Here’s the thing about camp today: pure examples of it are extremely rare. First of all, we know too much; Sontag’s “Notes on Camp” was published in 1964 and has been assigned in humanities courses at liberal arts colleges ever since, so the possibility for an uncritical reception of a “new” camp object is fairly limited. Then, of course, the descriptor “camp” is generally applied to older things; in the moment, we are too caught up in the seriousness of whatever it is that we will come to see as over-serious and excessive and exuding mostly style. But the real sticking point is the all-pervasive cynicism ruling so much of art, fashion, character, life today. Cynicism is the killer of camp, it is the self-knowledge, self-irony and most importantly, general disdain that refuses the possibility of the ebullience of camp.

Read More


Talking with Taissa Farmiga and Ben Rosenfield of 6 YEARS

*This is a reprint of our SXSW 2015 interview

For all the schmaltzy young love that pollutes our movie screens (*cough* If I Stay, Fault in Our Stars *cough*) there comes the ocassional tale of youth and young love that actually merits a watch. 6 Years is that movie. And now that it’s been picked up by Netflix, you’ll actually probably watch it. How novel! From our review; Read More


21 Shows I'm Watching/Have Watched in 2014 RANKED


Because people won’t read it unless you rank it, I’ve decided to lay out all the new or ongoing shows I’m watching or have watched this year. As a criteria of sorts, I’m only including shows of which I’ve watched all the episodes of and am up to date on. So nothing that I’ve just taken a peek at, watched an ep here or there, or any shows that are already over and done with.

So even though I’m desperately trying to get in on The Wire, it’s not included on the list. Breaking Bad wrapped last year so it won’t earn a spot here. I’ve been making my way through Freaks and Geeks but that also won’t claim a listing. And though I have my eye on Masters of Sex, Halt and Catch Fire and Ray Donovan, amongst others, I haven’t gotten to them yet so again, ineligible. Likewise, I’ve seen the first episode of The Strain but can’t anticipate what the rest of the season will hold so it’s on the outside looking in.

In addition to ranking the shows based on my personal preference, I’ve also thrown in a favorite episode from the last season that’ll give you a taste of the better elements of the show. I’m sure there will be much disagreement so feel free to join in on the discussion and tell me where I’m wrong.

21. Modern Family (ABC)


Though not as contrarian as its first seasons seemed to be, the newest episodes of Modern Family keeps up the elements of the show that works, even while laying on thick some of those that don’t. Ty Burrell as Phil remains the biggest draw in a show that’s really hit or miss depending on who’s onscreen (I could do with less of the white Dunphy kids.) Though it may be a touch too family-friendly and borderline castrated at times, the stable of writers do manage to tactfully slip in a fair share of guffaw-able double entendres. Best ep: “A Hard Jay’s Night”

20. The Americans (FX)


This FX original sees a pair of Russian spies living undercover in American in the height of the Cold War. Everything about their lives are a manicured lie, all the way down to their marriage. Having kids though has thrown a wrench into the works and, in this second season, has become an obstacle that cannot be overlooked. Featuring strong performances from leads Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys, it’s a ballsy thriller that probes ideas of loyalty, allegiance and sacrifice. It may not be a show that’ll immediately win you over but it’s consistently solid and will have you coming back to check in with this morally ambiguous deuo. Best ep: “Trust Me”

19. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)


After an overrated first season, this second year of Netflix’s most popular show reigned in the more bombastic elements to showcase a smaller, quieter prison character drama. It may be running dry on back story and certainly seems like a show with an inevitable end of the road, so any audience best grow used to this kind of baby-stepping, but in narrowing the scope, the writers have showcased a knack for making those small moments matter. So long as the side characters continue to be fleshed out, Piper continues to grow and change, and that willy Alex manages to keep sticking her nose into things, Orange is the New Black should continue to be a compelling journey worth taking. Best ep: “Thirsty Bird”

18. Parks and Recreation (NBC)


Everyone is forced to watch at least a few cable network sitcom and I’ve place my chips with Parks and Recs for good reason. Although it took a few seasons to really get off the ground, Parks has really hit a stride over the past few years, one that has been admittedly disrupted by the painful departure of Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe. Still, with a crew that includes Ron Offerman, Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott and Aubrey Plaza, a writing team with an armada of pun-heavy and visual gag-laden comic beats, and Amy Poehler as the relentlessly enthusiastic Leslie Knope really holding the show together with an iron-strong grip, Parks and Recs continues to represent the best of cable. Best ep: “The Cones of Dunshire”

17. American Horror Story (FX)


With each season going down a whole new rabbit hole, American Horror Story is really like nothing else on television. Grotesque, eerie and lead by a great female cast, Coven may have skimped on some of the more insane elements that earlier seasons provided, but it certainly told the most complete, well-rounded story yet. Jessica Lange returns again, largely because Horror Story quite frankly has some of the best roles for women in all of television, and she simply knocks it out of the park. Series regulars Sarah Paulson, Frances Conroy and Evan Peters all feature heavily contributing to this being a fully compelling, if not always perfect season of a show that’s really off the map. Best ep: “Go to Hell”

16. House of Cards (Netflix)


Netflix hit a nerve with the first season of House of Cards and has now followed it up with an equally bombastic second season. This jet black political thriller sees witness to Kevin Spacey‘s bottom-feeding Frank Underwood skillfully scaling the political ladder. It’s at once deeply unsettling and completely captivating; a tragic yet true satire of the American political system; and yet, it’s impossible to look away from. We find ourselves rooting for that cold, callous politician just to see what is he capable of, despite his crusty, false demeanor, and tricksy, nay evil, deeds. Underwood’s long-con quality of scheming is something that only a show released on Netflix’s “all at once” timetable can legitimize and keeps us from halting the automated onslaught that is “Play Next”.  Matching Spacey step for step is Robin Wright, the under-sung, impossibly cold shero of the show who balances the whole thing out like tea to crumpets. Best ep: “Chapter 22”

15. Sons of Anarchy (FX)


Though it’s had a bit of a spotty history in the past, this most recent season of the motorcycle drama brought big change and some huge moments for long-time fans. Season six was quite simply a game-changer and although that meant many “Oh shit” moments, all of the big beats felt earned and inevitable. Nothing speaks more to the fact that violence begets violence than a show about gun-running and all the tragic side effects that go with it. Best ep: “Aon Rud Persanta”

14. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

It kind of blows my mind that It’s Always Sunny has been on the air for nine seasons but, well, I guess I’m getting old. I remember watching the first season and laughing my ass off, becoming a committed fan from there on out. And thankfully, the gang has not disappointed. Though they’ve stumbled a few times over the past couple years, season nine really ratcheted things up, adding new elements to a premise that refuses to quit. Charlie Day might still be my favorite but goddamn if all these guys aren’t the funniest comic actors working. So long as they keep making them, I’ll keep watching them. Best ep: “The Gang Saves the Day”

13. Homeland (Showtime)


The saga of Carrie Matheson and Nicholas Brody made the first season of Homeland an impervious guessing game, fleshed into something even more strange and organic in season two and has morphed into a whole new realm of star-crossed lovership with Showtime’s latest season. Though there were some missteps this season; one which was all about not being ready to let go; they aptly course correct in the closing moments, offering some of the most haunting, soul-rending television you could hope for. Best ep: “The Star”

12. Silicon Valley (HBO)


Mike Judge returns to the sardonic workplace drama with Silicon Valley, a show that showed immense potential that paid off more and more as the season drew on. Nerds get a bad wrap with shows like The Big Bang Theory (spare me) and Silicon Valley shows them in a whole new light: in their crippling aversion to the spotlight. Even with only eight episodes for this first season, Kumail Nanjiani came out of thin air to become one of the funniest characters of the year. If they keep piling on the jokes like they did with the last episode (which featured the best running dick joke of the year), we can look forward to a very fortuitous second season. Best ep: “Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency”

11. Legit (FX)


Jim Jefferies is an Australian comedian who just doesn’t give a fuck. His brand of stoner-playboy comedy is entirely his own and when afforded the creative freedom to really take the show into whatever direction he sees fit, we the audience are rewarded with an oft-kilter, unapologetically hilarious and often emotionally resonant dramedy. Like Louie, you never quite know where any episode is going to go but you can always expect some memorable quirk from Jefferies and his competent co-stars Dan Bakkedahl and DJ Qualls. Best ep: “Love”

10. South Park (Comedy Central)


As politically astute, satirically sound and completely absurd as ever, South Park is a testament to Trey Parker and Matt Stone‘s enduring brilliance. Though the seasons have been getting shorter and shorter, each episode is still as pointed and thorny as ever, refusing to spare anyone or anything in its quest to take a stab at the ridiculousness that is the world and its various systems and characters within. This season had a four-episode arc that turned disdain for Black Friday culture into an all-encompassing, truly epic Game of Thrones satire. Keep keeping on boys. Best ep: “The Hobbit”

9. Review (Comedy Central)


An out-of-left-field home run from Comedy Central, Review is a simple enough premise: a man takes requests to review not movies, books nor food but life experiences. The result is unspeakably comical. Andy Daly owns the role of Forrest MacNeil as he charges into various life outings, each of which becomes a part of his character progression, building into a layer cake of laughs. It’s unlike anything else on television and so single-mindedly funny and wholly original, it’s a challenge not to bust through all nine episodes in one go. Best ep: “Orgy: Road Rage”

8. The Leftovers (HBO)


Damon Lindelof‘s latest outing may have just started, but the first few episodes have been mighty impressive and intensely intriguing. The Leftovers follows the events of a small town after 2% of the entire Earth’s population suddenly, inexplicably disappeared into thin air. The third episode alone will be enough to reel in most new viewers, as it plays like a kind of full narrative film with a ripping three-act structure and a killer performance from Christopher Eccleston. Percolating with mystery and some already complex, rounded characters, The Leftovers looks like it may fill the sci-fi-lite gap left by Lost four years back. Be warned though, Lindelof has already stated that if you’re only around to figure out why everyone off and disappeared, you might as well stop watching now. Best ep: “Two Boats and a Helicopter”

7. The Walking Dead (AMC)


What a divisive year The Walking Dead has had. While many thought the splintering of the group led to less “action”, it meant an increased focus on character development, especially between factors that had not previously interacted. It was a great way to trim the fat and center the show on what really matters: us caring about these people. Sure AMC’s zombie make-up continues to be the pinnacle of horror effects the movie world over but if we don’t care when they chomp into a survivor, it’s all for naught. Season four did a great job at making us care. Best ep: “The Grove”

6. Broad City (Comedy Central)


Forget Girls, Broad City is the sacrosanct, feminist NYC chic comedy you need to watch. Adapted from their popular web series, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer‘s Broad City is through and through hilarious, taking stabs at cultural norms and flipping our expectations of girls gone wild on its head. In the same vein as Obvious Child or Frances Ha, Broad City is new-age feminist hoopla that happily celebrates how gross it is to be a girl in all its charmless glory. Best ep: “Fattest Asses”

5. Louie (FX)


Louie is brilliant for many reasons. First of all, it’s not really a comedy. Not really. It’s what Judd Apatow‘s Funny People wanted to be. It’s about the trials and tribulations of a comic. More than that, it’s about the trials and tribulations of being a man. Most of all though, it’s about the trials and tribulations of being a human. Uproarious when it needs to be, poignant when it wants, Louie is as philosophical a show as you can get. More importantly, i’s unafraid to go to rather dark and unexpected places and take on some serious issues, when it’s not making doo-doo jokes. It might not be for everyone but everyone should give it a taste. Best ep: “So Did the Fat Lady”

4. True Detective (HBO)


True Detective is easily the biggest “cult” hit of the year, complete with a rabid fan-based that’s poised and ready to attack if one lodges even the smallest complaint at the show, so I’m gonna approach with caution. Did True Detective have some of the best performances of the entire year? Yes. Did it feature some truly outstanding sequences? Absolutely. Was it always “must watch” television? Not always. I mean, let’s be honest, it took a while to warm up to the plot, which was devilishly slow for the first few eps. But by the fourth episode, with that impractically amazing long shot, I was in it to win it with all the rest of you. Matt McCougnahey and Woody Harrelson both deserve buckets of praise and then some, a complicated pleasure to watch from the very first moments. But once the plot thickened, it was impossible to look away from the story they were a part of as well. Truly an achievement but still not the absolute best of the year, I’m waiting in the wings to see what creator Nic Pizzolatto is able to pull off next. Best ep: “Who Goes There”

3. Sherlock (BBC)


Sherlock, Sherlock, Sherlock. The whole fake death thing may have seemed a bit like jumping the shark to some but only a show written with such smarmy shlock and simple smarts could make you feel silly for ever doubting them in the first place. This most recent season of Sherlock oddly enough turns out to be the best yet, with all three of the monumentally lengthy “episodes” offering something new to the ongoing relationship between Holmes and Watson while ratcheting up the tension to ridiculous degrees. To not watch Sherlock is to do yourself a disservice. Get on it. Best ep: “The Sign of Three”

2. Game of Thrones (HBO)


I make no secret of the fact that I’m a total Game of Thrones nerd so it ought to be no surprise that this one debuts so high on my list. From the impossibly thick stable of characters to the absurdly impressive sets, locations, props and costumery, to the movie-quality visual effects and a hallmark for killing off every character you care for, GoT shows a genre-defying willingness to go where no show has gone before. Nothing is sacred, everything is fluid. If you’re not willing to change, you won’t last long in the world of Westeros just as you won’t last long as an audience member. But what cements the whole thing is show-runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss‘ ability to keep everything together while also making the show their own beast, and the while pacing the sprawling affair masterfully as they mount George R.R. Martin‘s magnum opus like the great dragon masters of lore. Best ep: “The Mountain and the Viper”

1. Fargo (FX)


An astounding product from start to finish, this FX series masterfully takes the tone of the Coen Bros 1996 classic while bringing new (implausibly more interesting) characters and relationships into the fold. It’s an epic piece of cinema on the small screen, adroit in every department. Writing, directing, acting, you name it, it’s top notch here. Martin Freeman, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Keith Carradine, Adam Goldberg, Glenn Howerton, Oliver Platt, Key and Peele all offer career best work with Billy Bob Thornton throwing down a show-stopper as the show’s professional antagonist. It’s a must see in the purest of forms and one I would urge you all to seek out immediately. Best ep: ALL OF THEM!


So if we go ahead and tally up which networks take the cake in this best of list, we’d have:
FX (7), HBO (4), Comedy Central (3), Netflix (2), BBC (1), Showtime (1), AMC (1), ABC (1), NBC (1)

Obviously, I’ve dedicated a good chunk of time to watching my shows and would urge you to steer me towards anything that you would think ought to rank on this list. So there you have it. What would you add?

Follow Silver Screen Riot on Facebook
Follow Silver Screen Riot on Twitter