The TV Whisperer teaches The Movie Whisperer
How do you like your TV? I'm a pretty open-minded cat in that regard, although most TV comedies bore me today. I guess I'm still mourning the death of the TV sitcom. When you combine that generational flaw with the fact that I don't have a ton of time to watch TV shows I have to be pretty selective.
TV has also changed quite a bit in the last 15-20 years. "Reality" is king, and it kind of makes me sick. I'll never beat around the bush about how much I detest reality TV. It's poison. It's far more scripted than anyone believes. If you pay any kind of attention you can see just how scripted and forced it is. Total garbage, is what it is. I'll not spend any more time talking about whores like the Kardashians. Why can't we get them all in a plane at one time, though?
The positive change in TV today has to be the rise of the heavy drama and real horror. I know there's some bias there, but hey........it's my fucking blog. You're just reading it. Hopefully. Anyways, drama has always been around on TV. However, when I was growing up it tended to be marginalized into the day/night soap category (i.e. Dallas) or cop shows. Then along came a little show called "Lost".
I'll not bullshit you about my love for this show. It's #1 on my personal list of TV favorites and probably always will be (although Game of Thrones is challenging hard). "Lost" broke the mold and did something that TV hadn't seen before: it was a mini-movie every week. The production value, the writing and the mythology were off the charts. It became the ultimate water cooler topic of conversation. It birthed the era of TV that was more popular than the movies (a thing not only unseen but unimaginable until then).
I was working at Blockbuster Video (RIP, old friend) when I became a convert. I had broken my back in 2 places about a month before, and I had a lot of time on my hands, a lot of Vicodin and a lot of free rentals. My TV watching world was forever changed. Suddenly the kind of shows only seen on HBO were becoming a thing on cable and even broadcast TV. Praise the TV Gods!!
Luckily for me I have a muse, a guide to all of the worthwhile stops on the road of quality entertainment. I have a TV Whisperer: my loving wife, Cindy.
Cindy is a homemaker (and a damn good one, I might add) and a stay-at-home caregiver for seemingly every child in the extended family. This, combined with my crazy work schedule, gives her ample time to scour the Earth for the best nuggets. For some reason, I always resist her at first. I think it's just a long-time marriage issue combined with my own stubbornness, since the more I resist the more I end up loving the next show she recommends. It's like some twisted game I can't get enough of. I'm the Movie Whisperer, she's my counterpart.
Breaking Bad? Check. Sons of Anarchy? Check. Weeds? Check. Game of Thrones? Check. Mad Men? Check. Shameless? Check. Dexter? Check. I'm ashamed to say I can't claim to have discovered any of these (especially Game of Thrones). How's that for love? She knew that I needed to peruse these epic TV gems and forced them down my throat, like a patient mother jamming medicine down the throat of a petulant toddler. I can't thank her enough.
We're talking about the kind of shows where you don't even "Netflix and Chill", because you don't want to break long enough for a good old fashioned fuck. You start watching at 7 in the evening and force yourself to go to bed at 5am. You binge like the fat, sluggish fuck that you are. God bless America!!
I can claim to have also introduced her to "American Horror Story", "Carnivale", "Bates Motel", and "Deadwood". I'm not totally useless. As a side note, I still hate HBO a little for cancelling "Carnivale". That was wrong.
So (just for the sake of putting it out there) here are my Top 10 TV Shows. I rank these in order of not just entertainment value but more by how hard they sucked me in (in a binge sense) and how deeply they affected me. Do you know what I mean? You know how that great episode will refuse to leave your head the next day at work and you replay it over and over? Or maybe it's that big payoff or finale that had you weeping like a little bitch with a skinned knee.
- "Lost" (ABC, 2004-2010, 121 episodes): Love it or hate it, "Lost" is a groundbreaking landmark in TV history. It's divisive and philosophical, but you couldn't ignore it. I did indeed cry like a little bitch at that finale....and Charlie's death. No show in history had a deeper mythology or inspired more debate/research/conspiracy theories. Ever.
- "Game of Thrones" (HBO, 2011-present): It's vast, expansive, shockingly violent, perverted, thrilling, gorgeous, and fantastic. It's THE show at HBO that dethroned The Sopranos. That's a bold statement. It's broken Emmy records. It's the show where literally no one is safe. Ask Ned Stark.
- "The Walking Dead" (AMC, 2010-present): Every show has it's detractors, and The Walking Dead may be at the top of that particular list. I can't get enough. I read the comics voraciously up until the current point, and I have no problem with the variations from the source material. Bitchy folks, remember: The Walking Dead refers to the survivors, not the walkers. It's not a show about zombies. It's a show about human drama in a world taken over by the dead.
- "Dexter" (Showtime, 2006-2013, 96 episodes): While this show did sport (arguably) the most disappointing finale of the last 20 years it did give you the most compelling main character ever, Dexter Morgan. If Michael C. Hall never did anything else in Hollywood he'd be a legend forever. I was so damn bummed out when I ran out of episodes to watch.
- "Sons of Anarchy" (FX, 2008-2014, 92 episodes): The story of Jax Teller and Company should have been too much of a caricature, but no one expected the heart that this show had. Katey Sagal blew me away with her badassery (no more Peggy Bundy there). Possibly my favorite top-to-bottom ensemble cast. A show so good it made you believe in the love of a biker perv and a tranny.
- "Breaking Bad" (AMC, 2008-2013, 62 episodes): Walter White is an iconic TV character whose pop culture significance will never fade away. The show is phenomenal, but for me it's the feel that gets me every time. Set and filmed entirely in Albuquerque, this show takes me home. Every episode I see somewhere I lived or delivered pizza or partied or (at least) drove by on the regular. I miss this show so damn much.
- "Weeds" (Showtime, 2005-2012, 102 episodes): It's the comedy that never failed to make you laugh with absurd dilemmas and great weed humor. It also gave you a family with a poignant and dysfunctional story. It surprised you with the drama. And Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy Botwin?? Oh.....my.......God. Hot as hell does not begin to describe that woman in that role. Lord have mercy.
- "Mad Men" (AMC, 2007-2015, 92 episdoes): I expected to hate this one. I fought The TV Whisperer the hardest on this one. I didn't see the appeal in a show about 1960's Ad Execs. Boy, was I wrong. This show is nothing less than a window into a piece of America's soul. You can spend whole episodes just marveling at the look and feel of it as a period piece before you ever get into the amazing acting and writing.
- "Boardwalk Empire" (HBO, 2010-2014, 56 episodes): This is a show that's steeped heavily in historical fact, with minor name changes and minor characters created for dramatic purposes. Beautifully shot with a ridiculously talented cast, it's another one (like "Mad Men") that takes a long, hard look at a fascinating and bloody time in America's history. Buscemi is solid gold here; Michael Shannon steals the show. And that ending???!! Damn.
- "Shameless" (Showtime, 2011-present): I'm one episode shy of being a full season in and this little gem (adapted from a British TV show of the same name) has cracked my top 10. It's got the most dysfunctional family ever, but I feel echoes of my own "unique" upbringing here. So much heart, so much absurdity, so much stellar acting (and from some very young actors, too).....this one hits you with consistent drama and black comedy like Tyson in his prime. If that's not enough it's got WILLIAM H. MACY!!!
- HONORABLE MENTION: "The Sopranos", "Deadwood", "Carnivale", "Modern Family", "Big Bang Theory".
She's still pushing me on "Orange is the New Black" and "House of Cards". I'm sure I'll get around to those as well. I'm sure I'll be eating my words yet again in between mouthfuls of popcorn and sweet tea at 3 in the morning, mid-binge.