I have a lot of new tv I’ve been watching to talk about. This is what happens when you’re one of the last people living still mostly locked down during the pandemic and it’s cold outside so you can’t even have an outdoor social life. You watch lots and lots of tv. This is just part of it. I’ll back later this week with a post specifically about sit-coms.
The Sex Lives of College Girls
Mindy Kaling has found her real sweet spot in creating teenage rom-com tv shows first with Never Have I Ever and now Sex Lives of College Girls on HBOMax. The Mindy Project had its moments, but I quit watching it even before NBC canceled it and then it moved to Hulu. I never even bothered watching her series version of Four Weddings and a Funeral because the reviews were so bad. Now though she is creating some of my favorite tv shows. I loved The Sex Lives of College Girls so much. I’m so sad that I’m out of episodes to watch. It centers around four freshman roommates at the fictional Essex College in Vermont. Leighton is a legacy whose parents went to Essex and her older brother already attends. She is also a closeted lesbian. Bela is an Indian girl whose parents want her to become a doctor while she wants to pursue comedy and is determined to make it as a writer for the school’s renowned comedy magazine while also making up for what she feels is lost time in her lack of a social and sex life in high school. Whitney is on the soccer team and her mother is a Senator. She is also having an affair with the team’s assistant coach. Kimberly is a somewhat naive girl from the mid-West who doesn’t have much money unlike most of the people at Essex who is trying to navigate her way in this new world. She is the character who is the most cartoonish. Either I got used to it or they dialed it back some over the course of the show. I loved this show. I loved the characters. I loved the friendships and the relationships. It’s a perfect teen dramedy, and I cannot wait until there are more episodes.
The Netflix algorithm knows I love a good teen drama so at some point it recommended this Spanish show to me. I added it to my queue and after it sitting there for years I finally decided to watch it. I’m really glad I did because Netflix was right and I did love it. There are four seasons so far and Netflix assures me a fifth season is coming. It centers on an elite private school in Madrid where lots of rich and important people send their kids to school. No one should ever send their kids there though because every season is framed with some sort of murder or attempted murder. Basically if your kid goes there they’re either going to be murdered or become a murderer. I thought maybe after the sort of throughline of the first three seasons was done that in season four they would drop the framing where you start with whatever that season’s crime was with everyone being interviewed by the cops and the show filling in what happened up to that point over the season, but they did not. I wish they had because they never really needed it. I’m much more interested in the relationships between the characters than I ever was about who committed whatever crime we were focused on that season. The first three seasons are great. The fourth season I don’t think was as good. Half of the original characters left after season three including most of my favorites. I did not like any of the new characters they brought into replace them, the stories seemed even more ridiculous than normal, and the personalities of the characters that came back did not seem consistent with previous season. Made me feel like they got a bunch of new writers in season four. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed watching it and will definitely be watching season five whenever it comes out. If you like a good teen drama and aren’t opposed to subtitles I recommend it.
Maid is a Netflix show loosely based on Stephanie Land’s memoir of the same name. It stars Margaret Qualley as Alex a young mother who flees her abusive husband and winds up working as a maid to support herself and her pre-school age daughter. She is equally caught in trying to get help from her mother who has undiagnosed bipolar disorder and having to take care of her. Her mother is played by Andie McDowell, Qualley’s real life mother. This show is excellent, but it is also one of the hardest shows I think I have ever watched. I definitely could not watch more than one episode of this in a sitting. I felt the stress that this character was going through. It made me really sad because I know there are so many people who are actually living this life where they are just caught in impossible situation after impossible situation and all the systems that are supposedly there to help them are built such that it’s actually impossible to get help from them and even make things worse. It really highlights how broken the systems in the country are because we’re so worried about someone who we don’t think deserves something getting it. Because the show does not want to be complete misery porn it winds up ending on a positive note for the character, but there are far too many people who will never manage to navigate their way out of lives that are stacked against them at every turn.
As We See It
As We See It is the new Jason Katims show on Amazon Prime. You may know Katims from his previous shows Friday Night Lights and Parenthood. He featured some of his experiences as a parent of an autistic son in the character of Max Braverman on Parenthood. Now he extends that into his experiences parenting a child with autism who is now an adult themselves. It centers around three autistic adults in their 20s sharing an apartment and being cared for by an aide named Mandy. Jack is really smart but struggling to keep a job because of his lack of social skills and inflexibility. He is also faced with finding out that his father has what will probably be terminal cancer. This story also focuses on his father worrying about how to make sure Jack is going to be all right after he’s gone. Violet is a sex obsessed woman who just wants people to perceive her as normal and doesn’t realize that her overattachment to people even strangers is inappropriate and potentially dangerous. She is being cared for by her older brother Van since their parents died. Harrison is the least functioning of the three. He is practically agoraphobic and Mandy is working with him to get him to leave the apartment and gain skills so that he too might be able to support himself in some fashion one day. In true Jason Katims fashion it mixes complete heartbreak with small triumphs that warm the heart. It does not however gloss over the difficulties of all of the characters with the autistic characters just wanting to be understood for who they are and not always understanding why people view them as they do and their families struggling with the weight of helping their loved ones navigate an unforgiving world and the stresses that they themselves have to deal with.
I read the book Station Eleven back in 2015 and did not re-read it prior to watching the series on HBO, so I didn’t remember enough about it to know how faithful it was or not to the source material. I gather from the things I’ve heard about it that there was quite a bit changed, but that everyone seemed to agree that the changes worked. So let’s go with that. I do know that I felt differently about the book than I did the tv show. I remember feeling like there was a lot of hope in the book that I did not necessarily feel in the tv show. Perhaps some of that is that I read the book prior to having ever lived through a pandemic myself, so I’m pretty sure my feelings about the tv show were colored by my own experiences. The pandemic in this show is way worse than COVID, killing something like 99% of the population. It was sort of interesting watching the end of this as the supply chain shortages caused by so many people getting sick from Omicron were starting to ramp up given this series shows how much worse it could have been with these characters living in a post-apocalyptic world in which pretty much all of the things we have come to rely on as a modern society like all kinds of technology cease to function because there aren’t enough people to keep them running. Weirdly my favorite parts of the series were the parts with Jeevan and young Kiersten struggling to survive right after the pandemic happened, which is something I usually hate and why I don’t tend to care for post-apocalyptic shows or books, and which I said in my review of the book that I was happy it didn’t spend a lot of time on. Ultimately I really did like this show, but based on how i remember feeling after reading the book I liked it better which is generally the case when it comes to book adaptations.
Good Sam stars Sophia Bush and Jason Isaacs. He’s a world renowned cardiologist who is very difficult to work with. Sam is his daughter who has been working under him but is planning on leaving the hospital for another job until he is shot and they ask her to fill in as the Chief of Cardiology. Now he’s back at his job and having to be supervised by her until the medical board signs off on his recovery and is very unhappy about being subordinate to anyone, especially his daughter. It’s sort of a mix between House and Grey’s Anatomy with a curmudgeonly but brilliant doctor at the center, a case of the week, and some soapy elements mixed together. It’s a decent network drama that’s more than just a straight procedural if you enjoy these kinds of shows.
Around the World in 80 Days
Masterpiece on PBS is currently airing this new adaptation of the Around the World in 80 Days starring David Tennant. It’s fine. I don’t love it. I’m usually doing something else like reading or messing around on the internet when my husband puts it on.