Long ago, whenever vulgarities were becoming culturally acceptable, the term “dick move” was coined. Urban Dictionary defines the phrase as the violation of an understood social expectation, particularly between two males. By now, though, we’ve moved past gender association when it comes to the word “dick” when used as an insult. Anyone can be a dick, and thus anyone — or anything — can execute a dick move. These violators did so on television this year. They violated an understood expectation between two characters within the show, the writers and audience watching at home, or both simultaneously.
Below, we will explain in further detail why each of these TV programs deserves to be chastised for their 2015 actions. But for now, just know that they are all the biggest dicks of the year.
[Editor’s Note: Spoilers for the 2015 TV season are listed below. We’ve done our best to keep them out of the headlines, but ultra wary watchers should still be mindful they exist.]
Ensemble “Big Swingin’ Dick” Award: “True Detective”
Let’s be frank: “True Detective” Season 2 is like a black mark on the otherwise clean, white canvas of the 2015 TV season. Whether you hated it — as so many of us did — or somehow found its consistent failure to entertain, let alone make sense, pleasurable, discussing “True Detective” in 2015 was an invitation for disaster. No matter who you were speaking with, opinions varied wildly on what exactly was wrong with it and what few things it was doing well.
One thing we can all pretty much agree on, though, is that the stars of Season 2 were pretty horrible people. Starting with Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro and his emotionally abusive relationship with his son and working your way down the line to the actual villains, just about every person did something awful during the eight-episode season. (Even Ani, our favorite, nearly broke up her partner’s marriage.) But moreover, because the series was riding such an unstoppable tidal wave of devotion built off Season 1, we had to keep talking about “True Detective” long after we knew it was beyond redemption. That would be the biggest dick move of them all, had some people not fallen for Ray’s fake death drama stunt to end Episode 2.
Runner-up: “The Affair”
14. “The Leftovers” Renewed for Its Final Season
Far be it from us to complain about anything related to “The Leftovers,” but HBO and Damon Lindelof’s decision to both renew and cancel the show in one fell swoop still feels wrong. After months of speculation regarding the future of the much-heralded drama, an announcement finally came days after the Season 2 finale. “The Leftovers” Season 3 was happening! Hooray! It’s not over! …until it is. The same season everyone was looking forward to is also the season everyone was dreading: Season 3 is the last season of “The Leftovers.” While learning that now is better than being told this time next year, knowing the best series on television won’t live past its junior year is still a tough pill to swallow (especially after “Hannibal” suffered the same fate in 2015).
13. “Fargo” Never Identifies the UFOs
By now we all know “Fargo” isn’t actually based on a true story, so some leeway in terms of believability is a given. That beings said, Noah Hawley has done such a fine job grounding his first two seasons in realism — both to the geographic locations being depicted and the characters living in them — that such an odd intrusion as aliens demands some sort of justification. Yes, the Coen brothers have incorporated similar otherworldly themes in films like “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” but context is key for an element as extreme as this one. The existing story has to justify such an inclusion, not merely referencing a (rather obscure) separate movie. It would be one thing if the UFOs’ validity was questionable, but Season 2 saw one major scene in which multiple characters noticed the spacecraft and doing so changed the outcome of the story. Considering belief in aliens isn’t quite on the same level of presumed acceptance as, say, a mafia based out of Kansas City, the lack of explanation irked a few viewers — especially considering their ultimate impact on “Fargo.”
12. “Bloodline” Turns Coach Into a Killer
Anyone going into “Bloodline” expecting Kyle Chandler to reprise Coach Taylor’s kind and generous spirit was in for a rude awakening. The Netflix drama established Chandler’s John Rayburn as a bad boy from the start, quickly upending any connections to the “Friday Night Lights” father, but it wasn’t until late in the season that we learned just how dark John’s truth looked. Watching Chandler play someone who could attack, strangle and drown his own brother was jarring to say the least. Clear eyes and a full heart aren’t part of John’s anatomy.
11. “Ash vs. Evil Dead” Should’ve Never Happened
Don’t get us wrong: We’re in love with the new Starz series and are so, so happy to see Ash back in action. That being said, the new wave of Deadites stirring up trouble would’ve never come to life had our star not been thinking with his dick. Ash started this whole mess by reading from the Necronomicon in a misguided effort to impress his date. Thinking if she was impressed with poetry than she’d just start ripping off her clothes for what’s inside the Book of the Dead, Ash read the text that brought to life all of Earth’s evils. And all for a one-night stand. Way to go, Ash. Thanks a lot.
10. “Veep” Takes It Out on Dan
The first few weeks of the Meyer presidency didn’t go all that well, and that was before the press found out about data leak that targeted bereaved parents. Their first issue was dealing with the person responsible for going on national television and identifying a young girl who was HIV-positive, thus exposing her to the wrath of her worried and ignorant immediate community, as well as the world around her. Though Ben (Kevin Dunn) initially volunteered to fall on the sword, it turned out Dan (Reid Scott) was the one to get the boot — even though he had nothing to do with the blunder. “It’s a fickle world, and you’ve just been ficked,” a less-than-sympathetic Ben told the young White House staffer. Considering how much assholery goes on in D.C. (and “Veep,” specifically), this is a relatively minor dick move. Still, we like Dan, and the Meyer administration shouldn’t be let off the hook for its many, many transgressions in 2015.
9. Pam Befouls the Elevator on “Archer”
To be fair, no one in the “Archer” crew handled themselves well when trapped in an elevator (save for Archer destroying Cyril’s “literally good for nothing” sweater vest), but Pam has to take the cake for worst prisoner. Just as Lana was setting the ground rules for rationing food among the group, Pam knowingly chugged the “third of a gallon of malt liquor” she carried into work that morning. Not only was it a selfish move for a room full of alcoholics, but it made her have to urinate in a confined space without a bathroom. None of this ended well, but Pam’s efforts (or lack thereof) may have been the worst part of the constricted ordeal (especially for Ray, who had to lay down a very wet floor in his very wet suit).
8. Jeremy’s “UnREAL” Proposal to Rachel
Okay, Jeremy. We get it. A year after freaking out on national television and disappearing from your life, Rachel returned and ruined your life — again. She made you think you two had a future, which lead you to end a healthy relationship with your fiance and led her to have casual sex with the star of “Everlasting.” So maybe she deserved to be embarrassed in front of the entire cast and crew of your shared reality show, but doing so by making her think you were about to propose seems a little too cruel. Let’s not forget that you were the one who pushed a borderline sociopath into a committed relationship far too quickly. You were the one who decided to go for it with Rachel after one questionable round of “grief sex.” You were the one who made things ultra-serious without checking to see if she wanted that. And finally, you were the one who should’ve known how much work had to go into maintaining a relationship with a person like Rachel. She’s not going to make things easy on you because nothing is ever easy for her — including this dick move of a proposal from the one guy she thought she could trust.
7. “House of Cards” Comes Crashing Down on Claire
If pushed to pick the moment when Claire and Frank’s relationship fractured, their fight on board Air Force One over gay rights’ activist Michael Korrigan’s protest in a Russian prison seems to be it. Yes, they made up after their vehement verbal rat-a-tat, but nothing seemed to be as it was before Claire’s public takedown of Russian President Petrov put a damper on Frank’s international relations with the country. Moreover, some words you just can’t take back, like when Frank said, “He was a coward, and I’m glad he’s dead,” about a man who just gave Claire a “profound moral epiphany.” It wasn’t so much what Frank said as what he implied by saying it. He didn’t care about Claire. She wasn’t a priority to him when she had always made him her first priority. Thus, it was fitting when Claire walked out on her husband in the middle of his presidential campaign, ruining his chances at a swift and secure return to highest office, but she certainly wasn’t the dick in that power couple.
6. Tandy in “The Last Man on Earth” Season 1 and Everyone Else in Season 2
In an interesting and necessary twist, “The Last Man on Earth” Season 1 focused on Tandy’s flaws, while Season 2 switched over to the rest of the survivors. Think about it: In Season 1, we saw Tandy try to sleep with every woman he came into contact with, lie and manipulate his way to the top of the food chain and end up getting banned from the last remaining community on Earth. But in Season 2, Tandy has been working to improve himself while everyone else is up to no good. The man who was given Tandy’s not-so-good name in Season 1 tried to tarnish it even further in Season 2 by abandoning his pregnant girlfriend. Todd was caught hoarding a massive supply of bacon. Heck, even Carol killed a guy…accidentally (R.I.P. Gordon). What it boils down to is that everyone can be a dick — even big dicks sometimes. We all just need friends to set us straight.
5. “The Affair” Finds Its Villain
If you’ve been keeping up with Indiewire’s episode reviews of “The Affair,” then you know there have been quite a few unkind advances peppered throughout Season 2. So many, in fact, the Showtime drama earned our runner-up prize for the Ensemble “Big Swingin’ Dick” Award (see above). With that in mind, instead of choosing a specific moment as the show’s biggest dick move, we’re only going to narrow it down to one person: Noah. Dominic West’s character descended to new lows in 2015, portraying a character that, no matter how you tell the story, is the series’ de facto villain. And in show featuring four main characters who could all fit that archetype without Noah around, that’s really saying something.
4. “American Horror Story: Hotel” Rips Off David Fincher
After seeing “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakes” pay loving homage to its influences while still establishing its own identity, Ryan Murphy’s ugly FX anthology series looks all the worse for stealing from great horror movies without so much as a knowing wink. For anyone who hasn’t watched any of “Hotel,” we went over in detail just how nasty the new season can be when “borrowing” from movies like “Se7en” and “The Shining.” For those who had the misfortune to visit, Murphy’s thievery is as bluntly obvious as everything else about “American Horror Story” — which is a big part of the problem itself. Nothing is subtle, even when it needs to be.
3. The “Too Much TV” Debate
Thanks to John Landgraf’s pointed speech at FX’s summer TCA panel, much of 2015’s second half was spent discussing the idea of “too much TV.” Were a lot of good shows distracting audiences from the truly great programs? Was Landgraf just trying to get people to notice his own slate of unjustly ignored dramas? Is it possible to have too many choices when it comes to entertainment? Maybe, yes and don’t be silly. While the idea of 400-plus original scripted dramas does indicate it’s impossible for any one person to keep up with them all, no one is arguing that to begin with. The greater purpose of “too much TV” is to expand the medium’s reach to groups of people usually ignored by broadcast networks and even basic cable. Diversity in programming has increased along with the series count, meaning more unique stories are vying for a variety of new demographics instead of the same networks fighting over the same audience. Plus, more shows means more TV professionals both in front of and behind the camera, and who in their right mind would complain about an abundance of jobs? Not us, that’s for sure.
2. “Hannibal” Cancelled at NBC, Not Picked Up by Amazon
While it’s hard to blame NBC for cancelling “Hannibal” — it’s a business, after all, and ratings drive its profits — the fallout following the decision certainly felt like a knife in the back to fans of Bryan Fuller’s horror show. The creator’s genuine thanks to NBC for sticking with it as long as it did and optimism for the future so quickly after getting the axe certainly made it seem more likely than not that we’d get to see a fourth season of “Hannibal.” But then negotiations stalled. Netflix didn’t want to pick up a property that wasn’t exclusive to the streaming company, and Amazon — which had rights to the first two seasons — balked at the time it would take for Fuller & Co. to produce a new season. Even after Fuller announced his show wouldn’t be moving to Amazon, he remained optimistic it could survive elsewhere. But slowly and steadily, all the pieces fell apart. Though it’s hard to find a specific target for our frustration, holding everyone accountable only seems fair for one of the biggest dick moves of the year.
1. “BoJack Horseman” Escapes Los Angeles, But Not Himself
To be fair, it’s hard to be too mad at a guy — or in this case, a horse — who is a self-proclaimed dick. Self-awareness earns you a little bit of leniency, but what BoJack Horseman did in the penultimate episode of Season 2 went far beyond any latitude we can grant. After being taken in by an old friend’s family in his time of need, BoJack proceeded to turn Charlotte’s good intentions into a horrible mistake as he not only tried to make a move on her, a married woman, but also went after her teenage daughter. BoJack may have been in a dark place, but that kind of pitch-black self-sabotage can only be described in two words — and they’re in the headline of this article.