Recently Melissa wrote a post on binge watching (she has strong feelings in the negative), and I, Katie, am a confessed (well I guess I am now confessing) binge TV watcher. It is something I do in the summer and on weekends A LOT. I can easily watch 9 – 10 episodes of a sitcom in a row or 5 -6 episodes of a drama when I get off work (last night I watched 6 episodes of The X-Files, season 7), I once watched the first 18 episodes of The IT Crowd on a Friday night (I think I should be ashamed of this but since I’m writing about it but clearly I am not). This summer I have watched ALL of Parks and Recreation twice (the first time was the very first time I saw it and I am definitely going to watch it live this fall, sorry Parks & Rec for coming late to the party, I promise to watch you live and the Big Bang Theory on the DVR), re-watched The IT Crowd (it would be on this list if it was the top 15) and tried to watch Supernatural.
Last summer I watched the first 3 and a half season of Sons of Anarchy (I had to stop because that is one show a person should not watch for hours on end) and all of Revenge (I then live watched it for season 2, or more accurately let it build up on my DVR and would watch 4-6 episodes on weekends if I had nothing to do. Revenge is better if you watch it in chunks, as an hour every week can really bring out its flaws). This winter after bingeing on Justified (watched every season in preparation for season 4) I watched 2 and half seasons of Deadwood (I stopped because I know it was cancelled at the end of season 3 and I want there to be more episodes for me to watch because I loved it that fucking much).
Sometimes I binge watch new shows but more often I binge watch shows I’ve seen a thousand times before (or shows I loved and watched live when they were on TV, hey there Alias, which would also be on this list if it was the top 15). These shows will instantly bliss me out, no matter how I am feeling before watching. They almost all have strong female characters with the exception of Generation Kill (which has hot boys and is hilarious) and each have a humorous streak. Here they are in alphabetical order (because I can’t rank them; that would be mean).
As Time Goes By
I can’t remember when I fell in love with Judi Dench (she is my secret British granny). Was it in A Room with a View where she plays British romance novelist Eleanor Lavish (great name), was it when I watched Chocolat multiple times in a week because of 9/11, OR was it when I would watch As Time Goes By on PBS British Saturday nights because I had to work Sunday morning and couldn’t party Saturday night? As Time Goes By is a British sitcom about two people, Jean and Lionel, who fell in love during the Korean war only to lose track of each other (he was a soldier and she was a nurse) and then meet again many, many years later, and get married. It is terrifically romantic.
Cranford/Return to Cranford/North and South/Wives and Daughters/ The Elizabeth Gaskell Mini-series collection
Elisabeth Gaskell was a 19th century writer (she was born around the time Jane Austen died). Gaskell dealt more with class distinctions (from the lowest to the highest), the beginning of the Northern English industrial period, and the expansion of the railway. I have always thought of her books as Jane Austen grown-up and worldly. British TV and PBS have done a great job of bringing Gaskell’s works to the screen. North and South and Wives and Daughters are romantic but also deal with women growing up and becoming more aware of the world around them. Cranford and Return to Cranford are about the comings and goings of the fictional country village of Cranford as seen through the eye of the spinsters/widows who have lived there whole lives in the town. If you want a more accurate portrait of what it was like for women of many different classes and societies in England during the mid 19th century, I highly recommend all of these mini-series (and you should read the books).
As you can see I love British TV and this might come as a shock I also love soap-operas (yeah it’s not really that shocking). I often think that Julian Fellows made Downton Abbey specifically for me. It is also why when everyone criticizes the show for its soapier moments I’m screaming, you leave Downton Abbey alone. If you all didn’t think that Matthew the heir would regain the use of his legs and penis the moment he was injured then by golly I suggest you watch at least a weeks worth of General Hospital and leave my beloved Downton Abbey alone.
Many years ago when DVD box sets were beginning to be all the rage I bought (for $75 a season) all four seasons of Felicity (thank god there were only four). Why would a person spend so much money to revisit a show that people stopped watching because of a haircut (actually it was because the WB kept fucking with the schedule)? Well, because of its characters and low-key storytelling, that’s why. It is my favorite J. J. Abrams created TV show (my second favorite is Fringe and third is Alias –I, like Abrams, love ladies who kick-ass) and also his first. It stars Keri Russel as Felicity porter who spends four seasons trying to decide between, Ben OR Noel (I could never decide, Ben is hotter and more fun but Noel is best friend material and smart). She also had to decide whether she wanted to be a doctor like her father or pursue her passion for art. Felicity was NEVER a show with high stakes instead it was a deeply personal slice of life dramedy about being a college student in NYC, which is probably why Felicity cutting her signature locks was such a big deal.
Friday Night Lights
My name is Katie and I did not watch Friday Night Lights when it was on NBC because the previews made it look too masculine and yet also family friendly twaddle. I feel bad about this because it isn’t anything like that and was criminally low-rated for its entire five season run. I can always watch the adventures of Dillon, Texas and it inhabitants. I get ridiculously excited when the actors who were on FNL are on other shows (thank you Heart of Dixie for giving us more Jason Street). I only ever refer to people who have been on FNL as their FNL character name (this is especially fun while watching Battleship because it’s basically exactly what would happen if Landry and Riggins were in the Navy, in fact I would not be surprised if Peter Berg didn’t just say to Universal Studios “hey,you know what would be a fun movie Landry and Riggins in the Navy battling Aliens” and Universal was like “YES, we just bought the rights to the board-game Battleship, cause it screams MOVIE!”). It also makes it hard when you watch a new show that stars a cast member from FNL, especially one as iconic as Tami-fucking-Taylor, Connie Briton, who is very different as Rayna on Nashville, I often have to remind myself that though both are strong ladies with lovely hair they are NOT the same person (Tami Taylor would never keep a secret love child away from someone, she would also have sent Deacon to rehab by giving him a signature Tami Taylor speech).
If I had to pick one HBO war mini-series to recommend to people it would be Generation Kill (though I would also state that if one has the time they should definitely watch Band of Brothers and The Pacific). I loved this mini-series (from the creators of The Wire) so much I went out and immediately bought the fucking book by Evan Handler. Generation Kill is about being embedded with reconnaissance marines before and during the initial invasion of Iraq. It is often hilarious, eye-opening about how war works in today’s technologically changing times, and emotional. It might seem weird that I would pick a mini-series about war as comfort TV but Gen Kill is really a road movie with guns. Most of the action takes place in the Humvee the writer is put in and the marines in that Humvee he regularly engages with and who are protecting his ass. There are lot’s of stand-outs in Generation Kill but my favorites are Alexander Skarsgard ( I know you are shocked) as Sgt. Brad “iceman” Colbert and leader of the Humvee, James Ransone as Humvee driver Cpl. Josh Ray Person (whose constant chatter on speed is HILARIOUS), Stark Sands as Lt. Nathaniel Fick (who wrote his own book on Iraq) and Jon Huertas as street philosopher Sgt. Antonio Espera (who is on Castle which I watch sometimes on TNT –stop laughing Melissa) [STANA KATIC IS TERRIBLE. -M].
The Golden Girls
It’s incredible how I excited I am when I watch The Golden Girls. It’s SO old and yet it’s SO good. It never got bad and it never fails to make me laugh. I am continually astounded by that fact that it rarely feels dated and how modern the jokes are, especially the ones about sex. The show tackled so many problems, prescription pill addiction, homosexuality (the episode with Dorothy’s childhood BFF who is a lesbian in love with Rose is HILARIOUS and done so well that it is still relevant today and not quaint), interracial relationships, sex (SO MUCH SEX, Blanche Devereaux is a fucking hero when it comes to women owning their own sexuality and not being ashamed) and so much MORE! Why I do not own every season on DVD is SHOCKING. SHOCKING I TELL YOU!!! Also looking at this list you can see that I really love old ladies 🙂
Parks and Recreation
I just started watching Parks and Rec this summer and it has already moved to my top 10 comfort TV shows. Incidentally after insisting that she would love it my mother finally started watching it on Netflix and because of this I had to watch all of it again. That’s right folks I binge watched Parks and Rec twice this summer. I love everyone on that show and I will miss Rashida Jones (I know critics have had issues with Jones’ character Ann but I love Ann and often relate more to her than to Leslie) and Rob Lowe (literally this is devastating, literally) [I have been telling her to watch it for years so don’t blame me, blog readers! -M].
My name is Katie and I gave Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell 50 smackeroos to make the Veronica Mars movie. I did not watch the first two seasons of Veronica Mars live because of LOST (FUCKING LOST) but then they moved it around (which probably killed it, fucking networks) and I watched it live in season 3. Veronica Mars was the first show I binge watched thanks to Netflix DVDs (not streaming; DVDs, man that was a long time ago, when we used to be friends –sorry) and the last disc of season 2 was scratched and wouldn’t play on a Saturday and I almost lost my shit (Netflix was awesome and I had a properly working DVD by Monday but it made me hate the fact that there is no mail on Sunday’s, BLERGH) but I pulled it together because that’s what Veronica would do. I am so excited about the movie. I also love that I get emails from Rob Thomas and I will eventually get a t-shirt, PDF of the script, digital copy of the movie AND a DVD, best $50 spent EVER!
After watching Supernatural I started re-watching The X-Files season 7 because that’s where I left off the last time I binge watched The X-Files (nine seasons is a lot to watch in a row day in and day out). I did not watch The X-Files when it was on TV, I found it during a 3 month period of unemployment on TNT and the sci-fi channel, one of them played a block of episodes during the day (early seasons) and the other one played a block of episodes in the middle of the night (late seasons). It was perfect, I think I watched nine episodes a day and because of the way that neither network was synced I was able to finish 9 seasons in no time at all. I also fell in love with one of the best sci-fi shows EVER and one of the best police pairings in Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. It was their sexual tension, but more importantly there was a profound respect on platonic love between the two that is beautiful. It is the reason when there rumors this spring that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were possibly a real life couple I squeed!
Gif’s used are from: parks-and-recreation-aso, apolaustical, the-imag-i-nation, fuckyeahdench, fromhatetolovefromlusttotruth, blaineyday, lavscar, torple, pbt1, and coalitiongirl. Cranford still from the BBC.