2015 Calvin Awards: Best TV Show
By David Mumpower
February 9, 2015
Nature abhors a vacuum. This maxim is especially true of the Best TV Show category that had been dominated by Breaking Bad over the past three years. Now that Walter White has gone on to make meth in the hereafter, a lot of our favorite programs had an opportunity to fill the void. In the end, the series I termed the “de facto favorite” to replace Breaking Bad has done exactly that.
Yes, Game of Thrones is our choice for the Best Television Show of the Year. It has crushed the competition like The Mountain destroyed, well, that would be a spoiler. But yes, like that. The linchpin of HBO programming scored roughly as many points as the second and third place finishers in combination. The result was predictable, because our staff has jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon since the beginning. All three prior seasons had earned top five placement, and its 2014 score rivaled the 800-pound gorilla that was Breaking Bad right up until the final few votes.
The big question moving forward is not whether it will maintain popularity but instead whether Game of Thrones can match Breaking Bad’s three-victory pace. Given that the show is headed toward a finish that even the readers of George RR Martin’s masterwork have no way to predict, the continued struggles to claim and maintain the Iron Throne are a force to reckon with in this category for at least three more years.
This year’s results demonstrate how much our staff loves its HBO Go. Three of the top four vote-getters are HBO programs, and two of them are new productions. Second place goes to the least conventional of the bunch, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. After a terrific run as the stand-in host of The Daily Show, Oliver was offered the keys to the kingdom at HBO (not a Game of Thrones reference). The results have been inimitable.
Rather than compete on a nightly basis with his friends John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, the British satirist provided a different spin on weekly news and pop culture. His quick wit and genial nature combined with his willingness to attack institutions as standoffish as the FCC and Miss America has created a perfect storm of social justice via social media. As Stewart basks in the glory of being the most famous celebrated talk show host in America and Colbert prepares to replace the retiring David Letterman, Oliver has stuck with what he knows: how to make the topical hilarious while also maintaining a cutting point of view. Even if his hot streak doesn’t last, he is at least for this year the reigning king of the talk show realm.
A program currently in its sixth season earns its first appearance on our list, as The Good Wife debuts in the lofty position of third place. Many of our staff members have been watching for years now, but the series never enjoyed the widespread popularity needed to place in the top 10. That was all prior to Hitting the Fan, the epic season five episode that the show’s disciples proudly reference as The Good Wife’s Red Wedding. Basically every remaining episode of the fifth season was a home run, from the divorce of Alicia Florrick from her firm to the shocking death of a central cast member a few episodes later. On a weekly basis, The Good Wife delivers a perfect blend of legal philosophical debates and serial drama. If you have yet to catch up on this treasure, the start of season five represents the perfect opportunity to see what the fuss is about. I maintain that it is one of the greatest single seasons of television in the 2000s.