During TV & Not TV’s week-long look at the Best (and Worst) of 2014, I’ve discussed the best shows of the year, the top performances, the biggest disappointments and named the year’s TV VIPs. Today, we’re concluding the week with something a little different: my 10 favorite stories of 2014.
Let me explain: the reason I founded TV & Not TV in the first place was to finally compile all of my stories in one place, because it’s been easy for them to slip through the cracks, even for those who follow me on Twitter. So today, I’ve picked my 10 favorite stories I wrote this year — a mixture of profiles, reviews and analysis, for four different outlets. In case you missed any of them, here’s your chance to catch up!
Here we go, in chronological order:
Shark Tank has been one of the quietest success stories on television, with ratings growing steadily each season, which is unprecedented, especially for a reality show. It’s also largely been overlooked by most outlets who write about TV, which is why I was so thrilled to write the definitive story on the show and its six Sharks — Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Robert Herjavec, Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Barbara Corcoran — for Parade.
(While the link above will take you to the main story, you can find the whole thing, including sidebars on all the Sharks, here.)
How ‘Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD’ Finally Found Its Way (The Daily Beast, May 14)
No series arrived this season with more hype, and more disappointment, than Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. But then, thanks to a huge assistant from the twist in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, SHIELD finally became the thrilling show it was always supposed to be. In this Daily Beast review of Season 1, I looked at show’s rocky first season, and its improbable comeback.
Why Most TV Shows Peak by Their Third Season (Quartz, July 19)
You just never know where I great story idea is going to come from. During a Brooklyn Nine-Nine set visit last summer, I spoke with executive producer Mike Schur, whose fascinating thoughts on why most shows peak by their second or third season became my favorite TCA summer press tour story (especially after I paired Schur’s take with that of Modern Family creator Steve Levitan).
How Amazon Built a Studio That’s Finally Challenging Netflix (Quartz, Aug. 12)
I had so many questions about Amazon Studios and the company’s strategy — How does it measure success? Why don’t it disclose ratings info? How does the public pilot process really work? Why didn’t Amazon pick up Community or Enlisted? — and director Roy Price answered them all for me in this Quartz story on the eve of Amazon’s third pilot season.
‘You’re the Worst’: TV’s Best Couple is Awful and Perfect For Each Other (The Daily Beast, Aug. 21)
Some shows are so fantastic that I feel as if I have no choice but to sing their praises to as many people as possible. That’s the main reason that I pushed so hard this summer to review You’re the Worst‚ which ended up as one of my Top 10 Shows of 2014. If you’re still on the fence, read my review, and then start watching!
Joan Rivers Pulled Off Hollywood’s Greatest Comeback (Quartz, Sept. 5)
As Hollywood mourned the death of Joan Rivers, I appreciated the opportunity to recount how she pulled off Hollywood’s greatest comeback, by clawing her way back into the spotlight after Johnny Carson had turned his back on her. While most of her obituaries focused on her work as a trailblazer for female comics, her dogged journey after being blackballed by Carson was equally spectacular.
‘Schoolhouse Rock’: A Trojan Horse of Knowledge and Power (The Daily Beast, Sept. 6)
As I started thinking about which stories would make up my list, this was the first one I wrote down. To celebrate ABC’s upcoming Schoolhouse Rock special, I reflected on the show’s lasting legacy — it was an essential part of my Saturday mornings as a kid — for The Daily Beast, and managed to get my two kids hooked on the show in the process. I’d call that a win-win. Even after all these years, knowledge is still power!
‘NCIS’s’ Mark Harmon is the World’s Biggest TV Star (The Daily Beast, Sept. 23)
Sometimes, the best stories fall into your lap when you least expect them. While I was at People, I spent years unsuccessfully trying to land an interview with Mark Harmon, who rarely grants interviews. But this summer, I was given some face time with Harmon, and turned that into a somewhat unconventional Daily Beast profile of the world’s biggest, yet most humble, TV star.
Why a Great Second Season is Often Too Late to Save a Struggling Show (Adweek, Nov. 11)
Since I began contributing to Adweek this fall, I’ve been tacking some TV issues that have been bugging me for months and years, like why shows that improve by their second season — like Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and FX’s The Bridge — aren’t able to win back viewers who bailed on them in year one. FX Networks CEO John Landraf had great insight (as always) about why this happens, and also shed more light on his agonizing decision to cancel The Bridge.
Why Kim Kardashian is the World’s Best Marketer (Quartz, Nov. 13)
Given that I’d gone on a Kim Kardashian detox after leaving a certain job last year, If you told me I’d be writing a story A) praising Kim Kardashian B) for Quartz C) calling her “brilliant” and admiring her “acumen,” I would have said you’d lost your mind. But I surrendered after her Paper magazine cover went viral — and then again 24 hours later. The result: the only Kardashian story I’ve ever written or edited (and there have been a lot over the years) that I actually enjoyed!
And that — phew! — concludes my look back at 2014. Here’s hoping that TV in 2015 is even better!