Cheers & Jeers: The Best and Worst of Television in 2015 (PHOTOS)

TV Insider Staff
Cheers Jeers 2015

By Damian Holbrook, Rob Moynihan and Matt Roush

What TV moments earned a thumbs up or thumbs down from our editors in 2015? From the best (Taraji's turn as Cookie on Empire) to the worst (The Good Wife's fake Alicia/Kalinda farewell) moments, here are all the reasons that made this year TV worth watching—and cringing over.

Taraji P. Henson

Justin Stephens for TV Guide Magazine. Hair: Hair Department Head Melissa Forney. Makeup: Ashunta Sheriff. Costume Designer: Paolo Nieddu. Top: ALC. Coat: Marco De Vincenzo

Cheers: Empire's Taraji P. Henson

Cheers to supreme diva (and our Performer of the Year) Taraji P. Henson for giving a weekly master class in attitude as Empire’s delectable Cookie, an outrageous lioness of a hip-hop heroine, dominating network TV’s biggest, boldest hit. Tossing shoes and throwing shade—we live for her Dynasty-style catfights with “Boo Boo Kitty”—this fashion-forward fox is the cat’s meow.

Plus: Why Taraji and Terrence Are the Most Powerful Couple on TV

Jane The Virgin

Greg Gayne/The CW

Cheers: A Lack of Sophomore Slumps

Cheers to a lack of sophomore slumps. Underrated dramas such as HBO’s The Leftovers and AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire became critical darlings in Season 2, thanks to sharp writing and character development, while original breakouts like FX’s Fargo and The CW’s Jane the Virgin (above) continued to show why we were always right about them in the first place.

Game of Thrones


Jeers: TV's Big "Deaths"

Jeers to TV’s big “deaths.” The Walking Dead’s Glenn (Steven Yeun) ended up surviving that zombie attack and Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow (Kit Harington, above) appears to be alive as well—if the HBO posters for Season 6 are to be believed. When producers toy with an audience’s emotions, their credibility as authentic storytellers is immediately jeopardized. Fool us once…

Plus: What Actually Died at the Dumpster on The Walking Dead


Nicole Rivelli/FOX

Cheers: Gotham's Cameron Monaghan

Cheers to Cameron Monaghan for two mind-blowing turns. We’re still trying to get our heads around the fact that the kid who stole every scene as the Joker-y Jerome on Fox’s Gotham is the same guy stealing our hearts (and breaking them) as struggling bipolar Gallagher sib Ian on Showtime's Shameless.

Plus: Why Gotham's Jerome Valeska Was Not Joking Around

Justin Bieber, James Corden


Cheers: New Late Night TV

Cheers to the next generation of late night. David Letterman and Jon Stewart are irreplaceable, and their emotional sign-offs won’t soon be forgotten, but Stephen Colbert’s brainy reinvention of CBS’s Late Show and Trevor Noah’s appealing stewardship of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show haven’t missed a beat. James Corden (above right, with Justin Bieber) and Larry Wilmore are terrific newbies, the Jimmys (Fallon and Kimmel) are at the top of their game, John Oliver is killing it on HBO and, soon, Samantha Bee’s new TBS series will finally bring a female POV into the mix, giving us yet another reason to stay up.

Plus: Watch the Best Segments From Late Night TV


Frank Masi/HBO

Cheers: Queen Latifah in Bessie

Cheers and hail to the Queen—Latifah, that is—for bringing blues legend Bessie Smith to life in an Emmy-worthy performance of lusty ferocity in HBO’s Bessie. It took 20 years for the project to get made and for the star to play this character in all her tumultuous complexity. It was worth the wait.

Miley Cyrus

John Shearer/GettyImages

Jeers: Miley Cyrus at MTV's Video Music Awards

Jeers to Miley Cyrus on MTV’s Video Music Awards. Miley, honey, what’s good? You were supposed to host the show, not give it a two-hour bad touch. Go put on some clothes, remember that you have real talent, and for the love of all things holy, please stop sticking out your tongue.

Plus: The 2015 MTV VMAs—The Good, The Bad and The Kanye

Katy Perry

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Cheers: Katy Perry's Left Shark

Cheers to Katy Perry’s Left Shark. The singer’s performance of “Teenage Dream” at the Super Bowl halftime show was quickly upstaged by an uncoordinated backup dancer who eschewed the established choreography for an avant-garde showcase complete with wildly flailing fins. His moves missed the mark, but as far as entertainment value goes, this shark didn’t bite!


Murray Close/Netflix

Cheers: TV's New Badass Females

Cheers to TV’s new badass female action heroes. Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) on CBS’s Supergirl, Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) on NBC’s Blindspot, Sun Bak (Doona Bae, left) on Netflix’s Sense8, Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra) on ABC’s Quantico and the titular character (Krysten Ritter) on Netflix’s Jessica Jones have all made us heroine addicts.

Plus: 15 Kick-Ass Women Taking Over Primetime TV

Viola Davis

Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Cheers: Viola Davis's Emmy Victory

Cheers to Viola Davis’s Emmy victory. After making history as the first black woman to win Lead Actress in a Drama (for her portrayal of complicated lawyer Annalise Keating on ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder), Davis gave a heartfelt, rousing speech that classily criticized Hollywood for not creating enough roles for women of color. To be clear: She killed it.

Plus: Viola Davis on Her Emmy Win for HTGAWM

The Good Wife


Jeers: The Good Wife's "Fake" Farewell

Jeers to The Good Wife for faking Alicia (Julianna Margulies) and Kalinda’s (Archie Panjabi, near left, with Margulies) farewell. The final moment between the characters should have provided closure; instead, it fueled rumors of off-camera turmoil since it was clear the actresses didn’t shoot the scene together. Margulies blamed Panjabi’s scheduling conflicts, but Panjabi fired back, tweeting, “I was in New York ready to film the scene!” Not the kind of drama the series wanted to produce.

Plus: How The Good Wife Survived the 'Kafkaesque' World of Bond Court

The Jinx

Marc Smerling/HBO

Cheers: The Jinx

Cheers to HBO for reinvigorating the TV-documentary genre with The Jinx. Director Andrew Jarecki’s six-part miniseries about New York real estate heir and suspected murderer Robert Durst kept viewers guessing as evidence against Durst piled up and eventually culminated in his “confession” while talking to himself in a hotel bathroom. The network also made headlines with Going Clear, which exposed shocking details about Scientology and its famous members.

Plus: How The Jinx Brought About Real Justice

Heroes Reborn

Christos Kalohoridis/NBC

Jeers: Unwanted Reboots

Jeers to reboots that nobody asked for. NBC’s Heroes Reborn (with Masi Oka, above) never took flight, Wet Hot American Summer on Netflix barely simmered and the Coach sequel was mercifully benched during development. Fingers crossed that Fuller House and the Gilmore Girls revival fare better (and are better fare).

Plus: The Real Reasons Why Coach Wasn't Revived  

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Tyler Golden/The CW

Cheers: A Musical Renaissance

Cheers to a musical renaissance in primetime. The propulsive beats of Fox’s Empire have led the way, but we’re just as keen on Rachel Bloom’s (above) lunatic fantasy production numbers on The CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. And let’s not forget the singing knights of ABC’s Galavant. Who needs Broadway when you have a television?

Plus: Rachel Bloom on Her Golden Globe Nomination for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Serena Williams, Venus Williams

Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

Cheers: Serena and Venus Wiliams

Cheers to Serena and Venus Williams for an epic, turn-back-the-clock US Open showdown. With history on the line and more plot twists than an episode of Game of Thrones, the topsy-turvy three-set quarterfinal match scored major ratings for ESPN and reminded viewers why the sisters are two of the most compelling athletes in sports.

Mad Men


Cheers: Mad Men's Peggy Olson

Cheers to Mad Men’s Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) for finding her groove. The final season of the AMC drama may not have hit every high note (though thankfully it won star Jon Hamm an Emmy), but we’ll always remember how the series capped off the one-time secretary’s 10-year professional journey: confidently strutting into the offices of her new employer with a cigarette hanging from her mouth and a sexually explicit painting of an octopus under her arm. Pitch perfect.

Plus: Mad Men's True Story, From Start to Finish

The Flash

The CW

Cheers: The Flash and Arrow

Cheer to The Flash and Arrow for digging deep into the DC Comics archives. Whether it’s Jay Garrick, Firestorm, Hawkgirl, Wally West or even Gorilla Grodd (above), the CW hits have saved the day for comic book fans who never thought they’d see these heroes and villains on live-action TV.

Plus: 7 Multi-Episode Crossovers That Made for Great TV | Get Ready for DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Fear The Walking Dead

Justina Mintz/AMC

Jeers: Fear the Walking Dead

Jeers to the lumbering zombie apocalypse on AMC’s too-slow-burning Fear the Walking Dead prequel spinoff. Milking an undead cash cow, Fear (with Kim Dickens) fizzled with flat characterizations and a sluggish narrative that had us rooting for the walkers to pick up the pace. Way to dilute a great TV franchise.

Plus: Fear the Walking Dead's Dawn of a New Apocalypse

Cheers Jeers

Colleen Hayes/NBCU Photo Bank/GettyImages

Cheers: Parks and Recreation Series Finale

Cheers to Parks and Recreation’s time-jumping send-off. After seven seasons, NBC’s underappreciated comedy concluded with a flash-forward, including unflappable shero Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) becoming the governor of Indiana—and possibly the president of the United States. They serve waffles in the Oval Office, right?

Plus: Mike Schur on the Parks and Recreation Series Finale

Constance Wu

Bob D'Amico/ABC

Cheers: Fresh Off the Boat's Constance Wu

Cheers to Fresh Off the Boat breakout Constance Wu. The 33-year-old actress commands the screen and steals every scene as her snappish alter ego, Jessica Huang, desperately tries to retain her family’s Chinese heritage after their relocation to suburban Orlando. Wu’s three young costars Hudson Yang (Eddie), Forrest Wheeler (Emery) and Ian Chen (Evan) also deserve CHEERS of their own for their hilarious portrayal of preteens growing up in the predigital-era ’90s.

Video: Randall Park and Constance Wu on Family Ambitions

Donald Trump


Jeers: The Donald Trumping TV News

Jeers to TV news for being trumped by the Donald. We get it, he speaks in headlines and makes your jobs easy, but orange is the new blech here. His anti-media bias shouldn’t be rewarded with endless coverage. Last time we checked, things were happening in the world way more important than this guy’s divisive blatherings.

Plus: Donald Trump's Appearance on The Tonight Show

Cheers Jeers

HBO (3)

Cheers: Veep's Fourth Season

Cheers to Veep’s unimpeachable fourth season. Now that the HBO “satire” has finally vetoed Modern Family’s Best Comedy Emmy streak, can we start a campaign for Anna Chlumsky to win Supporting Actress gold next year?

Plus: Tony Hale on His TV Obsessions | How Julia Louis-Dreyfus Reacted to Her Emmy Nomination


Michael Desmond/ABC

Cheers: Scandal's Betrayals

Cheers to Scandal for continuing to, well, scandalize us with Beltway betrayals, power capes and game-changing twists, like Olivia (Kerry Washington) revealing her affair with the president (Tony Goldwyn) to the media. Long live Liv!

Plus: Should Scandal's Mellie Really Become President?

Cheers Jeers

K.C. Bailey/Netflix

Cheers: Aziz Ansari in Master of None

Cheers to Parks and Rec grad Aziz Ansari for mastering the art of self-discovery in Netflix’s thoughtful comedy Master of None. As a struggling actor dealing with love, family, ethnicity and career, Ansari comes of age as a leading man of unusual honesty and charm.

Roush Review: Aziz Ansari Comes of Age in Master of None

Difficult People

Ali Goldstein/Hulu

Cheers: Difficult People

Cheers to Hulu for being a streaming riot. Between the easy-to-love Difficult People (with hilarious duo Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner, above), the awesome Awesomes, the better-than-ever Mindy Project or the Hotwives we’d marry in a minute, the network’s original comedies are totally worth those high-speed-Internet bills.

Plus: Why James Urbaniak Is the Most Likeable Person on Difficult People


Trae Patton/Yahoo/Sony Pictures Television

Jeers: Community

Jeers to Community for not learning when to quit. After getting expelled by NBC, the junior-college comedy matriculated to Yahoo! Screen but still failed to make the grade with viewers. We’re glad you got your six seasons, but we think we’ll pass on the movie.

Plus: It's a Community Reunion on ABC's Dr. Ken

Masters of Sex

Warren Feldman/Showtime

Jeers: Masters of Sex

Jeers to Showtime’s once irresistible Masters of Sex (starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan) for dampening our desire with impotent drama. To flesh out the third season, the writers concocted fictionalized and contrived family intrigues that had nothing to do with sex researchers Masters and Johnson’s true personal and professional histories. Simply put: The thrill is gone.

Video: Caitlin Fitzgerald on Her Character's Ideal Date

Caitlyn Jenner

Image Group LA/ABC

Cheers: Caitlyn Jenner

Cheers to getting to know Caitlyn Jenner. Her interview with Diane Sawyer was revelatory, and her empowering speech at the ESPYS after receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award was a cultural milestone as she urged tolerance to an audience of sports greats. So about cashing in on E!’s I Am Cait reality show…well, she’s only human.

Plus: Caitlyn Jenner's Emotional ESPYs Speech | Tracking the Rise of Transgender TV

Lady Gaga

Frank Ockenfels/FX

Jeers: American Horror Story: Hotel

Jeers to FX’s fleabag American Horror Story: Hotel for making Lady Gaga look so anemic as the bloodsucking Countess. Bringing back terrifying memories of Madonna’s acting career, Gaga’s performance was all style—but what style!—and too little substance. Hotel was the most incoherent American Horror yet. We checked out early.

Roush Review: AHS: Hotel Goes Gaga Over Stylish Depravity

The View

Goldberg: Yolanda Perez/ABC. Simoné: Heidi Gutman/ABC

Jeers: The View

Jeers to a dim View. If Whoopi Goldberg defends Bill Cosby and Raven-Symoné (above right, with Goldberg) is taken to task by—of all people—Ann Coulter after making tone-deaf comments, but no one gives a damn anymore, are they both still horribly offensive?

Plus: Why Joy Behar Returned to The View

Sons of Anarchy

Jeers: Sons of Anarchy Series Finale

Jeers to Sons of Anarchy’s fatally flawed series finale. For all the brutal beauty creator Kurt Sutter served up over the FX drama’s run, it’s a damn shame the long and artistic road ended limply with Jax (Charlie Hunnam) sacrificing himself—in front of a goofy green screen.


Katie Yu/The CW

Cheers: iZombie and Ash vs. Evil Dead

Cheers to The CW’s iZombie and Starz’s Ash vs. Evil Dead for balancing screams with laughs. The undead invasion has crossed genres, thanks to these clever hybrids, both of which manage to find the humor among the gore and guts. On iZombie, Rose McIver (above) charms as the brain-eating, crime-solving morgue assistant Liv, while Bruce Campbell seems to be having a ball reprising his fan-favorite film role of zombie slayer Ash. If the chainsaw hand fits…keep wearing it!

Video: Sam Raimi on Ash's 'Tiny Bit of Nobility | Video: How Ash Went Through a Keg of Blood

Cheers Jeers

Ed Miller/Playground & Company Pictures/MASTERPIECE/BBC; Giles Keyte/Playground & Company Pictures/MASTERPIECE/BBC

Cheers: Wolf Hall

Cheers to the acting battle royale on display in PBS’s magnificent Wolf Hall miniseries, with Mark Rylance’s quietly cunning Cromwell more than a match for Damian Lewis’s recklessly blustery King Henry VIII. History was well served by these dynamic pros.


Isabella Vosmikova/ABC

Cheers: The Kids of black-ish

Cheers to the kids on ABC’s black-ish for being more than all right. Considering the combined comedy power of Tracee Ellis Ross (far left, with Jenifer Lewis) and Anthony Anderson (far right), their on-screen offspring could easily be overshadowed. Yet every week, these little league all-stars—Marsai Martin and Miles Brown (foreground) and Marcus Scribner and Yara Shahidi—shine.

Plus: Deon Cole on Charlie's Crazy Adventures in Babysitting

Saturday Night Live

Cheers: Saturday Night Live Impersonations

Cheers to for mirroring this wacky political-campaign season with inspired impersonations. Kate McKinnon’s ferocious Hillary Clinton parody memorably went face-to-face with the real Hillary (as a bartender), but our vote goes to Larry David’s surprise appearances on the NBC sketch show, hilariously channeling Bernie Sanders’s dyspeptic personality.

Plus: SNL's Colin Jost and Michael Che | 5 Things to Know About Pete Davidson

Don Lemon

Paul Zimmerman/WireImage

Jeers: CNN's Don Lemon

Jeers to Don Lemon for breaking news. So far, the CNNer has asked a Bill Cosby accuser why she didn’t bite his junk (ewww), wondered if a black hole ate a missing plane (um, no) and used the N-word on air for shock value (always no!). This just in: This guy needs a time-out.

Cheers Jeers


Cheers: Project Greenlight's Effie Brown

Cheers to Project Greenlight’s Effie Brown for calling out Matt Damon’s shortsightedness. After Damon implied that diversity matters only in front of cameras (huh?), the Dear White People producer rightly schooled the star…in front of the HBO reality show’s cameras. How you like them apples?

Cheers Jeers

Eric Liebowitz/Netflix

Cheers: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Cheers to Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for its unbeatable cast and addictive theme song. Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane…y’all are strong as hell, dammit!

Plus: Unbreakable's Producers Talk Season 2



Cheers: Sitcom Vets John Stamos and Rob Lowe

Cheers to sitcom vets John Stamos Inherits a New Full HouseJohn Stamos and Rob Lowe for returning to TV and headlining two comedy gems: Grandfathered and The Grinder. The pair of ’80s heartthrobs brought their dashing good looks and comedic chops to Fox Tuesdays to play a perpetual bachelor (Stamos) who reunites with his long-lost son and granddaughter and an actor (Lowe) who moves back to his Idaho hometown after wrapping his long-running popular legal procedural. Have mercy—they’re good!

Plus: Bob Saget Reunites With John Stamos | Video: Rob Lowe and Fred Savage as Brothers

The Slap

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Jeers: The Slap

Jeers to NBC’s The Slap for being a big swing and a miss. Not even an all-star cast—including Peter Sarsgaard, Uma Thurman and Zachary Quinto (above)—could save this Brooklyn bourgeoisie mess about a man who hits another couple’s child at a birthday party.

Plus: How Real Moms Reacted to The Slap

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Manny Paquiano

John Gurzinski/AFP/GettyImages

Jeers: The "Fight of the Century"

Jeers to the “Fight of the Century” between Floyd Mayweather Jr. (left) and Manny Pacquiao for being the bust of the year. The 12-round bout featured few punches actually landing and ended in a unanimous-decision victory for Mayweather, but it was the Pay Per View customers who shelled out up to $100 who truly felt knocked out.

Plus: Joe "Daddy" Stevenson on Being Kingdom's Fight Coordinator

Cheers Jeers

Trae Patton/Spike TV/Viacom

Cheers: Lip Sync Battle's Celebs

Cheers to Lip Sync Battle’s jaw-dropping celebrity roster. Anne Hathaway vs. Emily Blunt. Terrence Howard vs. Taraji P. Henson. Deion Sanders vs. Bieber. The big names brought their A games to Spike’s faux-karaoke showdown, and for that reason, we are fake singing its praises!

Video: Anne Hathaway Sings "Wrecking Ball" | Video: Alison Brie Lip Syncs "Shoop"

Cheers Jeers

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Jeers: Neil Patrick Harris for Best Time Ever

Jeers to Neil Patrick Harris for being the host with the most…to regret. We adore NPH, but his noisy Best Time Ever was far from it, and his stint emceeing the Oscars underwhelmed. Someone get him a suitable scripted gig, please!

Plus: Neil Patrick Harris on That Scary Reese Witherspoon Stunt

Cheers Jeers

Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

Cheers: 12 Monkeys

Cheers to Syfy’s exhilarating 12 Monkeys for transforming a cult movie into an even trippier series...

Cheers Jeers

Michael Caulfield / FOX

Jeers: Minority Report

...But Jeers to Fox’s dreary Minority Report sequel for reminding us that some properties should just stay on the shelf.

Video: The Minority Report Cast on Getting Spielberg's Steal of Approval

Grey's Anatomy

Jeers: McDreamy's Death on Grey's Anatomy

Jeers to Grey’s Anatomy for sending Patrick Dempsey’s McDreamy to an eternal dreamland in an unsatisfying exit after 11 seasons. The shocking move left Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) a widow and single mom—though does anyone ever see those kids?—and left longtime fans wondering if it isn’t time to put this ABC medical soap out of its misery.

Plus: Shonda Rhimes on Why McDreamy Had to Die

Scream Queens

Patti Perret/FOX

Jeers: Scream Queens

Jeers to Scream Queens for being an insipid yawn. The only asset in Fox’s Scream spoof was Halloween’s Jamie Lee Curtis as the snarky dean. Those mean sorority sisters (including Emma Roberts, Lea Michele and Abigail Breslin, above) couldn’t die off fast enough.

Video: How the Scream Queens Cast Would Survive a Real Slasher Situation

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From left: Michael Larsen/Bravo; Mathieu Young/Bravo

Cheers: Bravo's Real Housewives

Cheers to Lisa Rinna and Dorinda Medley for putting the real in Bravo’s Real Housewives. The frank newbies from Beverly Hills and NYC dared to tell it like it is, even if it meant facing the wrath of their more seasoned (and sauced) castmates.

Plus: 10 TV Housewives Who Could Always Hold Their Own

Cheers Jeers

FOX/FOX Collection/Getty Images

Cheers: Andy Samberg's Emmys Hosting

Cheers to Andy Samberg for his side-splitting stint as Emmys host. The Brooklyn Nine-Nine star went back to his Lonely Island digital-short roots for a star-studded opening musical number about watching every show on TV (“I even saw Grace of Monaco!”). He also hilariously shared the login information for an authentic HBO Now account to millions of viewers. Give him a prize just for that.

Plus: Andy Samberg on Why He Kinda Sorta But Didn't Join Twitter


Steve Granitz/WireImage

Jeers to E!'s Fashion Police

Jeers to E!’s Fashion Police for dressing down Zendaya’s (above) Oscar look. It’s no wonder the show was pulled off the rack after Rancic and the panel opined that the Disney Channel vet’s dreads made them think of “patchouli…or weed.” Racist comments are never in style.

Video: E! Fashion Police's Kathy Griffin and Brad Goreski on What's Trendy

Cheers Jeers

Monty Brinton/CBS

Cheers: Survivor's Epic Challenges

Cheers to Survivor for continuing to bring the drama with its epic immunity challenges and tribal councils, even after 15 years on the air. The CBS franchise especially shone with this fall’s “Second Chance” edition—in which a cast of all-star returnees, including Season 1 runner-up Kelly Wiglesworth, once again attempted to outwit, outplay and outlast one another.

Plus: 30 Seasons of Survivor—A History of the Reality Competition

Cheers Jeers

Jonathan Hession/Showtime

Cheers: Patti LuPone on Penny Dreadful

Cheers to the spellbinding Patti LuPone, who was anything but dreadful as a fierce village witch—aka the “Cut-Wife”—on Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. She schooled Vanessa (Eva Green) in occult arts and bleakly observed: “Monsters all, are we not?” LuPone will be back in a different role next season, and that’s thrilling news.

Plus: Penny Dreadful's Jonny Beauchamp on Angelique

Cheers Jeers

Robert Ascroft/CBS

Cheers: Mom

Cheers to CBS’s Mom for proving that sober can be so good. Mixing out-loud laughs and gut-deep pathos, the mother-daughter sitcom with Emmy winner Allison Janney and Anna Faris is the perfect cocktail of comedy and drama

Plus: Allison Janney on Winning Her Seventh Emmy for Mom

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