2018 Year in Review: Favorite Television Performances, Relationships, Moments, and More

Performances:
Actresses:

5. Teresa Palmer (A Discovery of Witches) diana 1.gif

Diana Bishop is an incredibly strong, intelligent and loving character. Thrust into danger with power awakening inside her, Diana overcomes past fears and denials as she learns to embrace the extraordinary magic within her, subsequently awakening a fierce strength as well. While falling deeply in love illuminates all of these qualities tenfold. And Palmer showcased all of these qualities with grace, nuance and beauty. She maintained an authentic balance of fierce confidence are understandable fears and it was lovely to watch.

4. Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) alex

Susie is tough as nails, brash and harsh with just about everyone. It would be easy to come off as a one note character. But there is more to this character and Borstein showcases the layers to her character so well, most especially in moments where we see how much she cares about Midge, and when others show true care and affection towards her. When her fellow workers in the Catskills shower her with love and relief after believing she had been missing, you both laugh and are touched watching a woman who clearly had not experienced many moments like this. Borstein perfectly portrays a woman who doesn’t always know how to show or accept affection, but its meaning is not lost on her. It’s written all over her face.

3. Melissa Roxburgh (Manifest) melissa

Michaela Stone boarded Flight 828 unsure of her future, wracked with guilt over a car accident that resulted in her friend’s death, but with her brother’s advice and her mother’s unfailing love and wisdom in her ears. She departed the plane feeling more hopeful and ready to accept her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, only to have that all come crashing down learning that not only have 5 years have passed, but her mother has passed away, and her boyfriend had married her best friend. Heartbreak is then met with strange voices and callings and dangers abound. Through it all Roxburgh has showcased Michaela’s heartbreak, anger, confusion, and determination to find her place and inner strength with grace and authenticity. Her performance is indeed one of the show’s finest aspects.

2. Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) mrs-maisel-thank-you-goodnight-1515699518

Miriam Maisel is a witty, effervescent, strong, intelligent, caring, verbose, beautiful, incredible and dynamic woman and it takes a brilliant performer to portray such a dynamic character. Brosnahan more than accomplishes this task. She has a radiant presence that is also very grounded in moments where Miriam is standing up for herself in a male dominated profession, when she falters when dealing with her father’s knowledge of her stand-up, and dealing with a turning point in her life professionally and personally. Midge Maisel is a realistic, marvelous gal we all can relate to and aspire to be like and it’s due to Brosnahan’s wonderful performance.

1. Mandy Moore (This Is Us) mandy

Many Moore is an incredible talent, whom I have been a fan since the beginning of her career. And it’s been a true joy and honor to bot only watch her continue to grow as a performer but also achieve great success. In This is Us, Moore is given the chance to shine and showcase her tremendous range and abilities. In 2018, we saw these exemplary talents on full display throughout many stages of Rebecca’s life:as a young and hopeful ingénue, falling in love, a happy wife, supportive mother, and grieving widow. The latter gave us the most devastating moment and brilliant performance of this season (perhaps even series) when the knowledge that Jack has died becomes reality when she walks into that hospital room and the camera focuses only on her. We feel every blinking moment of disbelief, every breath, and every tear, and cry of devastation. She gives a deeply affecting performance in her moments of grief, but beautifully balances those with soft moments of brave vulnerability and tender understanding, with countless members of her family. Moore’s performance is a exquisite balance of quiet beauty and authentic fierceness and an absolute wonder to watch.

Special Recognition: Amber Stevens West (Happy Together) amber

As Claire, Stevens West is bright and lovely, funny and sweet, a wonderful scene partner for Wayans Jr. and undeniably and effortlessly likable. Sitcom characters can often feel unrealistic but Stevens West brings a kind of natural grace and warmth that makes Claire feel real and relatable.

Actors:

5. Damon Wayans Jr. (Happy Together) damon

Not many performers can make me laugh as much, and indeed smile as much, as Wayans Jr. Always the scene stealer in Happy Endings and New Girl, as Jake in Happy Together, he infuses each scene with the same natural charm, hilarity, and sweetness now as the leading man, which greatly pleases me. It is so easy to love his performance bringing forth age old idea how laughter is truly infectious.

4. Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) tony

Shalhoub has always been brilliant in my humble opinion, most especially as the OCD detective Adrian Monk. I was so pleased see him grace our screens again, in a completely different sort of role. A sort of long suffering, straight as an arrow, loving, but not without his quirks or strong opinions that go against what a modern audience, would deem right. And Shalhoub manages to make not only Abe Weisman lovable, but real and empathetic. Most especially in Season 2, when Abe’s wife leaves without him noticing, he discovers his daughter’s stand up, and has tribulations with his new job he is forced to re-examine his life and viewpoints and comes out all the better for it. Shalhoub is absolutely wonderful and provides some of Mrs. Maisel’s finest moments in 2018.

3. Josh Dallas (Manifest) josh

Forever in as our hearts as Prince Charming in Once Upon a Time, #CharmAttacks may not happen as much, but 2018 brought back Dallas to our screens in a dynamic and most welcome way- in a different kind of role, though with some humorous similarities (time jumps and not aging), with much more serious, darker and mysterious material. Ben Stone is a loving husband, father and brother, who loses 5 years with his family, who grieved and moved on when they believed him to be dead. He finds himself “replaced” somewhat by another man with his wife and daughter, is trying to wrap his head around the strange callings he and fellow passengers share and tirelessly wants to discover the truth behind the underlying government conspiracy that won’t leave them be. He only wants to protect his family and is pulled in every direction imaginable. We knew Dallas could portray a loving father beautifully, and this continues on Manifest as a very rational man who doesn’t hesitate to take action. Dallas’s performance is strong and stalwart with a quiet and melancholy vulnerability, and like Roxburgh’s performance, one of the finest attribute’s to Manifest.

2. Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us) jack 1

Ventimiglia has always portrayed Jack Pearson brilliantly, and 2018 was no different and in fact, showcased some of his finest work as we finally saw the cause of Jack’s untimely death, as well as learning more about the root of his need to protect others- it stems from protecting his younger brother at an early age from his abusive father, going well into adulthood when said brother is drafted into the Vietnam War. The combination of the new and illuminating, and very different look at a part of Jack’s life with the looks at his early love story with Rebecca and unconditional support of his children provided quite the poignant drama, made every so moving by the warmth, nuance and quiet strength in Ventimiglia’s performance.

1. Matthew Goode (A Discovery of Witches) matthew

Goode is a performer I have loved for years in both film and television, with Leap Year and Downton Abbey being two personal favorites. As the centuries old Matthew Clairmont, the brooding but passionate, strong and enigmatic vampire, Goode feels tailor made for the role and portrays his character as if it was written specifically for him- as is he is literally leaping of the page and onto our screens to give us chills and capture our hearts. Clairmont may be immortal, but what Goode brings to the part is undeniably human. He must be at times mysterious and dangerous and others times gentle and romantic. It’s a delicate balance but Goode brings charisma, warmth, and nuance brilliantly creating a captivating character and perfect partner in a love story of epic proportions. He is invigorating to watch.

Special Recognition: Andrew J. West (Once Upon a Time) andrew

It was a tall order to fill the shoes of an established character but now as a grown adult, and although the storyline was not perfect, West’s performance was admirable as it is clear he both studied Jared Gilmore’s performance as Henry in order to maintain the feel for the character, while bringing his own maturity and warmth. It helped to create a seamless transition and this is to be admired.

Casts:

3. The Series of Unfortunate Events Cast olafbaudelaires

What can I say about the cast of this unique series except that I never want to look away from such exceptional talent and we all out fortunate to witness this story unfold in such extraordinary hands. They all manage to bring levity to the serious, heart and pathos to the absurd and move and excite us with each tantalizing episode. Neil Patrick Harris is a true master of disguise as Count Olaf and it is a truly masterful performance while the Baudelaire siblings Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes and Pressley Smith bring so much heart and inspiration to the children who must employ their wits and bravery in this perpetual series of unfortunate events in their lives.

2. The Good Place Cast good place

The most unusual mix of characters continue to delight and move us in this colorful, absurd and yet grounded series about the afterlife and what it means to be human and every single person brings their own form of humor and charm, each with defining characteristics, so much so that while this is for the entire cast we must take special note of D’arcy Carden who as Janet performed an episode where this entity embodied every single character and embodied their speech patterns, mannerisms so spot on that it felt like you were actually watching them. It was incredible! But indeed, Kristen Bell is a riot as the guarded and tough but deep down vulnerable Eleanor, William Jackson Harper as Chidi makes his indecisiveness endearing instead of frustrating, Jameela Jamil’s Tahani seems out of touch and snobbish, but is hilariously endearing as we see her insecurities and good heart shine through, Manny Jacinto as the dim but sweet natured Jason is undeniably likable, and the incomparable Ted Danson makes a demon feel like the most innocent creature in the universe in what may be my favorite performance of his career. The show is called The Good Place, but the cast is absolutely Great!

1. The Timeless Cast

timeless 2

In the final season of the time traveling series, every single person shined and played a significant part in the plot of the last episodes, but each performance also helped make their respective characters and indeed the show its remarkable self- so much so that they all must be recognized. Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, Malcolm Barrett, Paterson Joseph, Sakina Jaffrey, Claudia Doumit, Goran Visnjic, and Annie Wersching were all incredibly powerful performers, knowing when to give and take with their scene partners, show the proper range of emotion from fear to delight to regret and hope. A show is only as good as the actors who breathe life into the written words, and this cast made a story out of time and space always remain firmly on the ground and still make us believe in a possible future. We laugh and cried and rooted for the end of Rittenhouse and for our Time team to not only save the day but find love, salvation and happiness. And these performers created indelibly timeless performances.

Favorite Returns:

Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Josh Dallas (Once Upon a Time) captain swan 3snowing

Could the fairy tale series really close the last page of its storybook without once again seeing the characters whose journey started it all? Thankfully, that answer was an unequivocal no and we once again saw Emma Swan and her parents Snow White and Prince Charming. And when we saw each character both re-appear and we took our last look at these iconic characters I have no doubt each audience member leapt from their seats, smiled and then wiped away a few tears. The show would not have been its magical self without them so it’s only fitting they provided beautiful, significant and heartwarming moments that made the series end what it should be: a final showcase of adventure, love, and hope.

Use of Music:

2. “The Good Queen” and “Leaving Storybrooke”- Mark Isham, Cindy O’Connor, Michael D. Simon (Once Upon a Time)

The music of the fairy tale show has always been one of the consistently beautiful and most universally loved part of the series, and in the final episode, that proved no different. In particular, the final two music queues were not only gorgeous but moving in the way they reflected what was on screen, but also brought back some of the show’s most beautiful and steadfast musical themes in new variations. The beginning of “The Good Queen” was light, lovely and regal, but I opening admit to bursting into tears when Emma and Killian’s appearance brought forth a final and triumphant variation on “Emma’s theme” followed by an exquisitely light and jovial variation of Emma’s and Killian’s theme meant to be for their baby Hope. And “Leaving Storybrooke” was a touching tribute to everything that came before and a final bow to this show, it’s sleepy little town and its inhabitants who came to mean so much to us hearing the “Storybrooke,” “Snow and Charming,” and “True Love” themes in new and lovely ways. These final moments were made ever more beautiful by the perfect musical ending.

1. “Time After Time”- Joseph William Morgan (Timeless)

Not only is the cover of this 80’s song perfect in the beautiful, melancholy and yet hopeful tone, but it also brings so much to scenes that would be already emotional from the images alone. Moreover, the song is the ideal choice to encapsulate what the show and the characters have been through. Yes the time travel aspect seems an obvious connection. But it’s more than that. The lyrics to the song reflect not only how they felt in their adventures through time, but how they all came to mean something profound to each other.”Caught up in circles/Confusion is nothing new/Flashback, warm nights/Almost left behind/Suitcases of memories/Time after Time/ If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me/Time after time/If you fall I will catch you/I will be waiting/Time after time.”These lyrics are a gorgeous reflection of what the “Time Team” is. Through all the confusion and nearly losing one another, they will always be there to catch each other if they fall, in love and friendship, time and time again. Always.

Relationships:

2. The Baudelaire Children (A Series of Unfortunate Events) tumblr_p1vp8zj1i61thu2vbo2_500

As I wrote in the 2018 Year in Review: Favorite Television of the Year, when you watch the story of the Baudelaire orphans “you find yourself deeply invested and rooting for these children who are wise, mature and intelligent beyond their years not only in terms of being well read and clever but emotionally as well. The three all have their special strengths that they utilize as they continuously must escape the clutches of Count Olaf surrounded by people who will not always listen, while trying to maintain their own courage, faith and humanity.” In the second season they face darker and darker times and encounter some of the most dangerous, and unfortunate events yet, and while things grow more murky and the children struggle to keep their hope, they manage to remember that there can be people who are altruistic and generous, that bravery may be difficult but not impossible, and to cling to each other because the bond of the family who truly love you is unbreakable.

1. The Time Team (Timeless) timeless 3

Although Season 2 may have featured a little less of the Season 1 “Time Team” in fact the still employed them a great deal. That is because the time team became more than a trio as the fight to take down Rittenhouse not only included Lucy, Wyatt and Rufus but now expanded to include fellow scientist Jiya, inventor Conor Mason, Agent Christopher, and former enemy Garcia Flynn, all working together and proving that heroism and salvation is never impossible and that family is not only defined by blood, but by those who we are willing to give our blood for.

Couples:

5. Randall and Beth Pearson (This is Us) randall beth

Although 2018 brought some unanswered questions and angst to the couple, Randall and Beth remain a beautiful example of a healthy, supportive and communicative relationship. They also have their fair share of romantic and oh so cute moments that show a real sweetness and understanding between the two. They are best friends who are crazy about each other and who wouldn’t want to aspire to that.

4. Jake and Claire (Happy Together) jake claire.gif

Another absolutely adorable couple who clearly are each other’s best friends, what make Jake and Claire such a joy to watch is not only the natural chemistry between the actors, but the way they fit together so well. They share similarities and differences that balance each other and bring out the best in each other. They also just bring so much humor and warmth to our screens.

3. Lucy Preston and Wyatt Logan (Timeless) lyatt

Every since The Pilot and Wyatt helped Lucy with her seat belt and called her ma’am, I just knew that we would be in for a great story. And while 2018 brought them turmoil, sadness and drama, after they finally admitted how much they mean to each other, the year ended with one final mission and coming together with forgiveness and true love. There may have been other’s they cared for, but for Lucy and Wyatt the only one they truly want to spend their lives with is each other. They found a family through their time travel adventures, and their love created one that honored those they lost. It was a beautiful to watch their love story reach its happy end.

2. Rebecca and Jack Pearson (This Is Us) jack rebecca

A unique aspect of This Is Us is seeing all of these characters and relationships at different stages of their lives. In 2018 we saw Rebecca and Jack at multiple ones, the most significant being when they first met and fell in love and when a fire resulted in Jack’s tragic death. It resulted in a wide spectrum of emotion not only for the characters but the audience as well as this couple proved to be the epitome of devotion, understanding and profound love. Moreover, what was beautiful to watch was the magical mystery of finding the one who is truly meant for you- an instant connection filled with both passion and sweetness, bringing forth feelings you have never felt before. Rebecca was able to find some form of happiness in her later life, but Jack and Rebecca were the love of each other’s lives- and that kind of love lasts forever.

1. Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont (A Discovery of Witches) bismont 4

A destined love story that can bring together people who were have always been on opposite sides, and one filled with passion, danger, tenderness, and beauty on epic proportions and quiet moments of real connection- that is the love story between Diana and Matthew that is part Shakespearean and part supernatural but all together lovely and mystical. The chemistry between the actors is palpable and a significant part of what makes this couple one of the greatest to grace our screens in years, along with the exquisite showcase of the way love makes us stronger and ignites our very souls.

and lastly, because I would never fail to include them if I could, with a tie for the top spot…

1. Emma Swan and Killian Jones (Once Upon a Time) captain swan

Their moments on screen together in 2018 may have been ever brief, but they were still was infused with the same radiance as moments with this exquisite couple of fairy tale beauty and relatable modernity always are. That is because a mere few moments with them shine brighter than all the stars that aligned that brought them together. In these moments they arrived late to a coronation dressed to the nines in true Emma and Killian fashion, with some wonderful additions- Killian in traditional pirate garb with a pink protector on his hook and Emma’s red jacket over a soft pink gown, a diaper bag thrown over her arm. That was because the most important addition for this couple was their baby daughter Hope, as well as a glow of happiness from another happy beginning. With simplicity and beauty and showcasing what makes them so special, in their last appearance on screen, Emma and Killian proved once again to be one of the finest couples to ever grace our screens.

Favorite Moments:

Special Recognition: Max tells DJ about Missing His Dad (Fuller House)

If there was one thing I thought that had not been touched upon enough in the first seasons of Fuller House it was how the death of their father affected the Fuller children. So I was pleasantly surprised that in perhaps the most touching moment of the series we see the middle child Max express how seeing other children with their fathers waiting to see Santa Claus brought out feelings that he had buried a great deal, and that he really misses him. Young Elias Harger is mostly giving sassy one liners, but this young boy has the ability to do more and I hope we see more grounded moments like this in the future.

5. Abe Weismann sees daughter Miriam performing stand up (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)

abe

Some of the best moments of the second season of Mrs. Maisel came from the incomparable Tony Shalhoub’s Abe Weisman, most especially when he sees his daughter perform her stand-up comedy show. The first came as a complete shock to him and his daughter when he unexpectedly sees her take the stage at a club in the Catskills, and finds himself shocked, angry and confused. The second is when Midge performs on a telethon and as he hears laughter coming from a nearby apartment and he sees a young couple watching her, laughing at her performance. And there is this beautiful moment of recognition of not only her talent and the joy she is bringing to others, but that he may have been wrong in judging her. There is no doubt a long road still ahead, but this was a wonderful first step in their relationship.

4. Rebecca sings and Jack cries (This is Us) jack cries

In an episodes that shows the couple taking a road trip and slowly and surely falling in love, the final scene is a truly moving moment that showcased why these two souls were meant to be together. Earlier on their trip the two danced and Jack revealed that he never cried as he had to learn to bury his emotions when dealing with his father, while Rebecca went to a music producer full of hope that they may sign her to a record deal. When he picks up her, disappointed that her trip proved fruitless, we see that it did not for they had bonded and connected in a way that has changed their lives forever. As he called her “Bec,” something she had never been called that fell off his tongue naturally, he asks to hear her song. And while her insecurities are still fresh, she begins to sweetly sing her song, and Jack is so moved that tears fall from his eyes. This was the moment that was the end of life as they knew it. And that it came from something as simple as a song and few tears shed from a heart being touched is simply beautiful.

3. Matthew and Diana pledge their love for each other (A Discovery of Witches) bismontbismont 2

It did not take long for this witch and vampire to fall in love and when they did, they fell completely and deeply, forging an unbreakable bond- and two lovely moments epitomized this bond, the gravity of what they meant seen through the brilliant chemistry between Goode and Palmer and the aesthetics and specific aspects of their scenes. In the first, Matthew kisses her deeply for the first time after she recuperated from an overwhelming use of her magic, letting her know his feelings through his kiss and his action of taking her hand as they head to his home for safety. The second is when they undeniably express their love for one another, Matthew coming back to her and pledging that from that moment one they shall be one, intertwining their hands together and capturing her lips in a ardent kiss. It was an exquisite expression of love and devotion that only the finest performances and film making can accomplish.

2. A Final Mission/Montage (Timeless) timeless 4

When the series finale jumped ahead to see what the future held for the Time Team family, it was filled with heartfelt and moving moments from seeing how far Rufus and Jiya have gone in their careers, still happy and in love, to Lucy and Wyatt, happily married, living their best lives career wise and with twins named Amy and Flynn. How could one not shed tears over this. But it was their final mission to make sure Flynn still went on his journey in the same way- and yet it’s different, for there is more hope there. And as the musical montage began it was utter perfection. As said in the 2018 Year in Review: Favorite Television of the Year, ” The show’s ending montage set to Joseph William Morgan’s cover of the song “Time After Time” resulted in many a tear, as we watched the beautiful journey of all of these characters through time: The love, the loss, the strength, the courage, the perseverance, the belief in each other, and the hope for a beautiful future where history is not forgotten, but preserved, and learned from laying the foundation for whatever is yet to be. And above all you see that history is made up not only of events but people. In this case it’s a about professors, scholars, soldiers, scientists , inventors, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons. Heroes.  This moment was a exquisite showcase of what makes this show so profound, special, and above all Timeless.”

1. Emma and Killian’s happy ending with daughter Hope (Once Upon a Time) cs hope

In the final episode of the series, it was only fitting that much of the centerpiece of its final moments focused on the character whose journey started it all. Emma Swan and her husband Killian Jones may have gotten their happy beginning at the end of the previous season, but the show could not end with seeing their happy ending, as it not only encapsulates the end of an exquisite fairy tale but also what the show has always embodied. For it is ever apropos for two characters who found True Love and overcame even the darkest of times – and for the show’s main character- to name their daughter after the show’s most steadfast theme: Hope. In a world of their own, Emma and Killian loving looked down at their baby girl and gently leaned their heads against each other, as Emma took a contented breath in a well deserved moment of utter solace and joy with Hope in their hearts and their arms. It was a gloriously beautiful and perfect moment and last page in a truly magical storybook of the happiest ending of all.

2018 Year in Review: Favorite Television of the Year

Getting back into Year in Reviews after a break last year, 2018 in television was one filled with wonder with shows new and old. Some ending, some just beginning to intrigue us, some continuing to delight us after a few seasons. One thing all these have in common is that they brought a lot of warmth, heart, intrigue, tears and happiness to our screens. These are my Top 10 Favorites for 2018.

10. Christmas Made for TV Movies of Hallmark and Lifetimechristmas moviesChristmas films on television have been a staple of the season and more and more seem to be made every year. We know they can be predictable, filled with common romantic tropes, and may be a little corny. But in today’s day in age, these can be welcome and lovely things and that is often what these films provide: sweet and heartfelt escapism wrapped in cozy and festive warmth. In this year’s abundance of holiday fare, 5 in particular stood out.

A Veteran’s Christmas re-pairs Eloise Mumford and Sean Faris who co-starred in another favorite Christmas With Holly. This story follows a Marine recently returning home, unsure of her place and missing her dog who was part of her canine unit, who stumbles into a small town and falls in love with a kind judge and the entire town who embraces her. It’s a tender and sweet story and the two actors play beautifully off each other. And any true dog lover will no doubt shed tears at its happy conclusion.

Christmas Pen Pals stars Sarah Drew and Niall Matter who have a sweet chemistry and play former college sweethearts who both sign up for a holiday Pen Pal project in their hometown. It’s a lovely little story with a very romantic tone and fine acting.

Christmas Perfection with Caitlin Thompson and James Henri-Thomas is cute as can be, romantic and truly, truly funny. For the Captain Swan fans out there, I felt like I was watching a CS AU come to life to a degree so I was in heaven. But even without that comparison, it’s an absolutely delightful gem following a woman who is obsessed with having everything perfect including a little Christmas village she puts up every year. When she and her best friend argue over her need for perfection she suddenly wakes up in her village, where it’s Christmas every day, her parents are back together and everyone is Irish! What follows is pure, silly, but perfect Christmas perfection.

Once Upon a Christmas Miracle is based on a true story of a young woman who needs an organ transplant and miraculously find a donor from a stranger whom she then forms a strong connection with. It’s a sweet and moving story, made ever the more lovely because it’s based on two real people. True kindness and sacrifice can come from anywhere and it’s a beautiful reminder than can restore your faith in the humanity of others.

And lastly, Christmas at Pemberley Manor is a light take on the Pride and Prejudice story made enjoyable by its warmth, sweet take on the classic story and likable actors Michael Rady and Jessica Lowndes. In keeping in the Christmas mood I must also recommend the other past Christmas films with Rady, whom is wonderful in all he does, Christmas in Homestead and A Joyous Christmas. While Lowndes is equally lovely in the ever romantic December Bride which pairs her with When Calls the Heart’s ever talented and handsome Daniel Lissing.

9. Happy TogetherhappyIt’s been a while since I’ve found a comedy that is light and sweet and truly makes me laugh out loud. What I want most when watching a sitcom however is to feel happy watching it, and just like its namesake, I most certainly do. A great deal of this show’s charm is due in no small part to the its leads, the hilarious and charming Damon Wayans Jr. (whom I just adore in everything he does) and Amber Stevens West, an equally funny and effervescent scene partner. The two play a happily married couple who are simply adorable in that they feel like a real couple in their natural chemistry and attempts to seem cool for their house guest, an Australian pop star they open their home up to when he wants to feel normalcy in his life. Rounding out the laughs come from Stephanie Weir and Victor Williams who play West’s parents, two doctors with no filter and a lot of time on their hands now that they’re retired. The show is wacky but heartfelt and always leaves me feeling good. I hope more audiences discover this show because it’s a sheer delight.

8. Fuller Housefuller

Getting back into form, the fourth season of the Netflix family comedy was filled with lots of heart, more wacky adventures from the “She-Wolf” pack, DJ and Steve finally trying to make it work as a couple complete with a fun little musical number (DJ and Steve 4ever!) and hilarity and tenderness with Kimmy acting as Stephanie’s surrogate. Other highlights included Danny going back to Wake Up San Francisco with Rebecca, replacing the egotistical male co-host, Jesse embracing being a stay at home father, and Charlie’s Angels’s themed “70s” cruise on the SS Papouli (a sweet nod to the great grandfather from the original series). What makes Fuller House work is that it does not take itself too seriously, but rather unabashedly embraces its corniness. But what made this season enjoyable was that, like it did in Season 1, when it had its more serious moments, there was so sign of parody or goofiness- in particular when Kimmy gives birth with Stephanie right beside her to welcome her baby into the world, and when DJ’s middle boy Max, known for his one liners and over top antics, shares a very grounded and moving moment about deeply missing his father. Fuller House remains a welcome little gem.

7. The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselmaiselFull disclosure, when the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel was released at that end of 2018, I binged watched the first and second season in extremely quick succession, so this praise is a bit about both seasons. Forever a fan of Amy Sherman Pallidino’s Gilmore Girls, I am not surprised how much I adore this similarly fast talking, delightful, colorful and sweet, meaningful and poignant, funny and effervescent, female empowering, and yes completely marvelous, series. Each episode is like stepping into a candy colored, bubbly musical time machine to the 1960s which is fun and lively, but not without turmoil or drama. At times it feels heightened in true Pallidino style, at other times completely grounded in very real, relatable truths about life. The best comedians are ones that observe life and can find humor in the everyday, and that is what Miriam, aka Midge does, who stumbles into comedy after her husband leaves her out of the blue and she learns to picks herself up and discovers even more about herself along the way. She has to fight to be accepted and that is something that a modern audience can still relate to. Led by incredible Rachel Brosnahan, the show’s second season continues on what season 1 so well established, but continues to grow and evolve as Midge struggles in finding her place while not losing what is important to her, while her family is dealing with their own issues that relate not only to Midge but their own journeys in life. It’s lovely and fun, moving and marvelous! p.s can we please bring back the name Midge, because it’s too cute.

6. This is UsThis Is Us - Season 2For fans of This is Us, 2018 will always be the year that finally revealed how Jack Pearson died, and it was as heartbreaking and tough to watch as we imagined. The cause was something so trivial as a malfunctioning crock pot, but the reason was something that is embedded into Jack’s character- putting others and what they care about above himself, even sacrificing his own safety. And the fact that it was delayed, giving the Pearson’s (and the audience) a false sense of peace and relief made it all the more devastating. And it’s the moment that Rebecca’s learns and sees her husband is gone that will remain one of the most heart wrenching (and brilliantly performed of the series). But Jack’s death wasn’t the only thing that was profound about This is Us in 2018. On the contrary, each and every interweaving and multi-generational storyline was captivating to watch, from the beginning of Rebecca and Jack’s love story, to his time in Vietnam with his brother, to Kate and Toby’s journey to have a child, and their individual journeys dealing with job woes and depression, to Randall and Beth’s struggles as they foster a child and begin and end careers, to Kevin’s evolving film career and desire to learn more about his father, and to the mysterious twists and time jumps, the lives of the Pearson family remain ones that are ever relatable and moving.

5. The Good PlaceThe Good Place - Season 2The Good Place is one of the cleverest, funniest, sweetest and most profound shows on television, with one of its finest qualities being that in its absurdity lies relatable truths and complexities about choices, free will, and the human condition- with both characters that are and are not human, which is remarkable. It tugs at our heartstrings and makes us laugh so hard we cry. The cast is absolutely stellar and hilarious while managing to infuse authenticity in the more grounded moments with each other- in both season 2 and 3- especially as this group travels back to earth and must learn about themselves and what it means to be, most especially, an empathetic person. Like Michael Shur’s previous shows, this series, infuses heart and realism, in this case despite the concept, and everyone who watches is all the better for it. The Good Place is utter joy.

4. ManifestManifest - PilotIntriguing, melancholy, gripping, and thought provoking, the comparisons to LOST were inevitable, but let it be said that Manifest is its own show and one that mixes and perfectly balances unexplained phenomena, crime procedural and family drama, matched with an impressive cast led but the wonderful Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh as brother and sister Ben and Michaela Stone, who returned home to a world that had changed so much. Of course we all want to know what happened to Flight 828 that caused them to somehow become lost in time to the rest of the world and lose 5 years. Ben and his son return to a family that grieved and grew and learned to move on, Michalea heartbreakingly returned to learn the man she was planning to marry, has now married her best friend. Ben’s son Cal, who had been suffering from cancer, returns home and miraculously begins responding to treatment. But in truth it’s not just the Stone family drama that leaves us so captivated. It’s also the questions of what caused this anomaly and is there some grand conspiracy behind everything? But most especially one of the most profound aspects of Manifest is that it leaves the audience with the question of “what if?” What if you returned to a world much changed and how to do begin to live your life again where it feels like you have been left behind or no longer fit? And if you are beginning to feel a purpose (which we see in the callings each of the passengers experiences) in a way that cannot rationally be explained, do you follow or fight it? The contrasting perspectives of Ben and Michaela, and the ways they all seem connected showcase these questions beautifully and intriguingly so, and make this show not only one of the best new shows, but best overall shows of the year.

3. A Series of Unfortunate EventseventsThe Netflix original series based on the children’s books of the same name is dark and filled with gruesome scenarios that befall the unfortunate Baudelaire orphans, and yet it remains sweet and touching. If you are a fan of the series Pushing Daisies, you will no doubt enjoy this one as well as it is not only similar in tone and visuals, but it also shares director and executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld. The first season was incredible and so too was 2018’s second season. The highlights of the series include a steampunk-esque visual feast for the eyes, its intelligent writing, which actually gives you vocabulary lessons in each episode in a way that is so entertaining you crave it, hilarious absurdity, and an amazing cast of both leads (led by incredible Neil Patrick Harris and the fantastic group of Baudelaire siblings Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes and Pressley Smith) and guest stars (which in Season 2 includes Nathan Fillion, Tony Hale and Sara Rue.) The story of the Baudelaire children may be an unfortunate one but you will not want to “look away” as the theme song and narrator (the wonderfully sardonic Patrick Warburton) often advises the audience to do. Instead you find yourself deeply invested and rooting for these children who are wise, mature and intelligent beyond their years not only in terms of being well read and clever but emotionally as well. The three all have their special strengths that they utilize as they continuously must escape the clutches of Count Olaf surrounded by people who will not always listen, while trying to maintain their own courage, faith and humanity. The contrast of the absurd situations, breathtaking visuals and profound meaning of this material is astonishing. And having watched Season 3 already, it’s an indisputable truth that A Series of Unfortunate Events will also be on next year’s list for the best in television.

2. A Discovery of WitcheswotchesWith the exception of the show that is at #1 on this list, it’s been a long time, since a series has so quickly and thoroughly captivated me from the very beginning. Between the amazing cast, beautifully locales and exquisite cinematography, there is so much to be mesmerized by. Although I have watched similar media at times, I would never call myself someone who LOVES witches or vampires or the supernatural the way some do, but perhaps that is because, while A Discovery of Withes is undoubtedly about witches, vampires and demons existing right alongside side us who are completely unaware of their existence, in truth these really feel like a metaphor for what every human can experience, relate to, or sympathize with: fear, prejudice, courage, friendship and above all else love. For this show is about learning to cast aside those fears and prejudices and learn that we all equal, because we all can universally understand the desire and right to be accepted and loved. And this series is most especially a love story- a kind of Romeo and Juliet love story between a witch and a vampire, two species who have always been on opposite, adversarial sides, who are instantly drawn to each other and form a unbreakable bond and love that transcends all, and defies obstacles, and proves that LOVE knows no bounds. The love story between Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont is already a beautiful and profound one that I am certain will continue to enthrall in the coming seasons as there will be one for each of Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy. Both strong, passionate characters, who are surrounded by equally enthralling characters, Diana and Matthew love and protect each other with and open heart, a mutual respect and admiration, and a strength to overcome all that might separate them, because blood may be crave worthy, and fear may be easier than bravery, but love is what truly satiates every thirst or desire, fuels our inner courage, and ignites our very souls.

1. TimelesstimelessTimeless is a magical show. And although 2018 brought the series to a close, it will live on in a way that is immeasurable. This series is the perfect blend of adventure, history, humor, drama and mystery with amazing characters and relationships. Timeless brings history to life with both well known figures, but also nuances and individuals who are not, illuminating eras and inspiring people, while managing to enthrall its audience, never going for cheap shocks but rather interesting twists. It’s a labyrinth of wonder and the way it continued in 2018 with its second season was the most magical part of television in 2018. Season 2 may have done some things a bit differently with a bit less focus on the “Time Team” unit together on missions, but the individuals highlighted such as Hedy Lamarr, Alice Paul and Robert Johnson, and evolving relationships still remained the heartbeat of the show, encapsulated in the series finale movie where saving Rufus was paramount, Wyatt and Lucy finally came together in love and Flynn went on his incredible final journey of heroics and redemption- all of which were not only captivating but so moving. The show’s ending montage set to Joseph William Morgan’s cover of the song “Time After Time” resulted in many a tear, as we watched the beautiful journey of all of these characters through time: The love, the loss, the strength, the courage, the perseverance, the belief in each other, and the hope for a beautiful future where history is not forgotten, but preserved, and learned from laying the foundation for whatever is yet to be. And above all you see that history is made up not only of events but people. In this case it’s a about professors, scholars, soldiers, scientists, inventors, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons. Heroes.  This moment was a exquisite showcase of what makes this show so profound, special, and above all Timeless.

2016 Year in Review: Best Televison Relationships

1. Emma Swan and Killian Jones (Once Upon a Time) cheek

Every so often a fictional couple comes along that captures our imagination, touching our hearts in immeasurable ways. For the past four years the brave and fiercely loving Savior and Pirate have grown and evolved tremendously both individually and as a couple and in 2016 they only further demonstrated how their story is one of the most beautiful depictions of true love ever. And it’s true love in its most exquisite form – the epitome of an unbreakable, unshakable, and powerful bond showing that true love in its truest form is the sum of many things that when can combined can be truly remarkable. For what is true love? It’s emotion and an entity. True Love is the most powerful thing in the world. It is never easy but must always be fought for. It’s overcoming impossible odds and finding joy in the simple quiet moments. When you find your one true love they are the person who makes your heart pound and breath catch, while also feeling safe, serene and comforted. They are the person you want to kiss with passion or tenderness, laugh with, cry with, and hold tightly in your arms and never let go. They’re the person who always knows the right thing to say, can sense when something is wrong, and can tell you so much without a single word. They are the person who inspires you to be the best version of yourself, encourages you and never lets you doubt your self-worth. They’re the one you can truly be vulnerable with, who brings down the walls that guard your heart, for they are the person you would give your whole heart to. You will walk through Hell for them, do anything to protect and sacrifice everything for to ensure their happiness or well-being no matter the cost to yourself. Your True Love is the person you choose to walk hand-in-hand with through life because when you do it feels like home. Is there not a more perfect way to describe what Emma and Killian have grown to become to each other?

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From the moment Emma marched into the Underworld to save Killian, declaring the steadfast motto “I will always find you” it was clear that both emotionally and narratively that this was undeniably true love. The Savior who always helps others find their happy endings was fighting for her own. But both Emma and Killian have become a pristine example of a quote from Lao Tzu, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” What they felt in their hearts was officially confirmed for the Gods themselves not by a kiss but by a choice – and one that was about sparing the other from great pain. And when it seemed as if this was goodbye forever they solidified that love with tearful and selfless promises and literally feeling and sensing each other across not just realms but also death. And when Killian miraculously returned to where Zeus himself deemed “where he belongs ” it was back into Emma’s loving arms. After going through such insurmountable odds in an truly epic part of their story, they also showcased true love in their more joyful moments as Emma happily expressed her love in a moment of normalcy, let go of her fears of an uncertain future asking him to move in with her, and overcame secrets with understanding and compassion as they’re based out of protection and the desire for the happiness of each other. And importantly they reminded each other just how remarkable they are not only to each other but as people, as Emma reminded Killian that he is a hero, worthy of being saved and needs to forgive himself on his own, while Killian reminded her that she is the product of true love but also a person who is just as wonderful and strong as her parents who can truly overcome anything in a deeply romantic moment where Killian reads Emma the story of her and her parents, able to steady her trembling hand, kissing it with reverence. Just like the love that Emma and Killian embody that is the sum of many attributes, so too is the nature of their story, beautiful not just because of one single thing but because of everything which holds an integral piece to their relationship – the writing, the narrative, and the performances by Jennifer Morrison and Colin O’Donoghue who this past year were deeply profound in both grand moments and ones of lovely subtlety  and remarkably gorgeous in their authenticity. In each scene you can feel every heartbeat from the hearts they are willing to share, sacrifice that are indelibly entwined in the deepest way possible. There’s sure to be so many more milestones, moments of epicness and battles, and ones of tender intimacy in 2017, with a relationship that is truly special. It is a beautiful blend of fairy tale familiarity and modern-day sensibilities. Emma and Killian enchant our hearts, move our souls, and create a tale that is one of the most glorious to ever grace our lives in a story book that will remain exquisitely beautiful and profound long after we’ve reached the final page.

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2. Lucy Preston, Wyatt Logan and Rufus Carlin (Timeless)timeless2timeless

The time team as they’ve come to be known could not be more different. Lucy is a historian and professor, Wyatt is a soldier, while Rufus is a scientist and pilot to the time travel machine. Lucy is kind and fiercely intelligent, used to a world of academia, Wyatt is stoic, determined and often single-minded, while Rufus is likewise vastly intelligent and ingenious. Despite their differences they also share some significant commonalities. In truth they are all intelligent and resourceful,each offering something important to the team. And all our brave, heroic and loyal. Within the group there are some wonderful dynamics – Lucy and Wyatt’s burgeoning romance, Lucy and Rufus’ is growing friendship and Wyatt and Rufus’ strong understanding of each other. But it’s the three of them together that are truly a joy to watch, often funny and heartfelt as they go from time to time encountering history with awe and reverence and learning to work together for a common goal even when they disagree. It’s touching to see how quickly they’ve all grown to deeply care for one another, and relate to each other with compassion which is a testament to the narrative, and the wonderful performances by Abigail Spencer, Malcom Barrett, and Matt Lanter. The embraces, the laughter, the willingness to face death for each other and the ways they hold hands while the future they are returning to might be vastly different demonstrates that theme that people from all walks of life can come together and form even the most unlikeliest of friendships and come out the other side stronger and better from having known each other. I eagerly anticipate many more adventures from this fantastic trio as they continue on a journey of themes that are truly timeless.

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3. Eleven, Mike, Dustin, Lucas (Stranger Things)strangerstranger1

Growing up one of my favorite films was The Goonies. I love the adventures and relationships between the group of best friends. One of the things I love about Stranger Things is the similarities between this group of kids to that of The Goonies: Both taking on truly scary and bad people and relying on each other above all else, while are all smart and quick thinking, all deeply caring (but show it in different ways) and often have penchant for recklessness and profanity. But make no mistake my love of the similarities doesn’t mean these kids are mere carbon copies. On the contrary each has their own personality and strength, while the way the boys help and embrace Eleven is something unique, poignant and touching. They make me laugh with the way they relate to each other, cheer at their courage against frightening government agents and a terrifying monster, and cry with their demonstrations of true devotion and friendship that always is believable and moving. Sometimes I cry and laugh at the same time – something only the best of stories can evoke. And the moment when bullies are beaten, Mike is saved by Eleven and Dustin yells “She’s our friend and she’s crazy” is a perfect example of this. In the end, what this group shows is that children should never be underestimated, ignored, or used. They can sometimes be the bravest, smartest and most loving people imaginable. 2017 will surely bring more dangers and I look forward to more humor and heart from the kids who have learned to play a real life strange and dangerous game of Dungeons & Dragons.

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4. Lorelai Gilmore and Luke Danes (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life)lorelai-lukelorelai-luke1

In terms of true love and romance Lorelai and Luke were always the cornerstone couple of the Gilmore Girls. From best friends to lovers, two committed partners, these two had many ups and downs but came back together in series finale. But the divisive the final season only left so much time to arrive at said reconciliation so there were many things that fans never got to see. Despite its imperfections, when it comes to the Luke and Lorelai relationship in A Year in the Life it was beautiful, emotionally satisfying, consistent in the characterizations, and everything we could’ve hoped for. What makes this couple so wonderful is their humor and heart, and the way they hilariously banter back and forth like a couple from classic cinema, understand and support each other, work through arguments, and most importantly demonstrate that love and relationships can be difficult but in the end are worth it. Feelings of complacency and identity were what their story entailed in 2016 and it was believable, sweet and touching because in the end we see a couple truly devoted to loving each other and making each other happy. Wonderful moments abound, the two that will surely remain in our hearts forever are the whimsical wedding montage, a dream of a scene complete with the tear inducing inclusion of the song “Reflecting Light “which was played when Luke and Lorelai shared their first dance, and Luke’s speech about his commitment and willingness to do whatever it takes to save the relationship not knowing it needed no saving. Lorelai wanted to get married. These two prove that struggles can be overcome, that day-to-day life whether it’s grand or simple can be fulfilling, and that the strongest relationships are about devotion, trust, honesty and a great sense of humor.

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5. The Pearson Family (This Is Us)us.gifus1

It seems so rare nowadays to see families portrayed as genuinely close, caring, protective, and good, where family dinners and get-togethers are important, wanted and looked forward to, with just their day-to-day lives which include phone calls, lunches and support, are natural and unforced. The Pearson family may not be perfect – they fight and argue and disagree sometimes on big issues- but at the end of the day we see that in both the past and the present, there is nothing more important than family. From parent/child relationships, to the close-knit sibling bond of the affectionately titled “Big Three,” the Pearsons bring us the kind of warmth, poignancy, affectionate dynamics that many audiences have been yearning for, breathing beautiful life into the stories that bring us to tears on a weekly basis, and warm our hearts in ways that are deeply affecting.

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6. Killian Jones and Henry Mills (Once Upon a Time)cap cobra.gif

One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Once Upon a Time is the way family dynamics are varied and purposefully are breaking the mold of traditional family dynamics of fairy tales with Henry’s ever-growing family. Like the traditional fairy tales, in the show we have seen deceased biological parents and evil stepparents. But what Once Upon a Time does so well is that it takes these traditional premises and expands and alters them in great ways. Natural parents are alive, the evil stepparent changes and does good, and we see adoption and friends included showing that families need not be defined merely by blood. The relationship between Killian and Henry has been a growing favorite of mine the past three years with fun and heartwarming moments between Emma’s two true love’s – from sailing trips and nautical lessons, rogue and daring rescue missions, to the special Operation Light Swan, a house and promise for a happy future for Emma. But 2016 delved into a new territory that was not only significant and poignant but natural and realistic. Yes there were moments like we’ve seen before – special Operations to help find happy endings, help save others, help save Emma, and there were moments of heartache where leaving Killian behind in The Underworld caused a look of heartbreak on Henry’s face. But what was lovely and meaningful way that this year also truly developed the future step father and stepson bond, with an entire episode revolving around the conflict and resolution that faces many blended families today. Henry had always gotten along well with Killian, but it’s very different when your mother is now living with her romantic partner. It’s a big change and they handled this in a way that felt authentic to what a boy Henry’s age would feel – uncertain, wanting to lash out, even saying hurtful things they don’t mean. But in the end Henry realizes how much Killian loves his mother and how he cares more for Henry’s well-being and safety than his own. Henry will always miss his father and no one can replace him, and while he already has a large extended family with mothers and grandparents, it was lovely to see that family tree grow a branch in the young boy’s eyes to include a man whose heart is filled with such genuine affection for his true love and her son, as well as an evolving and positive depiction of a future step parent and child relationship, something television definitely needs to see more of and Once Upon a Time shows so beautifully.

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7. Lucifer Morningstar and Chloe Decker (Lucifer)deckerstardeckerstar1

This pair has so many classic characteristics from the get-go: witty and sharp banter, often flirty or filled with tension, humor or exasperation with each other that masks deeper underlying feelings, two people who are guarded learning to become vulnerable because of each other, and a kind of instinctual, deep connection. In many ways they remind me of our number 1 Pick, Emma and Killian, and that should be considered the highest praise. But Chloe and Lucifer are also very unique most of all because, well, he’s the Devil. How many shows have a Devil who’s in the body of a dashingly  handsome man, helping solve crimes with a courageous and caring detective who was the one person he cannot read like he does others, and consequently the one person who changes his entire world. No one else would have him promise to return to Hell just to keep her safe. With a palpable chemistry between Tom Ellis and Lauren German, their relationship is still growing and it could go down some dark paths, but the fantastic combination of a classic, romantic couple who solve crimes with a fantastical element and touch of destiny and love of Biblical proportions is absolutely fantastic.

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7. Peggy Carter and Daniel Sousa (Agent Carter)peggy daniel1.gif

In the first season of this period adventure series, there was definitely a connection between these two agents, but Peggy was still grieving over Steve, wanting to protect what was left of him, that love was not something she was ready for. But in 2016 in the show’s second and final season, romance was certainly in the air. And while their affections were torn between each other and scientist JasonWilkes and nurse Violet, it was clear that Daniel was always the one who was Peggy’s true match. The relationship is built on mutual respect, trust, and a real chemistry and spark with charming and magnetic performances by Atwell and Gjokaj. Seeing these two crazy kids realize just how much they care for each other was equally sweet and touching – the kind of great relationship tension where you were just yelling at your TV screen to “just kiss already!”And after Peggy and Daniel showed that they would risk their lives for each other, the audience got their wish when they finally came together with a passionate kiss. This was pure happiness and while we don’t know for sure, in my mind Daniel is the man Peggy married and continued to inspire others and help combat evil, fighting alongside him and forming the SHIELD agency. These two are as perfect a duo as there ever was.

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8. Snow White and Prince Charming (Once Upon a Time)snowing

In 2016, the original true love couple, and still one of the main reasons the show remain so magical and a pillar of a beautiful sense of hope and fairy tale sweetness, were able to demonstrate once again what true love really means in ways like we’ve always seen for the couple as well as new and poignant twist on their story. While on a journey to the Underworld it was touching not only to see that steadfast devotion to each other and belief of “always find each other” but to also see them provide their daughter with a sense of hope. They also gave Killian a great gift in their willingness to find and save him, accepting him into their family. Their love gives their daughter hope and inspiration and now their epic fairy tale intertwines with the product of their true love. The reading of their story was such a touching reminder of how special the Snow White and Prince Charming fairy tale is in a time when they once again proved the strength of their bond in new and meaningful ways. With the sharing of hearts came the sharing of a sleeping curse which is yet to be broken. And while their faith may be wavering their love for each other remains as strong as ever – taking care of their son, leaving each other notes, keeping watch over their beloved as they sleep. I believe they will soon break this curse. True love will never falter in the end. Because any couple who discovers they had a connection long before they realized, in a moment based on respect, belief in each other, and feeling as if they were not alone in the world, that can create a first spark of true love, and a sapling, is as magical as it gets.

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(Tie) 10. “DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy “The She-Wolf Pack” (Fuller House) she-wolf

Positive friendships and sibling relationships are special and when I see them in film and TV I am happy. What makes the relationship between DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy (2 sisters and 1 best friend) but in truth all one part of a larger family and affectionately self dubbed “She-Wolf pack,” so wonderful is that it’s about three women who all genuinely love, support and respect each other. Much like the original series where Jesse and Joey moved in to help Danny with his kids, Stephanie and Kimmy are doing the same for DJ. But she reciprocates that support to her sister and best friend, and the three together are not only a joy to watch but represent something rare in TV these days – a heartwarming, funny, touching relationship between women who always have each other’s backs and will do so with compassion, honesty, and a great sense of humor. I know I personally relate to this relationship more so than other harsher and snarkier friendships we see. This family is undeniably wholesome but no less realistic and relatable.

(Tie) 10. Peggy Carter and Edwin Jarvis (Agent Carter)peggy jarvis.gif

Such a wonderful friendship indeed, just like the first season, when these two are together there is fun to be seen, sometimes tears to be shed, and smiles to be shown. No two represent the witty and nostalgia Agent Carter embodies more so than Peggy and Jarvis. But once again this year showed the beauty of the platonic love that can exist between a man and a woman. There was never a sense of romance between them, but their chemistry was amazing because it represents something different but no less special and important. They will hold each other’s hand in comfort when they need it, encourage each other, and fight alongside each other, always with a wittiness and realness that will be deeply missed each week.

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Honorable Mentions
11. Liv Moore, Clive Babineaux , Ravi Chakrabarti, Major Lilywhite, Peyton Charles (iZombie)
Admittedly I adore every relationship within this dark and funny drama, but when all of the characters work together and interact with each other something really amazing happens. They may all be quite different but they truly show that these differences mean nothing in the grand scheme of things especially when a zombie attack may be on the horizon and two of their own are zombies themselves. As we saw in the Season 2 finale, when everyone finally knew the truth and they all work together, we see that they are stronger together than apart. If a zombie apocalypse was here this are the team I would want on the job.

12. The Crawley Family (Downton Abbey)
In 2016 we bid a reluctant farewell to the residents of Downton Abbey both upstairs and downstairs. While they may be a differences in stations, when it comes to the Crawley clan, especially in this last season, everyone feels like one big family filled with everything you expect – love, support, disagreements and resolutions. From the health scare of Lord Crawley, to the weddings of Lady Edith, Lady Mary and Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, to the return of Tom, to Anna and Bates finally having a baby, to Thomas finding place, and Lady Grantham’s ever wit and wisdom, I came to think of every character as a member of the Crawley family and found it hard to say goodbye. But perhaps it is merely “till we meet again” because their lives will go on and we’re lucky to have witnessed so much. Tears and smiles were abundant in 2016 and hopefully there’s more to come in the future for this wonderful family.

 

2016 Year in Review: Best Television Characters/Performances

Top 5 Female Characters/Performances

1. “Eleven” portrayed by Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things)eleven

From the moment Eleven stepped onto the screen barefoot and wide-eyed, I knew this was going to be quite the character. A resonant, captivating character indeed, and a remarkable performance, Brown was 11 years old herself when she filmed the first season of this nostalgic show, as the sufferer abuse and control, but strong and fierce child “Eleven.” As the girl with powers of telepathy and telekinesis, Brown exhibits a talent and depth well beyond her years and beautifully showcases Eleven’s signs of trauma, her bravery, and her vulnerabilities with such stunning believability proving that you can be moving with very few words. From the moments skittishness, fear and sadness as she escapes from her captors, to learning what a friend is and wondering if she needs a wig to be “still pretty,” to the intensity of her saving her friends from the “bad men,” bullies, and ultimately a terrifying monster, Brown is an absolute revelation, and Eleven a character of great heart and strength despite her circumstances. And she deserves all the Eggos her brave soul desires.

2. “Emma Swan” portrayed by Jennifer Morrison (Once Upon a Time)emma

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2016 was in an intense year for Emma Swan filled with heartache, love, and the truth about the fate of all Saviors which manifested itself with tremors and disturbing visions of her impending death, making her hope for her own a happy ending seem like an elusive dream. And yet through it all she remains courageous and noble, finding that fight within herself and a desire to embrace the happiness and beauty of the present without the fear of the future. She embraced love with all of her heart, ready to share it with the man she now knows is her true love, said a heartbreaking goodbye to him and then was miraculously reunited, and in the end was finally able to tell him she loved him in a moment of normalcy – a huge step for her character. We may not have seen the duality the Dark Swan arc gave us, but Morrison was no less brilliant, exquisite, and touching especially in moments that demonstrated very raw and vulnerable emotions of love and courage with her two true loves. As Emma said goodbye to Killian for what she believed to be the last time, Morrison brought such a powerful sense of heartbreak and selflessness wanting him to move on and be at peace. And when she tries to comfort her son Henry who was fearing his mother’s impending death and blaming himself for her fate, she showcased the bravery of a mother shouldering the sadness and fear for the sake of their child. One could not help but be moved and astounded at the unencumbered joy of seeing her true love Killian come back to life, the sweetness and softness of the way she finally asked him to move in with her, and the way she works through her trembling hand tremors and grabs the sword then fated to kill her, ready to fight for her future. And I eagerly anticipate watching Emma’s continued journey of what it means to be a Savior and her finding her way towards her own happy ending in 2017. Through her tears, smiles, and fierceness we see that Emma, and Morrison’s performance, remains one of the most beautiful, brilliant and remarkably moving of all time.

3. “Lorelai Gilmore” portrayed by Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life)lorelai

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As someone who watched and adored Gilmore Girls during its initial run and has watched the reruns frequently, I was anticipating the revival of the series with fervor and excitement; and when it came to Lorelai’s character and Graham’s performance, A Year in the Life did not disappoint. I may have had some issues with the revival, but not with our beloved Lorelai. Just like the original series, she was relatable, likable, funny and touching. Lorelai is a type of woman who is far from perfect but we still admire tremendously. She is strong, but not too proud, and a woman who makes mistakes but learns from them and overcomes them with authenticity and warmth. Dealing with the loss for father, tensions with her mother and daughter, and a feeling of complacency and uncertainty in her romantic life, her journey was beautiful and touching and Graham seamlessly slips back into the role as if it was yesterday that she was in Lorelai’s fast talking, coffee guzzling shoes. Many wonderful moments abound, it was her phone call to her mother about her best memory of her father that was the most poignantly performed and one that I will not long forget.

4. “Lucy Preston” portrayed by Abigail Spencer (Timeless)lucy

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Stepping into different time periods each week must be great fun for an actress, from adapting a different persona and manners to the vastly different costumes. These are just one small part of why I love Timeless and its characters, most especially our lead heroine. What makes Lucy such a wonderful character is her intelligence, her reverence and awe of history, her caring heart, her tenacity, and her courage. Each person in the Timeless team serves a purpose and Lucy is arguably the most crucial as they rely on her vast knowledge and ability to adapt and think on her feet as they enter worlds so different than the one they live in. Suffering a great loss, Lucy remains steadfast in her determination amidst the uncertainty of the future they will return to. She is strong, smart and inspiring and the kind of real woman to look up. Showcasing that knowledge is indeed power, Spencer portrays Lucy with a grace and passion that is beautiful to witness.

5. “Liv Moore” portrayed by Rose McIver (iZombie)liv

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Getting to be essentially a different character each week is not only a wonderful opportunity for an actor to showcase their range, but also endlessly entertaining to watch. It takes an actor of high-caliber to showcase a new persona with each episode while keeping the essentials of their true character intact. McIver does this brilliantly,  making Liv’s suffering and strengths something we can all relate to despite the wildness of the situation. She may be a zombie but she is no less real in her relationship and personal struggles, and no less warm despite her less than alive state. And as far as each different brain she consumes, McIver continues to shine with varied material to sink her teeth into – pun intended – as Liv takes on the personalities this year of a the writer of erotic fiction, a pathological liar, a social media obsessed woman, and my favorite, the eternally positive owner of a coffee shop. Liv’s character and McIver’s performance is often funny and heartbreaking, brave and sweet, making her character feel as real and alive as any on television.

Honorable Mentions:
“Peggy Carter” portrayed by Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter)sunglasses

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In 2016 we bid a sad farewell  to one of my favorite shows and a character I find tremendously inspiring in so many ways. Peggy had mourned her great love, ready for romance once again, as an assignment to LA entangles her in a series of adventures and a very dangerous threat, and did so with the same intelligence, ingenuity and strength that makes her so unbelievably fantastic. The show may be over, but Atwell’s tenacious performance of the remarkable Agent Carter will live forever.

“Emily Gilmore” portrayed by Kelly Bishop (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life)emily

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Like Graham, Kelly  Bishop stepped back into the role of Gilmore matriarch Emily as if no time had passed. She went through quite the transformation as she grieves the loss of her beloved husband Richard and found a new lease on life with raw believability. Seeing her find a new “family “to look after it with the one maid she finally kept, to her finding a new understanding with her daughter and a new purpose and sense of self was such a joy to watch and something that could only be accomplished by someone aof Bishop’s talent. And her the moment she finally lets loose at the DAR will go down as one of Emily Gilmore’s crowning moments!

Top 5 Male Characters/Performances

1. “Jack Pearson” portrayed by Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)jack.gif

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Every single character on this moving family drama feels real, relatable and can illicit tears each and every episode; but if I were to choose my favorite it would be that of Jack,  the endlessly loving, stalwart, strong father and husband who always tried to do what was best for his family. Although he wasn’t perfect – dealing with the drinking problem early on, through him we see that personal demons can be overcome as he showed his family that with harsh realities and the simple every day conundrums, life can still be fun, beautiful and good. Ventimiglia has always always been so talented, but he has matured into such a performer of vitality, nuance and great warmth and portrays so beautifully who Jack is in his simplest form – a truly good man. With scenes with each of his three children he showcases the depths of his love for them, and the wisdom and comfort that we all long for in a father. He passionately loves his wife and endlessly loves his children and teaches us that the sourest lemon can inspire a strength we never knew we had. It makes the fact that his character is not alive the present-day hurt so much more, but ultimately appreciate witnessing the well lived life he had.

2. “Killian Jones” portrayed by Colin O’Donoghue (Once Upon a Time)killian.gif

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2016 began in a dark place for Killian Jones. After overcoming his demons and sacrificing himself to save Emma and his friends, believing he was helping destroy the darkness forever, Killian began the year trapped in the Underworld, being mercilessly tortured by the God of Death Hades. His suffering was acute, and his heroic status position was undeniably solidified, from helping another prisoner escape, to making sure Emma and her family could leave the Underworld even if he could not, to working with the man responsible for his death to help Emma and everyone defeat Hades. He proved to be a true hero once again and miraculously and was sent back to where he belonged- with his True Love Emma Swan. And given a second chance at life, he may not believe he is the hero he is, but further proves to be as he continues to atone for his past wrongs helping Belle, his long-lost brother, and working to become someone worthy of being a part of a family with Emma and Henry. It’s been truly amazing journey in 2016 for our dear Captain and O’Donoghue continues to breathe vigorous life into the dashing pirate hero with sincerity, brevity and great depth. All one has to do is watch the moment he says goodbye to Emma in the Underworld to understand his great talent. But in each and every scene we see that he can break our hearts one moment and make them soar the next, sometimes with a single look and I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings for his character. There will never be another Captain Hook quite like O’Donoghue’s Killian Jones.

3. “Lucifer Morningstar” portrayed by Tom Ellis (Lucifer)lucifer.gif

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There’s an old saying “the Devil made me do it” and when it comes to the title character of the Biblical procedural drama that phrase certainly applies. This Lucifer is a fascinating character. He is strikingly handsome, debonair and charismatic and has the ability to make people admit their deepest desires – all except one, and that is what fascinates him. The straight-laced, fiercely caring and brave detective Chloe Decker becomes his friend and partner, giving the character a perfect sparring partner. But on his own, Lucifer is layered and flawed as he becomes more and more like the humans he’s found a home with. And although his behavior is far from saintly and very much the devil may care attitude, he’s not evil. Rather, he wants to punish those who are, and while not admitting it, protect others as well. Quite the interesting take on the character, it’s very refreshing especially made that way by the magnetic and enthralling performance of Tom Ellis, who has a brilliant ability to let us see into his soul, sometimes with a single change in his expression. His eyes can go from manic and scary, to soft and suffering in the blink of an eye. This Lucifer can be funny, chilling, sympathetic and bring us to tears and that is an accomplishment of epic proportions.

4. “Randall Pearson” portrayed by Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)randall.gif

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Much like the other This Is Us character and performance on this list, Randall, portrayed by Sterling K. Brown, is above all a very good man and his performance is deeply real and moving. He always had to deal with things his siblings and not have to – not always feeling like he truly belonged with his family, wondering who his birth parents were, and not wanting to be different when he realized how smart he was. But just like his father Jack, this made him try even harder – to endeavor to be the best man he could be, and pour all of his love from his unbelievably strong and giving heart into his family. He works hard to be a good husband and father, demonstrates forgiveness towards the father who gave them up, and in a very heart-wrenching scene helped a coworker realize that ending his life will only hurt those he loves. Yet Randall is not perfect. When he learns about a lifelong secret from his mother he demonstrates that sometimes we can’t always forgive instantly, and when he and his brother Kevin fight, he recalls how he often felt like he wasn’t accepted. It’s all very touching and viscerally relatable with so much heart poured into the performance by Brown. There is not one false moment, and not one instant where you can’t empathize or completely understand what Randall’s going through with his family or himself. Brown is a gifted actor who exudes sincerity with every single breath.

5. “Rufus Carlin” portrayed by Malcolm Barrett (Timeless)rufus.gif

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I adore every character on this time traveling adventure series, but if I had to pick one favorite it would be the caring, vastly intelligent, often funny scientist and pilot Rufus. As mentioned early on, there is not a single point in American history that they could be traveling to that is going to be particularly kind to a black man. But that doesn’t deter him from risking his life for their missions and his new friends. He displays a great sense of morality not wanting to spy on Lucy and Wyatt, ingenuity and courage when each mission proves to be more difficult than last, and retains a sense of goodness despite everything. Rufus makes me laugh, cry and frankly sometimes I just want to hug him for his sense of true courage and friendship. It’s often his ideas that help bring them home, and from learning black-smithing in mere hours, to figuring out how to repair the damaged lifeboat, to saving his friends from being killed, to the simple gesture of helping a little girl reach a water fountain, and finally to him questioning his own character after shooting someone that was threatening them, Rufus is a character to love, admire and root for thanks in no small part to the genuineness from Barrett’s performance. He is simply fantastic and showcases a real sense of humor, authenticity and steadfast bravery into his character. I eagerly anticipate where Rufus travels to next.

Honorable Mentions:
“Ravi Chakrabarti” portrayed by Rahul Kohli (iZombie)ravi

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Ravi- the charming, funny, brilliant and brave Doctor is so much more than Liv’s trusted ally and closest friend. He’s even more than what could possibly be the zombie’s saving grace as he tirelessly is trying to find a cure for their condition. Ravi is a truly wonderful person. He is loyal and a good friend and someone who will fight even the darkest of villains even when he’s frightened or outgunned- the mark of true courage. My heart broke for him as the girl he pines for embraced another man, and when another said she’d never seen Star Wars – for shame! Rahul is completely charismatic, funny and sincere in his performance making Ravi’s one of this year’s brightest spots.

“Luke Danes” portrayed by Scott Patterson (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life)luke

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Like Graham and Bishop, Patterson stepped back into the role of Luke Danes with the greatest of ease as if time had not passed at all. Luke was always the character we rooted for as he was undeniably good, and steadfast, patiently waiting and willing to go above and beyond for the woman he loved. In A Year in the Life, not much has changed. He still has a bit of a curmudgeon in him, but still loves Lorelai deeply  and Rory as if she’s his own daughter, and still demonstrates a stalwart heart and determination. Like Lorelai, he makes mistakes, but there’s no better man in Stars Hollow than this man. And much like his speech when Roy was leaving college, his impassioned promise to Lorelai about willing to do anything to make their relationship the best it can be forever, will forever move me to tears while also bringing a smile to my face. And only Patterson can make a line like “the only way out is in a body bag” sound completely romantic.