TV Behind the Times

Cougar Town:

Pros: Holy crap, Abed was right, it’s really good. And, except for the first ten episodes, not about “cougars” (WORST WORD EVER). Instead it is grown-ups being silly and loyal and smart and having in-jokes in a way I recognise from my own friends, although these people are generally in much nicer housing. And drink even more wine. Also it’s lovely to see Courtney Cox playing someone kind and warm and yes controlling but also generally hilarious, instead of having to do one neurotic character note for four seasons YES FRIENDS I AM STILL BITTER SHE WAS MY FAVOURITE. But my favorite is actually Lori Keller, who is a lower-class, loud-mouthed, brightly dressing young lady fully in charge of her own sexy times. Bangin’.

Cons: Uh I guess it’s not really about big events? If you watch TV for explosions or post-modern explorations of dramatic form and genre (hi, Community!) then this may not be your kind of thing. But it is very genuinely about love and found families. And I suspect you can skip the first ten episodes with very few repercussions.

Freaks and Geeks:

Pros: There are ugly people! WHich is shorthand for the show’s whole thing about feeling very real, right down to no, you probably aren’t going to be a rock star from playing in your garage. It does some interesting things with class and John Francis Daley is wandering around being like FOUR YEARS OLD and adorable. I kept squinting at the mean blonde girl going, “who IS that” and then I realised IT WAS LORI KELLER. Also, James Franco plays a character that I’m not sure if I want to punch or make out with more, which is exactly how I feel about the persona of James Franco. I find this symmetry pleasing.

Cons: It’s super white. And I got bored and stopped watching after episode… four, I think? Yes, I know, you can no longer be my friend, it happens. If I don’t continue to use my limited TV time on other things I might get back to it.

Game of Thrones:

Pros: Pretty people and beautiful dresses and awesome set dressings! Tyrion being a bamf! Dany being a bamf! Sansa being a bamf! Lots of bamfs actually. Also, hot Gendry, and Jon has lovely hair.

Cons: My same problem as with the books, really, which is that everyone is kind of a bad person and terrible things keep happening because This! World! Is! Grim! And Joffrey exists. Then the TV show has some extra problems, where the complex Dothraki culture is reduced to “dark barbarians” (somehow they are *more* barbaric than the sibling-sexing warmongering misogynists to the west, presumably because those guys are mostly pretty pale) and the genuinely touching first time sex scene in Game of Thrones (where Dany still has very limited consent as regards the marriage, but Khal Drogo really doesn’t proceed with intercourse until she indicates that’s okay with her) becomes a flat-out rape scene of a small pale young woman by a big “savage” dark man. Which is a horrible mush of racist stereotypes WITH a disturbing rape scene, thanks a bunch, HBO.


Joan of Arcadia:

Pros: I LOVE THIS SHOW. Here is a young woman struggling through Big Questions and also her friends and love life and who says to the mean girls at school that she doesn’t have TIME to care about who’s gay or not, she has better things to do and even though it took godly intervention to prompt that action and it came after she had in fact betrayed a friend as regards sexuality I still really liked it. Also Adam, Joan. KISS HIM. (Don’t tell me if she kisses him, I want surprises).

Cons: Also pretty damn white, although a kind reporter lady just turned up. As I recall, she is so far the only Black character who hasn’t been God in disguise, which bothers me. I suspect some of the endless horror (at least in the episodes I’ve watched so far) about Joan’s brother Being An Athlete Who Now Uses A Wheelchair might be more than a little wearing on watchers with physical disabilities, and some of the plot stuff is too conveniently wrapped up because! Divine Plan! But I’m really still in the honeymoon phase. I want to hug this show and all its actors to me.

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