When I was growing up, TV was my thing. I watched too much, but that was when no one cared. It would take at least 4 episodes of The Brady Bunch and two more Family Ties shows taped on the VCR before my mom would venture into the family room to suggest that maybe I do some homework.
My poor boys watch one episode of Dog with a Blog and I’m all “YOUR MIND IS TURNING TO MUSH!”
My love affair with the black box has never waned. But the nature of being a TV devotee has changed dramatically. There’s no way you can keep up with the best shows. There are just too many.
It’s a good problem to have, but now it’s tough to be an expert– the person friends come to for advice on what’s the best use of TV time. Over the summer, Wilson and I finally finished Breaking Bad (amazing) and we’re half-way through season 2 of Orange is the New Black (original, fascinating, funny!)
I’m not going to pretend I’ve seen all the new fall shows and can recommend the best of the best. I can tell you what I’ve had time to watch, when not keeping up with my other show commitments (Daily Show, New Girl, Brooklyn 99, Parenthood, Masters of Sex, Boardwalk Empire, Modern Family and of course, my favorite, The Goldbergs.)
I’m not into sci-fi, fantasy or zombies, so luckily that eliminates a bunch of suggested new shows (Z-Nation, Constantine, Gotham, The Flash.) I’m a drama and comedy girl. Here’s what I’ve tried out so far…..
Black-ish– ABC comedy about a rich black family trying to maintain their roots and identity in ritzy, suburban L.A. It moves quickly and has some laughs but we were watching with Jacob (who’s 14) and were slightly mortified when the second episode focused on the 13-year-old son getting caught “enjoying alone time” and then asking Dad a lot of intimate sex questions like “What’s oral?” Authentic storyline or network TV trying to push the envelope to keep up with cable? I do like the concept of a show dealing with stereotypes and cultural differences through comedy. It has potential and the kid actors are adorable so I’m sticking with it for now.
Marry Me: Please don’t let this cheesy poster affect your first impression of what could be a hit show. A 30-something couple living in Manhattan get engaged in the pilot episode, in a very unexpected way. It’s funny and the writing is strong– think Modern Family and New Girl, quick banter that actually had me rewinding a few times to catch the diss I missed. The leads– Casey Wilson (from Happy Endings and SNL) and Ken Marino have great chemistry and handle the complicated dialog with ease. I’ll definitely tune in again.
A to Z: This NBC comedy is probably good enough to stand on its own merits, for smart writing and talented actors, but because it stars Cristin Milioti– also the long-awaited “mother” of How I Met Your Mother, and an actor (Ben Feldman, the crazy writer from Mad Men) who looks a little like Ted and has the same dreamy infatuation with romance and fate, fans of that show will undoubtedly be living vicariously through this plot. Both lead actors are very attractive and clearly have chemistry but the supporting players– meant to be quirky and hilarious– weren’t memorable or funny. The story was cute but not sure it will be enough to save up space on the DVR. Time will tell.
The Affair– This show got all the buzz and the trailers intrigued me. Brooklyn teacher (Dominic West) with lovely wife (Maura Tierney) and 4 kids spends summer at in-laws’ gorgeous Hamptons beach house and can’t resist a sexy, complicated diner waitress (Ruth Wilson). They start an affair and something rotten happens, because they’re spilling their story to a police detective in the pilot episode. The characters so far don’t seem particularly interesting and the family dialog does not ring true to me. But half of the first episode is told from his point of view, and the other is told from hers which is refreshing and compelling. Press on the show says it deals with the complicated motivation behind infidelity. Wilson — who cheered when a drug dealer’s face was blown off by an IED and didn’t flinch when Al Capone smashed heads and shot up a gang of traitors– didn’t enjoy some of the depressing content of this story. But it sucked us both in enough to keep watching.
Transparent– This show was a leap for us old school viewers because it’s an Amazon original show we can only watch on my laptop. It’s been a critical darling, because of its daring subject matter and authentic portrayal of a privileged LA family dealing with a major adjustment. Jeffrey Tambor (from Arrested Development) plays a divorced retired professor transitioning from male to female. The pilot has him trying to tell his three grown children but struggling because of his own discomfort, and his new perception of them as too self-involved to see him for who he wants to be. Despite the small screen, the show is shot beautifully and feels like an indie movie. The dialog is sharp and almost painfully real. The characters are complex and mysterious. I loved it. My favorite new show by a mile. Wilson had no interest based on the elevator pitch, but the pilot drew him in and he’s on board. That’s my guy!
I still want to try:
Madam Secretary– It got rave reviews and I’ve always liked politics and Tea Leoni.
The Chair– Wilson and I loved Project Greenlight back in the day and this promises to be a better version of the reality show. Aspiring directors compete to make the best movie on a tight budget in tough Hollywood. But if this doesn’t cut it, Affleck and Damon are bringing Project Greenlight back with new episodes on HBO soon.
What are you watching? I’d love to know which shows have you hooked and which you’re booting off the DVR. Tell me in the comments.
And if you want more info on all the new shows, check out these stories: