Despite the fact that I write about a whole lot of different
things these days, I still consider myself an entertainment journalist and TV
critic. I've done it for over a decade, and interviewing producers, writers and actors about the shows they're on is still one of the most fun things I do.
For instance, I just spoke
to the producers of "The Americans"
about the fourth season of the show and had a fascinating talk with them about
how they keep things real episode after episode, one of the reasons I and many other critics think the show is
one of the very best on TV.
As part of the research for that piece, I watched the first
four episodes of the season. So I'm not only caught up on the show, I'm ahead
of the game. But that's one of the few shows I can say that about. Since my
wife Rachel and I brought our 15-month-old daughter Evyn home from the hospital in
February last year, we haven't had a ton of time to watch the TV shows we used to
When Evy was little, it was mostly because we were just too
exhausted to concentrate on anything more complicated than sitcoms or reality
shows. As she's gotten older, the issues have gotten more complicated. First,
if we're putting her in front of the TV, we usually watch shows that
are more her speed: like "Sesame Street" or "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood." Secondly,
her into her crib and eating dinner, we tend to have about a two-hour
window before we both collapse. So we have to be really selective with what we
choose to watch.
In the so-called "peak
TV" era, that's a prescription for falling behind on shows. (In my case, way behind.) Shows are debuting and returning seemingly every week these
days, so there's no chance to breathe and catch up. Why dive into a binge-watch
of the latest season of "Homeland," for
instance, when Netflix is about to drop the second season of "Daredevil" in our laps? It just becomes
too much, and shows that we really want to see go by the wayside.
I refuse to let that happen without a fight. Here are three shows that I'm determined to catch up with:
1. Orange is the New Black
The fourth season starts in June, but
we still haven't watched season three yet. It's not because we didn't want to
see how Piper and the women at Litchfield federal prison handle life on the
inside, it's because streaming shows tend to get short shrift with us when
there's so much sitting and waiting for us on the DVR. But the other night, I
insisted we bypass whatever we have recorded to watch the first two episodes
of season three, figuring it'll get us in the mood for a modified binge (i.e. a
couple of episodes at a time over a few weeks). As expected, we were sucked right back in.
When Rachel and I think of the hours and hours we used to sink into the show, watching Adam Levine and Blake Shelton goof on each other, Christina Aguilera preen, and Pharell Williams spout his musical wisdom, only to see the same three country singers and belters go to the finals every season, we started to question some of the choices we've made in our lives.
2. Marvel's Jessica Jones
I keep hearing that "Jessica Jones" is one of the best comic
adaptations on TV right now, and that Krysten Ritter is fantastic. Firstly, I'm
fan going back to "Gilmore Girls," and I hear this is her best role yet. But if I haven't watched "Orange" yet, how can I justify watching "Jessica"?
3. The People v. O.J. Simpson
We started recording it, but about
four episodes in, I forgot to set the DVR for it. After that, we just
needed the space, so it got deleted. I keep hearing great things about it,
though. I hope I can find it on-demand or on a streaming network at some point.
How can we bypass a series where David Schwimmer plays Robert Kardashian and
John Travolta looks more like Liberace than Robert Shapiro?
Of course, there are also shows that have fallen into the
"life's too short" category for me and my wife, meaning that we'll
likely never pick them back up again:
1. The Walking Dead
This was a show I watched by myself, and I
fully intended to watch last season's second half, which debuted shortly after
we brought Evy home. But the growling sound of the zombies was just something I
couldn't play with a sleeping infant nearby, even with the volume low. At a
certain point this past summer, I deleted it. Maybe it's because I'm a father now, but I'm just not in the mood to follow
the grim parade of the survivors from place to place. From everything I've
heard about this current season (like the "Is Glenn dead?"
kerfuffle), it wasn't a big loss for me.
When Rachel and I think of the hours and hours we
used to sink into the show, watching Adam Levine and Blake Shelton goof on each
other, Christina Aguilera preen, and Pharell Williams spout his musical wisdom,
only to see the same three country singers and belters go to the finals every
season, we started to question some of the choices we've made in our lives. With
a kid, four to five hours of it per week (48 minutes if you fast-forward
through the filler) is just too much.
3. House of Cards
This one is still a "maybe." We're
now two seasons behind; we stopped at the end of season two, when Kevin
Spacey's Frank Underwood schemed his way to the presidency. The show was
getting pretty ridiculous by that point, so we're lukewarm about picking it up
again. Besides, the 2016 election has given us our fill of insane political
theater, so watching HoC might just