Friday Round Up: 5 Shows that Changed how I Think about TV

These recent(ish) shows have been gamechangers for me. Here's why.

Photo by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash

I’ve always preferred reading to watching TV, and most of the American network TV I did watch (except some PBS stuff) I considered a guilty pleasure. Supernatural, I’m looking at you. Then I moved to Scotland and starting watching the BBC, and it was a revelation. On the one hand, they’d make REALLY good, REALLY popular shows…that only lasted a few seasons and/or only had a few shows per season! Why? Because that was how long the story arc should be, and even though it was popular, that’s all you got! On the other hand, they’d do these crazy experiments, not knowing if anyone would like it. Things that were super cerebral or just plain weird. For the first time, I became aware of what TV could be, if it weren’t sponsored by energy drinks. Then came the rise of HBO, and streaming services. Like PBS or the BBC with their tax dollars, these companies could take risks because they had subscribers, not sponsors.

Finally, America was in the game. Even the Brits could shine again, after years of slashed government funding for the Beeb. I was forced to change my opinions about television, and here are some of the shows that have rocked my world in the past few years:

1) I Love Dick (Amazon Prime): First off, it’s fun to say “I Love Dick!” But more importantly, this show was a revelation. I loved it SO much. I loved how it looked at women, and art, and women and art. I loved what it said about muses, and obsession, and creativity. And like all of Jill Soloway’s work (I’m a big fan), it makes you fall in love with the characters you’re sure you hate. They’re human, and miserably flawed, and yet deserving of love. It’s beautiful.

2) Insecure (HBO): I binged watched all three seasons of this show after subscribing to HBO to watch His Dark Materials. It was a goddamned revelation. First of all, I have never resonated with a character as hard as I did Molly. I am excited for Season 4, because I get to find out my future. It’s also made me think about how I move around in the world as a White woman, and how I can better support Black women. Finally, it’s made me fully cognizant of why diverse voices are so important. I love this show and it has taught me so much about myself. It’s made me laugh, made me cry, made me wince in recognition, and made me hopeful. I see myself in Molly the way I’ve never seen myself in a character. I am so glad it’s out there. And it probably would not have existed ten years ago (five years ago?) when there was so very little room for women, let alone women of color, to fully, completely, make things. Thank god times have changed, so that this show can exist.

3) Killing Eve (BBC American & Hulu): I didn’t know I needed a thriller from the female gaze until I watched Killing Eve. It felt so familiar (recognizably a thriller) and yet so different. In this universe, men and women can be equally violent, and vulnerable, without resorting to superhero tropes. It felt like a revelation to watch the first season, and I can’t wait to watch the second.

4) Fleabag (Amazon Prime): This show resists description. It’s filthy, beautiful, heart rending, and hilarious. The second season is somehow even better than the first. You might hate it. If you do, we can still be friends, as long as we never discuss it.

5) Watchmen (HBO): I loved this series. I loved how it confronted our history without being a history piece. I loved how it made me think about superheros and comics and masks. I loved listening to the podcast, because it inspired me. I loved how the creator talked about the writer’s room and his intentions. It made me want to take a course in screenwriting (LA here I come!). I just loved, loved, loved it. In full disclosure, I also loved all the butts (heyyyy Calllll). Mmmm. Butts.

NB: Yes, a lot of these are subscription services. But don’t forget, you can opt in and out of them. So, right now my HBO is canceled because I watched All The Things. But as soon as Insecure comes out, I’ll opt back in. I juggle a few streaming services this way, to save money while still supporting the shows I love.

So, that’s what I’ve been watching! Anything I’ve missed or have a comment on any of these shows? Feel free to share.

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