Although I’ve always prided myself on being a diligent student of pop culture, I find it increasingly difficult to keep up with TV these days.
I could sit on my couch for a week, watching all my favorite shows, and not feel like I was missing anything in the real world. I have actually fantasized about what injury or illness could befall me that would entail little pain but require convalescing in bed, with nothing to do but read and watch TV for weeks. I hoard shows on my DVR for just such a scenario, but alas, I remain upright, and too busy living life to get to the bottom of the “my recordings” screen.
Being a TV fan used to be more civilized. There were fewer channels and only one traditional season. I was able to preview most new shows and discern which were best to follow. But the TV landscape is like the Wild West now. Everyone gets different channels depending on their provider package. People watch series on their laptops and there are some shows now only available via the internet (I’ve heard House of Cards is amazing so in addition to 600 cable channels, now I have to get a Netflix subscription too!)
Even if I had more time to dedicate to TV, it’s almost impossible to be on top of all the great shows out there. But I work through my small screen stress by choosing wisely and watching what I can, one day at a time.
Here are three shows worth your valuable viewing time. They’re well-written, quirky, and unpredictable. Is it a coincidence they’re all created by and starring women? I think not. Chicks are getting more clout in Hollywood and that’s translating to better TV.
Girls: I’ve hailed the talents of creator, writer, and actress Lena Dunham before and I’ll keep doing it until everyone has sampled her refreshing work. I disagree with critics who claim season 2 was not as strong as the first one. There may have been some wacky plot points, but they only add to the show’s originality. Dunham has created 4 distinct, complex characters experiencing the angst, self-doubt, and loneliness common to all 20-somethings trying to figure out who to be. Like “Sex and the City” before it, “Girls” also uses New York as a character and anyone who has spent time in the Big Apple will feel waves of nostalgia. Each episode is like a mini movie that transports you to a believable place and time, and leaves you with thoughts and images to ponder.
New Girl: First off, the show is LOL funny every week. There’s no laugh track and the dialogue moves quickly so there’s no traditional comedy pandering. It’s about 3 20-something guys and a girl living in a loft in LA. Sounds like any one of a hundred shows that have appeared on-screen, but it’s the excellent writing and terrific acting that sell the characters. The show manages to be simultaneously hip and nerdy, with an underlying sweetness that pervades every episode. It also boasts one of the sharpest unsung characters in Schmidt, and the absolute best sexual tension-filled storyline on TV right now. Jess and Nick make Homeland’s Carrie and Brody look like kids on a grammar school playground. If you’ve never seen the show, do yourself a favor and find it online or on Netflix and watch from the beginning so you can see their relationship bloom.
The Mindy Project: This show had a strong pilot but then seemed to waver a bit mid-season. But I recently watched episodes On-Demand and rediscovered its charm. Mindy is an unlikely lead character, but that’s what makes her amiable. An accomplished doctor with a motley crew of hospital colleagues and opinionated girlfriends, she’s in control of every aspect of her life except love. She’s a hopeless romantic who can’t get out of her own way. The show is full of irreverent pop culture references and digs on men, who seem to all act like dogs in Mindy’s presence. Mindy’s work family– several wacky supporting characters who both comfort and annoy her– are also good for laughs. While Girls can be heavy, TMP is lighter fare with high entertainment value.
The clever writing on all these shows gives the audience credit for being smart. I often have to rewind episodes of all 3 shows to catch a line I missed or laugh again at a droll throwaway.
I also love that the main characters are strong but imperfect women. None is conventional looking but all attractive in their own way, especially because they’re sassy, capable and not reliant on a man to define them. Another common theme to their stories is the importance of friendship to women trying to get through a confusing time.
Let me know if you’re already a fan of any of these shows, or if I’ve convinced you to try one. You won’t be sorry. All three are worth the space on your DVR.