Daniel Joseph Buck Presents: TV In 2016 – An Examination of Coping Strategies

Take a tally of how many articles you have read recently that opened with the cheery missive ‘2016 has been a garbage fire of a year.’ If your reading habits are anything like mine, well…

I’m not here to say that 2016 has been anything other than monthly massacres of our innocence but there is one way however that 2016 has not sucked at all. This might be the best year since records began (generally agreed as being sometime around the debut of Twin Peaks for some reason) for truly stellar television. I can’t name any time I’ve been so pressed for time to watch incredible show after even more incredible show and that has been my one saving grace in twelve months of liquid phlegm given a voice.
So let’s dive in with just a small sample of my favourite shows of the year:

 

Steven Universe

It’s been a good year for animation. with Judy Hopps, Kubo and Moana leading a strong pack of epic animated features. Bojack Horseman owned my summer and now Guillermo del Toro has snuck in Trollhunters onto Netflix in time to raise the mean awesomeness of 2016 just a little more. We even got the long-awaited finale to Gravity Falls this year. Despite stiff competition, Steven Universe, that’s where the business was. Following the snappy adventures of the titular Steven and his family, the series is one of those, Cartoon Network series that’s aimed at pre-teens, but has an enormous Tumblr-fuelled following among adults.  You know the kind? The kind watched by under-stimulated twenty-something man-children who don’t have the constitution or sophistication to watch real TV like Game of Thrones or Westworld *cough cough blaarrght* (Westworld is fantastic BTDubs – TV Ed.). That kind of show?

It’s basically all I watch.The series has gained massive praise, for inventive and off-kilter plots, an incredible cast of wholly original characters portrayed by a diverse range of talented voice actors and actresses and for being as gay as two tits.

It’s been a busy year for Steven and co. Where the first series was spread over one year of in-Universe time, seasons two, three and the beginnings of four have been one extremely eventful summer. In that time, Steven has faced down bigger monsters, higher stakes and heavier consequences. He’s had to put an end to friends turned extremist, and enemies turned hideous… uncomfortabally predatorial for a kid’s show rage-monster? He’s drilled to the centre of the earth and played wingman to his shy Aunt/carer as she picks up chicks at underground Mike Krol concerts. He’s met not one but TWO Orange is the New Black cast members. Perhaps worst of all, he endured Thanksgiving with bigoted immigrant-hating family members, especially challenging since most of Steven’s family are literal illegal aliens.
It’s been a riot. An emotionally affecting riot, and with so many fascinating characters waiting in the wings for their big moments, it’s only going to get better. Beautifully animated in bright pastel colours, and scored by the masterful chip tune dup Aivi and Surashuu, there’s so much to love in this, Cartoon Network’s first and only show created by a woman.

Harmonquest:

Hoo-eeee! It’s been a long December of waiting for that sweet-sweet Rick and Morty return that we all hoped would hit before year’s end. Sit back and breathe. It will come. In the meantime, if you didn’t check out Dan Harmon and Co.’s other excellent animated offering when it was revealed this summer, it should be more than adequate to tide you over. Fun fact about me, I have been known to Dungeon, and even – when the moon is aligned – to Dragon also! A deep and abiding love of tabletop RPGs isn’t necessary to enjoy this star-studded fantasy misadventure. Rather, revel in the tragic tale of Fondue Zoobag (Harmon), closeted homosexual half-orc ranger, and his diminutive sidekick, the illiterate-yet-erudite goblin Boneweevi (Jeff Davis), as they embark on a doomed quest to save the world from the Heralds of the Manticore with Beor O’Shift (Erin McGathy), a barbarian with a penchant for making sculptures out of bones. Anyone’s bones, wherever she can find ‘em. Girl just loves bones yo.
Part improv show, part animated fantasy comedy, the series debuted on US comedy streaming service Seeso. It’s crude, poignant and way more epic and emotional than it has any right to be. Special mentions go to guest stars Aubrey Plaza and John Hodgman, (episodes five and six respectively) for deliciously screwing with the formula and injecting side-splitting humour into their characters, and finally to debut star Spencer Crittenden, for putting the tale together, and raising the bar for roleplaying game masters the world over.

Take My Wife:

Another gem buried in geo-locked shambles that is Seeso, this charming showbiz-insider comedy from stand-up power couple Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito is simply the sweetest and most charming thing you will watch this year. Not an avid fan of either comedienne beforehand (Go check out Esposito and Butcher’s Podcasts Wham Bam Pow! And Put Your Hands Together if you need more – TV Ed.), I came to this show knowing them only as ‘friends of Dan Harmon’ and figuring I’d give it a watch. Within the two days it took me to leisurely watch the six short episodes that make up this first season I had fallen quite head over heels for the both of them. They present a romantic vision that is both evidently personal and yet buoyantly universal, as they wrestle softly with finance, envy and the balance between candour and privacy. I want their relationship. And not since How I Met Your Mother have I been so pleased by a perspective on love and romance on TV.

Voltron legendary Defender:
I don’t really have anything profound to say about Voltron Legendary Defender.
So, there we go, my recommendations. A year in Ink and Gay now that I look at it. Seriously, it’s been a great year for LGBT characters, and these are just the tip of the iceberg. The year’s incredible Film and TV schedule has been its saving grace. I in turn have watched more TV this year than I am proud of, but I’d pleased to say that all of it has been completely worth it. I’m a dual national: American and British. So, I’ve had the joy of voting in two doomed elections, and watching both my countries spiral in anger, poison and conflict. Spend the last hours of this garbage fire warming your hands on its ashes, drinking to forget from the bottle in a nondescript paper bag clutched in the same fingerless-gloved hand with which you’ll shield your eyes from the blinding hangover that will be this January, and calmly, rationally GET ON THE MOTHER-TRUCKIN’ HYPE TRAIN FOR ALL THE AMAZING TV THAT’S JUST AROUND THE CORNER!!!!!!

RICK AND MORTY! COUNTERPART! THE YOUNG POPE! WILL!
MORE SENSE8! MORE THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE! MORE ADVENTURE TIME!

This is Dan closing out the year. Here’s to a future that can only get better! SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE!

Peace.

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