4. 2 Broke Girls
Right away I need to explain why there are only four shows on this list and why one of them is 2 Broke Girls, an unfunny, racist sitcom. No...wait a minute. I can't explain that. Other than to say that I didn't give a lot of dramas a shot this year and most of the ones I tried (like Terra Nova and Ringer) weren't any good. I even gave up on Person of Interest, a show I expected to like a lot, but got bored by thanks to Jim Caviezel's deadpan performance.
So why am I still with 2 Broke Girls when it fails my one-and-only test for sitcoms: Make Me Laugh? It's all about the actresses. I just love Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs. I love their characters individually and as a team and I'm rooting for them like I would characters in a drama. It's weird, but while the show completely fails as a sitcom, I'm invested in the story of these two women whom life has taken a huge dump on and their quest to make things better. I just really wish I could laugh too, but hopefully Jennifer Coolidge's joining the show will help with that.
This is far less a guilty pleasure. I started the show expecting a witty send-up of suburban life and that's what it is; just far less biting than I thought it would be. And that's good, because (and I say this as a city person) I generally don't like a lot of cynicism in my entertainment. The native suburbanites in the show are all weird, but they also have recognizable, human elements too; especially Dallas (Cheryl Hines), whose well-hidden loneliness is kind of heart-breaking.
The main characters, George (Jeremy Sisto) and Tess (Jane Levy) are also much less critical of their new environment than I imagined they'd be. I mean, they raise eyebrows and poke fun, but there's a nice balance between chuckling at the strangeness of suburban life and embracing the genuinely good things about it.
2. New Girl
I didn't even like Zooey Deschanel before this show (I'm the one), but her goofiness as Jess won me over. She really is adorkable. The guys in the cast are all awesome too, especially Max Greenfield as Schmidt (a douche who I thought would be my least-favorite character, but has quickly become my most-) and Lamorne Morris as Winston (who had an unenviable job in replacing the pilot's awesome Damon Wayans Jr, but - helped by some excellent writing - did so amazingly). I like Jake M Johnson too as Nick, but I'm already tired of the show's Will-They-Won't-They plot and he takes shrapnel from being involved in that. Even Hannah Simone's Cece is getting stuff to do and I've already got tickets on whatever the Schmidt/Cece 'ship is calling itself.
Hands down the new show I look forward to more than any other. I probably look forward to it more than my old shows, even. At least until I get caught up with Justified. Emily Thorne (played by Emily VanCamp) is a female Batman. She's just as rich, just as smart, and just as driven; she just dresses a lot better and has a very specific group of bad guys she's looking to take down.
I hear people apologizing for the soap opera qualities of the show sometimes, but that's what makes it fun; especially Madeline Stowe as Victoria Grayson, the surprisingly sympathetic matriarch of the family that destroyed Emily's life.
So what are your favorite new shows of last year?