Most Thought-Provoking TV Shows of 2012

Amy Hoeksema  is a Providence alumna, class of 2012.

I watch quite a bit of television. My tastes are apparently pretty varied, as I discovered when I wrote up this list, ranging from fantasy to history, science fiction to drama, and mystery to horror. I’m not going to go into detail about what makes a television show a good television show, but I will say this—a good show isn’t just entertaining; it makes you think. It makes you think about life, about death, about God, philosophy, religion, good and evil, etc. Good television makes you ponder and mull things over when the hour-long episode is over. The following is a list of my Top Twelve Entertaining and Thought-Provoking Television Shows of 2012.


 1. Once Upon A Time (ABC)

Who doesn’t love a good fairytale? Series creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis have successfully blended our world with that of Snow White, Prince Charming, and the Evil Queen in a show that is equal parts action, suspense, and mystery. You’ll never guess who Dr. Whale is.


2. Game of Thrones (HBO)

I cannot praise Game of Thrones enough. Based on the fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones is the most successful book-to-television adaption I have ever seen. Stellar casting, costumes, choreography, and locations make this show a true epic. Peter Dinklage gets all the awards.


 3. Merlin (BBC One)

If you like dragons, magic, jousting, and a good ol’ adventure, check out this show. 2012 saw Merlin’s fifth and final season, and let’s just say the finale is a tear-jerker. No, I’m not going to tell you who dies.


4. Doctor Who (BBC One)

Matt Smith is resplendent in the show’s 7th season, which (spoilers!) sees the end of the Doctor’s relationship with Amy Pond and Rory and the beginning of his adventures with one Clara Oswin Oswald. The Doctor’s newest companion may or may not be a dead-notdead-fromthefuture-Dalek-girl sort of thing. Just watch the show and it’ll make sense (maybe).


5. Chicago Fire (NBC)

I thought this was going to be “just another firefighter show,” and in a way, it kind of is. Strangely enough, though, I fell in love with it from the pilot. Stars of the show include Jennifer Morrison’s (Once Upon A Time) old beau Jesse Spencer and Lady Gaga’s current beau Taylor Kinney. Need I say the show is hot in more ways than one?


6. Arrow (The CW)

Since this show is based on the comic book hero Green Arrow, I almost didn’t watch it (not being a big fan of comic books), but I was shopping for new shows and thought I’d give it a chance. It both impressed and surprised me. Lead actor, Canadian Stephen Amell, spends part of every episode shirtless (the impressive part) but he also has the acting chops (the surprising part) that make him a believable and likeable vigilante hero. Watch out, Christian Bale.


7. Breaking Bad (AMC)

“Previously on AMC’s Breaking Bad.” Sigh. I miss those words so much. Summer 2012 gave us the first half of Breaking Bad’s fifth and final season, but fans have to wait until summer 2013 for the second half. Is there a more psychologically intense show on television right now? Maybe. But I haven’t seen it.


 8. Spartacus: Vengeance (Starz)

This show is like Gladiator on major steroids. Despite the lack of Russell Crowe, I am still entertained.


9. Sons of Anarchy (FX)

“There is a house in Charming town they call the Rising Sun.” This show features a motorcycle club inspired by the Hell’s Angels. Gritty and down-to-earth, SOA has a whole lot of hell but not a whole lot of angels, yet Jax has his philosophical moments that briefly temper the harshness of the world he lives in.


10. The Newsroom (HBO)

I have nothing but good things to say about The Newsroom. Witty, gritty, dramatic, intense, this show lets you watch behind-the-scenes as some of the biggest stories in recent American history unfolded on national television. Most of the 10 episodes will make your heart stop at some point. Seriously, I had to be resuscitated at least twice.


11.  The Walking Dead (AMC)

Zombies, zombies everywhere, yet no one in the show calls them zombies. Is “zombie” some sort of no-no word for productions that feature them? Regardless, The Walking Dead features the most amazing zombie prosthetics and makeup that I have ever seen. And this isn’t your garden variety Resident Evil: no kick-butt martial arts action here, just normal people trying to survive in a world gone to hell. Five bucks says Lori will annoy the crap out of you.


 12. Sherlock (BBC One)

The master sleuth is a 36 year-old genius living in London who uses his brilliant gray matter to solve intricate crimes with the aid of the adorable Bilbo Baggins. I mean Dr. John Watson.