In this edition of the Roundtable we share our television New Year’s Resolutions with you. Happy 2016, everyone!
1. I will watch Show Me a Hero and finish Justified. These are two shows that have been on my “must see” list for months and I still haven’t gotten to them. I’ve been distracted by shiny things like MasterChef Junior and Life’s Too Short. Why should I dedicate two episodes of watching time to a show about Warwick Davis playing himself playing David Brent, when a new David Simon masterpiece or the conclusion to my favourite neo-western/procedural/buddy drama are just a click away?
2. I will not follow Tim Gunn to any more Project Runway spinoffs. Project Runway Junior is the latest spinoff in the PR franchise that once again features my favourite reality TV personality, Tim Gunn, as team mentor. At first I enjoyed the junior version of Project Runway. The kids can be really weird and super fun to watch, however as the series dragged on I began to lose interest. The sets, script, format and editing are identical to the original, but the guts of the show are hollow. To be honest, the clothing these wonderful weirdo kids make is pretty blah and the judges and host are either completely flat or completely grating. Host Hannah Davis sounds like she’s reciting a script (badly) and judge Christian Sirano is desperately relying on his hair flip and catch phrase, “that’s a hot mess”. Besides, no pithy Tim Gunn remark is worth sitting through judge Kelly Osborne’s resting and non-resting bitch-face during panel.
3. I will continue to write for this blog. Even though I’m picking up and moving to a new city in the spring, I’m determined to keep contributing regularly to The Golden Age of Television. When Kerri suggested this project over three years ago I was excited but had no idea how much joy and fulfilment would come from reading and writing with three of my best pals. Their insight, humour and love for TV continue to renew, inspire and surprise me. I am one lucky lady.
1. I will watch EVEN MORE scripted comedies! Gimme all the sitcoms you have, networks. Gimme all the weirdo auteur half-hour programming as well as the stuff shot in front of a live studio audience. As Popeye once said, “I yam what I yam” and what I yam is a lover of scripted comedy. So gimme!!
2. I will stop feeling guilty about not having watched critical darlings.
I bet they are awesome. I bet I will never see them. C’est la vie, que sera sera, namaste, I release you.
And finally, 3. I will watch less TV
I will make good on my blog-rant about distracted watching, and commit to only watching TV sparingly. I will probably never stop binge-watching (thanks Making a Murderer for the confirmation of that) but I will choose what I binge-watch more carefully. Shows that I’ve seen ten thousand times, I will not re-watch. I will not re-watch New Girl or Parks and Recreation or The Mindy Project or How I Met Your Mother or Gilmore Girls or The Wire this year… unless I get mono.
1. I will stop watching shows that I don’t like. There are so many shows on TV. Many of those are shows that I’d like to start watching that I haven’t yet. And why haven’t I started them? Because I’m too busy watching The Affair or Mozart in the Jungle or Homeland, shows that I don’t particularly like at this point in their run but continue to slog through. And why do I do that? Some form of masochism? Because I think there is an off-chance they will return to the form of the first season or the first season finale or the freakin’ pilot episode? Because I’m some sort of completist? I really don’t know. I so rarely stop reading a book or stop watching a movie halfway through and I think some of this carries over into my television viewing habits. I’ve said on more than one occasion while watching these shows, “I think I’m done with this”. I need to start trusting my gut and letting shows go. If they get good again someone will certainly tell me. I won’t stop watching shows at the hint of a downward trend or a stinker of an episode or some terrible writing (see resolution #3) but I’ll stop wasting my time on shows that I find tedious. This past year I stopped watching Masters of Sex. This was a step in the right direction. There is so much TV that I actually like and so much more that I want to explore.
2. I’ll let some shows pass me by. At the end of this year I took a look at all the new shows that started in 2015 and realized that there were more than a handful that I had intended to start at some point and never did. Or shows that I did start and, for whatever reason, didn’t finish but intended to go back to. I began to feel like I had missed out on something or that I wasn’t doing my duty as an avid TV watcher for not having seen these shows. But I need to remind myself of my resolution from two years ago. You can’t watch everything. Trying to catch up is like climbing a mountain made of quicksand. There are shows I’ll go back to or watch years from now but by then there will be a bunch more shows that I intend to watch and never do. There isn’t enough time to watch everything and work and play and have a family and be a productive member of society. There will always be (at least I hope) a long list of shows I would like to watch but some of them I never will. And that’s ok.
3. Sometimes I just won’t get it. This blog has been, since the beginning, mainly dedicated to writing about the things we see on TV that we like. Sometimes we write or publish a scathing review or talk about something we don’t like an awful lot or downright hate. But mostly we write about the joy we get from watching TV and how that makes us feel. For me, interrogating why I like something, why I think something is good and why I get excited about something is as much of a challenge as interrogating why I don’t like something. But I’m also curious about why other people like the things they like, that I might not like as much. There was a lot of talk in 2015 about The Leftovers and how it changed dramatically from its first season to its second. Many even went so far as to call it a “reboot”. In some ways this is accurate. The show changed locations (to the small town of Miracle, where no one had “departed”), added some main characters (the Murphy family) while also continuing the stories of the characters we met in the first season. And there was lots of love for the show this season, much more than it ever received in its first. And the show was better, more sure-footed and a touch lighter in tone. It also provided us with one of the best title sequence on TV (if only I could luxuriate in this little bit of wonder for 42 minutes):
But it was largely the same show. The same exploration of humanity (or lack thereof) after tragedy. And I think that’s where I part ways from the folks who heralded the second season one of the best shows on TV in 2015, because I don’t think it changed all that much. The Leftovers is well acted, and sometimes weird enough to be intriguing but I still don’t care about the central mystery – in large part because we don’t know many of the people who departed, save the cave woman in the opening episode of season two (it was much more interesting this season when Evie, the Murphy’s teenage daughter, went missing in a possible second departure). There is little magic in the show for me and I still find its overall tone pretty dour. I’m still not sure what the show is trying to say about life and death or love or violence. And that’s ok. It’s much more interesting to watch as a show that is on to something than a show that it certain about anything. I’ll continue to watch and be uncertain, too, because there is something there. But what that is remains a mystery, at least for me, at least for now.