until 2013 when Netflix released its first original series, House of Cards, and I was hooked. Kevin Spacy and Robin Wright are fantastic as the power hungry, utilitarian couple out to conquer Washington, and season 2 was no different. Filled with plenty of twists and turns, deceit, backstabbing, and murder, House of Cards took me less than one week to binge watch, which on my schedule is pretty good! If you’re a fan of political dramas and or Kevin Spacy, you should probably watch this.
Cards on the table my wife and I downloaded this show. Not because we don’t have HBO G;, we do, but some person has created a censored version online that is available for download. It removes all sex and nudity from the show and allows us to watch these amazing R.R. Martin stories come to life in all their amazing brutality. Overuse of the “sex sells” moniker aside, Game of Thrones creates an engaging world with the highest budget and best looking cinematography and effects I have ever seen on TV. If you’re a fan of fantasy and don’t mind it being mixed with brutal violence, you’ll likely enjoy this show.
According to The Knick, the early twentieth century was not a good time to be alive. Looking at the lives of the staff of the famously progressive Knickerbocker hospital in New York we see drugs, sex, and death as a regular part of life. A period peace with a not so period musical score, The Knick was equal parts disgusting and riveting with some of the most graphic and interesting surgery scenes ever filmed. Brilliantly acted, insanely engaging and heartbreaking, The Knick made me thankful I was not alive in the early twentieth century. I wouldn’t have made it…
Sure, this show is not perfect. There is a lot of downtime, character building, and slow burns on this show. But honestly… I can’t get enough of The Walking Dead. Perhaps I’m just brand loyal to the comic, but I love seeing my favorite characters come to life in what is more a survival drama with occasional zombie and horror elements. The effects department is great, the acting is great, and the writing is almost always on point. Sure, zombies are old, but as long as The Walking Dead can surprise me and offer engaging stories that my wife and I can watch together I’m in!
This show sideswiped me halfway through the year and quickly became one of my favorites. Nathan For You is a mock reality show attempting to help struggling businesses turn a profit. “But because of his unorthodox approach, Nathan’s genuine efforts to do good often draw real people into an experience far beyond what they signed up for” (IMDB). Fielder’s Deadpan demeanor contrasted against his more “normal” clients leads to amazing comedic moments and one of the funniest shows of 2014. If you’re a fan of awkward comedy I highly recommend this show, just not his business consulting.