One week ago, Mad Men ended with the image of Don Draper smiling into the camera. On the other side of the screen my face, as two ancient Greek theater masks facing each other, was rather the opposite: the face of disappointment. What a lacking finale –if not a complete disaster–, to the point that our own Homecoming Queen, who actually confessed to like the episodes, preferred to discuss the latest Penny Dreadful episodes over the series finales of a series of the relevance of Mad Men. This fact made look back to this year’s fiction and wonder: are we having a bad year?
The three arguably biggest dramas currently on the air have terribly misfired. Mad Men wasted its two last episodes with a lost Don Draper in a repetitive plot we had witnessed over and over again in the last seven years: yeah, we get it Matthew Weiner, the hotel clerk was a younger version of Don! Furthermore, The Good Wife, “in my opinion”, best series of 2014 presented us with some its best episodes at the beginning of season 6 but its second half, after the winter break, delivered some of the most divisive moments of the series, heavily influenced by the obvious feud between Julianne Margulies and Archie Panjabi. The same can be said about Game of Thrones, being season 5 the worst season so far: the old characters are starting to show some signs of weariness: Cersei, Jon Snow and, a case specially painful to watch, Arya Stark who has been trapped in the same building for 7 episodes now. Moreover, the new cast additions and locations seem disjointed with the rest of the series, e.g. you just need to Bronn’s side plot this week.
There has been two exceptions great exceptions in two TV marriages: the Underwoods and the Jennings. Both of them have managed to shine among all this mediocrity and deliver their best seasons yet. There has also been some very good new fictions such as American Crime with a very defined visual style and Bloodline and its great atmosphere and Ben Mendelsohn; some have also run out of gas too soon, Daredevil never lived up to the expectations generated by its first two episodes, Wolf Hall, for some the great British revelation of the year, balances between a tour de force and a borefest, and Better Call Saul replicates Breaking Bad aesthetics but the transformation of its main character, having already seen the final result, would never be as fascinating as that of Walter White/Heisenberg. And then there was Fortitude, the real revelation of the year and the only one that dared to do “something different” blurring the lines between the horror and thriller genre.
Likewise, no comedy series has stood out. The so-long-desired sixth season of Community is making Harmonless Community good. HBO dramedy block (Girls, Looking and Togetherness) has left us… unenthusiastic at its best. And Netflix’s sitcom Grace and Frankie displays comedic formulas as old as its cast. Our only good news were the newcomers Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and The Last Man on Earth with a fresh premise and brilliant lead roles for Ellie Kemper and Will Forte, as well as, Louie. Never change, Louie, never change.
We look forward to the next weeks with the comeback of some of the show that made 2014 great: Hannibal, Rectify, Fargo, The Knick and, despiste its previews, True Detective, but, most of all, we are longing for something new, the next gamechanger, would that be Utopia? Westworld? Sense 8? Scorsese’s rock ‘n’ roll project? Mr. Robot? Deutschland 83?… We will wait and see.