As chosen by the Arts Staff of The Cornell Daily Sun:
Adventure Time: The fourth season of Jake the Dog and Finn the Human’s animated adventures through the Land of Ooo showcases creator Pendleton Ward’s off-beat surrealist finesse as we’ve never seen it before. Like the strange denizens of the Candy Kingdom, Adventure Time is sweet, provocative and deeply disturbing. The Adventure Time experience is perhaps best captured by the final words of the Royal Tart Toter: “This cosmic dance of bursting decadence and withheld permissions twists all our arms collectively; but if sweetness can win, and it can, then I’ll still be here tomorrow, to high five you yesterday, my friend. Peace.”
Breaking Bad: The story of a chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-cook, Breaking Bad is a lot like its drug of choice: it’s dangerous, addictive and has probably had a negative effect on your social life. This year, AMC’s best show (ever?) plunged us straight back into Walter White’s complicated world, filled with increasingly poor decisions, a lot of corpses and more mind-blowing cliffhangers than Lost. One of the only shows to successfully transform its leading man from Misguided Good Guy to Horrifying Evil-Doer, Breaking Bad has gotten more intriguing with age. Now there are only 10 episodes left — and yes, that whimpering sound would be the Arts Staff’s collective weeping — so use this winter break wisely.
Community: Greendale Community College is home to the Human Beings and to TV’s most eclectic study group. It breaks the sitcom mold with its unique characters and potpourri of pop culture references, including episodes that pay homage to Doctor Who. Season Three was all the better for delving into the geekier side — even if there wasn’t a third installment of the fan favorite paintball episodes. Dan Harmon’s swan song of sorts managed to break all the rules in nerd style. Hopefully the new writers continue in this direction (minus the violent outbursts). Then we’ll see if it stays cool. Cool cool cool.
Game of Thrones: One might be wary to start watching Game of Thrones after reading the bestselling fantasy novels by George R.R. Martin. The books have such complex plots that it seems unlikely that they would translate well to the TV screen. However, after a stunning first season that, unlike most adaptations, stayed almost perfectly true to the books, the second season proved to be better. The show brings the medieval fantasy genre back to the mainstream, centering around several noble houses who are all vying to claim the throne through every possible means, whether it be war, intrigue or assassination.
Girls: Every year, TV execs try to revive the magic of Friends. The only problem is that they rehash the same, tired format on the plight of 20-somethings. Lena Dunham has made the genre new with Girls. Dunham has less than likable characters navigate first-world problems of millennials from the less sexy side of sex to the hipster scene that everyone loves to hate; she is the Nora Ephron/Woody Allen-esque voice of these millennials. And if nothing else, the girls’ awkward sexual encounters are well worth watching because at least you’ll know that you’re not the only one with that weird story.
Louie: Witness Louis C.K.’s grotesque form of standup comedy and you would assume the worst: that this paunchy, profane ginger dude is as loud-mouthed a comedian as they come. Louie showcases the awkward — and often silent — interactions that fuel Louie’s infamous tirades. The contrast between off-stage Louie and on-stage Louie is powerful. Day-to-day Louie is a shuffling, dirt-kicking schmuck whose myriad romantic mishaps, social shortcomings and parental duties are alternately pathetic and humanizing; on stage, he is the embodiment of frustration and clarity, venomously addressing everything from New York apathy to his sexual inadequacies. Self-deprecation has never been this funny.
Homeland: After Homeland’s first season, some fans thought the show had chickened out. Homeland could have pushed a button, and ended one of the best opening seasons in TV history with a seemingly inevitable bang, but instead chose to … not. These people were wrong. Rather than ignore the road it didn’t take, Homeland has embraced all the potential consequences, blowing open plot points in the first few episodes that lesser shows would have used to end seasons. Homeland has transformed itself into an entirely different series, where the audience’s emotions are now tied to characters we aren’t sure if we should love, fear or hate.
Sherlock: Sherlock Holmes: Texting Master? John Watson: Blogger? The idea of a modern Sherlock Holmes may sound as absurd as the unfounded clichés that plague the detective: deerstalker hats, “Elementary, my dear Watson” and fat bumbling sidekicks. The BBC series Sherlock, however, maintains Arthur Conan Doyle’s style, keeping true to the characters and plotlines. The show takes on Conan Doyle’s stories with twists that will surprise even the biggest Sherlock Holmes fan. Benedict Cumberbatch sets the new standard for Holmes, Martin Freeman (John Watson) never ceases to impress and Andrew Scott redefines Moriarty. Whether you know everything about Sherlock Holmes or nothing, Sherlock is not to be missed.
Veep: With Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Seinfeld) as Vice President Selina Meyer, HBO’s Veep pokes fun at the vague responsibilities of Joe Biden and Dick Cheney while mocking politics from all sides. Creator, director and writer Armando Iannucci delivers the jokes at rapid fire, with handheld cameras, sight gags and a whole lot of swearing. All characters are despicable: Meyer cannot even hide a grin when she is told the President may be dying and that the White House is hers, however briefly. Veep is laugh-a-second satire that has Meyer crapping her pants one minute and considering abortion the next. It’s a welcome catharsis for anyone fed up with the oblivious jokesters in Washington.
The Walking Dead: There’s something about The Walking Dead that makes it worth bearing all that bloody gore. This season has been a crazy one following the bombshell at the end of Season Two, which has completely changed the pace of the series, including a slew of new characters and settings. There is plenty of storyline left to be unraveled and people left to be bitten in the post-zombie apocalyptic South. If you want to challenge yourself, try to figure out which three of the current main characters are covering their British accents with Southern ones.