The Taylors have been the West Wing of family and education for four seasons now, the kind of people that are too good to be true, but stand as realistic portrayals of the best possibilities nonetheless. Even as Eric is forced from his old job, he finds purpose in his new one, guiding players facing difficult situations on a daily basis. By the end of the season, Tami had gone through the same fate, following her charge of providing the best possible information for a young girl who had gotten pregnant. Together, as parents, they face the prospects of raising a teenage daughter and all the problems that entails, including heartbreak, sexual awakening, and the dawn of poor choices. It is no surprise that this couple has been under the guiding hand of Jason Katims, the same man that has brought us another realistic couple on Parenthood.
Alec Baldwin has long been a favorite, but his portrayal of the self-important stuffed shirt at NBC/KableTown continues to be the role of his career. Jack's ability to skewer what is wrong with right-wing jingoistic capitalism gone wild while remaining both lovable and vulnerable is a bit of a miracle. His love triangle with Julianne Moore and Elizabeth Banks has been a high point, as has his playing off his parents, Alan Alda and Elaine Strich.
Fringe has been a show I've just sort of stuck with until 2010. That's when the big reveal came, that Peter is not of this world, but of an alternate Earth where everyone here exists, just a little bit different. This wasn't, of course, revealing to us, the viewers, as we've known for a while now, but when the actual moment came, and we saw Walter go over not only to save the other Peter, but to bring him back so that he didn't have to say goodbye, it was even better than we had imagined. And Peter's dilemma about where he belonged was complicated not only by his consideration of the natural order of things, but that he now had two fathers to follow, how Walter's actions affected his mother's state of mind, his growing feelings for Olivia, as well as falling in love with the wrong one, or was he just falling in love with the right one with the wrong body, and does it make a difference? Fringe this year has taken a huge step forward, and Peter is a large part.
Zoe has been dead for much of the run of Caprica, but it's her "avatar," an amalgam of data, attitudes, interests and emotions that has the drive to keep on living. Zoe, a typically TV rebellious teen, a genius caught up in religious zealotry, is an unwitting victim in terrorist attack, but her extensive use and programming in a virtual reality has created an AI presence within the system that gets tranferred into an external hard-drive and married with a military robot prototype, essentially making her the first Cylon. Caught between un-dead human and re-born computer program, she still finds ways to manipulate those around her, have bouts of nostalgic human longing and kick some ass in the process.
Adam and Kristina are the most realistic parenting couple on television, even if their situation is extraordinary. They have a normal (read: problematic) teenage daughter, as well as a pubescent son with Aspberger's Syndrome that doesn't yet know his diagnosis. But the most extraordinary thing about this couple is how real it feels. Despite the hyperbolic TV drama, every word that comes out of their mouths feels real, from the over-compensation to the daily scheduling difficulties to the need to have time not only alone, but to themselves. The conflict within and without, and the constant nature of it, all give viewers reassurance that not only is this normal, but there can be love, support and happiness interwoven with the vagaries of life.