Monday, November 21, 2016

Thoughts on 6 New TV Shows

1. Speechless - This is a really well-crafted family comedy, while still maintaining a modern edge. It kind of reminds me of Roseanne mixed with The Wonder Years (if The Wonder Years was a sitcom). The focus isn't just on the one kid having a disability; instead it's about how the family supports him and the difficulties that they face as a family. They don't shy away from these difficulties, and they also poke a bit of fun at themselves. The cast is great, especially Minnie Driver, and I laugh out loud at least a few times with every episode. That's really all I ask for in a comedy.

2. This is Us - As I said before, I watched this show because of its comparisons to Parenthood, and that is exactly what I need in my life right now. There aren't too many family oriented dramas on television right now. This one reminds me more of Brothers & Sisters than Parenthood, but that's not a bad thing. I like all of the characters and their complicated relationship with each other. I like that there are little twists in every episode (the biggest one is revealed in the pilot episode); it keeps the viewer engaged. The actors are all really great, and become more and more likeable with every episode - my favorite is Randall (Sterling K. Brown). He's so dorky and funny. I feel like this is definitely a show that has long-lasting potential with characters that we want to see grow every week.

3. Atlanta - Really wonderful show like nothing else on television right now. It's odd, funny, sad, sweet, and captures an authentic vibe of a particular city that is rarely seen on screen. My favorite episode of the season revolved around Vanessa and her relationship with a friend who she feels is less than "real", and is ultimately a bit jealous of (which works both ways). The way the episode ends is ironic (and tragic), but most of all, unexpected. It kind of represents the entire show in a way, nothing really goes the way you expect it to, but everything still works out (for now). I'm excited to see the continued story of these characters in season 2.

4. Designated Survivor - I'm not really into this show. I like Kiefer Sutherland, and the rest of the cast all hold their own, but I just find myself doing other things about 1/2 way into every episode. Like, all the sudden, I am washing the dishes, and I forget that I'm even watching it until my DVR asks if I want to "save or delete". I end up deleting and then just catching the important things I missed in the episode recap before the next episode. It's just not capturing my attention, and I can't really explain why, but perhaps, it's just not what my mind wants to watch with all of the craziness happening in the real world right now.

5. The Great Indoors - I watched for Joel McHale, and I will continue to watch for Joel McHale, but boy is it painful. The whole millennials vs old people is a tired plot-line, but it's also disturbing because Joel is not that much older than I am (and I am technically considered a millennial to some - the starting point varies between 1980 and 1982 - I was born in 1981). It kind of works because McHale's character has been away traveling and surviving in the great outdoors, but they just exaggerate his "out of touch" ideas way too much. It's amazing that a comic legend like Stephen Fry would be a part of such a mediocre show, which has me a little hopeful that it might get better. Maybe??

6. Better Things - Definitely my favorite show of the season - it's perfect. There are so many little moments that will stick in my head forever, and that is truly the mark of a great show (and wonderful writing). One moment is when Sam (the sublime Pamela Adlon) tells off her friend's husband (boyfriend? I don't remember) - and calls him out for being a lazy, ungrateful asshole. It's just so good. This is the same episode that features Lenny Kravitz telling Sam that she should have warned her mother that she was bringing a black man home for dinner. It's just so good. I love her relationship with her 3 children, and that they are very much their own identities instead of just typical adolescents. The whole season, although very short, is filled with quality.

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