29 Aug - 5 Sept 2014 #722

TV’s biggest stars

At this year’s Emmy Awards (which honour the best American prime-time shows) - all the usual suspects shored up well-deserved plaudits. We look back (with a bias for drama and comedy) at last year in American television and anticipate what might be worth waiting for in the next 12 months.

No one was surprised when Breaking Bad pipped every other show to the coveted ‘Outstanding Drama Series’ award. For the last five years we have been empathising with its unsympathetic hero/villain Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a chemistry professor who, after being diagnosed with cancer, makes meth to support his family. In White’s mundane existence we see ourselves and long to ‘break bad’ when he is compelled to go rogue. The only downer – our tacit approval of drug-making will likely end this year as the series ended after five successful seasons.

Thankfully, there is no end in sight for Game of Thrones, the HBO series that has made the English of yore cool again and given weddings a bad name. Last season, we saw Tyrion, Arya and all the other sorry underdogs get the better of their circumstances, while queen superior and moral compass Daenerys faced uncountable ethical dilemmas that beset rulers. The bad guys may have lost this round, but they’ll be back next year with more conspiracy and deceit. In the meantime, winter is coming, so better start reading George RR Martin’s magnum opus and continue the guess game: who really is Jon Snow’s mother?

The detective genre has been done to death, but True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto heads a revival with his slow, cinematic and intensely detailed production. The post-Katrina landscape of Lousiana, where the series is set, looms large as the two heroes Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey roam around and witness America unravel. More please.

When Season 1 of Orange is the new black was released last year to much fanfare and adulation, many doubted if its creators had it in them to last longer than a year. To our pleasure, we were proved wrong. Season 2 turned out to be funnier and more engaging. While the first season introduced us to life inside prison, Season 2 steps up from being more than just a guide to prison life: we are treated to intruiguing character development as more back-stories are revealed through flashbacks. Orange is here to stay, because just before the Emmys its makers announced there would indeed be Season 3.

After watching her husband make a mess out of his time in power (corruption, sex, the usual stuff), it falls to Alicia Florrick (Julianna Marguilles) to take charge of things in The Good Wife. For 13 years, she’d been a good housewife (hence the name) but will now happily go back to being a lawyer to make ends meet. Infidelity may have been tough to digest, but it also implies reciprocation for Alicia. So far she has trod carefully through a minefield of money, scandal, and sex. But, now on a quest to replicate her ex-husband’s career, can Alicia dodge all the bullets?

Watch the monologue:

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