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TV Thoughts: 2/8-2/14

What a week of TV! This is the kind of week that is so incredibly satisfying as a fan of good TV. There were so many great episodes this week and so many tiny character moments that filled me with pure joy (and sometimes the best kind of heartbreak). What did you love about the past week in television?

Sunday

  • Looking: I can’t say that I’m disappointed to see Kevin go. Seeing Richie and Patrick talking and hanging out again reminded me that I like them together so much better, even if it’s just as friends. Patrick needs someone to call him out when he’s being an idiot, like when he’s having an affair with his already-taken boss and getting too emotionally invested in a future that wasn’t going to happen with Kevin. I’m glad it made him realize that he needed to stand up for himself and ask for what he needed out of the relationship, then leave when Kevin wasn’t capable of giving it to him. In other breakup news, I’m also proud of Dom for leaving Lynn. I liked Lynn a lot last season but he’s an awful boyfriend. Like Kevin, he wasn’t capable of giving Dom what he needed because he is still emotionally in a relationship with Brian. It’s understandable but unfair and Dom deserves better. I’m so happy that he has Doris who is so supportive and has his back 100% of the time. We all need a friend who will look into ways to Kickstarter our restaurant and help us make our dreams come true for no other reason than it is important to us. Finally, to round out the group, I cannot tell you how happy I am with the changes and growth in Augustin between s1 and s2. Eddie has been such a good influence on him and I am excited to see how he adapts to working at the shelter.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: This wasn’t a brilliant or groundbreaking episode of this show by any means, but it was so much fun to watch. I loved the more action-oriented scenes as the team took over the training and took down all the other agents. It’s easy to forget that this is a show about cops and this was a nice way to bring their jobs into focus a little more while retaining all of the great character moments I love about the show. Amy’s failure to start the Nine-Nine chant (and her subsequent excitement when it worked) was adorable and so Amy. Terry’s description of the team as “boss ass penguins” may be my favorite Terry line in a while, and Rosa opening up and explaining why she needed Saturday off was perfect. Back at the precinct, I loved Captain Holt’s apology most of all. While I’m not sure that I necessarily agree that they should have ended up with the same personality classification, it’s nice when a leader can recognize that part of leading is encouraging and accepting the strengths of those who work for you. It takes a lot to admit your failings to an employee and it made me respect Captain Holt as a character even more.

Monday

  • Jane the Virgin: I fall a little more in love with this show every week. I am all-in on Jane and Rafael’s relationship (even though he is acting awfully shady at the moment) and thought their mutual concern for the health of their unborn child was so well done. I’m glad that Rafael went with his gut and planned the graduation celebration for Jane even if it was cheesy because it led to the best moment of the episode. It’s just become a fact of this show that any scene featuring the three generations of Villanueva women will be outstanding. Xo’s speech to Jane was beautiful all on it’s own but the shot of the three women sitting on Jane’s bed as she asks for the secret to being a good mother is one that will happily stay with me. No matter what is happening with Jane and the men in her life (Rogelio included), her relationship with her mother and grandmother is always stable and always a source of comfort, love, and acceptance.
  • Castle: Oh how I love the 3XK arc. It never fails to be wonderfully chilling and it brings out such good things in Nathan Fillion’s performance. Both Castle and Ryan carry so much guilt over Jerry Tyson and the murders he committed that both feel responsibility for and you could feel that guilt this week. When they found Tyson, I was not alone in thinking that maybe there was a chance they found someone who really had surgically altered their face to look like a serial killer and I loved that doubt. It wasn’t until that brilliant final interrogation scene that I felt sure they had caught Tyson only to have things go so terribly wrong when the precinct realized it was all a part of Tyson and Nieman’s plan to kidnap Beckett. That interrogation is some of the best work Nathan Fillion has done on this show. He found the story and my jaw dropped when he pulled out the pictures of Tyson’s mom and compared them to the recent victims. I have been anxiously awaiting part two of the episode and I’m so glad that tomorrow is Monday.
  • The Fosters: So many things happened in this episode, it’s almost overwhelming. The most-talked about this week was the Jude and Connor scene at the movies. However this unfolds, I am in no way prepared. I feel so incredibly protective of Jude and his happiness and I just want everything to work out for him. Regardless of what direction his relationship with Connor goes from here, it’s obvious that these two deeply care about each other. They are young and figuring out who they are and unfortunately, only one of them has the space to do so. If Connor decides he might like to move forward with a future relationship with Jude, his dad isn’t going to be supportive and it’ll just make this time that much more confusing for him. I trust this show to handle it all well but I guarantee it will make my emotions a mess. Just the small scene of them touching (and eventually hooking) pinkies tells me that there are so many good and heartbreaking things to come for them. It was full of innocence and excitement and uncertainty and everything that a first crush should be.
  • In other brief thoughts of the week, I love most of what they are doing with Mariana’s character. I love that she is enjoying STEM Club as well as her dance team. She’s one of the more unapologetically feminine characters on the show and it’s nice to see her continue to maintain that identity while excelling at a traditionally male-dominated field. I’m less excited about her wanting to go on tour with the band and would rather see her work through some of her abandonment issues, but I sometimes forget that she’s still a teenager and sometimes they don’t make the best choices. Along similar lines, Jesus could also stand to work through his own issues regarding his mother and how that’s affected him and I will look forward to seeing that happen so he will stop making such stupid decisions. Finally, Robert and Callie. I want these two to have an actual relationship that doesn’t just have Callie calling him when he’s in trouble. I think they have a lot they could offer each other and I want to see that develop. In order for that to happen though, Robert needs to realize that he can be Callie’s dad without being her guardian. As a parent, you have to think of what’s best for your child and I just don’t see how taking Callie away from the family she’s chosen for herself and her brother is going to help her, especially not at 16 when she may not have that many years left at home.

Continue reading TV Thoughts: 2/8-2/14

TV Thoughts: 1/11/15-1/17/15

After an exciting start with Golden Globe wins for Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez and Transparent, this week gave us some really strong episodes of television. Not all of them invoked a lot of emotion in me, but the ones that did, really did.

Sunday

  • Looking: It is so nice to have this show back. I would like Patrick to stop making terrible choices and leave Kevin once and for all and realize how incredible Richie is, but I recognize that will take some time. What I do always find interesting about him is his ability to live in denial. His whole sunny, boy-next-door demeanor is predicated by his belief that bad things aren’t happening (and he’s not doing them) if he just refuses to think about them. It fell apart in this episode and I was happy to see him confide in his friends about his affair with Kevin.

Monday

  • Castle: I was concerned about what would happen to the show now that Castle was no longer working with the NYPD. The working relationship between Castle and Beckett has been part of the foundation of the show and has been shown as equally as valued to both of them as their romantic relationship. After seeing this week’s episode, I’m no longer concerned. With Castle continuing to be a P.I., I expect his path will cross with the NYPD at least occasionally and even if it doesn’t, he and Beckett can still discuss his cases over dinner and continue the theory-building dynamic I’ve loved from them. I was also thrilled by the more sexual overtones to this episode. Not because I need Castle and Beckett to constantly be having sex, but because this show always handles that aspect of their relationship so well. It’s part of their lives and it’s one that they enjoy and have fun with. It’s doesn’t seem to require Castle to use his previously-mentioned safeword of “apples” nor is it portrayed as a love-making scene out of a romance novel. It’s something that these two consenting adults who are in a loving relationship do for fun. The romance clearly didn’t die with these two after marriage and it’s nice to see that sort of relationship portrayed.

Continue reading TV Thoughts: 1/11/15-1/17/15

Best of 2014: Shows

Of all the year-end lists, this one is by far the hardest for me. There are fewer choices when compared to my lists of characters, episodes, or actors but it’s also the least defined. I don’t even entirely know what I mean when I say these are the best shows of 2014. I watch and love so much television that it’s hard to know what the “best” is. Are they the shows I loved the most? Sometimes. I do love all the shows on this list but different ways. Are they the best, most popular shows I watch as determined by the wide variety of television critics online? Again, sometimes. There does seem to be a consensus that many of these shows are good-quality television. So what I’m left with is a combination of the shows that I feel consistently did things well over the past year and the ones I have loved the most. I’ve left off many of the “big” shows of the year that may have been technically good but failed to emotionally engage me in the same way. I’ve probably overrepresented comedies or comedy-adjacent shows but apparently that’s what I most wanted to watch this year because this list just feels right to me. As always, this is a list that says more about me than it does about the state of television in 2014. Head to the comments to tell me what you think makes a show worthy of a place on a “Best of” list and let me know your choices for 2014!

The Good Wife (CBS) Since the start of season 5, The Good Wife has proven itself to be a show that doesn’t shy away from the unexpected. It continues to reinvent itself and head in new directions. This year saw some changes for the show – Will’s death being the most notable. Diane left Lockhart Gardner, Cary was arrested, and Alicia started a run for state’s attorney. None of these characters are in the same place they were a year ago and the show is better for it. It’s allowed characters to interact in new ways and in combinations that had been previously lacking. With a continued use of fantastic guest and recurring stars, it remains one of the best-acted and most compelling dramas on TV.

Enlisted (FOX) You know a show must be something special when it touches the hearts of so many people. Enlisted’s fanbase may have been small but like many other comedies that have come before it, fans were passionate about this show and what it meant to them. It gave the focus to a set of duties that is little-known to civilians and it provided a look into just how hard the transition from war to peace can be. There was a lot this show did right. It thoughtfully examined the effects of PTSD, provided a wonderfully empathetic male character in Randy, and did it all by being genuinely funny. Perhaps the thing it did the best though was the focus on the relationship between the Hill brothers. All so very different, especially in the way they expressed their emotions, but the bond was always there. “Hands on head” moments were a surefire way to make me tear up because it felt so real. The chemistry between Geoff Stults, Parker Young and Chris Lowell was perfect. I wish we could have seen more of this amazing show but the 13 episodes we did get were well worth the time and emotional investment.

Transparent (Amazon) I knew this was a show for me very early on in the first episode. The Pfeffermans may not be the most likeable family on TV but they feel achingly real. The kids are selfish and self-absorbed in a way that a lot of us are without necessarily realizing it but they have moments of incredible kindness and compassion. They make big, life-altering decisions on a whim. They mess up and fight with each other and hurt each other but they forgive and accept each other as they are. The acting is wonderful and it is a beautiful look at becoming who you are. Maura’s transformation is the heart of the show. Flashbacks speak to her struggles and process of discovering who she is and the present time shows the lightness that comes with embracing yourself. This show is about people in all their beauty and ugliness and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Jane the Virgin (CW) I’ve already written up why I think this is a show more people need to be watching, but since I wrote that piece I’ve only fallen more in love with the show. In a TV landscape often filled with unhappiness or unrelenting drama and angst, Jane the Virgin feels remarkably grounded for a show about a girl who was accidentally artificially inseminated and whose roots are a telenovela. The plot may be extraordinary and soapy but the characters are full and emotionally rich. It’s hard not to love Jane, Xo, and Alba and want happiness for all of them. Rogelio is a true joy to watch. His personality is large and over-the-top but he remains real by his love for his newly-found daughter and his affection for Xo. It’s a show that makes me happy to watch every week because no matter what is happening (and it’s often a lot), my connection to these characters will draw me in to this heightened world.

In The Flesh (BBC America) What a beautiful gem of a show this is. At only 9 episodes between two seasons (with the fate of more seasons still up in the air), In The Flesh is a twist on the popular zombie stories of late. It’s not a story of human survival after a zombie apocalypse but rather a story of how medicated zombies are reintegrated into the society on which they wreaked havoc. The cinematography is beautiful, the characters will break your heart and make you love them, and and it examines issues like bigotry, the way religion is used to create zealous movements, the effects of PTSD and other mental illnesses on both individuals and their loved ones, and accepting who you are and the person you’d like to be.

Continue reading Best of 2014: Shows

My Top 5 Currently Airing or Recently Ended Under-watched Shows

In a world with so many different shows to watch, both old and new, shows inevitably get lost in the shuffle and never get talked about (whether it’s with your friends or critics) as much as you wish they would. So for day 2 of the Month of Love, I thought I would give some love to 5 shows that I adore that I wish more people were watching. Many of these get a lot of positive attention from critics, but aren’t necessarily being watched by a large audience. Most are niche shows that may never have a huge appeal but I have connected with them all and hope that through sharing them, one of them can connect with someone new.

Rectify  This show is beautifully melancholic with just enough hope and goodness to keep it from being overwhelmingly sad. In every moment, you feel the weight of Daniel’s previous sentence and the crime he may or may not have committed and the way it affects his life and the lives of those around him. But in so many of those moments, there’s also a sense of wonder, goodness, and the hope of redemption. It can be exhausting to watch because it makes you feel deeply but it’s also incredibly emotionally rewarding. The writing and direction of the show is only enhanced by the talent of the cast. Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, and Adelaide Clemmons in particular have all delivered truly stunning performances in this slow and contemplative drama.

Looking   This is a little gem of an HBO comedy. It feels very grounded and natural so even if it doesn’t necessarily make me laugh, I can still enjoy it. Jonathan Groff is charming as always but the real highlights of the show for me are Raúl Castillo as Richie and Murray Bartlett as Dom. Raúl Castillo and Jonathan Groff have a very easy chemistry with each other which makes episodes like “Looking for the Future” really shine because of it’s intense focus on their characters getting to know one another. Having watched “Queer as Folk” and “Noah’s Arc” in the past 5 years, one of the things that feels most remarkable to me is the fact that none of these characters are made to fit into a stereotypical box. They are all complex and can stand on their own.

Continue reading My Top 5 Currently Airing or Recently Ended Under-watched Shows