Giving Thanks


November 26, 2013 by Susan Miller

Obviously, we love TV.  It’s a huge part of our lives, our mental health, our weekend plans, our reason to get up in the morning.  Because of TV, we are better, more thoughtful, and worldly people.  So in this season of thanksgiving and gratefulness, we would be remiss to not devote an entire post to the many reasons we are thankful for TV.

1. Breaking Bad.  A Breaking Bad finale that was a perfect marriage of supernatural redemption and “yeah science” innovations by Walt. We are eternally thankful for Vince Gilligan and everyone associated with creating Breaking Bad.  We discovered Breaking Bad late, after watching the 2010 Emmys and wondering aloud why this meth show kept beating Friday Night Lights in every category every year.  It can’t be THAT good, right?  Wrong.  It’s that good and more.  We watched the first 3 seasons in one week, the same week I was supposed to be working on my comprehensive exams for grad school.  I finished both in a haze of stress and anxiety and then had to wait for an extra month for season 4 to begin.  As a late adopter, I had it easy.  Most people had been waiting over a year to see what happened to Gale and Jesse and Walt.  Breaking Bad is the first show we ever recapped, it introduced me to a world of TV podcasts and writer’s rooms and behind the scenes special features.  I am so grateful that Vince and company put in all the time and energy and effort to make sure that each character had a fitting end.  That each turn felt true and each action had an appropriate consequence.  As we discovered with Dexter this year, it would’ve been easy to slack off and think about future projects.  So thank you Vince and Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn and Dean Norris and Betsy Brandt for giving us your best, up until the very end.  I can’t wait to watch the 55 hours of special features.

2. Showtime.  And now for a very different kind of thanks.  Thank you to Dexter for finally ending.  (Steven: “You mean we can stop blogging about Dexter?” Showtime nods.  “It’s a Christmas miracle!”)  Thank you to Homeland for making Carrie so twitchy that it is no longer must see TV.  Giving up my Showtime subscription has never been easier.

3. Thank you to Parks and Rec for giving us more Ben Wyatt, calzones, accounting humor and the Cones of Dunshire.  Also, precious Amy in roller skates and a lime green suit, Ben’s mid-90’s roller skating birthday party, April’s completely sage career advice to Andy, Ron’s first vine, an expanded role for Donna and Tom’s awkward attempts to woo Tatiana Maslany.  Forget lightning in a bottle, this show is pure sunshine, and endlessly rewatchable.

4. Thank you to Mike Schur for teaching Dan Goor how to make sunshine-y television into a franchise.  Dan Goor created Brooklyn Nine-Nine which is easily the second best new comedy of the 2013 TV season.  Finally, someone has harnessed the sweet spot of Andy Samberg and made him into a relatable star.  (“Ask him about his bank account.”) But the best surprise is the supporting cast.  Terry Crews, Joe Lo Truglio and Chelsea Peretti are already standouts, which gives me much hope for the others to worm their way into my hearts by the end of the season.  And anyone who brings Andre Braugher to my TV is aces in my book.

5. TROPHY WIFE.  Seriously.  Best kept secret in the biz.  Bert and Jackie are the best characters on TV and this show makes me laugh and laugh and laugh no matter how many times I’ve seen the episodes.  There have only been 8 episodes and I think I’ve seen each of them at least 5 times.  The cast is loaded with talent, the sets are beautiful and the kids are hilarious.  No one is watching it, probably because of the ridiculous title, but it is THE BEST NEW COMEDY OF THIS YEAR.  Hands down.  So this holiday season, when you’re feeling stressed and discouraged and frustrated, just remember what Jackie and Bert taught us: “You can do anything you set your mind to, even fly.”  Go watch it.  Right now.

6. Girls.  I love me some Girls. It’s a bizarre show and completely unrecommendable because it is insane and crude and weird and one of the most unwatchable shows ever.  But I’m obsessed with these people and their terrible choices and their struggles to get through life.  I mean, who can’t be thankful for Shosh?

7. Happy Endings.  It died a slow and bumpy death in the Spring, but has been resurrected on New Girl and The Mindy Project this year.  It was completely inconsistent, which I allowed, because these were improv actors doing the best they could with, essentially, improv plots.  A great look into what I hope is the future of the sitcom.  Elisha Cuthbert will never be better.

8. The Mindy Project.  If for no other reason than giving us Danny Castellano, Morgan’s obsession with stray dogs, Mindy’s conversations with BJ Novack, Josh the sports lawyer, and the most commonly referenced TV line in our house – “Danny, my joke.  My joke, Danny.”  Mindy’s comedic voice is such a delight.

9. New Girl!  The return of coach to New Girl, bringing new life to an ever-wackier ensemble. (“En-sem-bell!”) Thank you for finally putting those crazy kids, Nick and Jess, together.  Thank you for exploring the complete insanity of Winston Bishop through the creepiest/prettiest cat ever.  Thank you for naming the cat Ferguson.  Thank you for Schmidt and all of his iterations.  Thank you for putting that hat on Winston.  Thank you a million times for putting that hat on Winston.

10. Justified.  This was a new discovery for us in the past year and something that made the football off-season that much sweeter.  Timothy Olypant and Walton Goggins are not just weird, troubled, devious eye candy.  They’re fully formed Elmore Leonard characters, which makes them completely fascinating and volatile and everything you want in a TV show.  Throw in Jere Burns as the creepy calm Wynn Duffy, Patton Oswalt as the bumbling constable and Jim Beaver as the secretive police captain and you’ve got an embarrassment of riches on your hands.

11. FX.  Thank you for bringing us, over the years, Nip/Tuck, The Shield, Justified, The Americans, The Bridge and Louie.  You take chances on talented people and for that, we will always pay for cable.

12. The Americans.  It’s nice to see Keri Russell as something other than Felicity and Matthew Rhys on a show that’s more watchable than Brothers and Sisters.  But the real treasures of this show are Noah Emmerich as FBI Agent Stan Beeman and Derek Luke as Gregory Thomas.  Some of the most affecting drama I saw all year.  Oh, and the wigs are great too, of course.

13. The Big Bang Theory.  You hired great actresses and gave them great things to do.  You even wrote a song in gratitude to Melissa Rauch.  No show makes me laugh out loud more consistently than Big Bang. Thank you for the Big Bang Thanksgiving episode.  There’s something heart-warming about Sheldon talking football and smacking Amy Farrah Fowler on the rear.

14. The Bridge.  If only for putting Demian Bichir on my TV through the long, summer TV wasteland.

15. How I Met Your Mother. For coming to a merciful end, finally, without being too terribly awful.  Dexter set a pretty high bar for terrible final seasons.  Hopefully it’s a record that will never be broken.

16. Mad Men.  The mystery of James Wolk as Bob Benson set the internet on fire and led to mass speculation about hidden meanings and crackpot theories.  But mostly I just liked what it did to Kenny and Pete.

17. Modern Family.  It will never reach the magic of the first season, but Ty Burrell still makes me laugh every week.  I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

18. The Office finale.  It was funny, and sweet, and perfect for all the characters.  In true Office fashion, it made me weep, which all the best Greg Daniels/Mindy Kaling/Mike Schur/BJ Novack comedies do.

19. Scandal.  For being completely bananas but owning it.  The dialogue is mostly insufferable, but the fashion is impeccable and the twists never stop coming.  It is what Revenge always wanted to be.

20. Psych.  Thank you to the car that broke down on the way to St. Louis, so that we were stranded in Kansas City and forced to watch TV on Saturday morning in the hotel room.  If not for that sequence of events, I would’ve never started watching Psych again and the Dule Hill shaped hole in my heart would grow bigger every day.

21. American Idol if only for Burnell Taylor.  And this next year, for putting Harry Connick, Jr. AND Keith Urban on my TV twice a week.

22. Million Dollar Listing, the guiltiest of my TV watching pleasures.  How can you not love Fredrick and Luis and Josh Flagg and Madison?  How can you not love watching rich people talk about millions as if it were pocket change?  How can you not love the real estate?  It’s an insane world and my favorite kind of catnip.

23. Parenthood.  For always making me cry and laugh and disagree with Steven.  Watching Parenthood is an emotional journey, and it’s completely interactive.  Steven and I have never agreed with each other about the character’s choices but neither one of us gets every one right either.  It’s a beautiful TV catnip kind of show, but also one you carry with you.

24. Comedy Central for giving Bill Cosby his first TV special in 30 years.  He’s back and better than ever.

25. TBS for giving Cougar Town an additional two seasons for us to play penny can.

26. Veep.  Julia Louis-Dreyfuss AND Tony Hale?  It’s so funny and so crass and so cynical that it makes your stomach hurt in every possible way.  HBO has discovered how to make a truly painful comedy.  Pain is just weakness leaving the body, right?  This comedy will leave you strong and happy and begging for more.

27. All of the things we haven’t seen yet.  Those are 26 shows that we watch and follow on a weekly basis, and yet there are at least 26 more than we haven’t even gotten around to yet.  Classics that I fell behind on like The Good Wife and Grey’s Anatomy.  Long running shows that I’ve never seen like Sons of Anarchy, Archer, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Treme, Boardwalk Empire and Downton Abbey.  Original Netflix content like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.  Entirely online shows like Husbands and Comedy Bang Bang and NTSFU.  Old shows that I never got around to watching like Deadwood and Six Feet Under and Buffy and 24 and Veronica Mars.  There is so much good TV and I will never catch up and that makes me the most thankful of all.

28. Podcasts like the Breaking Bad Insiders podcast that gives me inside knowledge on all the moving pieces of the show.  The Nerdist Writer’s Panel, which brings together showrunners and TV writers and producers and actors who talk about how the sausage is made and inspire me to become a TV writer, if that’s ever allowed without living in LA.  Sites like TV Club and Vulture and Hitfix and Pajiba and a million others with great interviews and set tours and bios and origin stories behind everything related to television.  And books!  Books by Alan Sepinwall and Brett Martin who talk specifically about all the people and shows I love and put them all in one convenient, paper place.  There has never been more content for TV lovers, in all shapes and shades.  How does anyone ever get bored anymore?

29. Content delivery systems.  Thank you to Netflix and Amazon Prime, HBOGo and Hulu, Roku and OnDemand, DVRs and Tivo.  There are a zillion ways to watch and enjoy and store and stockpile and binge on TV now.  Nothing missed is ever lost.  It’s just waiting in a different format.

30. This TV blog!  We’re so happy to have an outlet where we can talk and write and reference the things we love and that there are people out in the world who are interested enough to read it.  So thanks for indulging us.  We’ll be back in January with recaps of Justified and hopefully more.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and for goodness sake, go watch Trophy Wife.  You’ll thank us later.

One thought on “Giving Thanks

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