Identifying Watchable TV & Movies

[WARNING: May contain spoilers]

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When I’m not doing my daily Unemployed Grad tasks (scouring job boards, sending off applications, following up leads, making phone calls etc.) I. Just. Want. To. Chill. OK?

This is what I’m into lately, or not.
Note: Obviously, these are going to be skewed to my tastes. Before you scroll down, here’s the gist: I’m a late-20s female with a bit of Peter Pan Syndrome. So there are shows I like that the fellas should avoid. I prefer US and UK programs to Aussie. This is almost always because the quality of everything is better (in my opinion). There have been some great Oz programs (Chaser’s War on Everything, The Gruen Transfer, The Checkout – though these are more entertaining/educational, rather than ‘press play and wonder where the time goes’).
The recently aired Top of the Lake on UKTV in Oz (UK, Aussie and US collaboration, with Aussie Jane Campion at the helm as director & co-creator) was BRILLIANT (scroll down for extended comments), and will hopefully encourage more of the same. The ones listed below are very recent – as in, I’ve watched a season or similar in the past 6 months. There are TONS of shows I love or like but haven’t watched in a while (The Office, Community, Sherlock, Poirot, Miss Marple) that I’ll add towards the bottom, as ‘Old Favs or Not-Currently-On-Air’.

(On a related but side note, check out Noah Berlatsky’s ‘Really, It’s OK to Ignore Game of Thrones and Mad Men’)

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Drama

TV: MAD MEN

(Free-to-air: SBS, Foxtel: Showcase via HBO)

check this out

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I was a really late jumper onto this bandwagon…everyone knows you don’t dismiss a show after just one episode!! BUT that’s exactly what I did. Why? The one episode I watched (during Season 1, when Joan and Peggy go into the break room and talk their way into the guys buying their lunch) seemed so sexist, the men so mysogonistic, I just couldn’t see myself getting into a whole series -even with the stunning 40s/50s/60s costumes and sets.

But, I was SO wrong about how great this show is. Yes, it’s still sexist. The main men, especially Don Draper, are still mysoginists, the patriarchal content abounds, the women are harassed, and so on. (So, does liking it make me sexist? Charles Clymer describes how he tossed aside his gripes (as I’ve done), “with the excuse, “He’s just portraying how men treated women at the time.”…)

FYI, Jon Hamm (Don Draper) doesn’t think it’s sexist…he seems to use Clymer’s reasoning!

A few points:

  • Don Draper’s behaviour still irks me (enough with the cheating and affairs already! How do women still want him, knowing what a cad he is?!), even though he’s the hero and you want him to do well.
  • As an American history buff, I really enjoy the show’s take/character reactions to major events at the time (including JFK assassination, civil rights movement).
  • THE FASHION. For the women: pencil skirts, hair styles inc. the victory roll, party dresses, high-waisted pants, gloves. The men: suspenders, well-cut suits, pocket squares, HATS.
  • Love the nod to curvy women via Christina Hendricks and her character, Joan Harris. Plus, she has some of the best lines….

“Go home, take a paper bag, cut some eyeholes out of it. Put it over your head, get undressed and look at yourself in the mirror. Really evaluate where your strengths and weaknesses are. And be honest.”

“This is why I don’t allow crying in the break room. It erodes morale. There’s a place to do that, like you’re apartment.”

This is one of those shows I recommend watching season-by-season (rather than by episode), because you’ll want to watch the next episode right away.

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TV: TOP OF THE LAKE 

(Foxtel: UKTV via Sundance Channel/BBC2)

check this out

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This six-part mystery miniseries aired recently on UKTV in Oz (picked up by the Foxtel channel after the ABC rejected it when Elisabeth Moss was cast instead of an Aussie – what an epic mistake by the ABC!) to high viewer numbers, critical acclaim (eg. The Denver Post and here), and general viewer acclaim (if Twitter is anything to go by). I cannot say enough good things about this show: compelling, fascinating, engaging, with a tight script and editing, well-developed characters and superb casting, including Elisabeth Moss as the heroine, Scot Peter Mullan as the evil, screwy villain, and Aussie David Wenham as the top cop, and New Zealand scenery as the backdrop.

Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men‘s Peggy Olson) stars as a Kiwi/Aussie detective (props to Moss for mostly getting the accent right – I can’t think of an American who does it spot-on. The closest is Brit Kate Winslet in Holy Smoke)…it was fascinating to watch her in Mad Men, then in Top of the LakeMad Men viewers will know Moss has skills, but she was really able to show off her acting chops and versatility via her TOTL heroine– her storylines were HEAVY (often violent and unsettling, always emotional). News.com.au pays her similar compliments, e.g. “there’s no disputing her stocks as a performer have risen to new heights as a result of her shockingly compelling performance in the Jane Campion mini-series Top of the Lake.” The ending is disturbing and sordid (I totally guessed it).

I think part of the reason Moss is so appealing (in Mad Men and TOTL) is the Unusually-Pretty factor (no offence intended). She’s pretty, but not classically beautiful (like MM‘s January Jones)…the more you watch Moss, the more beautiful she becomes.

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ELISABETH MOSS

JANUARY JONES

JANUARY JONES

Check out Salon.com’s review of the finale“If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for?”

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TV: PRETTY LITTLE LIARS 

(Foxtel: FOX8 via ABCTelevision)

check this out

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I’m 28 years old and addicted to this show. You want to be friends with the girls, you want to make out with the guys, the storylines are a little ridiculous yet you can’t wait to watch the next episode and talk to your girlfriends about the major revelations in the latest one…perfect guilty pleasure! I’m not sure when I started watching this – early on in Season 2, I think….then at uni I mentioned it to a friend, and turned out she loved it too, as did a few more…then we got another couple of friends hooked on it…such is the power of PLL!

Ability to suspend reality is a MUST for this one. OK, I can do that – though sometimes I do have a “Really Pretty Little Liars? REALLY?’ moment (The villainous A always wears black gloves, yet is able to type on an iPhone, and the number of time’s I’ve gone “Why wouldn’t you just call the police!!! Tell your parents!!”). You can probably start at any season and follow the story, but I highly recommend starting at the beginning.

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TV: SMASH Season 2

(Foxtel: FOX8)

NAH

I loved Season 1, but I parted ways with this show a couple of episodes into Season 2. Karen is a massive pushover, and I. Cannot. Stand. Jimmy.

Part of the show’s original appeal (for me), was the Marilyn Monroe-themed musical, the up-and-coming-creative-type theme (in the vein of Centre Stage, Coyote Ugly, Step Up etc.) and underdog heroine to root for, and Anjelica Huston. Season 2 is like a very watered-down continuation – like camp cordial, it’s WEAK.

NOTE: My older sister just read this post, and chastised me: “Huh. Can’t stand Jimmy. But you loved season 1! Have you watched the Liza Minnelli episode I recorded for you, yet? [I’m a fan]” Me: “No. But I stand by my comments.”

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TV: CALL THE MIDWIFE

(ABC1)

check this out

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(Comments to come)

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TV: SONS OF ANARCHY

(Free-to-air: ONE, Foxtel: Showcase)

check this out

imagesFans of this show can get quite obsessive (from experience: my sister and my hairdresser), and not just because bad boy protagonist Jax (Charlie Hunnam, left) is one of the most gorgeous men alive.

This show is rated M for good reason – graphic violence, graphic sex, partial nudity, and HEAVY themes. Creator Kurt Sutter (check out his blog) has crafted a storytelling masterpiece. The regular characters are perfectly cast, including Sutter’s wife, Katey Sagal (talk about a change from Married With Children!) as matriarch/Jax’s mum, Gemma (the role won her the Best Actress Golden Globe in 2010 – much deserved).

 

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MOVIE: GANGSTER SQUAD

Untitled

PROS: Cinematography, set design, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone.

CONS: Everything else. For example….Guess who survives? The Main Guy, The Main Guy’s Side-Kick, The Black Guy, The Mexican Guy, The Main Guy’s Girl, The Side-Kick’s Girl. Ugh.

My sister thought it was a great movie (but then, she’s loving Season 2 of Smash.)

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comedy

TV: PARKS AND RECREATION 

(Foxtel:

check this out

ParksAndRecreation

I love everything Amy Poehler does (on screen – big thumbs down to her split from Will Arnett, but that’s off topic and NOMB). Parks and Rec is a top choice if you’re after a laugh, and has plenty of seasons to keep you occupied (I’m still on Season 1). One of my good friends recommended it (again, late on the bandwagon) – while I’m not hooked (like I can get with dramas), it is laugh-out-loud funny. (My aforementioned friend IS hooked on it, so I might see if she wants to write a bit about why she loves it).

 

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Mash up

TV: THE BIG C

(Foxtel:

check this out

(Comments to come)

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Caution1Caution1

caution

Some shows I haven’t enjoyed personally after watching a few episodes (but considering the popularity of them, I’m willing to give them a second shot. From friends’ comments, they can easily be addictive and go into numerous seasons – a perfect Unemployed Grad option):

  • Game of Thrones
  • Breaking Bad
  • Veep
  • Dexter (one factor in this making the list is Dexter looks a lot like an ex-boyfriend)

*WARNING*
I recommend avoiding the following shows. If you find yourself watching them, send out a distress signal and wait for help to arrive. Also, I suggest avoiding Twitter when these shows are on.

The Voice Australia (Currently on Aus, Channel 9). I probably wouldn’t mind this if all the fluff and extra shit and host theatrics and antics were edited out, and it was just the singing. Unfortunately for me, that’s not how reality TV and this sort of competition works. And it’s so not worth it to sit through all the shit for a few minutes of good singing.
My Kitchen Rules
MasterChef Aus
(I will watch a couple of foodie shows if I’m flicking or my sister is watching them (chef-in-training) – NONE Aussie, mind – Ironchef USA, Cake Boss, Great British Bake-Off, Ace of Cakes).
Big Brother (HOW is this still going?!)

Also avoid:

Merlin (I just threw up in my mouth a bit when my sis suggested it.)
Packed to the Rafters
Offspring
Winners and Losers
(Most Aussie, all meh.)

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