For some reason growing up, I wasn’t really familiar with the TV world as much as most Americans. When I came to college, I’d never seen or even knew the stories of Two and a Half Men, Friends, or How I Met Your Mother, simply because my life’s screen time was fairly concentrated on movies, Sims games, and BBC original series (my family is British). Later, during its prime, we had Tivo, so my viewership was focused to whatever TV shows I’d favorited up to then; I think House, Doctor Who, and Law and Order SVU were my main go-to shows. I’d never watch a new TV series. Then, my first apartment in college came with expanded, on-demand cable and suddenly, I was launched into a world of television. I followed 5-6 shows at a time religiously, constantly starting new ones: Pan Am, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, American Horror Story, New Girl, Up All Night, the list goes on. Some were amazing (American Horror Story) and some didn’t do a lot for me (Pan Am actually got cancelled). But ironically coming from an advertising major, I was kind of put off by the obscene amount of commercials I was suddenly being objected to, even with on-demand TV. I’d find myself pausing to say, “wait a minute, haven’t I just seen the same commercial three times in the past twenty minutes?” How do people deal with this?
I decided to venture into a new world: NETFLIX. Glorious Netflix. Their movie selection needs improvement, but by God, their collection of TV shows is unmatchable (except, maybe by torrents or Xfinity/HBO). I jumped into marathons of TV shows, many of which are no longer airing, and caught up on such an incredible generation of television. And now I genuinely have no life. Seriously, my perfect night is one with friends, take-out, and a solid Netflix marathon. If this interests you, I’ve listed below eight shows that I’ve just began, am in the middle of, or have finished. If you have access to Netflix, cherish it, and check out these incredible series. A few people can access one account at the same time which is neat, or you can get a free trial; then it’s only $7.99 a month, and totally worth it!
1.) Lost: Okay I know everyone has already seen Lost, but have you REALLY seen it until you’ve watched all 6 seasons in entirety back-to-back? I think not. And believe me, it’s quite an experience. I’d heard so many things about the show since it aired in 2004, and after being prodded by a few special people, I finally took a chance and started season one. Um, MIND BLOWN. I was hooked. I’m big on commitment, and television is no different; once I’ve started a show I like, I stay faithful until the end. Since beginning Lost last term, I’m now cruising through season 5 and still dying with the suspense. How could you wait a whole week for the next episode? Or simply stop watching it? I HAVE to know what happens to all of them. Watching Lost has become my own personal journey right now. I totally recommend it. Also, when I realized Charlie from Lost is Pippin from Lord of the Rings, I giggled.
2.) How I Met Your Mother (finally!): Again, I know everyone has seen this, but if you haven’t, don’t sweat it! This series is great because you can have it on in the background while you cook, do homework, or peruse Facebook, yet it has a solid story to carry the series along—the desperate hunt for Ted to find his happily ever after and for his kids, and the viewers, to finally figure out who their mother is! Next season marks its final, so we’ll actually get to find out, but in the meantime, How I Met Your Mother (or HIMYM) is great for watching reruns and reliving their hilarious stories. It’s a haven for inside jokes. Plus I’m in love with Jason Segel.
3.) Freaks and Geeks: I’d heard about this show from many of its most faithful viewers as it aired its only season in 1999, but I had no idea how funny and clever it really was. It’s so gloriously candid. The show takes place in the 80’s and follows a group of high school students and their awkward, embarrassing lives. One of the best parts of the show is that its characters are now well-known Hollywood numbers; James Franco, Jason Segel (again, my favorite person ever), and Seth Rogen are probably the most prominent of the cast, and each time I see them in their teenage personas, I die. It’s too great. But actually, famous people aside, the show is a great. It’s sincere look into the stereotypical high school setting that we all endured.
4.) Mad Men: I think people either adore or simply can’t get into this show. I’ve watched the first four seasons and most of the fifth, and the main criticism I hear is that it’s too slow-moving and subtle. What? Okay, so maybe it’s not an action-packed eye gasm for the ADD viewer, but seriously, Mad Men is one of the most intelligent shows I’ve ever seen in my life. I think it’s totally gripping, embodying the time period so successfully—the sexism, racism, and further social struggles of the time included—with enough sex and scandal to keep you alert. It’s witty, entertaining, and simply gorgeous; the costuming, cinematography, and script are phenomenal. And Jon Hamm is too hot. Apparently he doesn’t wear underwear. I’ll let your imagination wander with that.
5.) Arrested Development: Again, I jumped on the band wagon pretty late with this, but finally coming around to watch Arrested Development was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s perfect to watch before bed to laugh yourself to sleep. It’s super clever, and has some of the best running jokes of all time. It centers around Jason Bateman as the main character, the honest, hard-working Michael Bluth who runs his father’s failing housing development company, trapped into caring for his now-broke, helpless family. Sadly, Arrested Development was totally snubbed by Fox after its third season; but don’t fret! The series is creeping out of its eight year retirement for a fourth season, made available directly on Netflix May 26th. That means you can pace them out at your own rate, or watch them ALL at once. The choice is yours.
6.) 30 Rock: Ah, one of my favorites. 30 Rock is great because you can totally feel the reality behind its creator, the genius Tina Fey, as the series is loosely based on her time as head writer for Saturday Night Live. The show depicts the daily lives of those behind the scenes of a sketch comedy on NBC. Fey leads, playing the ambitious protagonist Liz Lemon, followed by the hilarious, over-bearing Jack (Alec Baldwin!), the crazy Tracy Jordan (played by Tracy Morgan—clever, eh?), the clueless blonde star, Jenna (Jane Krowkoski), and my favorite, the innocent, cheerful page Kenneth (Jack McBrayer). I think 30 Rock still plays on TV every now and then, but it’s fun to watch them consecutively or out of order back-to-back.
7.) The IT Crowd: If you’re into British TV at all, this show is a real gem. It’s a little outdated, but features Chris O’Dowd (from Bridesmaids and Girls) before he got famous, and it’s SO FUNNY. This show depicts the troublesome lives of a major company’s IT department (dealing with technical issues, their most common line being, “have you tried turning it off and on again?”). The entire department is composed of only three members, the far from tech-savvy manager Jen, the nerdy, socially awkward Moss, and the slobbish, romantically challenged Roy (Chris O’Dowd!). The episodes are short and light, perfect for watching in between classes or during study breaks/dinner. But, if British humor isn’t your thing and un-American accents send you into a world of confusion, then probably best to stay away. Apparently NBC tried to release an American remake, but it was never aired. Probably for the best.
8.) The Inbetweeners: YES, before MTV butchered it, there was a British TV show first! If IT Crowd’s British-ness didn’t scare you away, then I strongly recommend this series. The first time I ever watched Inbetweeners was in a reaction to a conversation with my cousin, Charlie. At the time, my friends and I were big fans of the British TV drama Skins (again, the British version came first, and is WAY better), and I was explaining my obsession with this show to him. In response, he said that Inbetweeners was what life is really like for English teenagers—not this crazy world of constant clubbing, sex, and drugs. The show follows the lives of four teenage boys and their desperate attempts to go to parties, attract girls, and achieve popularity, and the following failure. If you can follow the quick dialogue and tolerate the obscenity, this will seriously be one of the funniest shows you’ve ever seen. Almost everyone I’ve shown it so far has become an instant fan—my mother included. An Inbetweeners movie just came out last year as well, but make sure you watch the series first!
On my “to watch list”: Walking Dead, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Breaking Bad, Downtown Abbey, Parks and Recreation, Twin Peaks