We’ve reached a weird, unique moment in the sinuous history of television. Game of Thrones, now in its fourth season, has become the most watched cable show since The Sopranos, bringing in around 14 million viewers. Louis C.K.’s brilliant profundity-in-banality show Louie, back after a 19-month hiatus, is redefining auteur television, and mainstream outlets like Salon are now posting articles claiming that “television’s golden age is a sham.”
While the constantly shifting paradigm of television makes it easy to toss around huge hyperbolic statements and proclaim every day to be a watershed moment, 2014 is undeniably an odd, probably paramount year — or at least a transitional year. Game of Thrones is going through an adolescent stage, trying to break away from its source material in bizarre ways; Mad Men is ending; Louie has become the first really, seriously important game-changing New York-centric comedy since Seinfeld; and 24, the show with the gimmick that keeps on giving, has returned, perhaps because its star, Keifer Sutherland, had nothing else to do. These shows extrapolate the unique, yet ever-changing identity of television in 2014.