I wrote so many words this week that I won’t waste time on an intro. That way maybe you’ll cave and read all my rambling recommendations!
Old or young, classic sitcom lover or indie weirdo (reppin the latter!), you will likely L-O-L at Documentary Now. Every single episode is a brand new adventure in a totally different tone. It has some really smart humor and a lot of stuff that’s downright silly. I could easily see my dad or a stoned college kid enjoying it equally. And the twists! Oh, the twists. And the episodes are shot and edited in an artistically-intriguing stylistic manner! That’s a plus for all us film nerds. If you’re an SNL buff, you’ll be pleased to hear that this show centers around many characters played by Bill Hader and Fred Armisen, who created the program with Seth Meyers. It’s hosted by Dame Helen Mirren and features a slew of special guests who are sure to make you smile. Jack Black does an especially great job, in my opinion. If you love weird, off-beat, sometimes super-intellectual humor, watch an episode tonight. And if you don’t like the first one, the next will be 100% different, so that should bring you comfort. Though the first one is pretty good, so you’ll probably like it. Also the show was renewed for two additional seasons before the first episode had even aired, so that might give you an idea of the quality we’re blessed with here.
I had gone through life assuming that everyone my age had seen Good Eats. This is not so. I realized this when Adam said the near-fatal words, “Who is Alton Brown?” *shudder* In an effort to educate, I started rewatching the Good Eats Collection on Netflix, and man, I was far from disappointed. 25 episodes of fun facts, weird staged moments, and extremely creative camera work for a cooking show. I could watch this all day long and I bet you could too. If you like Cooked but actually want to get more kitchen savvy by watching a program, and prefer a host who is really fun and engaging, Good Eats should definitely be added to your “List.”
How To Get Away With Murder
Some of you have yet to accept your one-way ticket to Shondaland (I assure you, there’s no coming back). I get it on some accounts, I was diehard for Grey’s in High School, but then too many people died hard. But, if you’re ready to dip your toe in the water, How To Get Away With Murder is the show that will do more than just stamp your passport. It’ll blow your mind. The cast is diverse, the characters are all intriguing, and the twists and turns are UN. REAL. You will be genuinely surprised by the end of every single episode. I don’t watch any other show that guarantees that. It’s so hard to surprise people these days! We’re all so desensitized and used to the dramatic format, but this show somehow does it. I maintain that this is one of the most brilliant programs on TV today, even if just for its format. Episodes are bookended by flash-forwards to a very bad thing that happens. With each episode you get an additional detail or two about the bad thing, all while watching the characters struggle towards the horrifying climax. It’s addictive and worthy of all the praise. Also, Viola Davis won one of the most deserved Emmys ever for her portrayal of Annalise Keating, becoming the first black woman to win Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. So this show has legitimately made history. And both seasons are on Netflix now, so you can totally catch up and be ready for the absurdity that I’m sure awaits next season.
I love a lot of British TV, but it doesn’t often get heralded as “heartwarming.” In that way, Cuckoo shatters the mold. It also overcomes so many opportunities to fail. The premise, that the daughter of a pretty cool but not too cool British couple falls in love and gets married on her year abroad without telling them and shows up with this annoying hippy husband to live in their house as a big happy family and shirk all the plans she had before much to her father’s chagrin, it doesn’t sound too good, does it? That’s because annoying, better-than-though, white hippy guys are the worst, and the whole stiff dad thing is the worst too, but somehow it works. It does help that Andy Samberg plays Cuckoo, the dud in question, and that the dad is secretly a big softy. The second could-be-death-blow to accost this show was Samberg’s departure. He left before the second season to film Brooklyn 99 (so good), so they killed his character. How do you continue Cuckoo without the character of Cuckoo? They filled the void with Taylor Lautner, playing Cuckoo’s long-lost son who doesn’t realize that he’s spent his life in a cult. Good god, his portrayal is so adorable that by the second episode you don’t miss Cuckoo at all! This show keeps on kickin’, and if you watch it you’ll likely be glad it does.
Usually I try to promote a range of genres in these posts, ie only one really weird one at a time, but this off-beat comedy deserves to be on every list. Maria Bamford, who you might know as the woman who Tobias Fünke met in the MethodOne Clinic or as the emphatically-training lady from those Target Black Friday commercials, is the star of this deconstruction of the sitcom. The semi-autobiographical season follows Maria during three stages of her life: her dreary, blue-toned time in rehab after the big bad moment, the hyper-saturated period of mania leading to the big bad moment, and the tentative healing but still saying yes too much present. The fourth wall breaks and it breaks hard. The performances are great from one and all. Patton Oswalt is a recurring character, but besides his presence, which is fun, it’s really fun to see all of the female comedians who take a turn on-screen. Some play themselves, like Tig and Sarah Silverman, others play recurring characters, like Maria’s two best friends. One of these friends is played by Bridget Everett and I’ve sincerely never been so into her. She’s really fun to watch be the straight-ish woman. I know I’ve said fun a lot, but that’s what this show is, so I won’t apologize. There’s also probably too much going on in this show for me to sum it up and do it justice, so just support female comedy and watch Lady Dynamite. It’s awesome and totally different than anything you’ve ever seen.
P.S. The new season of Grace and Frankie is even MORE spectacular than the first! If you haven’t watched this program, you should really consider doing so. You’ll find my first argument for that here.