It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – “Mac Finds His Pride” (B+) / season finale
It’s hard to know exactly how to grade this episode. Until its last act, it’s an odd mix of heartfelt character development and gross sight gags that don’t serve any purpose (and aren’t that funny). But its finale – a gorgeous, totally serious five-minute dance with Mac and an actual ballerina – is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen on TV, and not just this year. It’s a finale as jaw-dropping in its sudden left turn to the profound as Blackadder‘s last-ever episode.
The Good Place – “The Worst Possible Use of Free Will” (B+)
Ah, the fake clip show. Clever comedies know how to pull this off, because actual clip shows are the worst. Eleanor learns about her and Chidi’s romance during one of the reboots, which she brushes off as being pre-determined by Michael’s control of the Good Place. But it’s really to dismiss her feelings of vulnerability. It’s another emotional episode, getting to the core of why these characters are the way they are, and it’s something the show can only pull off having done so much great work leading up to this point. Plus, a new garbage state to mock: Arizona!
Homecoming – Season 1 (A- average)
Sam Esmail brings all his directorial tricks to a more complex and emotionally involving story. Julia Roberts makes her TV-star debut in an excellent drama that takes a couple episodes to get you used to its rhythms and style. But once it does, it’s an engrossing thriller that often intentionally messes with your head, leading to something familiar but totally different. (It also helped that I never listened to the podcast on which its based. I genuinely had no idea where it was headed.)
House of Cards – Season 6 (B average)
Thanks to Kevin Spacey being a horrible person, we’re denied the proper ending for this show. This delayed, abbreviated season tries to make the most of it, but even with Claire at the forefront, it dies as it lived: absurd, addictive, and never living up to its full potential.