First, a quick intro.
I am back.
I’ll be posting this column monthly (on the 1st or the first weekday of the month) and a new weekly podcast launches later this month (hypothetically). Details coming soon.
In the meantime, I’m well aware that the header used on this site is full of outdated images, including a prominently displayed Kevin Spacey who I don’t particularly want to be the face of my website. That’ll be updated in the very near future.
When I first started blogging about TV, I would post multiple times a day about almost every single episode of every show I watched and it got a little ridiculous. Mostly because this isn’t a full-time job, or a job in any sense of the word. After burn out, I’ve attempted to return in some capacity a few times but hadn’t quite figured it out. But I miss talking and writing about TV so here I am, once again ready to launch.
This monthly column will be simple. I’ll talk about some of the shows I most enjoyed in the past month, some of the stuff I hated and maybe some things I’m on the fence about. And if I’m late to the party discovering something else and I wanna talk about it, I’ll write about that too. And I’ll end with my Episode of the Month. And for the record, when I talk about the worst of the month, I mean, worst TV I personally watched. So it’s gonna either be a new show or a show I like on some level, but that aired some bad episodes. There’s always gonna be worse TV, but I’m not watching it.
Read, comment and share. Looking forward to talking TV with all of you again.
A few days late, but here it is, the annual list. As always, I remind you that I am but one person and while I watch a ton of TV (some may argue too much), I don’t watch all. There are some critical favorites (Twin Peaks, Halt and Catch Fire, Insecure) that just aren’t for me and others I just never got to (Better Things, anything else not on this list that you’re mad about I’m sure), but through my experiences and many, many hours of viewing time, I believe that these are the 30 best TV shows that 2017 had to offer.
Read, enjoy, comment, debate and share. Thanks!
The Emmy’s are tomorrow and we all know they can’t proceed unless I weigh in with my predictions. As usual, I didn’t watch all the movies/limited series so I’m not gonna take on those categories, only to say that despite having not seen any of the other nominees in the TV Movie category, “San Junipero” definitely deserves to win, I’m having a hard time choosing between Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon who both gave great performances that were brilliant for such different reasons,but I’m confident in saying that Laura Dern should (and will) win in her category. See, wasn’t that enlightening?
First of all, I know what you’re thinking. Hey–remember when you updated this site 3-4 times a day? And then you said you were gonna slow down but still post once a week but you really only write something once every 4-5 months now….what’s up with that? I know, I get it. I’ve neglected this site but that’s because I’m putting more time into my own writing. If you’re really that interested in what I’ve been up to–and it sounds like you are–you can find out more at markgraywriting.com or pick up my latest book, The Day I Disappeared HERE.
As I’ve done for years now, in anticipation of next week’s Emmy nominations, I’ve put together my dream Emmy ballot. Not all of these people and shows will be nominated…but they should be. And to be extra helpful, I’ve even mentioned who should win. I typically only do drama and comedy because even though limited series has gotten a lot more interesting in recent years, there’s so much of it I don’t watch, I don’t feel confident in those opinions. Whereas with drama and comedy….I’ve watched most of it, for better or worse (aka that means if a show’s not here…it’s not an accident). So here we go.
Netflix continues to release quality series at a dizzying rate and the different themes, genres and demographics they’re able to cover in the process is quite impressive. They seem determined to offer a high quality option for fans of any type of TV and with 13 Reasons Why they deliver a teen drama that exceeds the expectations of its genre and boasts writing, directing (including two episodes helmed by Spotlight’s Tom McCarthy) and a young cast that couldn’t be described as anything other than top notch. Regardless of anyone’s conclusion on the show itself, there’s no denying that it’s incredibly well-made.
I also happened to find it compulsively watchable. There is absolutely a mysteriously morbid undercurrent throughout the whole thing that captivates you from the beginning and you want to see how all the pieces are going to fit, but apart from that, even in the midst of such darkness, the show feels surprisingly hopeful and its heartbreakingly real characters are the type that make TV such an exciting medium. With each passing hour, teenagers that could be written as archetypes are fleshed out and brought to life with admirable complexity.
By now, you probably know that 13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series inspired by a young adult novel of the same name by Jay Asher. I remember reading the book about seven years ago but the details are fuzzy so aside from the basic outline, most of this felt new to me and I couldn’t tell you what they changed. Just like the book, the show follows a high school student named Clay Jensen as he listens to 13 tapes recorded by fellow student, Hannah Baker, explaining the reasons she killed herself. All 13. And she names names. The rules are you have to listen to the tapes or the details will leak and if you have the tapes, it means you’re on one of them.
SPOILERS from this point forward….
So, in spite of the fact that I only very occasionally post on this site anymore, the tradition continues. It began for me as a list of my favorite episodes of the past year and recently I shifted my focus on just narrowing it down to my 30 favorite shows because there are far too many great episodes to consider. When making this list, I very much take the new Emily Gilmore approach in that if a show doesn’t bring me joy–even if it’s well made and well-acted–I throw it away. I only make room for the shows I’m excited about. So there are a few notable exceptions on this list but there are also a whole lot of worthy shows, some of them underrated and under the radar, many others appropriately heralded on countless other lists.
Now, keep in mind, this is a list compiled by me and me alone and while I did watch a ton of TV this year (and every year), I can’t watch everything. So some shows that received a good bit of praise this year (Horace and Pete, BoJack Horseman) aren’t on here simply because I haven’t seen them. And I’m making the new rule that if your entire series drops mid-December or later, you’re only eligible for the following year’s list. So, if season two of The Man in The High Castle or season one of The OA end up being the most amazing things I’ve ever seen, I’ll acknowledge them next year. And if your favorite show isn’t on the list, it’s probably because I didn’t like it so feel free to react in appropriate outrage.
Oh, and if you haven’t seen a particularly show, skip reading about it because there will be SPOILERS.
AGAIN, THIS IS MY WARNING THAT THIS ENTIRE POST IS FILLED WITH SPOILERS FOR MOST OF THE SHOWS LISTED SO READ WITH CAUTION.
Now that I’ve covered my bases and with those limitations in mind, please enjoy my list of the Top 30 Shows of 2016.
It’s been a while since I’ve written a proper review but this site remains for my own vanity so I have a place to spew my thoughts on TV whenever I see fit. It’d be hard to find something more fitting than the return of Gilmore Girls, certainly one of the most formative shows of my youth and a series I’ve revisited several times as I truly love this quirky world that blurs the lines between outright whimsy and brutal honesty. There has never been a show that captures quite the same tone and sparkling wit that Gilmore Girls possessed during its 7 years on the air (even in its lesser seventh season) and the most important thing about Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is that it recaptures all of that for the most part. There certainly isn’t any real way to completely recreate something nine years later and have it still feel exactly like it did during a particular moment in time, but A Year in the Life comes awfully close and anyone that was pining for more Gilmore Girls certainly got it. Not a B-version or a sad imitation but the genuine article and it was a thoroughly satisfying experiencing to reenter Stars Hollow again for eight hours last weekend. SPOILERS AHEAD….
Earlier this year, I did a Dream Emmy Ballot and obviously the actual nominees look a lot different than the ones I chose. I’ve been doing some WILL WIN/SHOULD WIN picks for years now and these are, of course, based on the nominees we got, not necessarily the ones I wanted. So in my little write-ups justifying my picks, I don’t really reference what I would have done differently and just explain my picks based on what we got. Make sense? Okay, good. Let’s get to it.
Look, I was surprised as anyone when UnREAL came on the scene last year, premiering on Lifetime of all places, and somehow made a show about the behind the scenes inner workings of a Bachelor-esque reality show compelling and addictive television. The dialogue was sharp and shockingly funny at times, the performances were raw and human and fully committed to the more ridiculous aspects of the material (huge congrats to Constance Zimmer for her much-deserved Emmy nomination) and there is no question that this show exceeded everything from its concept to its network home by countless miles. It was a surprise that pretty much nobody saw coming and I joined in with the chorus of voices singing its praises and encouraging others to check in with this unexpected gem.
But I never lost sight of what this show was. I feel like maybe some others did.