A note on spoilers in this post: The bolded shows may give away plot points to shows you haven’t seen, so if you plan on watching those shows, do not read the blurbs. The accompanying images and/or GIFs, however, are either spoiler free, or they would be very difficult to understand without knowing the context of the moment being described.
True Detective — The Nic Pizzolatto series, along with Fargo, were — at least critically — the two biggest break-out series of the year, and if I had to choose which series had the better opening season, I’d be in a bind except for one goddamn moment that tarnished an otherwise excellent season of True Detective. After a full season of Rust Cohle’s Nietzschean existential despair, after Carcosa and the Yellow King and the Time-is-a-Flat-Circle M-Theory, Pizzolatto completely boned the ending and not only gave Rust Cohle and Marty Hart a treacly, formulaic buddy-cop sendoff, but he went one step further and gave Cohle hope. Ugh. “Once there was only dark. If you ask me, the light’s winning,” Cohle spoke, while staring up into the sky, nearly obliterating ten-episodes of character building.
Girls — Love or hate Girls (or just kind of like it or kind of dislike it sometimes, as in my case), there’s no getting past the most embarrassing moment of the 2014 season, a new low even for Marnie, already the most insufferable character on the show. And because it doesn’t actually spoil any plot points, I will simply embed the video. Oof.
Shameless — I also consider Shameless one of the best television shows of the year, and more than any other show, it nails what it’s like to be shit poor in America. But at this point, they’ve dragged Frank Gallagher along too long. William H. Macy may be one of the biggest names on the show, and Gallagher may have been the lead in the original series, but his character has been completely played out. There’s only so many times you can watch a man destroy his own life, and the last-minute liver transplant he received in the finale (only to leave the hospital and drink again) illustrated the point to the level of overkill: Frank Gallagher won’t change. We know. We get it. A death as a result of that would’ve been poetic justice. The liver transplant just repeats the cycle anew.
Doctor Who — I was not as down on this season of Doctor Who as much as some were because I thought Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman salvaged a lot of bad writing. The Robin Hood episode was terrible, but no moment was as ridiculous this year as finding out that the goddamn moon was actually a giant egg for a huge space creature that could lay moon-sized eggs. The egg hatched and out came a new creature, who laid another egg, saving us from an moonless Earth.
Louie — This was the season of Louie that inspired a thousand think pieces, but no scene inspired more than when Louie forced himself on Pamela. It was an uncomfortable, character-assassinating moment that the series never really doubled back to explain. It was enough to inspire a few to quit the series all together, but ultimately, most of us could look past it and appreciate most of the rest of the season for the genius that it was.
Homeland — It’s been an incredible bounceback season of Homeland, and those of you who reasonably quit after the third season (as I did, before jumping back in) should know that it’s a really good thriller series again … except for a couple of moments. Carrie sleeping with the college kid was icky, but not the biggest sin of the season. No, that was the silly way in which the series managed to bring back Brody — for a moment, at least — by featuring him in one of Carrie’s delusional hallucinations. It didn’t irreparably damage the season as a whole, but it was an inexcusably silly moment.
Sons of Anarchy — It was a dreadful final season of Sons of Anarchy, littered with embarrassing moments, from Abel outing his grandmother as the killer of his mom to Jax inexplicably sleeping with Wendy to the lie that propelled the entire season, which could’ve been uncovered with five minutes of common sense. But no moment was worse than the final sequence, which saw Jax dodge Mr. Mayhem, lead innumerable squad cars on a slow-speed chase and end with Jax Teller — hands extended — driving himself square into the grill of a Mac truck, a bludgeoning scene that came with terrible green screen effects and heavy-handed symbolism.
The Newsroom — The first four episodes of the final season of The Newsroom were not flawless, by any stretch. But they were pretty good, that is until Sorkin decided to tackle yet another issue that he has no business trying to tackle. It’s recent enough that I feel no need to reiterate everything that was wrong with it. Emily excellently made the point in her finale recap:
Don/Aaron, when you talked about how Sloan had been victimized by a porn-revenge site, I’m sure you felt very clever. But you weren’t saying, “Your site could be misused to exact revenge against an innocent man in the same way that these revenge-porn sites seek revenge against women.” You were saying, “Please don’t let your website do to a man the same thing that happens to women on a daily basis.”
Game of Thrones — Jaime Lannister raped Cersei on the floor next to the coffin where the corpse of their incestuous son lay. I think that pretty much covers it, except to say that it wasn’t the rape itself that was the worst part of the episode (rape is not uncommon on Game of Thrones) but what it did for Jaime Lannister, who was in the midst of a redemption plot. At least for the moment, the rape of Cersei put the kibosh on the redemption.
Halt and Catch Fire — It’s not fair to describe Halt and Catch Fire as a good show, but it did have a very good pilot, and on AMC, it was considered a prestige drama. I singled this moment out as the worst of 2014 the day after it happened, and nothing has come along to unseat it. Oh Lee Pace, what have you done? (No plot spoilers, no context required).