Friday, May 18, 2018

TV Shows I've Watched Lately

I've decided to do a post on all the TV shows I've watched this month.

I'm going to list them from my least favorite to my favorite.  The ranking might get difficult, for me, because I'm really loving some of these shows.

1. The Elegant Gentleman's Guide to Knife Fighting. This is an Australian variety show featuring Patrick Brammall and other people.

I think I actually hated the first episode. I think I gave it the lowest rating I've ever given anything on IMDb. Something offended me. Though now I can't remember what it was.

As I got further into the show, I stopped hating it. I even laughed a few times.

2. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt From what I've heard, this show is very well-liked. But so far, it's not liked too much by me.

I've only watched two episodes, though. It might grow on me.

I'm not sure why I don't like it.

Maybe it's too silly?

Maybe Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) is too cutesy?

My problem might be with the characterization. Kimmy spent time as a prisoner of a cult. She was kept from the outside world. Yet I don't think there's enough naiveness in her personality to reflect this. She seems too wise, witty, and confident.

But...who knows.

By episode five, I might be totally in love with the show.

3. Modern Family- This is the show that Tim and I watch together when we don't feel like we have the time or energy to watch one of our longer shows—usually because we've started dinner late. I like to start watching something before eight, so afterwards I have time to give attention to the cats, AND get myself to bed on time.

I enjoy Modern Family. We used to be big fans of the show; then dropped out of the lovefest around season four or five. Then, a year or so ago, we got back into it.

I like that they've managed to keep the kids on the show, and that the kids are still fun to watch. Though I do find it strange, that out of four young adults in a middle class family, not one of them has gone away for college. It might have been more realistic to send one far away for college; then create a spin off...like they did with The Cosby Show.

One thing that bothers me about Modern Family is they normalize things like gaslighting and other forms of dishonesty and manipulation. They make these things seem harmless, but in reality, it's often not.

BUT you know...maybe the thing that makes it okay is, almost all the characters on the show are dishonest. They all lie to each other.  I think many of the episodes are based on the premise that one character is struggling to hide a secret, not realizing that the character they're lying to has their own secret they're struggling to hide.

For example, in the episode we watched this week, Claire (Julie Bowen) and Phil (Ty Burrell) are in competitive mode and want to race each other. They both lie about being in shape, and then they both try to hide their severe post-racing pain.

So, yeah. I think if you have two dishonest people, maybe things balance out and it's more okay. But it would be different if Claire was very honest. What if she admitted to Phil that she felt out of shape because she hadn't worked out for awhile. Then in return, Phil told her he's totally in shape because he's been playing basketball every week...even though he's actually been using that time to play with robots. They race. Claire admits to being in pain. Phil ACTS like he's in pain. He groans and grimaces, but when Claire questions him, he snaps, I'm fine! I feel great!  For Pete's Sake. Turn it down a notch! You found like a broken record.

4. Miranda I watched the second season of this. It took me an episode or two to get back into it. I find the laugh track, and breaking-of-the-fourth wall, a bit jarring at first.

But after the short adjustment period, I really enjoyed it. It's a fun, easygoing, happy show.

My favorite episode this season was "Just Act Normal". If I remember correctly, the whole episode occurred on one set—a psychiatrist's office.  Miranda (Miranda Hart) and her mother (Patricia Hodge) try to prove to a psychiatrist (Mark Heap) that their mental health is superb. And....they pretty much fail miserably.

5The Let Down-This is a brilliant new Australian show about the earliest stages of parenthood. It's mostly comedy, but there's some drama as well.

Audrey (Allison Bell) is the center of the story. She and her husband struggle to adjust to having a new baby. Then the show also tells the story of the various mothers (and a father) in Audrey's parenting group.

I was going to say we need more shows like this, so people can be more understanding of what new parents have to endure.  But even if the most honest shows are made and watched, will it actually help people understand more. Or is it something you can never understand unless
you endure it personally?

Well, you know....I think it MIGHT help. Because there are so many other TV shows that give a unrealistic view of parenthood. Often new babies are more like accessories. The mothers and fathers go along with their usual lives, with just a few minor glitches here and there. Or they might struggle a bit for an episode or two; then everything is back to normal.

When I was pregnant, I believed my life would be keeping Jack in the bassinet; then every hour or so taking him out to breastfeed, change diaper, cuddle, etc.  And I read parenting books! I was a preschool teacher! But still. Despite all that, I was surprised by the intensity of it all.

6Supernatural. I watched the first season, and loved it.

It reminds me a bit of Charmed—a family working together to fight demons and other naughty things.

It was nice seeing Jeffery Dean Morgan without Lucille.

My one complaint is with the episode that takes place in DFW Texas ("Hell House").  I live there, and the place they were at DID not look like the city I know.  They made us look like we're all a bunch of cowboys. What do all young people do on the weekend? They go to a rodeo dance club, of course!

I'm imagine there are small towns in Texas that are that way, and I'm sure there are subgroups of the population of DFW that might be that way. But no. We're not all living the cowboy life here.

I think most people here do what people do all over the world—go to Starbucks, see Marvel movies at the movie theater, eat at Food Truck parks, complain about the prices at Whole Foods, go to trendy restaurants, march against guns, work out at fitness clubs, drink at (NON-western) bars, etc.

Once a year we have a few weeks of rodeo stuff.

Anyway, the episode made me wonder how many times a TV show has tricked me into thinking  Vancouver is accurately portraying an American city or town.

I watch Bates Motel and imagine there really are small towns in Oregon that look like that. But maybe people in Oregon watch it and think, that is SO not us!

7. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.   I LOVE LOVE LOVE this show. It's one of those that makes me regret that I watch only one season at a time, and that I rely on random.org and a too-long list to pick my next TV shows.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a comedy-musical about love and mental illness.

I actually didn't know it was a musical, so I was a bit confused and surprised when the first song started happening.

But...I love all the songs. They're funny and catchy. I find myself singing bits and pieces here and there. 




The show is about a woman named Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) who runs into her ex-boyfriend Josh (Vincent Rodriguez) in NYC, and decides happiness lies in following him to his hometown of West Covina, California.  She moves there and tries to deny to herself, and others, that she moved there because of him.

I really hate the popular agenda of trying to end mental health stigma by saying it's a disease. Really? Since when is having a disease a positive thing? Are people with physical illnesses not stigmatized? Are people with MS, AIDS, cancer, diabetes, Lupus, Parkinson's, etc. not treated with pity, suspicion, nervousness, blame, etc? 

I think things like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend do a MUCH better job of reducing stigma. Because the show has two messages. A) Someone can have mental issues and still be a nice, adorable, fun person. B) Everyone is a bit mental.

Rebecca is really not the only crazy one on the show. Everyone is a bit nuts, and some of the other characters are a lot nuts. They all have their baggage. They all have their issues. And it's the same for all of us in real life. 

It's kind of the same with all my diaries I recently read. I was a bit mentally messed-up, but so was every single other person that I mentioned in my diaries. We're all fucked in the head; then we interact and fuck each other up even more in the head. It's the circle of life!
 
The Path- This is the main show that Tim and I have been watching together. It's about a cult that has some similarities to Scientology.

I think it's amazing. Though it took me awhile to get into it. I had a hard time adjusting to Hugh Dancy being creepy-disturbed rather than sexy-disturbed. Cal Roberts is no Will Graham.  BUT...my heart has slowly warmed to him.

I'm going to maybe sound contradictory here. But while I don't like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt because she doesn't act like someone who escaped a cult. I love The Path because the members of the Meyerism movement don't act the way I imagine cult members would act.

There IS a difference, though. I think Kimmy is an actual victim of kidnapping. She and a few other women were kept prisoner underground. 

The characters on The Path are part of the cult by choice. They're not prisoners. They have their own little community, but they're not completely cut off from the rest of the world.

Despite being part of something that's a bit like Scientology, the Meyerists are funny, down to earth, casual, etc.  But there's some dark side stuff—murder, secrets, blackmail, molestation, brainwashing, ostracizing, hypocrisy, etc. 

The show isn't about bad people who trick other people into believing a bunch of lies. It's about people who might actually have the right destination, but they're walking on the wrong paths to get to that destination. 

Coronation Street-This show might always be number one for me.  Well...I hope it is.

Now I'm scared that I'm jinxing myself.

But...for now, at least. I'm amazed.

I have to remind myself that I'm watching actors play pretend people. It all feels so real to me. 

If you are a person who has been reluctantly addicted to American soap operas for a long time, I strongly suggest you try Coronation Street...or maybe another British soap opera.  UNLESS you like stories about towns where every woman looks like a fashion model and people repeatedly return from the dead.

I love Coronation Street because the characters look and act like the people I see and know in real life.

I love Coronation Street because it has a great mix of drama and comedy.

I also love the show, because whoever is writing the show has a great understanding of the dark personality traits (narcissism, psychopathy, machiavellian, and sadism). I'm very interested in those traits. And I find some of the storylines to be cathartic. 

Coronation Street has been on for 58 years. I hope it goes on and on for many decades more. I hope one day I can say to people, I've been watching Coronation Street for thirty years.....