A Dollop Of Drama, A Ladle Of Laughs
January 28, 2013 § 1 Comment
I watch so many shows that whenever someone asks me what I watch, I often don’t even know where to start. Thus, I’ve decided to compile a master list and share my thoughts on each one. A summary of my tastes: I dislike most sitcoms (laugh tracks, ugh, plus the same sets over and over again, boooring), and I prefer beautiful people (OK so I’m shallow, but it’s entertainment, so I’m allowed, right??). Also, I’m not really into reality TV, and I’ve never watched an Asian drama other than 还珠格格. Gimme all the American dramedies!!
I have yet to meet someone with mostly similar tastes — my friends are almost all ardent fans of either Glee, HIMYM or The Office/Community/Parks & Rec, hugely popular shows that I have absolutely zero interest in. Are you my TV-watching soul mate? Read on and find out…
Now that Gossip Girl has departed (or, more accurately, was mercifully put down), this is the one of the series I’ve been watching the longest. As a rather decisive person, I can usually tell from watching one or two trailers whether I’ll enjoy a movie or show. The moment I laid eyes on Matt Bomer, I was in love (or as in love as a suburban college student can be with a gay male actor who has a husband and kids, le sigh).
Apart from Matt Bomer, who wears/ROCKS a dandy suit 99% of the time, I enjoy the solid marriage of Agent Peter Burke and his wife Elizabeth, as well as the host of eclectic/minority characters. I detest stories where romance is the main focus, and White Collar thankfully keeps all that to a minimum. Most of all, I like the balance between the overarching drama and the episodic FBI puzzles. The solving of interesting white collar crimes is why I started watching, and the show takes care not to deviate too much into characters’ pasts or nefarious secret organizations and the like.
I had an invitation to the Flavorwire White Collar mid-season premiere party last Tuesday, but it was too dang cold to go anywhere that night. (Plus, I had nobody to go with #foreveralone) If Matt Bomer was there, it will be the regret of my life…
Another show I knew I had to watch the minute I heard about it. Sure, I enjoy my fair share of NYC-based shows, but for someone who grew up in a wealthy suburb, Suburgatory filled a need that I didn’t even know I had. It’s a ridiculous parody of suburban life, and I love it. The actors are amazing (the whole Shay family — LOVE), and the script is consistently funny. I couldn’t ask for anything else, really. Plus, anytime Parker Young takes his shirt off, which is fairly often, I’m there. I’m so there. Also, Cheryl Hines is the cutest ever, and Jane Levy is soo pretty. Redheads are just as rare on TV as Asians!
Revenge is filling the melodramatic-beautiful-rich-people hole left by Gossip Girl. I avoided watching it at first because frankly, I didn’ t know what it was about and just lumped it in with other teen dramas like Pretty Little Liars. In a fit of boredom in Hong Kong last year, I started watching and quickly realized I could totally get into it. Emily and Nolan are as great a pair of schemers as Blair and Chuck, Victoria Grayson is enthralling as the HBIC, and it’s funny that poor Connor Paolo plays as pathetic a character in this show as in GG. Also, Nolan’s outfits always make my day. I’m sad I don’t know someone like him IRL.
The New Normal is so good, guys. So good. It makes me laugh and cry and smile and feel warm fuzzies. It teaches good morals and has a loving and fabulous gay couple (Justin Bartha and Andrew Rannells are so cute like forreal) and NeNe Leakes(!), who is hilarious and sassy. Just watch it. You’ll understand why it’s amazing if you have a heart. The show makes me wonder if I’ll ever be rich enough to afford a surrogate. Sigh. Props to them for casting Matt Bomer as the hot ex-boyfriend, haha. Good choice.
Did someone ask for a catfight? Well, that’s how Nashville was billed in the promos, but thankfully there isn’t that much petty drama between Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere. This show fills the twangy hole left in my heart after GCB was canceled (more below), plus it has the soapiness of Desperate Housewives. I think the actual story could be better (everyone is just fragmented into their own plotlines, some of which we couldn’t care less about), but I love Panettiere’s petulant character. Of course, each episode also has great country music!
Like everyone else, I scoffed when I found out CBS was doing a modern-day adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes novels, set in New York, with a woman playing Watson. Then I found out that Watson would be played by Lucy Liu, so I figured I would give it a try. (I also recently discovered that Jonny Lee Miller, whom I last saw on Eli Stone, was Angelina Jolie’s first husband, and it blew my mind.) Though it’s not as riveting as BBC’s Sherlock, I do find it interesting and likable. The only thing I hate so far is whoever is in charge of Lucy Liu’s wardrobe. That person deserves a spanking.
Yes, I still watch cartoons. How to describe the genius that is Adventure Time? It’s reminiscent of those wacky 90s cartoons that would probably be considered too weird or disturbing to show today’s kids (though somehow, Courage the Cowardly Dog is still on all the time). AT rarely has a logical plot, which I guess is why episodes are only 12 minutes long. The incoherence seems very deliberate, however, and the show is clearly a labor of love by Pendleton Ward & co. The voice of Jake the dog is John DiMaggio, AKA Bender from Futurama — you can never go wrong with that. And Jake’s girlfriend is a rainbow unicorn (voiced by the mellifluous Niki Yang) who only speaks Korean without subtitles. This show be cray.
I’m not usually into legal shows (Eli Stone was the only other one I’ve watched), but I started watching Suits last August and it was pretty good. However, after watching the first episode of season 3, I’m not as crazy about the series anymore because Mike is just not likable. He does nothing but make life hard for himself and everybody else. I do love Louis, though. The man looks like a possum.
Others I watch fairly regularly: SNL, Daily Show, Colbert Report, American Dad, The Simpsons
The Newly Inducted
The minute I saw the trailer, I just knew I HAD to watch Real Husbands of Hollywood. Kevin Hart, Nick Cannon (how is he still so boyishly cute?) and Robin Thicke?? YES. Anyone who has ever wondered why the Real Housewives series is so popular (while maybe secretly enjoying an episode or two) can appreciate this satire. Hart is hilarious, as is his duty, and their squabbles are so petty yet point out that if men look this ridiculous fighting over pie and poker, why do we tolerate (or even celebrate, in a twisted way) those behaviors in women? Anyway, I’m praying for a Mariah Carey cameo. Pleeeeeeease!
As with Revenge, I started Game of Thrones last year while bored in Hong Kong and finished the first season in two days while sick in bed. I do believe it’s the first HBO show I’ve followed. Having never read the books, I was initially surprised by the violence and sexual deviance, but I became a convert soon enough. How can you not? Peter Dinklage alone makes it worth your while, though Lena Headey is also a delight to watch.
Oh, Tyra Banks. I’ve stuck with you through thick and thin (but mostly thin, because “plus-sized” models are a rarity on your show), and you repay my loyalty by getting rid of Jay Manuel, Miss J and (noted fashion photographer) Nigel Barker?? Firing Paulina Porizkova wasn’t enough? Fine, I’ll keep watching. But mostly out of habit. And because next season will feature BOYS!!!!
Nurse Jackie is the only medical show I have ever watched, mostly because I’m squeamish and absolutely cannot stand the sight of surgery; bloody scenes are mercifully rare in this dark comedy from Showtime. It’s really quite a high-quality and original series, yet I don’t know anybody else who watches it. Edie Falco plays a pills-addicted nurse who is cheating on her husband with the hospital pharmacist, which doesn’t sound funny at all but is somehow not depressing to watch.
How is Benedict Cumberbatch so ideal as Sherlock Holmes?? With each episode as long as a feature film, Sherlock stands out as unusual (or even intimidating), but the unconventional style allows for excellent content. Too bad we probably have to wait till 2014 for new episodes!
I remember when I was young and wrote off South Park as nothing but a vulgar show for immature teenage guys. A lot of people still hold that opinion, but I’ve since converted and recognized Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s brilliance (somebody please get me tickets to The Book of Mormon pleeeeeease). Is the show still crude? Yes. But it is also full of satire that only those plugged in to current events and pop culture would thoroughly appreciate, so I’ll keep watching.
Futurama is my favorite adult-oriented cartoon. What can I say? Matt Groening is a genius. It’s not as crude as the others (eg. Family Guy), and of course I can’t resist the satire/parody elements. This series has gone through a lot, and I’m so glad it survived.
Rounding out my animated diet is a show that piqued my interest when I saw the occasional screencap on Tumblr. Ew…it’s on the Disney Channel, I initially thought to myself. But the music and animation of the intro is some of the best I’ve seen, and the show’s charm quickly won me over. The storylines are more conventional than those of Adventure Time, but the script is cleverly written with lots of jokes for grown-ups. Some of the best bits are at the end, during the credits!
(ETA) How could I forget about The Client List?! Probably because it’s not that good…though I ended up watching the whole first season somehow. A Southern masseuse who gets caught in a love triangle between her deadbeat husband and his younger brother and has to make ends meet by ~servicing~ absurdly hot male clients for extra tips?? Wow. I always find it hilarious that JLH’s character, a young mother who doles out hand jobs for cash, still manages to live in a HUGE house and wake up with flawlessly blown-out curls and eyelash extensions the length of birds’ wings. And I would complain about the logic breach of physically perfect men needing to pay for stimulation, but it sure beats the alternative of seeing fat, naked old dudes on her table!
The One I Stopped Watching
I remember the first time I watched Dexter. The show premiered in October 2006, and Showtime offered free streaming of the pilot on their website, which at the time was a pretty new and exciting move. The content was more adult than anything I had watched at that point (which was mostly Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives after I graduated from, like, Powerpuff Girls), and I was thrilled by Dexter’s secret life and vigilante endeavors. However, I lost interest at the end of season 4 when Rita died; after that, Dexter’s struggles just became too difficult to watch. Though it was the show’s logical flow, I didn’t want to see the hunter become the hunted. Last fall, I watched the first episode of season 7 when it premiered on YouTube (my viewership comes full circle!), and it was good, but we had already grown too far apart.
Hit And Miss
I loathe awkwardness. I avoid it as much as possible in real life; my tolerance is so low that when a particularly excruciating scene comes up in what I’m watching, I will usually pause it and go check my email or something for a while before coming back and suffering through it. A whole show based on the questionable humor of banal, awkward situations? It would kill me.
I was intrigued by American Horror Story before I realized it was way too disturbing for me. (My threshold for scary movies is very, very low.) I didn’t even realize that Connie Britton of Nashville was the mom on AHS until a few days ago, probably because I blocked out any memory of the show except Dylan McDermott‘s parts. Even Adam Levine and Zachary Quinto aren’t enough to woo me into season 2.
Despite all the accolades this show has received, I always knew I wouldn’t like it. Over winter break, B made me watch a few episodes with him, and I was proven correct. First of all, Homeland is a straight drama/thriller with zero comedic relief. Second, Claire Danes’ character is basically the worst CIA agent ever. She’s weird and erratic and seduces the person she’s investigating for no apparent reason. Lastly, I don’t find any of the main characters attractive, physically or in personality. (Danes and Damian Lewis are both so weird-looking. Forreal.) Even B lost interest in the plot after a while.
I will preface this by saying that I loved Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture when I watched it last year. I totally identified with Aura’s (HER NAME IS IN MY NAME — FATE) post-college unemployment woes, though thankfully I’ve never (spoiler alert) had sex with a douchebag in a big metal pipe. So I was relatively pumped for Girls, but the pilot just didn’t resonate with me. I guess the movie was enough. I do read a lot about the show, though, because people just love writing about it. It’s like, impossible to avoid the inevitable analyses every week.
I think I was interested in Whitney because of the whole comedienne-helming-her-own-eponymous-show thing. The first few episodes weren’t too bad; I appreciated the Indian character (and he was dating a white woman!! But then he ended up being bisexual and left the show..?), and for some reason I found Whitney’s boyfriend hot in a dirty, scruffy kind of way. Eventually, though, the jokes weren’t original enough to keep me coming back.
Considering how much I love fairy tales and fantasy novels (not the erotic kind), I probably should enjoy Once Upon A Time, but the pilot didn’t do anything for me. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the incredible CGI of Game of Thrones. Nor was the story compelling. A little boy obsessed with a book finds out his birth mother is the fugitive child of Snow White? What?
Maybe it’s because it’s a period drama (eg. I also don’t watch Mad Men), or maybe it’s because I don’t know any of the actors besides Maggie Smith, but Downton Abbey just didn’t click with me. It felt a little too…dry.
Shows For Which I Still Light A Candle and Say A Prayer Every Night
Umm in the week that it took me to write this blog post, this show got canceled! WHAT THE HECK! There are eight unaired episodes?! If they’re not going to be broadcast, can I at least buy them or something? I really liked Don’t Trust The B— In Apt. 23 despite the lengthly title (or maybe because of it, because who can resist a show with the word bitch in the name?) Krysten Ritter worked it as the charismatic yet depraved jerk, while James Van Der Beek hammed it up as the oblivious but lovable has-been. More important, the show emphasized a strong (though unexpected) female friendship, which honestly is pretty rare on TV.
UGHH I WILL NEVER GET OVER THE PREMATURE DEATH OF PUSHING DAISIES. EVER. It was original and clever and cute and (tolerably) romantic, and Lee Pace (who became my favorite actor after The Fall) was a freaking pie-maker who could bring things back to life, like people and strawberries, and the world became a worse place after this show got canceled. Truth. I’ll be forever grateful to my friend Jean for recommending it to me.
I would confidently say that Better Off Ted is the funniest show I’ve had the pleasure of watching. It was a satire of corporate life with a hilarious cast and sharp script. Plus, Portia de Rossi is flawless. My favorite quote: “I’m different than other women, Ted. And by different, I mean better.” Why didn’t more people watch it?? Whyyyyyyyyyyy
As with Suburgatory, I love watching parodies of aspects of my own life. I’m not Texan, but I was raised Christian, so I totally identified with the humor of GCB. The main character, Amanda, was actually kind of annoying and lackluster; her mother, Gigi, was far more fabulous and charming. My favorite couple was Cricket and Blake: not only did they have the most interestingly complicated relationship, they have the most incredible blue eyes, and anytime they had a scene when they were looking intently at each other, I had a mini heart attack from the sheer beauty. Notable: Kristin Chenoweth was in both this show and Pushing Daisies. Unlucky :(
Apart from the tragedy of The Finder being canceled, actor Michael Clarke Duncan passed away four months after Fox axed the show, so it’s impossible to ever resuscitate it. Apparently the show was a spinoff of Bones, which I’ve never seen, but Finder held its own. Geoff Stults and Mercedes Masohn were a beautiful, off-beat couple, while Stults and Duncan had a heartwarming partnership. Also, it was seriously refreshing to watch a show set not amid the concrete blocks of NYC but the swamps of Florida.
Honorable Mentions: 666 Park Avenue and Partners
I will always and forever be in love with the Ugly Betty cast, so I try to keep up with their current projects. Anecdote: Last semester, I saw Mark Indelicato on the street near NYU (he’s an undergrad) and stopped him, but I didn’t know what to say after “Were you on Ugly Betty?” so I awkwardly introduced myself as a fan and ran away. It was so awkward that I am pretty much too scarred to try talking to celebrities (even the semi-famous like him) for a while.
Anyway, I watched 666 Park Avenue because the flawless Vanessa Williams was in it (plus Masohn from The Finder), and though the show was creepier than I expected (I’m a huge wuss), the mystery was interesting and I genuinely looked forward to finding out the building’s secrets. Alas, it was canceled, but at least I’ll be able to watch the remaining episodes…this summer. (The heck, ABC?)
Partners, starring the charming Michael Urie, was a pretty solid sitcom that even made me forget about the laugh track. Urie has a gift: Everything he says is funny! Also, he and Brandon Routh are pretty much the most perfect gay couple ♥ (sorry, New Normal). Side note: Why is Sophia Bush’s voice so gravelly? Apparently episodes 7-13 have only been aired in South Africa. What the deuce CBS???
The moral of the story is that I watch a lot of TV, though I don’t watch any of it on our actual TV. Also, I hate TV execs for taking away the things I love, and Nielsen ratings should go drown in a lake.
The title of this blog post was inspired by one of my favorite books, Jules Feiffer’s A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears.
WTF?!? You had time to write about all these shows?!?