Aerial Telly Awards 2011
Like you knew he would
“I never let a statue tell me how nice I am”. Thus spake self-styled “funky diabetic” Phife Diggy Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest. The close to death renal ward stalwart is suggesting to the listener that he does not require the validation of awards to know that he’s a more or less adequate rapper. All very laudable I’m sure but are awards ever really about the recipients? Only in the most superficial way. When you’re talking about an annual event with the gravitas of the Aerial Telly Awards it’s not about acknowledging or rewarding the efforts of “artists” working in “television”. It’s about defining TV for the next 12 months – shaping the television landscape to come. It’s a devastating clinical assessment of where we are, what we’ve become and what we will become. Aerial Telly both builds and destroys. Because once he cuts your throat there is no coming back. Receive his endorsement, on the other hand, and joy and success are lifelong boon companions. No one plays with you because to play with you is to play with Aerial Telly and to play with Aerial Telly is to guarantee instant death, decimation and annihilation. So, TV slime, is it hitlist or shitlist you ended up on? Read on for the dealio.
Best show: Game of Thrones, HBO
Yes, Breaking Bad was incredible; yes, Justified was a triumph and yes, Homeland came with a strong late challenge worthy of Joey Barton but getting the nod for 2011’s blue ribbon prize is HBO’s Game of Thrones. Vast in scale yet intimate in its characterisation, Blownes threw you right into the heart of George R R Martin’s Westeros and gave you a crash course in the weird dark world of warring fiefdoms, incestuous siblings, fairytale monsters, summary decapitations and some seriously nippy winters fuelled by terrific storylines and uniformly on-the-money performances. Injustice, treachery, revenge, brutality, wit and smut defined this terrific first season of a show that has the quality and source material to run for years. Winturd is coming.
Worst show: This Is England ’86, Channel 4
Yes, Episodes sucked a bag of dicks; yes, The Borgias was elephant tranquilliser and yes, Terra Nova kicked out a stink that 85 million years removal could not mask and yet they all seemed quite tolerable next to Lame Credblows’ This Is England ’86, the mordant death howl of the English working class as anything other than a set of performing monkeys for the amusement of the bourgeoisie. Reasons to hate it were legion but it was hardest to get past the wedding of sentimentality and stupidity that informed every single decision from setting, casting, dialogue to the unconvincing, awkward, improvised (and ultimately successful) BAFTA bait scene when Lol’s dad put his cock in her without anything you could legitimately call consent. The viewer could be forgiven for feeling similarly violated after four episodes of this dopey, cloying, defeatist nonsense where the dimwitted reign and the intelligent are airbrushed out of history like enemies of Stalin or Riff “Fat Willow from the un-aired Buffy pilot” Regan.
Best Male: Damian Lewis as Sergeant Nick Brody on Homeland
Just who is Sergeant Nick Brody? Is he the brutalised but indomitable survivor of eight years of Iraqi captivity, torture and savagery or is he the batshit crazy Al Qaeda double agent, broken beyond repair, brainwashed into attacking the country he took an oath to defend? Damian Lewis kept us guessing with an intense wired performance that allowed us to feel sympathy for someone who might be trying to blow us all to shit, before jerking off over our ashes and being all “Allahu Akbar” and “Durka Durka”. That’s acting my friends.1
Best male supporting: Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring on Breaking Bad
In a show where everything and everyone is brilliant, you have to up your game if you want to stand out. Bringing the chilling Chilean Gus Fring into centre frame in season four meant a big task for Giancarlo Esposito who proved he was up to it and more with a stunning performance that showed the restauranteur/philanthropist/drug kingpin in all his enigmatic complexity while transforming some of that signature understated menace into a menace so stated it stopped you dead in your tracks. When Gus gets hot, your blood runs cold.
Worst Male: Jamie Campbell Bower as King Arthur in Camelot
Generally many things come together to make a shitty performance. Directing, scripting, make-up, editing – calamity has many fathers. In the case of Camelot‘s leading man though it was solely a case of desperate miscasting, throwing in the uniquely charisma free Lamie Campballs Blower as the literally legendary King Arthur. You knew the game was up for Hamalot when the star was upstaged by Blowseph Whines. No career has ever survived that indignity. Largely because it’s never happened before but still.
Best female: Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison on Homeland
She may have brutally stolen Mary Louise Parker‘s scumbag borefriend off her when she was seven months pregnant but you can’t fault Claire Danes as an actress. As Carrie Mathison the brilliant but bipolar CIA operative stalking the American hero she believes is an Al Qaeda agent, Danes is mesmeric – an utterly believable basketcase and the sexual tension between her and this year’s Best Male was so combustible they need to be lowered into a cold isotonic buffer just to film scenes. Real talk.
Best female supporting: Margo Martindale as Mags Bennett on Justified
Few Emmys were celebrated as long and heartily as the one for Margo Martindale for her performance as Mags Bennett. Look at Mags! She’s a kindly, cuddly, Kentucky granmy with a big heart and a big bosom. Look again! She’s an arch manipulator, reefer farmer, crime family matriarch, and cold-blooded killer. Martindale plays both sides of Mags seamlessly – a holistic performance and a nuanced reading of a woman forged by poverty and every other harsh reality life ever dealt her.
Worst female: Tonye Patano as Heylia James on Weeds
The sassy black friend is a long time staple of Hollywood and quite apart from forcing black actresses into a casting straitjacket from which some of them never escape, it produces some of the nausiest scripting this side of a Richard Curtis Christmas special. In many ways I’ve been waiting for eight seasons to diss the hugely annoying character of Heylia James on Weeds but , chill, it was a great show, other battles needed fighting and they got rid of her after a few seasons so I let that shit slide. I thought I was done with Heylia James. But this season she returned, shitter than ever: brassy, sassy, gassy and as culturally relevant as the black woman from the Tom and Jerry cartoons. How terribly disappointing.
Best network show: The Good Wife, CBS
All too often when law, politics and relationship complications interact it’s TURDER. And yet the consistently strong inventive writing on The Good Wife makes it one of the most enjoyable hours of TV around. The case of the week is always intriguing, the character and story arcs are compelling and you give a fuck about almost everyone in the show. I want to know how this ends for Alicia, Will, Kalinda and Cary and I’m hoping that end isn’t any time soon.
Worst network show: Terra Nova, ABC
Is there a more dickless show currently operating than Terra Nova? How is it possible to spend that much money and take so few risks? With a writing ethic as pussy claat as a billets-doux exchange between Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow while he’s on his period, the show takes what is a nominally decent premise, throttles any potential clean out of it and leaves a skeleton of a show that makes Little House on the Prairie look edgy. Sucky CGI and some rocky acting didn’t help any. Man, ABC need a slap sometimes.
TV pie of the year: Emilia Clarke on Game of Thrones
In another year The Good Wife’s Archie Panjabi‘s come-fuck-me voice and hooker threads would have won the day, and it seems almost perverse that Fresh Meat’s Asian pie Gemma Chan can slip away empty-handed after decimating more sock drawers than the common clothes moth. But ahead by a head in the year of Blownes it was Emilia Clarke playing white-haired uber fox Daenerys Targaryen – Stormborn to her friends, Khaleesi to her subjects, “sun and stars” to her rapey husband. Daenerys was a full lipped, doe-eyed slice of D&D patisserie who came from unpromising origins as submissive teenage chattel to ferocious warrior queen dealing with the savage beardie weirdy Dothraki with a regal grace you came to expect from a girl apparently descended from dragons.
Best documentary: We Need To Talk About Dad – Elizabeth Stopford, Channel 4
Take a loving couple, their two beautiful kids and their idyllic lifestyle then demolish it with an axe. A baffling unprovoked, psychotic act of violence on mommy by daddy six years previous, its aftermath and the family’s failure to address it are the focal points of this disturbing, strange and moving documentary that follows the Johnsons as they limp forward, acting from damaged memory in a simulacrum of happy family life. No easy answers emerge but the story is told in an unfussed, quietly respectful manner that never goes schlepping into sensationalism. It’s riveting, even if you still find yourself at the end asking “what the fuck happened there?”
Surprise hit: Awkward, MTV
When MTV announced they were getting into original programming with a teen drama everyone sat up. By which I mean: everyone sat up and said “I mustn’t watch that MTV teen drama – it’s bound to be a colossal bag of shit”. So what a pleasant surprise when Awkward turned out to be a sharp, pacy and funny teen drama in the tradition of My So-Called Life, Buffy and Veronica Mars. It was rewarded with a second season and creator Lauren Iungerich announced herself as one of those dudes you really want to keep an eye out for in the future.
Fuck 80s revivalism in both eye sockets award: The Comic Strip Presents: The Hunt for Tony Blair, Channel 4
Not content with honking the joint out in the fucking awful Episodes, Stephen Mangan starred as Tony Bliar in this horrific eight-years-too-late satire of the WMD fiasco. Pointlessly recreated as a 1940s British film noir spoof it featured every stunningly obvious on-the-nose observation of the Blair administration along with a seemingly endless line of nausey cameos from past-it luvvie shitheads. That this didn’t get drubbed beyond recognition the next day lets you know exactly how cuntstruck by proximity to celebrity many TV critics are.
You used to be it and now you’re shit award: Dexter, Showtime
Dexter has always been a great show. Then along came season six where it jumped the shark with such upward velocity it threatened to leave the Earth’s atmosphere. The dual pronged Doomsday Killer (Professor Gellar and Travis Marshall played by Edturd Lames Almost and Colin Wanks) blows like the Katabatic winds of the South Pole and the very clear implication that Prof Geller is in Travis’s mind sets us up for either a stunningly dull reveal or a time wasting fakeout. All of this is informed by an insultingly crude religious theme that feels like it’s part of a completely different show. A bad show, cancelled after four episodes because nobody gave two fucks about it. Dexter season six has been bad enough to edge out Ricky Gervais in this category for his reputation shredding Life’s Too Short. Pick it up, fellows. Aerial Telly is watching. Always.
Worst dialogue: The Shadow Line
Hugo Blick‘s stylish thriller looked great but sounded poop and it was the awkwardly rendered stylised dialogue that did for it. “Even if you drew your last breath on the Titanic you still woke up that morning to a beautiful day,” was one clinker and “leather soles slip easy on greasy streets” another. Though, it was hard to beat “I can think of another word beginning with C”. Hang on, you don’t mean cunt do you? “Do you want a clue?” Like I said, I think it might be cunt “Rhymes with the first syllable of country.” She meant cunt all along! Thank you Badblow Line, thank you.
Poo ex machina award for pulling plot twists out of one’s arse: Downton Abbey
Aerial Telly likes Downton Abbey. As ridiculous, demented and fundamentally conservative as it is it’s a smartly handled piece of storytelling and Julian Fellowes’ knack for creating simple but engaging characters shouldn’t be overlooked just because he’s a Tory bag of shit.2 And yet in series 2 we had a Canadian blowtorch turn up from the burning wreck of the Titanic looking like The English Patient claiming to be Dead Cousin Patrick, cousin Matthew make an instant recovery from spinal-injury induced paraplegia and Master Bates apparently get framed for murder by his dead wife. Alongside all this Sybil running off with the uppity Mick seemed all-of-a-sudden strangely plausible.
1 Fuck you. You are not Aerial Telly’s “friends”
2 Fuck you. All Tories are slime. Always.
Imagined: Saturday, 26 November 2011