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Archive for the ‘– Features’ Category

Honorable mentions: Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Atlanta, Fargo, Justified, Orange is the New Black, The Good Wife, Transparent, House of Cards, Silicon Valley, True Detective, Mr. Robot, This is Us (aka all shows that are buzzy and/or amazing since 2010 that I’ve seen at least one episode or one season or occasionally read a recap, just so I can know what my coworkers are freaking out about and offer an opinion on it even though I didn’t see it, just kidding I never do that because I’m not the worst.) (Oh, also You’re the Worst.)

5.  The Americans, FX, January 30, 2013 – Present

I just started this show and it’s so fantastic that I’m actually annoyed with myself that it’s taken me this long to get into it. It has all of my trigger points – Keri Russell, chock full of character actors, pristine 80s fashion and music choices, and it’s all about the spies next door. Fun fact- my sister lives in Mont Clair, NJ and her house is across the street from a boarded up house that, up until about a month before my sister moved into her house, was owned by a married couple with kids who were arrested for being Russian spies. Ever since then, I’ve found the subject fascinating. This is my favorite kind of high-concept show and I love that it’s grounded in grim reality (especially these days) with, okay, some outsized sex and violence and mayhem. I mean, come on… we’re Americans.

4. New Girl, FOX, September 20, 2011 – Present

I read an article recently decrying how much the romantic comedy has changed. Modern audiences don’t want to see a traditional, You’ve Got Mail-esque movie or, at least, Hollywood has definitely stopped making them the old-fashioned way. I’d argue that we spend a lot of time talking about what a boon of fantastic TV we have at the same time movies are seeing a creative decline, but it’s usually the dramas that get all the focus. Dramas may bring the prestige but if you’re craving that old Preston Sturges black magic, or hearing a little voice whisper in your ear, “you wish Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan could be in every movie”, New Girl is the fix for you. Sure, it’s had its off episodes (this is a show that would absolutely benefit from shorter season runs), not to mention off-casting (please keep Megan Fox and her monotone line delivery away from my beloved TV screen) but at its heart is the Nick and Jess love story and I can assure you, it’s a good one, worthy of a swoon or two. The show is not perfect but it’s quirky and sweet and some scenes are genuinely, absolutely, deeply funny.

3. Downtown Abbey, January 9, 2011 – 2016

Downtown Abbey will be regarded as a cultural touchstone for this part of the century. It’s Masterpiece Theater and produced to the nines so it should probably be held in the same category as, say, Roots in the ’70s but it also unmistakably has elements of a soap opera too, let’s be real. At the height of its popularity, before Dan Stevens decided to quit and ruin all of our lives, it felt like it was being watched by everyone I had ever met (Note: it should be obvious by now that I know mostly white people.) It also forced us to appreciate Dame Maggie Smith, more vocally and more often. You’ll get no complaints from me; she’s an international treasure and this role felt like her personal gift to us.

2. VEEP, HBO, April 22, 2012 – Present

The news that Arrested Development is coming back for a fifth season doesn’t exactly fill me with happiness; the last time we tried to bring back AD, it was a disaster. A messy, convoluted plot and just disheartening that they couldn’t find a way to bring the cast back under the same roof. And why do we need AD anyway, when we have VEEP? It’s like a merger of West Wing, the movie In the Loop, Curb Your Enthusiasm and I’m here for all of it, every uncomfortable second. It should be considered a privilege and an honor that we live in an age where Julia Louis Dreyfus is working and this material, in particular, is heaven-sent. Julia Louis Dreyfus should frankly be on television at all times. As soon as one show ends, please just give her another show until one of us dies.

1. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix, March 6, 2015 – Present

I love this show so much that it almost prompted me to have a mental breakdown.

Season 1 was great but there are parts of the darker, more ambition second season that set my heart aflame (Amy Sedaris, Mikey’s entire Italian family, David Cross to name a few). It’s the mile-a-minute jokes of Tina Fey’s 30 Rock with the surreality jacked way up and the premise, written and executed perfectly for Ellie Kemper, could feel tired by now but really is just a gift that keeps on giving. I walked into work after bingeing the whole second season over the weekend and when I mentioned it to my two closest friends and they responded, “Eh,” about a show that they had also binged but just didn’t find quite as funny as I did, I felt my soul basically crash through my body and hit the floor. The moment made me realize I was actually in a serious depression at the time and my failure, in the moment, to connect with people over this thing that brought me so much joy was too much for my heart to bear. It was a moment that needed to happen and in a weird way, it only made me appreciate the show more. Like being hit by a car but Tina Fey was driving and she said, “I’m sorry, text me anytime and I’ll occasionally tell you a joke.” So, you know, getting hit by a vehicle was basically worth it. Season 3 started streaming this week. I don’t need the laughs quite as much as I did the last time but I cannot wait to watch the shit out of it this weekend.

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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.

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It’s Time

BACK

Seven years ago Next Time On went off the air, or the Internet, or well, it was still on the Internet, it just wasn’t updated. Times were good. Obama had the wheel. We both moved a few times and got jobs. We both got dogs, which everyone knows are like a full time job–all the napping, treat delivering and Instagramming of. What I’m trying to say, is that we didn’t NEED television. Yes, we still used it (a lot) and our correspondence was still primarily television related, but we didn’t use prime time offerings like the crutch we once needed to; then some shit went down. In 2017 America, we neeeeeeed television, fictional, entertaining, brain deadening, distracting, television. We need Carlton to dance, Dawson to cry, Bailey to have another drink. We need Stabler and Benson to define teamwork, Bobby Ewing to come back to life, Sophia to attempt a get rich quick scheme and Don to throw Peggy a bone. We need a group hug from the Tanner family. It is with that sentiment that we boldly return to the blogosphere, the noblest of hobbies, to provide you, our one reader, with fresh reading material.

May it feel like Bob Saget’s arms around you. Bada dah dah DAH da!

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mrs maisel

I just finished the first episode of what can be an amazing new show, one that you might never hear about or get to see.

It’s been 7 years since Beal and I wrote anything on this site, give or take, and that’s how good television is now – a polished, high-concept show (50s housewife becomes a stand-up comic) with killer pedigree (Gilmore Girls Amy Sherman-Palladino) and fantastic writing (see previous aside) and an appreciation for Lenny Bruce (!) may never see the light of day. Amazon certainly isn’t promoting it. I didn’t even know the show was out yet and, trust me, if it’s about television, I will read about it. The sheer fact that the show is stellar isn’t enough when there are dozens, maybe even a hundred, stellar shows on prestige cable, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon etc. To get to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (admittedly a tough title, Amy) I had to sift through episodes of VEEP, Catastrophe, The Americans, Aaron Sorkin’s last hit show, SJP’s first hit show and shit, a show with Christina Ricci about Zelda Fitzgerald that could warrant a similar post to this one.

There is just so much to talk about now. And so much to watch. And so much to fall in love with, only for it to never see the light of –

Oh, wait. Two seasons! Another sign that this is 2017- a network doesn’t need ratings or an audience to invest in quality content. Whew. That was a close one.

 

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DVR Check In

In order of recording:

Girl Meets World (1 ep, new): I text my 13 year old niece while we watch this show. She’s coming to visit this summer and we’re going to binge-watch my favorite Boy Meets World and I’m not saying that a television show is responsible for the close bond I’m forging with my niece but what I’m saying is television is amazing and miraculous and perfect.

Cougar Town (9, reruns): I don’t know why I can watch the first 3 seasons of this show on endless repeat. I need help. This is the fourth time I’ve watched it. The TBS seasons (4 and 5) are garbage but the first 3 are golden suns on the Scrubs planet.

Key & Peele (20, reruns): I will, no joke, probably watch all of these over the course of the weekend and then 20 more will stockpile over the week and I’ll watch those too. My current theory is that there is a Key & Peele for every occasion. Which should give you an idea of how much I bring up the show at work.

The Pioneer Woman (19, reruns): I will delete all but 2 and the cycle will start over.

Inside Amy Schumer (2, new): This season was just not that good. It’s bumming me out so these will probably sit on my DVR for another 3 weeks.

Bob’s Burgers (11, reruns): I will watch all of these within 24 hours, obsessed.

Bones (1, new): Yes. I’m still all in. This show is 11 years old and unrecognizable from its first few years. Bones might be the closest thing I have to a child. And I have a dog.

Maya & Marty (1, new): Watching now, as I type. I have a few missions in life but “honoring the work of Martin Short and Maya Rudolph” is on that list.

Trisha’s Southern Kitchen (12, reruns, jesus): I will delete 11 of these.

Conan (1, new): I will look online to see if anything was funny enough to be on the Internet and then fast-forward to that part on TV because I’m secretly a terrible person.

UnReal (1, new): The only reason why I didn’t watch this immediately is because I’m savoring these episodes like they are gold-dusted cupcakes filled with edible diamonds.

Community (4, reruns): I will read the descriptions and likely delete 3 of these.

That’s half the list. Oiy.

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Apologies

Hi. It’s been 6 years. I just reread some recent posts and while I largely agree with Me-From-6-Years-Ago, I want to address something now. [Deep Breath] 6 years ago, on one of our Friday lists, I named Clair and Cliff Huxtable as my #1 TV couple. Obviously, this was before it sunk into our consciousness that Bill Cosby has a long and pretty consistent history of abusing women. So this entry must be unfortunately removed. But the rest of my picks still stand, Joanie & Chachi forever. (Even though Scott Baio is unhinged- you know what, scratch that, I regret everything.)

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5. Zack and Kelly from Saved by the Bell

No other couple exemplifies the early 90’s quite like Zack and Kelly. Whaaaaat was going on here? Sometimes they were dating, sometimes she was dancing with older men at The Attic, and sometimes Zack was secretly making out with Lisa in her bedroom (what a bitch!). But then there were those touching moments, like when Kelly couldn’t afford to go to the prom because her father lost his job (could you not have borrowed something from Lisa’s closet, I mean reeeeally) and Zack and Kelly danced cheek to cheek by the picnic tables out back. HOW ROMANTIC. I am forever scarred that I did not experience a cheesy Saturday morning love affair like theirs in high school. And let’s not forget that the SBTB wedding in Vegas, was probably the most entertaining thing I’ve ever seen on television.

4. Carrie and Big from Sex and the City

I sort of hate myself for including these people on this list, or any other, but come on! What a trainwreck these two turned out to be. He was suck a dick, that you couldn’t help but fall in love with him, and he was rich, and charming and rich and then there’s kooky Carrie Bradshaw yukkin it up in her studio apartment, writing her little sex column, learning lessons about love and life everyday, and breaking them down into cute little nuggets of wisdom to share with the world. I’m not sure what this says about me (or all the other people who LOVED it) but my favorite episode of SATC will always be the one in which Carrie cheats on douchebag Aiden with Big, oh, remember, they fight in the elevator! And next thing you know, it’s a full on affair. Let’s not forget that he essentially left her at the altar though, which was kiiiinda assholey, but I feel like she deserved it a little, she is ridiculous after all. Fortunately, he won her over in the in with a fuckin shoe closet. Way to possess any amount of self respect, Carrie.

3. Kevin and Winnie from The Wonder Years

Man, how crushed were you in the final scene of the final episode of The Wonder Years when we learn that Kevin and Winnie did NOT end up together? I guess we’re supposed to move on and accept that they were merely each other’s first loves, but for the love of god, HUMOR ME. It’s difficult to watch this show now, because I no longer relate to EVERYTHING Kevin is going through at an INTENSE EMOTIONAL level, and rather feel a little bit uncomfortable about how IN LOVE these middle schoolers are with each other. And remember, (see clip below) when Winnie was sick and Kevin “took care of her?” When I was 12, if some kid had come to my house and entertained me whilst I was ill in bed, I would have surely wanted to punch him in the face. Drop off my homework and get the fuck out of here already, I’m sick and would prefer to be alone. . .

2. J.R. and Sue Ellen Ewing from Dallas

A lesser person probably would have chosen Pam and Bobby as the greatest couple on Dallas and those people would have been DEAD WRONG. Sure, Pam and Bobby’s love for each other is undying, but J.R. and Sue Ellen’s, is unadulterated. Theirs is a match made in HEAVEN. She a Texas beauty queen, he a rich independent oil man; he attracted to her good looks and well mannered persona; she attracted to his wealth and power. I assume they must have been happy together at some point, but not for long! He continued to womanize, and she couldn’t wake up without crushing bourbon, which made for incredible fights. And hate sex.

1. Lucy and Ricky Ricardo from I Love Lucy

Aaaahhhhhhh. Thank god I was not alive in the 50’s. If you think that the news of Brad and Jenn’s breakup was crushing, IMAGINE how absolutely devastating the In Touch cover with Lucy and Ricky torn apart must have been! “I DON’T Love Lucy!!!!” But, all the same, onscreen they were just the bees knees of couples (Fred and Ethel were pretty great too, I must admit), but something about her putting up with his bossy “do as I say” attitude, and his ridiculous accent and him putting up with her zany to the max slapstick antics makes me feel all warm and cozy inside. I also like that they maintained separate beds.

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