It’s been a long time since I wrote about what I’ve been watching, so I need to add the disclaimer, so that you don’t think I do nothing except lie on my couch watching TV, that these were all watched over a long period of time. Here we go:
My thoughts on this would probably be a lot different if I hadn’t watched Gracepoint, the short-lived US show based on this British one, first. Gracepoint really didn’t change very much, except for adding a few plot twists to make it three episodes longer, so I knew every single thing that was going to happen. I only saw the first season, though, so maybe at some point I’ll watch the rest.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Love this show. When the new episodes came out, I watched them all in one night. Everyone is fantastic on it- Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski, and freaking Jon Hamm (I laughed so hard when he showed up). I could never get into 30 Rock despite my love for Tina Fey, but I think this show takes her humor and makes it more…sweet? Optimistic? In any case, this is one of my new favorites.
I was so disappointed in this show, not because it’s awful but because I feel like it should have been so much better. It’s by the creators of Damages and is also full of flashbacks and flash-forwards, so I was expecting more from the show and its end-of-season revelations than what we got. It’s got a fantastic cast- Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, Sissy Spacek- but the best performance is by Ben Mendelssohn, whom I’d never heard of before I saw this. And the route they decide to go with his character is…disappointing, to say the least. I didn’t bother with Season 2.
Garfunkel and Oates
I’ve posted before about how much I love Garfunkel and Oates, so I’m sad that their show only lasted one season. It’s cute and funny, although the way they insert the music videos for their songs into the episodes can be a bit awkward.
Freaks and Geeks
This was as good as I’d heard. It’s sweet and funny, and although it takes place before I was even born, the characters feel like real people and are super-relatable. Also, the parents are awesome- as the Snark Ladies would say, they definitely score high on the Sandy Cohen Eyebrow Scale of Non-Negligent Parenting.
Heh. This is on Hulu and is created by Tommy Wiseau of The Room fame, so…that should give you an indicator of its quality. And it’s mildly amusing at first- people fighting over a live chicken, a princess who is moving into an apartment building for some reason- but it gets old fast.
I’ve seen both seasons of this show, and contrary to popular opinion, I liked the first one better. It’s rare for a show to take the tone and setting of a movie and recreate it so well with original characters. The acting is great as well- I was particularly impressed with Allison Tolman in Season 1.
Friday Night Lights
I liked this, although it’s not the favorite that it seems to be for so many other people. Eric and Tami Taylor are both awesome, as is their marriage. How did their daughter turn out so awful? I also don’t get what the big deal is about Tim Riggins- he’s fine, but he doesn’t do it for me. I prefer sweet Matt Saracen, although for the life of me I can’t figure out what he sees in Julie Taylor.
Making a Murderer
Everyone was talking about this a year ago. I remain unconvinced of Steven Avery’s innocence, although I think there was enough reasonable doubt that he shouldn’t have been convicted. And I definitely think Brendan Dassey’s conviction was based on a series of misunderstandings.
Master of None
I love Aziz Ansari- I was a big Parks and Recreation fan and I enjoy his standup- so I was really excited for this show. The first episode is actually the weakest one, but the second episode is the Emmy-winning “Parents,” co-starring Aziz’s real parents, which is excellent and way more indicative of the show’s overall quality. There are also some really poignant episodes about dating that really resonated with me. I wasn’t crazy about how the season ended, but I’ll definitely be watching when it comes back for Season 2.
The People vs. OJ Simpson
This was EXCELLENT. I’m kind of shocked at how good it was. The OJ Simpson trial was going on when I was 10-11, and while I remember it, I wasn’t following it closely. So there was a lot I didn’t know- i.e., I didn’t realize that Robert Kardashian was OJ’s close friend before the trial, or that there was someone else in the Ford Bronco during the chase. Or that his nickname was Juice (this cut of David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian saying “Juice” over and over is hilarious, especially since he’s usually saying it at a really serious moment). But the pacing is just right, the casting is excellent, and wow, Sarah Paulson made me feel terrible for Marcia Clark. I just wanted to tell her, “At least you’ll still be alive in ten years! Cochran and Kardashian won’t!”
I wasn’t expecting quality, just nostalgia, and that’s exactly what I got.
I started watching this because I love Aaron Paul. It’s about a family in a Scientology-like cult, and it’s a decent show that always seems like it’s on the verge of being great but hasn’t quite gotten there yet. Season 2 just started and so far I’m a bit underwhelmed, but I’m sticking around to see where this season goes.
Another show I liked but didn’t love. I’m not usually a big sci-fi person, but this, with its 80s setting and kid protagonists, was fun. One of the kids is played by Gaten Materrazzo, whom I know from when he played Gavroche in Les Mis on Broadway.
I haven’t read the books, but I’m liking the show so far, although there were definitely some episodes that didn’t hold my interest. Caitriona Balfe is fantastic, and I’m completely unspoiled as to the books, so I’m interested to see where this goes- there are so many possibilities when it comes to time-travel plots.
I caught up with this before the most recent season started and it’s great- funny and sweet. It reminds me a bit of The Office without the mockumentary component in that it’s about a bunch of goofy coworkers who pull pranks on each other and has a cute romance between the two most normal characters. And Andre Braugher is hysterical as the chief.
No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
The safari in Botswana motivated me to try this, especially since our safari vehicle was called “No. 1 Ladies’ Safari.” This is based on the book series and ran for just one season on HBO. I think it was a good show on the wrong network- HBO is all sex, violence, and antiheroes, while this is just a sweet dramedy about two women running a detective agency in Botswana. I love the characters at the center of it, played by Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose, and it’s really nice to see something that showcases Botswana, one of the most stable countries in Africa, in a positive light.
I did not expect to enjoy this Amazon sitcom as much as I did. It’s a funny and kind of unexpectedly romantic show. The premise is that after a man and a woman have a fling while he’s in London from Boston on business, she gets pregnant, and he decides to move to London to be with her and try to make things work. But this isn’t Knocked Up– they’re adults with their lives together, and they genuinely enjoy each other’s company. And I enjoy them, too- the male lead is actually one of my favorite characters in any of the shows I’ve seen lately.
This is one of those comedies-that’s-not-really-a-comedy that SNL made fun of recently. I mean, the premise has the main character returning to her hometown after her mother’s unexpected death and confronting her past, which included childhood sexual abuse. But while it’s not that funny, despite starring Tig Notaro, it is very well-done. I like that it doesn’t fall into too many cliches- it would have been really easy to go the culture-clash route, with the liberal lesbian in a small Southern town, but it stays away from that and keeps characters well-rounded.
The first episode got my attention right away, but by the end of the first season I’d lost interest. It may partly have been because I was spoiled, but I also ended up finding it kind of tedious- the whole “F Society” thing gets old fast. Rami Malek’s jawline, though.
This is great- engaging and extremely well-acted. Claire Foy is fantastic, and I would never have cast John Lithgow as Winston Churchill myself, but he knocks it out of the park. I found myself Googling things to see what happened (I’d never heard about Princess Margaret’s engagement that wasn’t, so that was sad to watch)
A Series of Unfortunate Events
This is based on a book series, which I have not read. There was also a movie that came out in 2003 that was based on the first three books, but they never made sequels. So I enjoyed seeing this, which is more detailed and apparently closer to the books. Neil Patrick Harris is great as Count Olaf- more sinister and less goofy than Jim Carrey was in the movie, and everyone else is well-cast. Including Patrick Warbutton- freaking Puddy from Seinfeld!- as Lemony Snicket.
The Good Place
Whoa. I don’t want to give too much away, so let’s just say that there is WAY more going on in this show than meets the eye. When it premiered, I was hesitant because I thought the premise- a woman who was a terrible person in life dies and is mistakenly sent to “the good place” in the afterlife- sounded kind of dumb. But it’s from the creators of Parks and Recreation, which I love, and stars Kristen Bell, whom I also love. So I gave it a chance, and it turned out to be anything but dumb. It’s actually really twisty and deep- but it is a sitcom, so it’s also very funny. Seriously, the first season just ended and it was only 13 episodes, so you have plenty of time to catch up on it before next season.