The Sundae TV Awards 2022

What a weirdly fantastic and fantastically weird year of television we’ve had. We said goodbye to previous award winners Better Call Saul, Better Things and Derry Girls, all of whom represented one of the two dominant themes of the year: good shows staying good. It’s Always Sunny? Still good. Taskmaster? Still good. Ted Lasso? Still good.

But Ted Lasso also represents the other theme: our extreme uncertainty about how to classify many shows as dramas or comedies this year. Some of it was new shows like Peacemaker, or new to us shows like Doom Patrol and Succession, that straddled the divide. But we also had favourites like Ted Lasso that seemed to shift from one to the other. While we put thought into our process and considered qualities like a show’s structure as much as or more than its tone, some of our decisions are likely to feel arbitrary or even absurd to you, reader. All we can say is: deal with it, because we are not explaining or justifying that shit every time.

And with that little bit of housekeeping out of the way, please enjoy as we pass judgement on the last TV season (June 2021 – May 2022). As well as the classic drama and comedy awards, we also have two awards for reality, variety and documentary television, including game shows, professional wrestling and whatever Eric Andre is doing at any given minute. We picked our winners by consensus, so only shows we both watched were eligible to win, but we each picked a runner-up, regardless of whether the other has seen it.

You can find each of our full slates of nominees at the bottom of the post. We recommend checking them out if you’re looking for recommendations.

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A Mid-Life Crisis in North Dakota

Dennis Reynolds is a bad man. All the characters on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are awful people – it’s kind of the premise of the show – but Dennis still stands apart. Like the rest of the Gang, he’s all narcissism, bigotry, and rage, ready to explode at any moment at anyone he perceives to have crossed him. Once, when a guy called him a narc, Dennis’s revenge was getting the guy to chain himself to a tree overnight during a storm while Dennis slept with his girlfriend, and that’s pretty mild when you’re grading on the Dennis curve of bad behaviour. He’s a prolific rapist, and he might be a serial killer.

He’s also one of the best characters in the history of TV.

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Mac MacDonald, Charlie Kelly, Dee Reynolds and Dennis Reynolds drinking in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

The Gang Fights Neoliberalism

American politics, for the past couple of decades up until just recently, has operated on a binary: liberal/conservative. A lot of the time, this leads to weird semantic problems – calling Bernie Sanders “very liberal” when he’s not a liberal at all, calling Donald Trump a conservative when his ideology has very little to do with conservatism  – but the way we talk about ideas informs what ideas become. If you only see things in terms of liberal and conservative, you can deeply misunderstand things happening in front of you. Worse, when you lose the words to describe them, the possibility of other distinct political philosophies can disappear.

South Park is a libertarian show. It’s always been a libertarian show. I find it hard to imagine a show more upfront with its ideology than South Park. Yet there are countless posts and articles debating whether South Park is secretly liberal or secretly conservative, as if it’s secretly anything. Even more bizarre is the common idea that South Park has no ideology at all. Interviews with titles like “Matt Stone & Trey Parker Are Not Your Political Allies (No Matter What You Believe).” Academic articles with titles like “Pseudo-Satire and Evasion of Ideological Meaning in South Park.” If an ideology does not fit within either of the boxes I have in front of me, it must not exist at all.

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