Friday Fave: Too Much TV

There’s a weird amount of amazing things on TV right now. Like, I don’t even know how I get anything done.

With the weekend upon us, I wanted to share the shows I’ve killed lately, in hopes that you, too, would share what you’ve been loving.

  • Better Things: Two seasons on FX. Comedy. Louis CK had something to do with it but please disregard because then you will miss falling in love with Pamela Adlon, who created and wrote. She plays a single mom to three girls and my daughters and I LOVED it. Like, obsessed, especially with the Season 2 finale.
  • Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: One season on Amazon. Eight episodes about an hour each. Late 1950s NYC comedy scene and the young, Jewish housewife who’s trying to break in. Written by Gilmore Girl creator Amy Sherman-Palladino who cast the amazing Tony Shaloub as the dad. Really wonderful and, as is her wont, dialogue galore courtesy of Palladino.
  • Somebody Feed Phil: Six, one-hour episodes on Netflix. He’s the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond but my girls don’t know what that is. They just think the nerdy Jewish dude who travels and eats his way through six different locations is hilarious. We binged it last weekend. Now, I totally need to go to Thailand and Lisbon (he also goes to Israel, Vietnam, New Orleans and Mexico City). Fun.
  • Poldark: Three frothy seasons on PBS. I mean, what’s more fun than a period Masterpiece Theater piece with a cute guy galloping around the Cornish seaside? The main guy’s from The Hobbit and any time he appeared sans shirt, my daughter and I would yell, “Hunky Hobbit”! I mean, we thought we were funny.
  • The Crown: Two seasons on Netflix. Like, duh. Everyone loves it. This season, we get to see what a PIA Phillip was back in the day. Big Daddy doesn’t like to be anyone’s subject. Especially his wife’s.
  • Victoria: Two seasons on Masterpiece Theater. Speaking of which, turns out good old Albert didn’t much like taking a back seat to his queen, either. Just started back up on PBS last weekend so there’s plenty of time to catch up. Plus, you can help me bring Victoria’s hairstyle back. I used to call it my “Jane Eyre” look, but now it’s “The Vicky” or “Queen.” Now, all I need is a crown.

Okay, not quite sure what I should start watching next. Please, by all means, give me some suggestions!!

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The Dog Days of Summer

This summer, when he’s not working out with the freshman football team or playing basketball or trying to get something popping most nights of the week, my 14yo son has been making his way through all 8 seasons of That ‘70s Show.

It’s impressive watching the kid plow through all 200 episodes, which — at 22-minutes apiece — clock in at around 73.33 hours. At the rate he’s going, I’m feeling confident he’ll be done by the end of the month. Maybe even this week, if he really buckles down.

He should be this dedicated to his summer reading.

Honestly, this has never been a show on my radar. I mean, I know it’s how Ashton met Mila and where that chick from Orange is the New Black got her Big Break. But it ran from 1998 through 2006 and coincided with some of my prime baby making years. Or, if I wasn’t exactly making a baby, then I was nursing it or cleaning it or driving it to preschool. In other words, I was too busy for TV back then.

Funny story: some time during that period, the house phone rang a little after 9 p.m. and it was another man in town looking to talk to my husband.

“He’s asleep,” I told the guy, annoyed that he’d even be calling the house so late.

“Is he okay?” the man, who only had one child, asked in alarm.


What I probably did was laugh and say he was fine and had just fallen asleep a little early. I probably failed to mention that I wasn’t that far behind him.

So now, thanks to Hulu, I guess I’m making up for lost TV time. It seems at all hours of the day the “Hanging Out” theme some is playing in our TV room followed by about 21 minutes of double entendres and a cheesy laugh track. Every once in a while I find myself pausing as I go past the room and watch for a minute or two. The characters always seem to be hanging out on couches in someone’s basement and talking about getting laid. Or not getting laid. Or wanting to get laid.

I forget how racy primetime TV has gotten over the years. Cheers and The Cosby Show seem downright Disney-like compared to what aired in the following decade.

And I wonder, not for the first time, whether I should suggest that my child get off the couch and go find something better to do. But that’s the great thing about my youngest. When I strongly suggest ask him to do something, he usually just does it. I pop my head in and tell him he’s had enough TV for the day and to go outside and throw the lacrosse ball around and he says, “Okay, Mom,” and turns off the TV and goes out into the heat of the day.

In short time I hear the TV go on again in the TV room and I go in to investigate and find what looks like a scene from a soft porn movie unfolding on my flat screen TV with my 20yo watching from the couch. She’s been bingeing the HBO series “True Blood” and with 80 approximately 60-minute episodes, is giving her little brother a run for his money as she wiles away the hours watching television when she’s not at work or food shopping for me. There are shoes scattered all over the small room and an empty plate on the coffee table from the muffin she ate for breakfast hours earlier.

Unlike earlier summers, I’m trying to be a little less agitated about all the TV watching, provided the children are doing all the other things they really are supposed to be doing. Sure, I’d rather they still just watched shows on Animal Planet or better yet, read a book. But that ball’s in their court now. I’ve modeled plenty of good reading behavior over the years and monitored their TV viewing when they were younger with the same zeal Tipper Gore brought to what the youth of our nation could listen to in the late ’80s.

And, with everybody growing up and moving out, it’s only a matter of time before the only sound in the house will be my fingers on the laptop or my dog crying to come sit with me.

I guess the good news is that all this TV-watching gives our puppy someone to snuggle next to and helps him forget that I’m in another part of the house, trying to write.

And not get distracted by the television.

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Netflix Fever

My Grey Gardens set up in my bedroom where I like to watch Netflix. A lot.

My Grey Gardens set up in my bedroom where I like to watch Netflix. A lot.

I am totally sick.

But never fear, I’ve been through this kind of thing before.

The symptoms usually come on quietly at first.

I’ll find myself lying on my bed in the middle of the day for a spell and before I know it, three hours have slipped by and it’s time to make dinner.

Pretty soon, whole weekend days – nice, sunny days – are spent alone in my darkened room.

Do I have a fever? Negative.

Am I depressed? Nah, although I am a little down on myself lately for wasting many perfectly good hours that could have been used for more productive purposes – like food shopping, perhaps, or paying my bills. Writing content for my blog would be nice, too.

Instead, I am addicted to yet another TV series that I am inhaling in two- and three-hour increments in the comfort of my bedroom courtesy of Netflix.

My kids bought me a Roku for my birthday, which my daughter skillfully hooked up to the TV in my room, so now I don’t have to access Netflix through the Wii in our family room or on my laptop if I want to remain lying on my bed and fulfill my Grey Gardens destiny. (Among my beautiful Roku’s many tricks, I can also access shows and movies through Amazon, Hulu Plus, HBO 2 Go and listen to Pandora, to boot.)

“I’m never going to leave my bedroom,” I said to the kids when I opened my birthday present.

“That’s what we’re hoping,” one of them told me. Oh, how we dislike each other come August each year.

My obsession du jour is the steamy ABC drama “Scandal,” which I totally ignored for two seasons but then the non-stop hype over the star Kerry Washington – culminating in a Vanity Fair cover story this summer – was more than I could bear. So in the interest of being well-versed in all-things-pop-culture, I got onboard last week and started watching Season 1.

And by now, I’ve said adios to about 20-odd hours of my life as I am now tearing through Season 2 and marveling at Olivia Pope’s drop dead wardrobe – you should see the fabulous mix of drapey silks and cashmere basics she wears in gorgeously-soft neutrals – and the actress’s ability to get all lip-quivery and teary by both the threat of public recrimination or the advances of her super-hot boyfriend president.

It’s a little bit like eating box of Cheez-Its: totally salty, you know you should stop but you just need a little bit more.

Prior to my imaginary stay in the cutthroat world of D.C. politics, I spent the earlier part of the summer in a women’s prison in Connecticut while savoring the 13 episodes of Netflix’s newest series, “Orange is the New Black.”

The characters are so rich and complex, and their back stories are so compelling, that it more than makes up for some of the pretty raunchy moments that may give prudish viewers pause. And the creator is the same woman who came up with “Weeds” and I mean, who didn’t have a crush on Nancy Botwin at some point?

I also spent some time this summer slowly making my way through “Arrested Development,” which has me legit bursting out laughing a few times each episode. It’s all so ridiculous. Like, neverernude? C’mon.

I got hooked when my oldest set up camp in the den, which is right across from where I work at the kitchen table, during the week he had off between the end of spring semester and the start of his summer job.

I couldn’t see the television as he cranked through the early “Arrested Development” seasons that rainy week, but I could hear some of the insane things the characters would say – like the mother, Lucille Bluth, telling one of her adult kids, “You’re my third least-favorite child,” or saying to her daughter, “I don’t criticize you! And if you’re worried about criticism, sometimes a diet is the best defense.”

After listening to a marathon of episodes over that week I knew I needed to go back and watch the craziness for myself. My whole family has gotten on board with the show by now and I’ve even caught the 10-year old watching episodes on his mini iPad via Netflix. He and I even had an “Arrested Development” marathon one night last week, which I know is an insanely inappropriate show for a little boy to watch, but he’s the fourth and I’m tired. And he really is my little Buster.

Over the last 12 months I’ve whiled away countless hours binging on “House of Cards,” “Game of Thrones” and “Breaking Bad,” while the world went on without me. And I think I’m one of the 10 people that watched all 13 episodes of Netfix’s wildly-panned horror series “Hemlock Grove,” which I did over the course of one weekend last spring. (What can I say? I’m a sucker for monsters.)

In the meantime, I’m supposed to be reading Middlemarch for my book club and writing a book of my own.

But who has time? I’ve got to get through the last 9 episodes of “Scandal” and make sure Oliva and Fitz are back together going into Season 3.  And I am thinking about revisiting all 5 seasons of “Friday Night Lights” and totally need to catch up on “True Blood.”

No wonder there’s no food in the house.

What’s on your DVR or waiting in your Netflix queue?  Your secret is safe with me. Shhhh.