Pop Culture

About Those TV Shows Everyone Else Likes/Liked…

I love me some gud TV.

Because I love TV so much, I keep trying so very hard to see what everyone else sees. I keep trying to appreciate the brilliance, the intellect (if it exists), the sheer marvel, the comedic genius, the “tour de force” accolades and awards and so on these shows have received by their viewership. I don’t know why I bother. I simply cannot see what everyone else seems to see:

1. 30 Rock: Supposedly a lot of rapid-fire, witty banter courtesy between some Liz Lemon, eye-rolling character and the quirky bunch of bozos, including Alec Baldwin, who work with her and against her on some sort of comedy sketch show. I caught a couple of episodes involving Tracy Morgan playing Tracy Morgan pondering his ego with the snotty secretary from Ally McBeal, AND there was Salma Hayek who snidely remarks on Liz’s penchant for sniffing her own farts in her Snuggie. What am I missing here?

2. Grey’s Anatomy: While I confess to being moderately entertained by Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal, if anything for its ham-fisted attempt at intrigue (and those misty, faraway expressions between Olivia and Fitz during the initial seasons), I cannot get into her hospital intern melodrama where everyone’s fucking around with everyone else to the point of confusion…and the McDreamy, McSteamy, McInBetweeny…All of that. We get it.

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3. America’s Next Top Model, American Idol, Top Chef, and all the other Topping shows: Let’s just be real here…The only reason why people obsess over this utter caca is because we secretly crave drama that doesn’t affect us personally (which is why Grey’s Anatomy is successful), and there’s just nothing like the drama that happens within a competition. I’m convinced that more Americans would watch the Olympics if it were turned into a season-long, “backstage” event, one in which the judges were snarky jerkfaces, loudly expressing disdain rather than mere number scores, and the competitors had camera time to fight and sleep with each other.

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4. Community: I know, who doesn’t like Joel McHale? Don’t confuse The Soup McHale with fictional series McHale though. For some reason, believe it or not, that very same sarcasm he displays so well grows tiresome. Also, as someone who works at a community college, I want to know why this series is no longer about non-trad. students attending a community college and the challenges they face, the community they create (I get the title, yeah). Instead, it’s a series of “zany” adventures at a community college loaded with cutesy pop cultural subtext starring “zany” characters who were once, supposedly, students taking classes at a community college.

5. The Following: Oh, what a premise this show had — Serial killer inspiring a cult of wannabe serial killers. And Kevin Bacon…And James Purefoy! What could possibly go wrong? I liked the first few episodes, but the gimmick and the acting grew tedious. Even Kevin Bacon grew blah, and he doesn’t go blah for me much (stick to movies, Baconator).

6. Two and a Half Men: Remember when Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen were relevant…back in 1980-something? How about when Ashton Kutcher was remotely funny back during That 70’s Show (Oh, Demi, what did you do?).

7. Pretty Little Liars: I can’t even…

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8. Glee: Maybe it’s just the auto-tune recordings of the stars’ singing…Maybe it’s the songs chosen (how many ’80’s anthems or contemp. pop shite can we handle?)…Maybe, just maybe, it’s the ridiculous notion that a school’s glee CLUB gets so much funding from the county that they have the best of the best in everything, from stage, to lighting, to musicians, to costuming… Ryan Murphy doesn’t seem to care much about the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief, but, apparently, he knows what teens like (kind of a creepy thought since this is coming from the Nip/Tuck guy).

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9. American Horror Story: Speaking of Ryan Murphy… How is it a horror series does away with the horror at some point during the season and still keeps an audience? I think AHS is the most schizo show on television. It doesn’t know what it wants to be. Season three just up and decided that the gimmick would be how many amazing actresses can we cast in a series and grant unique characters to? Then it just became the Jessica Lange-soft-focus-lens showcase. In season 4 — Freak Show —it became a drinking game of How Many Times Will Lange Play Marlene Dietrich Muttering Her Way Through a David Bowie Song? Next season, viewers will be graced with the presence of a certain Lady Gaga. Just. No.

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10. Bates Motel: Oh, my God…I don’t think I’ve ever been so annoyed by Vera Farmiga in a role as I have been with her screeching rendition of Norma Bates. It’s disappointing simply because Farmiga usually plays desperate mothers in bad situations very well (see Joshua and Orphan for examples).  At least the original Norma was dead throughout the movie. And Freddie Highmore, an adorable kiddo, just isn’t all-that convincing as a would-be-gonna-be psychopath.

11. New Girl: AKA One Girl, Three Guys, Hilarity Ensues. Zooey Deschanel is awfully cute, but can we just admit, oh so carefully, oh so cautiously, that…well, hell…she can’t act. She has the wide-eyed, eccentric-nut thing down, but she delivers her lines as if she’s memorized an audit notice from the IRS. Girl. Cannot. Act.

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12. Two Broke Girls: AKA The Kat Demmings and a Blonde Show. One’s an ex-heiress down on her luck, the other’s a crass waitress. Together, they’re new besties and business partners-to-be. End of fun-ness and fun times.

Honorable Mentions (Shows that I’m trying so hard to enjoy…but I may need further convincing):

True Detective: Is it deep and meaningful? Are these characters worthwhile? Is the dialogue profound? I still have no idea. Maybe I’m just…dumb. Season one was hypnotic and weird and scary. And Matthew McConaughey was extremely weird. Season two is a mixed bag of police procedural and cliches…and Vince Vaughn playing himself as an ex-gangster, his own cliche. I just don’t know if I like it or not.

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Ray Donovan: Horrible L.A. family doing horrible L.A. things to one another. At the center, Liev Schreiber, who plays the title role, a fixer and perpetually troubled antihero. There is not a single person worth liking here, but every so often, there’s a truly righteous moment of poetic justice, so I persist.

Once Upon a Time: I really enjoyed the first season of the fairy tale series, but it just got so Disney-fied and convoluted with its many story arcs. Then there were suddenly so many damned fictional story characters tossed in because What If, and it all just grew quite annoying.

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26 thoughts on “About Those TV Shows Everyone Else Likes/Liked…

    • It has funny moments, as did 30 Rock. It’s just me — I find myself unable to commit to a comedy that takes forever to find its “gimmick” and then continuously hurls it at the audience, a constant barrage of “in” jokes. You incorporated a Peep Show clip (Jeremy and his ode to Bush) in an entry on your blog. THAT’S a show that had known its gimmick from the start, and even if you started watching late (as I did), you’d still be a part of everything. Nothing would be lost on you. (Yes, I love Peep Show)

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      • It is a rambling mess of a show that’s true. What are you saying the gimmick to peep show is? Are you talking about the pov set-up or about its style as a comedy? Have to say series 1 -4 are soo much better than the later ones if you haven’t gone backwards. I read an American one is in the works.

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      • Gimmick for Peep Show exactly what you’ve stated — POV and the dark undertone to it (they always get screwed it seems). Plus, Jeremy and Super Hans are just awesome. And America will ruin it.

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      • It’s certainly the premise, yeah (but much better than shows like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which follows the same idea that everyone is out for him/herself). And you met Jeremy/Robert Webb?? JEALOUS…me.

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  1. For me breaking bad was the ultimate ‘I don’t get this, I really don’t get this, what’s wrong with me?’ mass appeal phenomenon. That and soccer. I can stomach 10 minutes of it yet everyone I know and loves watches it multiple times a week and sometimes all day saturday and sunday. It’s disturbing!

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    • I’m a Breaking Bad fan, but I’m not claiming anyone crazy for not enjoying it as much as I had. It’s like the True Detective fanbase, really. It’s VERY particular, and I totally see why people wouldn’t get into either one. Breaking Bad also has to be watched in its entirety, and if it didn’t grab you within the first few episodes, chances are it wouldn’t hold your attention at all.

      Soccer though…Me neither. I don’t do the sports-on-TV thing either. Here in the U.S., it’s football, football, football…and sometimes baseball. If you’re not a football fanatic, you’re so very un-American, a concept that is baffling to me since Americans are supposed to pride themselves on independence and diversity (so much for diversity of thought and opinion).

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      • It was the first few episodes that put me off. There was a volatile South American drug boss and I just thought I can’t be bothered. But I do know Walter White started taking pleasure in being evil for instance and it became interesting in that way. But I couldn’t jump in by that point, I did try. I even know a couple of people here follow American football closely, on top of the soccer. A couple of games are played in London each year and my mate goes. I would prefer it to soccer because the look of it is pretty cool, the field and kits and the fireworks etc. Plus soccer crowds are full of hateful and often violent scumbags, I don’t know if football support is like that but I get the impression it isn’t quite.

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  2. I’m late to this party and have only seen a handful of these, but I’m with you on those. 30 Rock — tried, tried and tried and do not find it remotely humorous. Grey’s Anatomy was so-s0 in the first couple of seasons but quickly fizzled. Those Top Fill-in-the-blank shows — hate is not strong enough of a word, but it’s too late to locate a fitting synonym.

    A few I do like: Transparent — I binge-watched the entire season on Amazon Prime. A nice combo of clever, hilarious and heart-wrenching. Grace & Frankie — loved it overall. It peaked around episode 4 but picked up again in the last 3 episodes but overall I enjoyed it. Parks & Rec — I’ve only watched 5-10 episodes but it’s light and entertaining. Odd Mom Out — the only reason I tried this on for size was because my brilliant, cool, sarcastic, non-mom pal continually mentioned it and well, I’m chronically an odd mom out. She said I WAS the main character and I suspected she meant it affectionately, so I thought why not. I only watched the 3 complimentary episodes granted to me by that asshole network, Bravo, but it was enough that I’m searching cable packs that include that snobby network.

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    • Since we’re talking comedy…I liked Grace and Frankie a lot, too, and thought the premise was so timely and apt for two brilliant actresses, Tomlin and Fonda. Parks and Rec was my jam. One of the nicest (as in endearing) comedies on television with such fun characters. I’ve comic versions of Leslie and Ron up on my wall in my office, in fact. Haven’t seen Odd Mom Out, but I hear good things about it, an anti-“real housewives” comedy. I’ve also been enjoying Playing House on USA with the underused Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair. The fact that it’s solely about women’s friendship grabbed me from the start. They’re so good together, too. Anyway, thanks for reading/stopping by!

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