I'm going to tell you a secret: all these prestige TV dramas are really killing my vibe. I watched about two episodes of Mad Men, based solely on how pretty I think Christina Hendricks is, Breaking Bad looked like a slog, I never saw The Wire despite multiple first dates insisting I just had to, and while Westworld was good, I'm stretching the idea of a prestige drama by calling it one, and also, don't you miss Evan Rachel Wood as Sophie Anne, the Vampire Queen of Louisiana?
I am totally onboard with watching The Revenant or reading a Cormac McCarthy novel or eating Nordic food where they serve you crackers made out of pig's blood and lichen. I don't mind bleak or punishing things in limited doses (I went to barre class this morning!) but, for some reason, when it comes to television, I want the equivalent of a beach read. It might be that, for me, television is about turning my brain off from 7pm-9pm while I put on a sheet mask, drink some wine, and shop for a new rose-gold bracelet on my phone. If I want to be a more active participant in the media I'm consuming, I read. (Good lord, I sound like someone who identifies as a ~sapiosexual~)
This is neither a cute nor compelling mindset, and, frankly, it reminds me of those people who maintain that they "don't even know what a Kardashian is!" Good job managing to stay under that rock for the past decade, but your ignorance doesn't actually make you a more interesting person! So, by all means, if you have some critically acclaimed thing you think I should be watching, let me know in the comments (though if you say The Wire, I expect you to at least take me out for cocktails first) and I swear I will give it the old college try.
If, however, you end your day feeling like the dehydrated astronaut ice cream version of yourself, or like you're living in a Darren Aronofsky movie when you wish you were in a Baz Luhrman one, the TV shows in this list should make you feel a little bit more like the glittery human you were when you woke up.
Mary, Queen of Scots, is definitely not the protagonist I would choose for a Gossip-Girl-meets-The-Tudors CW historical drama. I remember when the series first came out, I was skeptical. Were they going to spend an entire season on Mary's ten-month phantom pregnancy? Moot point, since the show just got cancelled after four seasons–hey, no one said this list was actually full of good TV! In any case, the storyline is totally serviceable (a love triangle that was definitely focus-grouped to hell, poisoning, pirates, court intrigue, very very gentle class struggle), but most of my enjoyment comes from spotting which of the ladies' dresses come from Free People and taking notes on interesting braids to do once my hair grows back.
Jane the Virgin
Jane the Virgin was one of those sitcoms that floated on the outer edges of my consciousness. I knew it existed, and I knew it was about Jane (duh) getting pregnant accidentally (duhhh) but I wasn't particularly interested, and it got mentally shelved right next to Modern Family and whatever The Leftovers is. And then my friend made me watch the first two episodes. This shit is fucking delightful. Everyone is pretty, with great hair and subtle lash extensions, there's a love triangle but it's actually interesting, I'm learning so much about tele novelas, and they just did a very thoughtful and amazing abortion storyline. Oh, did I mention Rafael? Yeah, feel free to scroll up and look at that gif again.
Remember when I was like NO BLEAK TV up there? Yeah, sorry. 3% is a Brazilian dystopian drama, so there's lots of earth-toned American Apparel/Yeezy (who can even tell the difference these days) clothing and bright white Santiago Calatrava-ish sets. "Candidates" (who are all very attractive) have to go through a set of tests to deem if they're worthy to go to the "Offshore"–basically a floating Utopia, which sounds like a nice change of scenery from their lives of abject poverty. It's in Portugese, so you do have to pay a bit more attention, but it uses all the regular dystopian YA tropes, so it's pretty easy to follow along with.
I have loved Anna Paquin since her X-Men days, and I loved her enough to sit through the first (sex and gore-filled) episode of True Blood with my parents. Sure, the last few seasons unravel like a cheap sweater and get progressively more and more what-the-fuck-why-is-there-a-pig-here, but where else can you see Eric Skarsgard and Joe Manganiello shirtless in the same episode? Plus, Evan Rachel Wood's character is probably my entire life aesthetic. True Blood has total camp, amazing sets, surprisingly good acting, and, one of my favorite things, historical flashbacks!
YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED GOSSIP GIRL YET!?
This show was ruined for me when one of the cast members called me and a friend "fat pigs" in a Williamsburg bar while we contentedly ate bone marrow, but whatever, love and light, hope your Degrassi days are far behind you. Anyways, Hemlock Grove makes exactly zero sense, so it's the perfect show to accidentally fall asleep in the middle of an episode to. It's a half-baked, overly-precious vampires-versus-werewolves drama with hilariously bad gore, but Famke Janssen's vaguely Eastern European accent and all-white wardrobe redeem everything.