Enough, no more! It was the year in which I found myself screaming at the TV, as Americans’ undiminished love for Paris continued. This country’s obsession with the City of Light inflicted the worst torture I have ever endured in 30 years of reviewing.
Yes, I’m looking at you, Emily in Paris. How does Darren Star, creator of Sex and the City, go from that masterpiece to this inane dross that is completely lacking in everything – characterization, script, plot. Apart from the hot chef, it has absolutely zilch going for it. Fans say, ‘Ah, but the fashion is so great.’ Fashion? Emily looks as if she’s fallen into a dumpster and emerged wearing five decades of hand me downs. Her teeth are the only thing she carries off successfully.
As if the third series (how on Earth does this dross make it to two, let alone a third series?) of Emily in Paris were not enough, Real Girlfriends in Paris descended upon the mire. It was, as with every ‘Real’ show in the Bravo franchise, about as real as a dead stoat. And apart from the proverbial shots of the beautiful city, the six girlfriends (although one is of French descent), in search of the ultimate Parisian dream, might as well have been in Rome. Or Madrid. Or any European city.
Were these shows merely a reaction to the previous two years, when Covid dominated almost every channel and we just craved escapism? When almost all we could rely on during that terrible time was good old Hallmark for continuing to keep us distracted with nonsensical murders and women in advertising who inexplicably moved to a forest and found the only straight available man in the state?
It was still Netflix’s year – and they take most of my awards, good and bad – with a range of programs that ranged from the laughingly dire to the absolutely sublime.
On other channels, it was a mixed bag – extraordinary shows, tedious ones, and others so bad you could only sit back and wonder at the limits of human imagination.
MOST OVERHYPED SHOW/WORST SERIES
You probably saw this one coming. Yes, the award has no other contenders and goes to Netflix’s Emily in Paris. If you thought series one and two were dire, the third takes it down to a whole new level. Apart from the dreadful dress sense of the lead character (played by Lily Collins) – she’d be safer standing on one leg at the top of the Eiffel Tower than she is on those platform shoes – there’s the appalling script. Trite, bland and deeply unfunny, it also wins my Oscar for worst series of the year. Romantic comedy? Really? Parisians must be choking on their croissants with the disservice it does to their beautiful city. Please – no more American women descending on Europe and pulling all the men the rest of us have spent decades failing to capture.
Wednesday (Netflix) – the beautifully shot Addams Family spin-off featured characters whose performances will be memorable for many years to come. And it was very, very funny – smart, sharp writing throughout.
BEST FEMALE ACTOR
Jenna Ortega, as the weird child Wednesday (Netflix), with an award-winning performance.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A THING
Victor Dorobantu, the actor behind Thing, in Netflix’s Wednesday. Dorobantu managed to inject so much personality into four fingers and a thumb, it was impossible not to engage with the hand as one would a character in possession of all its bodily parts. Give that man an Emmy thing!
From Scratch (Netflix). Was it a medical drama about an unfortunate medical itching condition? No, a passionate relationship between an American art student in Italy and a handsome chef. Apart from the appalling first episode that had too many echoes of Emily in Paris, but with Amy in Sicily, it was believable and very moving. And…spoiler alert coming up…The handsome chef dies. You’ll have to make your own Carbonara from now on, love.
Evan Peters, in Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, from the superstar in Netflix’s crown, Ryan Murphy. It can’t be much fun playing a flesh-eating eating serial killer, let alone one with such a bad haircut, but Peters pulled this off to make the series one of the most compelling of the year.
The Watcher (Netflix), based on the real-life story of the Broaddus family and the creepy house they bought in New Jersey, being terrorized by someone calling themselves The Watcher. Most scary thing? Mia Farrow in plaits.
BEST STARING INTO THE MIDDLE DISTANCE
Law and Order: SVU (NBC). This old stalwart continued to delight with its familiar cast of characters that returns every season and keeps us warm, fluffy and secure in our metaphorical TV watching blankets.
The entire cast wins the award, though special honors go to Mariska Hargitay, who plays Captain Olivia Benson – a master of the art of conveying emotion while remaining immobile and managing to tread that thin line between disappointment and rigor mortis with consummate ease. She was deserved winner of the Best TV Drama TV Star award at the 2022’s People’s Choice Awards.
Mark Harmon, star of that other stalwart, the hugely popular NCIS (CBS), which saw him bow out as Special Agent Jethro Gibbs. Although he continues as an executive producer, he gets the award for one of the most popular characters of all time.
Fair play to Gary Cole, though, who has stepped into the series’ lead role as Aiden Parker and made it his own. It’s presumably why he spends so much time away from wife Diane Lockhart (played by Christine Baranski) in The Good Fight. Maybe someone should tell her that her husband Kurt McVeigh lives a double life as a Special Agent.
MOST TEDIOUSLY WOKE SERIES
The Good Fight (Paramount+) – Yeah, while we’re on the subject…it was finally put out of its misery. The spin-off from The Good Wife began life so well on CBS in 2017, but descended into a politically correct, preachy, anti-Trump rant that totally lost direction. Easily wins this award. The sixth and final series was a mess, which was a shame for the brilliant Christine Baranski as lawyer Diane Lockhart, delighting us every week with jewelry that looked straight of an Egyptian tomb.
MOST WELCOME FAREWELL
NBC’s New Amsterdam – a thankful goodbye to the medical drama, euthanized not a moment too soon. Despite the wonderful Ryan Eggold in the central role as Dr Max Goodwin, the show has felt as if it’s been surviving on a drip since season three.
Sidney Poitier. Not all goodbyes are welcome ones, and the TV and film industry bid a sad farewell to the truly great man, who was not only a phenomenal actor, but a trailblazing black activist. Catch the documentary Sidney on Apple TV+.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY A FACIAL SOFA
Bravo’s Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ had two contenders – Dorit Kemsley and Lisa Rinna, whose lips wouldn’t look out of place in a furniture shop. Kemsley wins it by a muscle, each season returning with a mouth that now looks in serious danger of devouring her head whole.
LEAST LEFT TO THE IMAGINATION
HBO’s White Lotus. Porn, male nudity, explicit sexual acts – but you can have too much of a nude thing. Still, you can always look away to the scenery, should your delicate eyes not be able to take in a man’s dangly bits. Oh, okay. Maybe just one more episode, then.
OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY A STETSON
Kevin Costner’s John Dutton, in HBO’s Yellowstone. Alas, everything from the hat down is a total bore in an overhyped show that is nothing more than Dallas with hooves.
BEST NEWS ANCHOR COIFFURE
While CNN’s Anderson Cooper clearly has the best hairdo of anyone on TV, the award goes to Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, whose bouffant takes hair to a whole other level – literally. On the days it doesn’t look like an IKEA flatpack has landed on his head, it elevates itself to the crazy heights of an overweight Chihuahua. The million-dollar question: is it real?
MOST LAUGH ALOUD SERIES
Netflix’s Harry and Meghan – I mean, it was a comedy, wasn’t it? Still, Meghan Markle turned in a much better acting performance than she ever managed to do in Suits. Definitely a close contender for the Best Female Actor award.
BEST ENTERTAINMENT SHOW
RuPaul’s Drag Race (VH1, Logo TV) – bitchy queens bite back. For the ultimate experience, find a gay bar and watch it live with a crowd of gay guys. It’s like a show within a show.
LEAST COMPRENSIBLE SCRIPT
HBO’s Industry – by a long way. Ringing phone, money, blah blah, share prices, more blah blah – I have no idea what they’re all talking about, but it’s still very watchable and features strong characters who engage in a lot of sex. How they find time to indulge their love of investment banking is anybody’s guess.
FAVORITE LINE OF THE YEAR
‘Jessica Fletcher’s here and someone’s been murdered! What are the odds?’ Yes, a repeat episode, but let’s remember Angela Lansbury who passed away in 2022 and delighted us for so long with her cycling Cabot Cove sleuth Jessica Fletcher. Worked until the very end.
TV PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
King Bravo, Andy Cohen. The Real Housewives franchise is a masterpiece that he puppeteers with great humor, and Watch What Happens Live is never less than hilariously entertaining. He must watch these women and think Thank the lord I’m a gay man. A lot of the time, watching this shower, I wish I was one, too.