TIME Television

The League Renewed for 7th and Final Season

The cast and crew of "The League" attend the premiere and launch party for FXX Network's "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" and "The League" at Lure on Sept. 3, 2013 in Hollywood.
The cast and crew of "The League" attend the premiere and launch party for FXX Network's "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" and "The League" at Lure on Sept. 3, 2013 in Hollywood. Mark Davis—Getty Images

Final 13 episodes will begin airing in the fall of 2015

It’s game over for The League.

The FX/FXX series about a fantasy football league announced that it was returning for a seventh season — but that the new season would also be its last, Deadline reports. The final 13 episodes will begin airing in the fall of 2015.

Ratings for its sixth season had only slightly declined compared to the previous season.

“Most players in the NFL don’t make it to seven seasons, and most TV shows even less so,” said Jackie Marcus Schaffer, who co-created the show with her husband, Jeff. “We want to thank FX Networks and all our Eskimo brothers and sisters. NFL teams would be lucky to have fans as diehard as ours.”

[Deadline]

TIME Television

Eaten Alive is Discovery’s Most-Watched Nature Show in Years

Eaten Alive Rosolie Snake
Discovery Channel

A total of 4.1 million viewers tuned in

Discovery’s Eaten Alive has some real ratings bite: The controversial special delivered the most viewers for a nature documentary on the cable channel in four years.

A total of 4.1 million viewers tuned in Sunday night to watch author and conservationist Paul Rosolie trek through the Amazon rainforest and wrestle with a 25-foot anaconda (one that apparently didn’t have much of an appetite). According to Discovery, that’s the biggest audience for a nature show on the network since Life in 2010.

Eaten Alive has drawn heated reactions ever since Discovery announced the show last month. First animal rights activists protested the special. Rosolie countered that the goal of the show was to protect millions of creatures whose habitat is being destroyed by deforestation. Then after the special aired, viewers complained Rosolie wasn’t actually consumed, while Discovery defended the special (“it became clear that Paul would be very seriously injured if he continued on”).

Rosolie previously told EW that the extreme snake stunt was necessary to “grab people by the eyeballs” to get viewers to pay attention to a well-intentioned conservation documentary. It seems he may have been right.

Also: Discovery’s special 15-minute “episode” of Naked and Afraid with Seth Rogan and James Franco delivered 2.3 million total viewers.

This article originally appeared at EW.com

TIME Television

AFI Names Best TV of 2014, From The Americans to Transparent

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys in FX's The Americans. Craig Blankenhorn/FX

The TV awards, from a movie organization, show the breadth and strength of television in 2014.

Another hour, another best-TV-of-the-year honors. A while ago I posted about Fargo winning the Hitfix 2014 TV poll, in which I (and many other critics) participated. This year I also voted in another, quite different TV awards, from the American Film Institute (which apparently also honors some upstart genre known as “movies”).

Unlike the Hitfix poll, the AFI awards are decided by a jury of critics, academics and TV professionals. (Among our crew this year was Vince Gilligan, who had no dog in the fight a year in between Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.) Also unlike that poll, and most others, it doesn’t rank its finalists in order (which I wouldn’t either if TIME didn’t require it). We just watch our shows, argue for our favorites, complete a ballot, and publish a civilized, alphabetical list. This year, those ten shows were:

THE AMERICANS
FARGO
GAME OF THRONES
HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER
JANE THE VIRGIN
THE KNICK
MAD MEN
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
SILICON VALLEY
TRANSPARENT

Exactly half of those shows were on my own top ten list, and almost all the rest came close. (Except for How to Get Away With Murder, which I don’t think is quite there but is definitely a hell of a lot of fun.) The AFI also considers only scripted TV, so one of my picks for TIME, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, was ineligible. But even if I didn’t vote for each of these shows, I like the range they represent, in genre, style and format. (Though in a sign of the times, there are only two broadcast network shows–the same amount as shows from online streaming services.)

As usual, it was a fun process that helped me sort through my own feelings about the past year in TV. As for yours, feel free to quibble or offer up your own list in the comments. Alphabetization optional.

TIME Television

TV Critics’ Poll Names Fargo Best Show of 2014

Chris Large/FX

In a year with a lot of vote-splitting, the Minnesota saga pleased enough of the people enough of the time to win.

Entertainment site Hitfix today released the results of its annual TV critics’ poll, and this time it was Fargo that would go far. FX’s new series (miniseries? serial miniseries?) finished number one both for best show of the year and best new show, finishing ahead of The Good Wife and Transparent respectively. (True Detective‘s Matthew McConaughey won the separate Best Performance poll.)

As always, just because I vote in the polls doesn’t mean I agree with all the choices: I’ve already published my own top 10 of 2014 list, so you can compare these lists with mine if you want. But honestly, I don’t need a list like this to confirm my tastes–that’s what my own is for. It’s much more interesting to me to see how they reflect the averaged-out preferences of a particular group.

This year, it sheds a little light on what a wildly diverse group of top shows 2014 gave us. I don’t just mean there was a lot of good TV, but there was no one show dominating most critics’ lists as Breaking Bad did last year. (Even if I was one of a few dissenters in 2013, putting Enlightened #1 and Breaking Bad #2.) This year, a casual glance down the individual critics’ picks find many different, plausible top picks: Transparent (my choice), The Good Wife, The Americans, True Detective, Game of Thrones. Hitfix’s own Alan Sepinwall picked The Leftovers as his #1, and while I though its season was too uneven, I loved its high points so much I immediately regretted not ranking it higher.

As for Fargo, it would not have been my guess for the top spot, and yet in retrospect it seems obvious. The show has had its detractors–The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum, for instance. But in general it was a show a lot of critics loved or at least liked a lot, without a major backlash, which meant it was high enough on enough lists to rack up a lot of points. It stood up better over time and in memory (compare True Detective, which was an obsession for two months last winter but ended up #5 on the Hitfix list), and it didn’t run the risk, like The Good Wife, of running a fall season that didn’t quite measure up to its earlier winter season. Not everyone agreed one single shows was the best in 2014, but enough critics–myself included–believed that Fargo was one of the best to make it tops overall.

(A key factor here is that critics vote in the poll by ranking their top 10 picks; so even though Fargo tied The Good Wife and Transparent in #1 picks, it got enough close-to-#1 picks to make the difference.)

Agree or not, Hitfix provides enough data to make an interesting deep dive for TV geeks–not just each critic’s individual ranked lists, but how many votes each show got, from whom, and in what place. Go ahead and do some investigating of your own–that’s what Molly Solverson would want.

 

TIME Television

Mark Hamill Will Join The Flash to Reprise Role as the Trickster

He played the role in the original 1990s Flash television series

During the second-half of The Flash‘s first season, Barry will face off with a tricky foe, and one he has fought before… sort of.

EW can confirm that Mark Hamill will join the cast of The CW’s superhero hit to play a new version of the Trickster, a role he took on in the original 1990s Flash television series. Hitfix originally reported the news.

This new interpretation of the Trickster, who appears in the show’s 17th episode, places him as a con man living out a life sentence at Iron Heights. Barry and Detective West will need to call on his help when a wannabe Trickster begins attack Central City.

This role will of course reunite Hamill with another Iron Heights inmate—Barry’s father, who is played by the Flash from the ’90s TV show, John Wesley Shipp.

Hamill’s original performance as the Trickster is one of that show’s most memorable, and it even included a storyline in which the madman worked together with Prank, one of his biggest fans.

This article originally appeared at EW.com

TIME Television

Game of Thrones Costume Designer Regrets ‘Nipple Armor’

"Sometimes you can’t go back and change things," Michele Clapton says

When Game of Thrones returns in the spring, it will feature some new characters from George R.R. Martin’s novels: the Sand Snakes. Fans are excited about the television debut of Prince Oberyn Martell’s illegitimate children, but some were not so thrilled with photos of their costumes, which featured breastplates … with nipples on them.

As New York magazine’s The Cut points out, Martin even uses the phrase “as useless as nipples on a breastplate” in his actual books. To get to the bottom of “nipplegate,” the magazine sought out costume designer Michele Clapton for some answers — and she says it was all a mistake that she’s “not keen” on.

“Of course you have to have the woman’s shape,” she explained. “That’s fine. But [nipples on armor] is almost from a man’s point of view, and there’s something slightly cheesy about it.”

Clapton says the nipples on the armor were an accidental byproduct of the armor molds and that they were supposed to be sanded off, but she didn’t realize the sanding was incomplete until it was time to start shooting. Though the armor-nipples weren’t that noticeable during filming, she says, photos of the Sand Snakes on set exaggerate their prominence due to the lighting at the time.

“I was surprised when I saw the picture,” Clapton says. “But I didn’t notice them when I was there. And sometimes you can’t go back and change things.”

[The Cut]

TIME Television

Emma Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis Reportedly Cast in Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens

'Emma Roberts at the American Horror Story: Freak Show' red carpet premiere in Los Angeles.
'Emma Roberts at the American Horror Story: Freak Show' red carpet premiere in Los Angeles. Splash News/Corbis

Scream Queens will take place at a college campus where a number of murders take place

Ryan Murphy has found his scream queens.

The creator of Glee and American Horror Story is prepping what he calls a “whole new genre” of “comedy-horror” with a new anthology that has cast two stars so far.

Emma Roberts and Jamie Lee Curtis–who got her big break with a lot of shrieking in the 1978 scary staple Halloween–will star in Scream Queens, which premieres next fall on Fox, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Murphy had previously said that the production was conducting a nationwide search for “two female leads … as well as 10 other supporting roles.”

It’s not yet known which characters they will play, but the first season will take place at a college campus that’s become the site of several murders. Like American Horror Story — which Roberts has appeared on — later seasons of the show will feature entirely new plots.

[THR]

TIME Sexual Assault

A Newsroom Writer Says Aaron Sorkin Yelled at Her Over Rape Plot

Aaron Sorkin The Newsroom
Writer Aaron Sorkin attends the premiere of "The Newsroom" at DGA Theater in Los Angeles on Nov. 4, 2014. Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic/Getty Images

Staff writer Alena Smith says she was kicked out of the writers room after objecting to the storyline

As if The Newsroom wasn’t already patronizing enough, the show spent its penultimate episode mansplaining how the media should handle accusations of sexual assault. One of The Newsroom characters is lionized for siding with what he calls a “sketchy” alleged rapist over a rape victim.

Critics say that head writer Aaron Sorkin went too far, and, as it turns out, at least one of Sorkin’s writers agrees. Alena Smith took to Twitter on Sunday night to say that Sorkin kicked her out of the writers’ room when she objected to the rape subplot:

For those who didn’t watch the episode, here’s a summary of the objectionable storyline:

A college student named Mary tells ACN producer Don that she was raped, reported the rape to both the college’s administration and the police and that nothing will be done about it due to lack of evidence. She creates a website where women can anonymously report rapes on campus in order to shame their assailants and warn other women about these men. (Though the show does not address this statistic, at least one study has found that 90% of men who rape will rape again and that perpetrators will assault six people on average.)

The line that launched a thousand think pieces this morning came when Don is asked which person he believes: the victim or the alleged perpetrator? Don concedes that Mary seems credible and would have no reason to lie and that her alleged assailant seems “sketchy” and does have motivation to lie. But he concludes, “I’m obligated to believe the sketchy guy.”

MORE: Listen Here, Internet Girl: The Newsroom Rapesplains It All

It’s an absurd statement. As TIME’s Jim Poniewozik writes, “Don’s not saying that he can’t know whom to believe yet. He’s not saying that he doesn’t have hard proof…He’s saying that, lacking proof, he has to affirmatively believe the story of one of his subjects–a less credible one–over the other. Forget journalists–many men’s rights movement advocates don’t even go that far.”

Don encourages Mary not to participate in an ACN segment in which she would be required to debate with her rapist—not because that would be traumatic and horrifying but because Don thinks it’s inevitable that Mary’s site will be used to make false rape accusations and ruin innocent men’s lives.

The question of false accusations is particularly prescient given the current debate over a Rolling Stone story on sexual assault on the University of Virginia campus and a subsequent apology from the magazine for “discrepancies” in the story. Only about 6% of rape allegations are fabricated, according to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network). False reports only hurt real rape victims because journalists and law enforcement begin to doubt their stories.“Overwhelmingly, victims are telling the truth,” Scott Berkowitz, the president of RAINN, recently told TIME. “But by all means, journalists should ask all the questions they need to ask in order to get the facts.”

But instead of finding the facts, Don skirts the story altogether. It’s easy to see why Smith objected to the scene.

Update:

On Monday afternoon, The Newsroom’s Aaron Sorkin responded to the objections raised by Smith with a long statement:

Let me take a moment to say that I understand that the story in last night’s episode (305—”Oh Shenandoah”) about Don trying to persuade a Princeton student named Mary (Sarah Sutherland) not to engage in a “Crossfire”-style segment on his show has catalyzed some passionate debate this morning. I’m happy to hear it.

It catalyzed some passionate debate in our writers room too. Arguments in the writers room at The Newsroom are not only common, they’re encouraged. The staff’s ability to argue with each other and with me about issues ranging from journalistic freedom vs. national security to whether or not Kat Dennings should come back and save the company is one of their greatest assets and something I look for during the hiring process. Ultimately I have to go into a room by myself and write the show but before I do I spend many days listening to, participating in and stoking these arguments. As with any show, I have to create a safe environment where people can disagree and no one fears having their voice drowned out or, worse, mocked.

Alena Smith, a staff writer who joined the show for the third season, had strong objections to the Princeton story and made those objections known to me and to the room. I heard Alena’s objections and there was some healthy back and forth. After a while I needed to move on (there’s a clock ticking) but Alena wasn’t ready to do that yet. I gave her more time but then I really needed to move on. Alena still wouldn’t let me do that so I excused her from the room.

The next day I wrote a new draft of the Princeton scenes—the draft you saw performed last night. Alena gave the new pages her enthusiastic support. So I was surprised to be told this morning that Alena had tweeted out her unhappiness with the story. But I was even more surprised that she had so casually violated the most important rule of working in a writers room which is confidentiality. It was a room in which people felt safe enough to discuss private and intimate details of their lives in the hope of bringing dimension to stories that were being pitched. That’s what happens in writers rooms and while ours was the first one Alena ever worked in, the importance of privacy was made clear to everyone on our first day of work and was reinforced constantly. I’m saddened that she’s broken that trust.

TIME Television

Watch the New Girls Season 4 Trailer

All you need is love!

Based on the new trailer, Girls season 4 looks like it’s all about love and relationships.

Hannah and Adam struggle to plan how they’ll survive long-distance; Marnie fights with Desi (who she creepily stalked at the end of last season); Jessa quotes Selena Gomez on matters of the heart, naturally; and Shoshanna tells Ray that it’s okay that he slept with Marnie because she never really liked Marnie anyway.

Okay, so maybe the titular girls are still struggling to master the art of a healthy relationship, but at least they’re seeking out love advice from some very funny guest stars: The trailer features the welcome return of Gaby Hoffman as Adam’s sister and Gillian Jacobs as a motivational speaker the girls watch on YouTube.

Lena Dunham’s Girls returns to HBO January 11.

TIME Television

Watch SNL’s Un-Aired Sketch About Ferguson

Two morning anchors try and keep up light, fluffy dialogue in the face of the grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson

Saturday Night Live released an unaired sketch from this week’s episode and it’s a doozie.

In the sketch, two Ferguson-area morning anchors — one black, one white, played by Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson —are faced with sustaining their upbeat, inane chatter in the wake of the protests over a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the death of teenager Michael Brown. Their patter is filled with uncomfortable slips of the tongue and clear race divides that only get worse when guest chef Daryl Wilson (played by host James Franco) stops by to cook up a healthy meal.

While the sketch is uncomfortable and difficult to watch, it’s a shame that it was cut from the episode. Comedy has a long history of turning a lens on difficult situations and challenging people to think about events and circumstances we would rather avoid.

The SNL sketch also bears a striking similarity to NBC’s decision to focus on the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree rather than show the streets surrounding the building, which were filled with protestors angered over the grand jury’s decision not to indict a white NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner.

[H/T Uproxx]

Read next: Watch Tina Fey Joke About Bill Cosby Rape Allegations on SNL in 2005

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