I’m sort of famously inept at TV-watching; I always discover shows way late, and I often rave about series I think nobody has heard of only to learn that Um yeah, everybody knows about that show, Lesley.
I have shows that I like but which I chronically forget to watch. “New Girl” is a good example. I think I’ve seen like four episodes. And I liked them! But I keep forgetting to watch more.
Most of my television consumption is guided by my husband, who is way better at remembering to watch things, or if we have something on DVR, than I am. Of course, he has very specific taste in narrative television.
I’ve watched way too many episodes of "The Walking Dead" (TEAM ZOMBIES, seriously) simply because he puts it on. I’ve seen loads of "True Blood," which I hate, from over the top of my iPad while sitting on the couch pretending I can’t hear the television, and that guy who says “SOOKEH” all the time’s terribly annoying voice.
But my husband also leads me to some winners. It’s because of him that I kept watching "Justified," which it turns out is possibly the greatest thing on television right now, and it’s all Walton Goggins’ fault.
Sadly, "Justified" has recently season-finale-d. "Mad Men" is back, but I don’t get worked up for the escapades of Don Draper and company as I once did (who else hoped Don’s wacked-out dream last Sunday night was real? I got excited about the show again for a minute there).
"Game of Thrones" has also returned, and I watch that because, again, my husband has it on every Sunday night, but I swear, with a gun to my head I could not summarize what the heck is going on with that show. All I can say for sure is a) there is lots of sex, b) people sometimes get decapitated and c) Peter Dinklage is amazing.
I’m trying to be better about regularly watching narrative television that isn’t decade-old episodes of "Stargate SG-1" on Netflix (I’ve been trying to pinpoint the exact moment when that series went from awesome to meh, and I’ve narrowed it down to season 5). So I’ve decided on three new shows I’m going to attempt to watch, even if my husband isn’t interested. LESLEY’S SPRING 2012 TV CHALLENGE INCLUDES:
Whitechapel, BBC America, Wednesdays at 10pm
This is sort of a cheat as I already know I like this show. Now in its third series, "Whitechapel" follows the exploits of police detectives and odd couple Joseph Chandler and Ray Miles as they unravel some gruesome murders.
The original series’ story centered on a Jack the Ripper copycat killer. The second series dealt with a Krays’ copycat killer. It’s kind of obvious that the producers then got to the third series and went, “Uh, we’re running out of really famous historical murders happening in this particular neighborhood, and we can’t change the location because it’s in the name of the show.”
So now the series is attempting to use historical research to guide the investigations of new murders -- murders that are similar to past crimes but not straight-up copycats -- and it’s kind of lucky that I’m so invested in the characters because otherwise I might be tempted to give it up. Specifically, Joseph Chandler’s obsessive-compulsive disorder is treated with a surprisingly gentle and nuanced approach, and given that OCD is most often a punchline and not a real mental illness in so much narrative media, it’s pretty fascinating to watch.
Titanic, ABC, Saturday April 14 8pm-11pm, Sunday April 15 9pm-10pm
FROM THE CREATOR OF DOWNTON ABBEY. Apparently this is all you need to know, according to a lot of the promotional lead-up to this miniseries’ US debut. How do you make another show about the Titanic interesting when everybody already knows how it ends, AND when James Cameron has potentially wrung every last human tear that can possibly be shed on the tragedy, and did it all 15 ears ago?
Truth be told, this version doesn’t look much different from Cameron’s recently-revived 1997 movie, except this is a UK production. There’s a lot of drowning and tragical tearing apart of loving couples (were there no lesbians on the Titanic, nobody going SCORE, WE CAN BOTH GET IN THE SAME LIFEBOAT? I’ve always wondered) and events outlining the sharp divide between the wealthy first-class folks and the poor-but-proud peasants in steerage. I’m hoping Maria Doyle Kennedy’s character will turn out to be personally responsible for placing the killer iceberg. She would make an incredible Bond villain. I’m just saying.
I’m mostly excited because this version looks to have a really great cast. I guess. OH WHO AM I KIDDING I WILL WATCH ANY UK COSTUME DRAMA NO MATTER THE SUBJECT.
Girls, HBO, Sundays at 10:30pm
I was basically unaware of "Girls" until about a week ago. I know there’s been a smallish media blitz, because it’s being executive produced by Judd Apatow, although honestly I just had to look up why I know Judd Apatow’s name ("Freaks and Geeks," and also a bunch of really famous comedies I am slightly embarassed to admit I’ve never seen). I had heard something about Girls at some point, but I have a vague recollection of thinking, “Hey, another TV show with ‘girl’ in the title that I will probably never watch. Awesome,” and then going on with my day.
"Girls" still doesn’t look like something I’d be into; I have a hard time getting into shows about white ladies in New York, which is why I’ve never made it through a single full episode of "Sex and the City." But I’m probably going to watch the first episode anyway, as there’s something charming about Lena Dunham’s schtick of incredible normalness. She doesn’t even LOOK like an actress, you guys! She looks like a normal person! So I’m giving it a shot, because I like seeing normal people on TV. (Also, keep an eye on the xoJane Twitter for livetweeting of the premiere -- not by me though -- on Sunday!)
So that’s my plan. Let me know what you think of my choices. And also let me know if there’s a "Game of Thrones" cheat sheet anywhere I can read to figure stuff out; as long as I’m half-watching it I may as well half-understand what’s going on.