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Julie Klausner Presents the 2014 Vulture TV Awards

All week, we’ll be honoring the best in television from the past year with the Vulture TV Awards. Given the dizzying amount of material to sift through, this is no small task, but our writers and critics pored over 12 months’ worth of material (from last June until now) and returned with selections for their favorite moments and performances in hand. We’ve also enlisted David Milch, Damon Lindelof, Amy Sherman-Palladino, and other industry luminaries to write about and discuss the small-screen stuff that blew them away over the past year. And we’re kicking it all off with a real awards ceremony (hint: not actually real). The stars are all gathered at the refreshingly air-conditioned Varick Street Pavilion to help us celebrate the year that was in television. And here’s your host, Julie Klausner!

Hello, and welcome to the first-ever Vulture TV Awards! My name is Julie Klausner and I love television! I’m your host, inasmuch as one can “host” a weeklong installation of written pieces on a website.

And what a year it’s been for television, am I right, or should I just go fuck myself? Matt Weiner, you’re in the front row nodding and laughing. You know what I’m talking about! Hey — nipple in a box, right? Not a Justin Timberlake–Andy Samberg spoof just yet, but maybe it will be one day! Hi, Kurt Sutter! I see that you’re dressed traditionally. Was your leather tuxedo in the wash? Ha-ha, we’re having a great time.

Before we present our first award, let’s take a look back at the events in Television Land from the past year. Back in September 2013, the government passed a law that made sure every straight white male had at least one late-night talk show. Hi, Chris Hardwick! Are you going to be hosting an after-show for this ceremony? I hope so! You’re certainly the man for the job.

Since we all gathered here last June, many TV fixtures have said their good-byes. Like you, I was as sad to see Breaking Bad end as Barbara Walters was to see her dressing room on The View gradually transformed into a electric humidor for Jenny McCarthy’s ever-increasing collection of vape cigs. Hey, look at who’s here! It’s Sherri Shepherd! How did you get in? Are you sitting in Anna Gunn’s seat? Please leave. You were not invited.

Sometimes, our investment in certain shows piqued our collective dander. Why on earth did Dexter have to end like that? Did anybody on staff at House of Cards notice that they dropped the matter of Zoe’s death like it was a piping-hot rib from Freddy’s now-shuttered establishment? And, in regards to the whole Adele Dazeem business, what precisely is wrong with John Travolta’s brain, anyway? Like, can we get a neurologist to write a listicle? Ha-ha! It’s okay, Jenna Elfman: You can laugh at a fellow Scientologist at the expense of his brain. Dianetics is the user manual, right? I know, I know. You look lovely tonight, by the way.

But in the end, our unfaltering belief that television can do wonderful things remains intact. Who needs to talk to your real family when you can pretend that Keith Carradine is your dad, Allison Tolman is your sister, you all live in Fargo, and you’re going to take Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton down, dag-nabbit!

And who needs to spend any energy making your job more tolerable when you can just zone out all week and, come Sunday nights, invest yourself in the life and death and dragon-related matters of one Tyrion Lannister, a guy with more daddy issues than Wes Anderson! And after that, sit tight and you can pretend that you work for the Pied Piper start-up, alongside your favorite new gang of pencil-necks.

And speaking of Pipers, let’s give a hand to the ladies of Orange Is the New Black! I haven’t seen an institution rife with that much sapphic sexual tension since the Facts of Life girls opened that store. Hi, Uzo Aduba! You look incredible tonight. Have you met Steve Buscemi? If his eyes have a meme, I think you at least deserve a special chocolate-vanilla swirl promotion at Carvel. Carvel, everybody! Let’s give that local ice-cream chain a hand. Cookie Puss, right? Everybody loves him. He’s an alien from Planet Birthday! Mads Mikkelsen is nodding. Hannibal knows all about ice-cream cake.

So, tonight, or this week, or whenever you happen to be reading this, we are here to honor the best of the best of television — and a few worsts! — from the past year. From the depraved organ-eating and polyamorous cavorting depicted on Hannibal to the depressing ice-cream eating and half-hearted dating shown on Louie. From the bloodthirsty, soulless monsters on Walking Dead to the bloodthirsty, soulless monsters on Veep. We are here to salute the awkward honesty of Girls and the heartfelt goofiness of Bob’s Burgers; the heady bromances of True Detective and Sherlock and the general excellence of Orphan Black, The Good Wife, Archer, and The Americans, which are all shows I’ve heard are very good from people who like them a lot, but haven’t gotten around to watching yet, I know, I know. Hey, look, everybody! Keri Russell is here tonight! That remark will surely be greeted with such wild applause that I’ll have to wait out. Hey, Keri Russell! Remember Felicity? Me too! Now you’re on a different show! People seem to like that one a lot!

What’s special about this “Awards Show” is that, unlike other awards shows, it needs to be presented in quotes. And what’s more, it features some of your favorite critics! That’s what everybody always says at the Oscars and the Emmys, right? The judging process was okay, but the real payoff is seeing Matt Zoller Seitz in a sequined bow-tie? In all seriousness, what a treat it’s been to have been privy to these informed appreciations of shows as written by, for, and about the people here tonight who make them great. To that end, we’re going to present awards delegated by the Vulture staff — stand up, guys! Take a bow! And now please sit down immediately, you’re holding up an otherwise-great show. I’ll know for future ceremonies never to seat you guys next to Amy Schumer. Yes, she’s very attractive. Hi, Amy! Do you have a production company yet? Let me know, we can go pitch! We can play sisters, maybe? Why are you making that face?

What’s more, we’re lucky to have some television insiders in the house tonight, can you believe it? Hi, Vince Gilligan! Huh — you haven’t shaved that yet? Okay. Any Better Call Saul spoilers you can toss us in your signature comforting drawl? And Amy Sherman-Palladino is here! Perfect timing, as I ended sitting shiva for Bunheads ten minutes ago. She’s going to share her pick for best dialogue later on, and I can’t wait. Will it be the “time is a flat circle” spiel? The ode to Burger Chef that Peggy delivered in the season finale of Mad Men? Or will the award go to the narrator of Puppies 101 for just randomly making shit up over footage of a litter of newborn puppies? Casting agent Allison Jones, you’re laughing at that. Are you a dog person? Have you yelled at any get off the casting couch? They’re not allowed on ANY couch, dogs! Ha ha. This is a lot of fun. Who here is from New Jers—

Guys, I’m getting the light and that means I can’t sing my Billy Crystal–style parody medley about all the TV shows we enjoyed talking about and goofing on this year. The good news is that means we can get to the actual ceremony a little faster, and the bad news is you’ll never find out how I rhymed “Sharknado” with “Couch Potato” in a verse set to Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop.” It’s a uniquely terrible song!

Anyway: the Vulture TV awards! I’m Julie Klausner! On with the show! And speaking of Amy Schumer ...

Photo-Illustration: Maya Robinson