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December 27, 2012

Here's to the Class of 2012

The personalities of the year's best TV

In a recent episode of “Saturday Night Live,” a 37-year-old show that feels fresher than it has in ages, host Louis CK slipped into an Abraham Lincoln costume and combed New York City bars in a heartfelt attempt to make some black friends.

If only the rest of television were willing to follow suit.

It was mostly a terrific year for the small screen thanks to the cheekiness of “Downton Abbey,” the audacity of “Girls” and the loneliness of “Mad Men.” But all those brilliant works have one thing in common: a disturbing lack of minorities both behind and in front of the camera.

Assembling a list of the top 10 most interesting TV figures in 2012, I was both shocked and crushed that I couldn’t justify including any people of color. Sofia Vergara is a hoot on “Modern Family” and Mindy Kaling has had her mischievous moments on “The Mindy Project,” but groundbreaking? Not so much.

Let’s hope that next year’s roundup is as impressive in diversity as it is in quality.

And now, the class of 2012:

Candy Crowley, “State of the Union” (CNN)

Viewers unfamiliar with this veteran journalist may have been impressed by how deftly she handled President Obama and Mitt Romney in the third presidential debate. But her steely performance came as no surprise to regular viewers of her Sunday-morning talk show. She takes her job seriously while never acting like the smartest person in the room, even though she probably is.

Lena Dunham, “Girls” (HBO)

No, “Girls” didn’t crack my top 10 list. In fact, I found spending time with these bratty, self-deluded characters as harrowing as club night with the cast of “Jersey Shore.” But mad props to creator and star Dunham for daring to expose her generation as one in need of some grown-up values — as well as a sound spanking.

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