It was Canada appreciation week up in my living room with the return of The L.A. Complex and Degrassi. Needless to say, I’m thrilled aboot these strong premieres. Often times I have to struggle to get up to ten episodes to recommend each week, so it’s awesome when a week like this comes around where I have ten episodes I really loved and the only struggle is deciding which ones I loved most. With that glowing recommendation, here are the ten best episodes of TV from this week.
10. Regular Show: “Fancy Restaurant” (Cartoon Network): I laughed throughout this episode. I’m surprised at how heavily featured Muscle Man has been this season, but they’ve consistently taken what seemed like a one-joke character and made him work as the center of an episode. Word.
9. John Oliver’s New York Stand-up Show: “Wyatt Cenac” (Comedy Central): Can we as a society just stop dancing around the issue and admit that John Oliver is a perfect human being? Good. This week his stand-up show returned because some brilliant person at Comedy Central noticed that we only get to see him four nights a week and realized this is a gross insufficiency. John Oliver was fantastic in his hosting duties and they had a good mix of stand-ups in this episode. Headliner Wyatt Cenac was charming as always. (“Dude goes off and he’s like, ‘Can you believe they’re letting Derek Jeter play in the all-star game?’ Sure. He’s a baseball player. It’s a baseball game. Seems pretty logical to me. Now if you told me Derek Jeter was going to be in a junior high spelling bee, I might be perturbed.”) Ben Kronberg was an interesting weirdo. (“I bet that restaurant The Black Angus has to be on high alert for when the G goes out on that sign.”) Mark Norm was a cutie pie. (“They’re like, ‘Dude, you go to gay bars? That is weird. If some gay guy ever hit on me, I don’t know what I would do.’ How about you just not have sex with him?”) and Hari Kondabolu won my heart by acknowledging that the most pressing issues in this world are colonialism, sexism and how much Weezer sucks now. (“For those of you who didn’t know, the theme of my set tonight will be colonialism, which is why I will be speaking only in English.”)
8. Common Law: “Odd Couples” (USA): The big emotional pay off didn’t work for me, but for the most part Wes and Travis’s dynamic worked its usual charms on me this episode. Also, Travis told Wes that he should have a show called The Anal Chef. So that happened.
7. Degrassi: “Come As You Are” (TeenNick): I tip my hat to Degrassi for managing to have a first week of episodes that I adored despite not a glimpse of Fiona and only one quick Imogen moment. As much as I loved it despite the lack of Fimogen, I would not recommend that they push their luck for another week. Anyway, “Come As You Are” introduced Dallas, who is as dickish an antagonist as anyone could ask for. (Taking bets now on whether he’ll go the Paige route of becoming unbelievably sympathetic or the KC Guthrie route of just getting more and more jaw-droppingly horrible. I’m betting on the latter). Claire and Eli were adorable this episode and I like that Degrassi is capturing how sometimes you try to be with someone and you’re both crazy and it explodes and then some time passes and you’re able to be extremely reasonable to each other. It happens all the time in my life and it’s nice to see it on TV. I love seeing Tori and Maya be so supportive of each other and that they both love Gossip Girl. A solid episode all around.
6. Adventure Time: “Card Wars” (Cartoon Network): This episode let us all see that Jake, who is usually the super-relaxed one, goes nuts when you beat him at card games. Relatable!
5. White Collar: “Most Wanted” (USA): I don’t know what it is about this season of White Collar, but it’s not sucking me in the way I’d like it to. Still, there was definitely plenty of Peter and Neal doing their thing this episode, so I enjoyed it. We even got to see Peter as a bartender.
4. Workaholics: “Real Time” (Comedy Central): This episode was partially an action movie parody, partially a perfect capturing of the feeling of being daytime drunk. The two elements work really well together and there are solid jokes throughout.
3. Degrassi: “Walking on Broken Glass” (TeenNick): Oh, Tristan. I love you so much IT’S CRAAA-ZY. When this exchange happened, I thought it would be the best dialogue of the episode:
KC: This is the academic quiz team.
Drew: And I’d like to try out.
Connor: You need to be smart.
Drew: You saying I’m not smart?
I know Connor barely ever gets fleshed out story lines anymore, but he still pretty much always has the best moments of the episodes he’s in. Anyway, that moment was quickly shown up by this gem of an exchange:
Eli: Tristan, you need to be in this musical. And if that bothers Becky in the process, bonus.
Tristan: So, you’re using me?
Eli: Do you mind?
Tristan: Not a bit, you magnificent bastard.
I love that Eli is doing a good thing by creating a school play that portrays homosexuality, but it’s very obvious that he’s doing it for completely petty reasons. This probably just strikes me as being incredibly refreshing after watching a season of Glee that insisted that anyone who has gay friends or is involved in the arts deserves a medal for their complete altruism. Admittedly, you have to suspend your disbelief a bit since Tristan’s audition is objectively not that great, but I’m willing to do that since Lyle O’Donohoe was obviously cast based on being perfect for Tristan not based on Shakespearean acting skills. I really like how sympathetic Becky is in the last scene– it was a great move to humanize the homophobic character as much as possible. As delicious a moment as it was when she said “This is wrong!” and Eli told her “welcome to Degrassi”, I definitely empathized with how her project was ripped from her because of her morals. As for the other Tristan plot, (yoo-hoo, good for him getting two different story lines) I thought it was unbelievably adorable that he thought his obviously terrible plan would work right up to the last possible second. Oh Tristy-trist. Still, the award for most well-written character of the week definitely goes to one Drew Torres. He did some terrible things, hurt a lot of people and still has two women who are completely in love with him, yet in the end he still came off both sympathetic and relatable. Oh and Jake’s part this episode was small, but, man, what a pleasant guy.
2. Suits: “Break Point” (USA): This episode nicely pulled off having a Louis plot line that had nothing to do with Pearson-Hardman, but still ended up being dynamic and involving the other characters. It also had the adorable moment where Mike is shocked and disappointed that Harvey couldn’t fix something. And, of course, Donna made me have feelings throughout. All around, it was very well-crafted and engaging and just about perfect. It came very close to being #1 on my list, but I decided there was another episode that was even more perfect.
1. The L.A. Complex: “Vacancy” (The CW): I love everything about this show. The dramatic moments all hit like a sucker punch, yet the show always stays fun. It’s a balance that’s almost impossible to find. The way they approach the material on this show is consistently refreshing. For instance, the fact that they realize audiences are ready to get invested in story lines that are entirely about black gay men puts them way ahead of most shows. And making Nick friends with Alicia was a perfect way of distinguishing him from other “nice guy” characters by showing us that he is a genuinely good friend to women who he doesn’t expect sex from. This episode even pulled off the trick of introducing a new character who has nothing to do with anyone else and sucked me in right away. As if there wasn’t enough to love, it looks like Paul F. Tompkins is going to become a bigger part of the show as we go on through this season and I’ll never say no to more Paul F. Tompkins. All around, this is a perfect, perfect, perfect show.