Email Roundtable #44 – Summer Television Secret Santa #2

This week, and for a number of the weeks to follow, we will be doing Summer Television Secret Santa. We each “randomly” chose a name and were given the job of gifting a television show to that person. This week we will be discussing the person we drew, the show we chose for them and why. In the coming weeks we will be pairing down our roundtable to two and interviewing our Secret Santa about the show they were gifted (or forced) to watch. The rules state that you may watch as much or as little of the show as you like and that the gift giver must have seen at least a portion of the show as well. 

FARGO -- Pictured: Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard -- CR. Matthias Clamer/FX


1. What name did you pick? Katie

2. What show did you pick for Katie to watch? The FX anthology series, Fargo.

3. Why did you make that choice? I chose Fargo for Katie selfishly. I watched the first season relatively recently and enjoyed it fully but so few people I know have seen it that I haven’t had much chance to talk about it (full disclosure: I would have chosen it for Jane as well). Fargo does a lot really, really well and has a beautiful, cinematic feel. Frankly, I don’t know if Katie has seen or liked the original film version and either way I think the show will be a joy to talk about. If you’ve seen the film and have some familiarity with it a few plot points in the show will likely work for you better than they would if you haven’t seen the film. But, I don’t think that having deep knowledge of the film (which I probably haven’t seen for over 15 years) is necessary to enjoy the show.

4. What do you think Katie will like about the show? I’m confident that Katie will love the female protagonist, Molly Solverson, because, as everyone (and I mean everyone) who has written about the show has stated and overstated, she is pretty much the best. I think Katie will also get a kick out of the off-kilter humour and some of the twists and turns that the show takes along the way. I think Fargo becomes addictive after the first few episodes because of the way it treats its central mystery and the way it treats its central characters. I think she’ll also enjoy some awfully fun cameos that happen later on in the season. She should also love the name Gus Grimley because it is the best name ever.

5. What do you think Katie might not like so much? I think there are a certain number of elements that you have to force yourself to get over when watching Fargo. First and foremost, the accents. If you can get over the accents you’re pretty golden. Also, like many Coen movies, the show can become very allegorical in sections. I like an allegory every now and then but I can understand how this can also keep an audience at a distance. I also wonder what Katie’s take will be on Lester Nygaard, the Martin Freeman character and Lorne Malvo, the Billy Bob Thornton character. I think these two characters, especially, can be divisive. Also, as this Slate article suggests, the end of the season may leave something to be desired (although I disagree with this article and will explain why when Katie and I chat).



1. What name did you pick? Jane

2. What show did you pick for Jane to watch? Brooklyn Nine-Nine, FOX (available on Netflix)

3. Why did you make that choice? I asked Jane if she wanted a comedy or drama, and she requested comedy. I asked if she wanted meatier or fluffier, and she said meatier, but in truth, I didn’t have a meaty comedy on hand that she hadn’t already seen. I chose Brooklyn Nine-Nine because Jane and I have similar tastes in network comedies and I wanted to discuss a show that we hadn’t already talked extensively about on the blog. (Nixed choices that I’m sure Jane would’ve enjoyed were New Girl, Broad City, Kroll Show and Family Tree)

4. What do you think Jane will like about the show? Based on Jane’s love of Community, I know she will appreciate the group dynamic of the show. Brooklyn Nine-Nine features a rag-tag group of police officers that work out of the same precinct. There are a number of great running gags, hilarious flashbacks, and excellent slapstick. Humour is a tricky thing to predict, but I hope that she will find the fast paced, wacky mood of the show charming, and not altogether off-putting.

5. What do you think Jane might not like so much? I wonder whether Jane will like Andy Samberg as Detective Jake Peralta. He is certainly an annoying character, but I find him quite funny. Like a little brother… sometimes funny… often annoying… Additionally, I know Jane loves a good character piece, and while Brooklyn Nine-Nine does a lot of good character work, after only one season, a lot of the characters still need some filling out.



1. What name did you pick? Kerri

2. What show did you pick for Kerri to watch? In Treatment Season 1

3. Why did you make that choice? Kerri is a tough customer to choose for because she’s seen everything! I was torn between two shows that I know she hasn’t seen, Queer as Folk and In Treatment. I settled on In Treatment because it’s been years since I’ve seen Queer as Folk and I wasn’t positive it would hold up to my nostalgic love of it. Our mutual friend , George recommended In Treatment to me and i think it is the perfect choice for Kerri, too.

4. What do you think Kerri will like about the show? I think there is A LOT Kerri will like about this show. First of all the acting is tremendous! It’s subtle but if you pay attention (as I know Kerri will) the character interactions will hack your guts out. A character merely brushing their hair off their face can have you on the edge of your seat.The show has a splash of soapy-ness which I think Kerri will appreciate while also being incredibly smart. It stays with you long after you click off the television set.

5. What do you think Kerri might not like so much? Honestly, I don’t think there is much Kerri will not like. I personally had a difficult time getting into the show at first because I didn’t immediately connect with the characters. They aren’t always the nicest people. Once I got on board, though I was hooked. Dr. Weston (the incredible Gabriel Byrne) draws out their humanity in surprising ways. Some situations are a little squirmy but in that wonderful Tom Noonan way that I know Kerri will love.

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