5. Girls, HBO, April 15, 2012- April 16, 2017
Early in the show’s run Lena Dunham’s character Hannah Horvath mentions that she believes she might be the voice of her generation. I hate to give Dunham too much credit, because I have such mixed feelings about her (put a pin in that), but with Girls, she really nailed it. More than any show I had seen to date, Girls looked like what it was to be a white girl in your 20’s. The show isn’t flawless, and it occasionally relies too much on nudity. (I don’t want to get into a whole thing here. I don’t care that some of the naked bodies don’t conform to “traditional standards of beauty.” It just too often felt like I was running into the girl in the dorms who was always naked because she thought it was a real progressive statement of feminism, when really I just wanted to brush my teeth without having to see a buttcrack. Do you see what I mean?) But it is otherwise very well written, acted and really funny. The show is good at portraying that weird place where you’re old enough to make your own decisions, but your maturity is so stunted that you never make the right ones. The fractured friendships and relationships seem realistic and there is nothing glamorous about it, which feels a lot more like my 20s, than say. . . Friends. It is also blessed with the magic wand of Judd Apatow.
4. Homeland, Showtime, October 2, 2011 – Present
Admittedly, I am behind one or two seasons on Homeland, which actually speaks to the declining excitement I feel about this program. Seasons 1-3, though. Whoa. Claire Danes is astounding as Carrie Mathison, a CIA agent with some mental shit, who entangles herself with a recently returned American POW Sgt. Nicholas Brody, played by Damian Lewis. He was so good that producers/writers/directors, whoever, I don’t know, created a story line that would keep him around for more than the one season his character was originally supposed to last. Actually, the way the show is written, allows you to constantly wonder how these two people can continue to remain in each other’s lives. I don’t want to spoil it, but the cliffhangers at the end of each season leave you absolutely dumbfounded. As in, you can’t imagine a scenario in which the show could continue for another season, without a Dallas style “It was all a dream” twist. I can’t speak much to its accuracy, but it feels like that is probably what spies and spooks engage in. . . maybe. . .Do we do everything on computers now? I guess I like to believe that Angela Chase went to college, picked up some skills and took them to the Middle East to protect our Homeland.
3. Broad City, Comedy Central, January 22, 2014 – Present
Finally! A buddy comedy with women. . . hilarious, dysfunctional, usually stoned, people I would hang out with, women! How is this a novel concept? Two funny women navigating their post adolescence in the dirty streets of modern day, hipster infested New York? I can’t believe it took so long for this to happen. This show began as a web series, that Amy Poehler saw, liked and produced the shit out of. At least I think that is how it happened. Maybe I made that up. At any rate, it is well written, so funny and has the kind of characters that you can appreciate without always agreeing with. Abbi and Ilana are a little gross, kind of burnt out and generally unambitious. And I mean that it a good way. Guest stars of note include HILLARY CLINTON, Amy Sedaris, Tony Danza, Seth Rogen, Kelly Ripa and the list goes on. You might be wondering why I would mention Kelly Ripa like it was a good thing, but that episode was hilarious; that bitch got turnt. Is that what the youths say? Turnt? But that’s the kind of show it is. The show where you cheer not for a job promotion, or an engagement, a wedding or a baby. We don’t hope for Abbi and Ilana to find everylasting love (they found it, each other, duh) or to really engage in any form of self improvement. We root for them to go to Kelly Ripa’s house and get weird.
2. The X-Files: The Event Series, Fox, January 24, 2016 – February 22, 2016
I’m not sure this exactly counts, since this series actually premiered in 1993. Is this its own series? Or is it season 10? Whatever, it was awesome and it is on my list. Never has a reboot (revival?? more on that later) been so absolutely satisfying. In such a limited space, the show was able to capture the greatest elements of the original series. It felt like the essence of The X-Files nine seasons (eight if we’re being honest) were compacted into six episodes. There were “monster of the week” episodes, mythology episodes, aliens, and some captivating relationship shit between Mulder and Scully that the second movie left sort of muddled and uncomfortable. The Cigarette Smoking Man was back in portions (literally) of his former glory, and his role, and Mulder and Scully’s purposes were given some greatly satisfying explanations. The mythology was always a little hard to follow, but the Event Series clarified more than I thought it would be capable. The greatest episode by far was “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” which was written by Darin Morgan, who wrote three of my favorite, and most critically acclaimed episodes of the original series ( “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” “Humbug” and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space”). This will be the reboot for which all other reboots shall be measured by. [Heads to Amazon to order Blu-ray discs].
1. Stranger Things, Netflix, July 15, 2016 – Present
I. Love. Everything. About. This. Show. Like, even the font is amazing. Never has a show so incredibly combined the elements of exactly what I want to watch on a Sunday afternoon.
Like what other entertainment option gives you all the same feels as Goonies, Sixteen Candles, The X-Files, Law and Order SVU, Stand by Me, Teen Witch, and Freaks and Geeks at the same time? I submit that Stranger Things is the only one; it is incredible. I love that it sort seems as if this really was written and produced in the 1980’s and that it just gained popularity after all these years. It accomplishes what you wish it felt like to watch Goonies as an adult. There is that level of nostalgia, even though it is new, but instead of the story lines being strictly kooky kidventure, they involve secret government projects, netherworlds, child abduction, LSD and telekinesis. It is also pretty quotable. “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation”. . . until a kid goes missing!! Also, Winona Ryder stars, and it is nice to see her back on the screen, in a smallish, but very respectable role, to say nothing of her lack of running skills.