1. Lady Sybil’s Death on Downton Abbey
I knew this development was coming because I’d been spoiled after the U.K. airing, and yet and yet and yet…I wept like an infant. Downton Abbey has gotten so fast in its plotting that it’s hard to get attached to any of its careening developments. But Sybil was a wonderful character, and Jessica Brown Findlay was lovely on the show. So yes: weep!
2. “The Ghost Is Seen” episode of Enlightened
If you watched the above snippet of Enlightened, I assume you are weeping like I just did (again). Mike White and Laura Dern’s HBO show was beautiful and touching always, but this fifth episode from Season 2 — in which Tyler (White) opens himself up to Eileen (Molly Shannon) — was particularly heartbreaking. Tyler’s conception of himself (as a “ghost”) is an example of one of the things that made this show original: You just don’t see these sorts of characters humanized in pop culture.
3. The “Six Minutes” episode of The Killing
I loved Season 3 of The Killing, and this episode in particular. It’s no surprise that Peter Sarsgaard is a disciplined, committed actor and that he helped lift this struggling show up with his portrayal of the death row convict Ray Seward. But my god, the way Ray’s story came to its inevitable, tragic, and deadly end? It was just great.
When specifically did I cry? Thank you for asking! Oh, so many times — when Ray was told that he couldn’t see his son; when Ray’s knees buckled as he walked toward the gallows; when Aaron Douglas’ wishy-washy prison guard helped Ray stand up; when Ray saw his son Adrian (Rowan Longworth) with Linden (Mireille Enos) through the window; and when Ray yelled his last words, “Salisbury steak’s not steak; it’s ground beef. Now, let’s get this show on the road, Warden.”
(And if you’re interested in some backstory, I talked to Sarsgaard and The Killing’s Veena Sud, who wrote this episode, at the time.)
Also, this YouTube user put Ray’s journey to Mozart’s “Requiem: Lacrimosa.”
And I’m crying again.
4. Catelyn’s death at the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones. (Also, the entire Red Wedding.)
I don’t think there’s anything more to say here?
5. Webber’s dilemmas during the Grey’s Anatomy Season 10 premiere
I am an especial sucker for threads in fiction that explore The Family You Choose (as opposed to the family you’re born into). Friends excelled at this theme: The six main characters were lucky enough to find one another and make a family — in some cases, even in the traditional definition of the word, eventually. Grey’s Anatomy is the inheritor of the Friends legacy in more ways than one, and this is an important thing the two shows share.
The Family You Choose manifestation that made me cry recently on Grey’s was in the Season 10 premiere in September when Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) found out that Webber (James Pickens Jr.) had listed her, his surrogate daughter, as his health-care proxy, giving her the responsibility to decide the direction of his medical care. Since he was incapacitated from being electrocuted, his point of view was delivered through voice-over in the episode, which also killed me dead. (Fellow Grey’s fans: Yes, I realize that he later lashed out at Meredith, thus complicating this beautiful moment. But he apologized later, damnit!)
6. The Season 1 finale of Broadchurch
Since Fox is remaking Broadchurch (and calling it Gracepoint), I will not enumerate the number of times I cried in the finale of the original U.K. version. Because I really hope Fox keeps the same structure and same killer in its adaptation, or else, what’s the point? Just believe me that I cried a whole bunch! I cried like Olivia Colman is crying in the photo above!
7. The “Election Day” episode of Parenthood
Last season, and in all the previous seasons, Parenthood would reduce me to a sobbing wreck on a weekly basis. Like, when NBC announced that the show’s fifth season would expand to 22 episodes, I was both happy and sad about it — happy because I love Parenthood, and sad because watching it is exhausting. But during Season 5, I have found myself beginning and ending each episode with relatively dry eyes. Has the show changed? I wondered. Have I changed? I wondered even harder.
Then came Nov. 21. The “Election Day” episode. IT DESTROYED ME MANY TIMES. I cried, of course, during all of the Kristina (Monica Potter) election stuff. And I didn’t even care for that storyline! But beyond that, I cried when Joel (Sam Jaeger) and Julia (Erika Christensen) fought; I cried when Gwen (Rose Abdoo), who is clearly dying, showed up to vote for Kristina; and most of all, I cried when Amber (Mae Whitman) collapsed into the arms of Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) after Ryan (Matt Lauria) beat up that band guy.
Life is inconsistent. So it’s good to know that some things do not change. Onto more howling in 2014!