Clearly, I am someone who loves my television.
And I watch a lot of it. A LOT. So frequently, I am asked “So, what do you watch?” Oddly I always find that a loaded question.
There are the shows that I watch occasionally because I’m bored, like House Hunters International. There are the shows that I watch when I remember to watch them, like Jeopardy. There are the shows that I rewatch in reruns because they give me comfort, like Gilmore Girls (I have watched this series through at least 4 times). There are the shows that I rewatch in reruns because they consistently crack me up, like Seinfeld or The Simpsons.
And then there are the shows that I watch during prime time. But even within prime time viewing there are categories and hierarchies, loyalties and indifferences.
So how to tackle this question? Usually I respond by saying “Better to ask me what I don’t watch!” but I think it’s time to put this issue to bed once and for all. However, due to the volume of it all, I’ll go day by day throughout this week.
*Note: I am cataloging the shows based on the day they air, not the day I watch them. I watch through a combination of live TV, DVR, On Demand and Hulu. A true multi-channel viewer, that’s me.
**2nd Note: These are not necessarily the shows I’m watching RIGHT NOW, so much as the shows that air on these days that I watch when they are on.
First up, Sunday:
I watch all of Fox’s animation domination, but some are more out to habit than actual desire to see what happens:
The Cleveland Show: This usually plays in the background while I’m doing something else. Not sure why I’m still watching it other than a feeling that it’s occasionally funny, so I should just watch it and get it over with. Faintly damning praise, I realize.
The Simpsons: I loved this show. I wrote my first post about this show. It has been a seminal program in my life, one of the top 5 shows in terms of importance. But lately (the past decade) it has been on the decline. I struggle every Sunday, trying to find the funny and legitimize the fact that I still watch it. It gets harder every week. There’s always one or two good little jokes or sight gags, but I compare that to the golden days….and I sigh. Or I have on occasion said…
Bob’s Burgers: Best of the lot. Hands down. This show is the reason animation for adults was created. It’s funny, subversive at times, visually engaging, and fantastic vocal work by all cast members. I cannot say enough about this show. Just watch it. And they got Cyndi Lauper to sing for them. Great stuff.
Family Guy: This is another show that I would say is heading past its prime. Lately the taste level has been more than questionable and at times just downright cruel to some of the characters. Of course that are 2 scenes that I have saved on my DVR – from “Meet the Quagmires” Peter singing and dancing to Axel F:
And from “Friends of Peter G.”, Peter and fellow AA members singing Mr. Booze:
American Dad: This is my favorite of all of the Seth Macfarlane shows. It manages to be funny – Roger is easily the best and most fertile Macfarlane character – while having heart when it needs to. “The Kidney Stays in the Picture” was extremely heartfelt without becoming sappy or losing focus on the show.
Now on to other network/basic cable TV channels:
The Good Wife: On CBS. A show for adults. For thinking adults. Who also enjoy a bit of soap opera in their well written, well acted, well plotted dramas. I can watch Alan Cumming as Eli Gold for hours. And Juliana Margulies walks the fine line between strong and fragile without over playing it. Plus, Christine Baranski seems to be having one hell of a time as Diane Lockhart and it clearly shows.
GCB: This is a new show on ABC that clearly is set to take over from Desperate Housewives. It’s cheesy and silly and only a few episodes in, but I’m enjoying it. It’s a frothy comedy that does a fairly good job of skewering religious hypocrisy. And Annie Potts is always a hoot.
Mad Men: Do I really need to explain why this show is brilliant? Really? Or can I just say 2 words: Jon. Hamm.
The Walking Dead: First season started out strong, then lagged. Second season lagged and then lagged and “SOPHIA!” and then finally picked up. The very end of this season made me curious for season 3, so that’s a plus on its side. They did away with Shane, but I just wish they’d finally kill of Laurie and Carl. Could it just be all Daryl Dixon all the time?
The Killing: I’m no longer watching this, but I felt it needed a shout out because I’m no longer watching it. I enjoyed the first season quite a bit, until the end got silly and the finale just went nowhere. After I felt no pull to watch the beginning of season 2, I deleted it from my DVR season recordings.
Breaking Bad: Granted I started watching this on Netflix, but once I started I couldn’t stop. Bryan Cranston, the One who Knocks, manages to make Walter White’s transformation organic and realistic when it could have so easily become cartoonish. Aaron Paul has found the pathos in Jesse when the character could have dissolved into just being pathetic. And Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman is the best TV lawyer since The Wire‘s Maury Levy.
Next, premium cable:
Game of Thrones: 3 episodes into its second season, Game of Thrones continues to improve on an already high quality show. They handle George RR Martin’s huge world and never-ending cast of characters with aplomb and talent, and they’ve managed to create the world that I’ve seen in my head for years.
Boardwalk Empire: The pilot was breathtaking. What followed has been fair, great, and everything in between. To the show’s credit, it’s never been awful. Jack Huston’s breakout performance as Richard Harrow,the half-faced assassin, is layered and wonderful to watch. With Nucky’s actions at the end of the second season, I did feel the stakes were raised and as much as I’ll miss Jimmy Darmody, I’m on board for season 3.
True Blood: While I don’t just watch it for the eye candy, I can’t say it doesn’t hurt. The plots are outlandish – witches, fairies, werewolves, werepanthers, psychics, AND vampires – but there’s some strong acting going on and Dennis O’Hare’s promised return can only make the new season into a wilder romp.
Girls: This just started but I adored the pilot. I don’t care that everyone wasn’t happy and peppy the whole time. The whining and entitlement was age appropriate. The dialog was true and real enough that it wasn’t unbelievable. And let’s face it, that sex scene was so intensely awkward, it felt like the most honest depiction of sex I’ve seen on TV in a long time. Lena Dunham’s lack of pretension (yes, I will stand by this) is refreshing and ultimately, revealing.
Homeland: What a brilliant first season. Since Temple Grandin, Claire Danes has been, thankfully, making me forget her in almost everything else she’s done and she’s been amazing in Homeland. Carrie’s descent into her illness was well handled and Danes made it believable and heartbreaking. Damien Lewis continues to do no wrong. It is a smart, well-paced, and complicated show, that even when it doesn’t fully work (why Brody did what he did) I wanted more. Season two cannot come fast enough.
The Borgias: Such a silly silly show, but I love Jeremy Irons as the Borgia Pope and the costumes and sets are lavish and just over the top enough to work. This is a show that is best summed by The Onion’s AV Club as “sexy sexy Catholicism.”
Dexter: This is another show that I’m not sure why I watch it anymore. The first season was new and exciting. The anti-hero serial killer that you associate with was intriguing. But the voiceovers became monotonous, as great as John Lithgow was, the villains became more outlandish, and the show just became a self-parody. However, with Deb’s discovery ending this past season, the show opens up to some possibility for innovation.
Nurse Jackie and The Big C: These shows just moved to Sunday. I’m grouping them together because they are of a kind: strong women in distress. Be it drugs or illness, both Edie Falco’s Jackie and Laura Linney’s Cathy make stupid choices while fighting for their sanity and maintain some control in their lives. This is not to say that these are the same shows, but they are similar enough to me that they have started blending together…not sure that’s a good sign.
Finally, the Adult Swim late night line up:
In addition to the reruns of Family Guy and American Dad, I watch new and rerun episodes of… Robot Chicken; Tim and Eric: Awesome Show, Great Job; Aqua Teen Hunger Force/Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1; Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole; China, IL: Metalocalypse; and The Venture Brothers.
So there we have it. I know, it’s quite the list. But remember…these don’t all air on every Sunday, every week. This list is an amalgamation of what Sunday shows I will watch.
What do you watch on Sundays?