2017: The Year in TV

2017 saw such a huge stack of fantastic TV programming that I almost forgot how the majority of shows available to watch or stream is trash! I truly didn’t have enough time to watch even half of the many, many shows that were highly rated and appealing even to me. But here are my favorites of those that I ended up bingeing and could not stop talking about:

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Big Little Lies

This HBO miniseries won a bunch of well-deserved Emmys. Having read one of Liane Moriarty’s books before (and finding the plot aggravatingly dry and the writing egregious), I normally would’ve had zero interest in this show. But there’s definitely been a pattern, in which every book that Reese Witherspoon touches as a producer becomes 20 times better on screen. So I gave Big Little Lies a try and was immediately enthralled. Stellar, star-studded cast. Gorgeous shots of the California coast setting. The plot, consisting of the characters’ retelling of the events leading up to a death at their children’s school, juxtaposes intense drama with lighthearted moments, thrilling mystery with surprisingly funny language from precocious children. Quite possibly the best soundtrack of any show this year. I ended up loving everything about this.

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American Vandal

This Netflix mockumentary had me laughing so uncontrollably in the first ten minutes that my roommate felt the need to pull out his phone to capture the moment on Snapchat… In American Vandal, which satirizes true crime documentaries such as Serial and Making a Murderer, a high schooler sets out to investigate a major school prank and uncover whether or not an expelled teen was the true culprit. It’s difficult to describe what could be so funny about a four-hour d*ck joke, but the setup is so clever and the young actors are so deadpan with their “punchlines”, it’s impressive.

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Stranger Things, season 2

This Netflix show probably needs no explanation, as I’m sure anyone who’s reading this has heard of it, if not seen it. In short, the first season finds a group of 80’s kids both battling and befriending supernatural creatures from another dimension in order to rescue their friend, and the second season is a continuation of the same storyline. I am not normally drawn to sci-fi, but there is something about the combination of nostalgia and the epic saga of friends and family coming together from different walks of life in order to save an innocent that is just so heartwarming to me, even while a monster devours an entire human in two seconds flat. I also think Winona Ryder is a brilliant actress, and she has come a long way from Beetlejuice, to Little Women, to getting caught shoplifting, and finally to the present.

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Search Party, season 2

This dark comedy on TBS is so hilarious, I ended up watching all of season one and catching up to the middle of season two in under a week. Starring the girl who plays Maeby Fünke on Arrested Development, this series follows a group of friends living in New York City in their mid-20s, as they attempt to solve the missing persons case of a former classmate. There is no way to describe Search Party without using the term “millennial”, as this show is arguably the MOST millennial. But I think everyone, regardless of age, maturity, or technology usage, can relate in some way. Endless cultural references and, for better or worse, reflections on society in general. Self-absorbed like Girls, but still self-aware like The Office. The supporting cast’s dialogue and mannerisms made me laugh out loud during every episode.

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Godless

This Netflix miniseries was originally meant to be a feature film, and watching it certainly felt like watching some of my favorite Westerns, such as High NoonThe Searchers, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The story follows an 1880’s New Mexico town almost completely made up of women (most of the town’s men had died in a mining accident), as they negotiate with mining companies and prepare to defend themselves against a dangerous outlaw and his murderous gang. There is also a subplot in which one of the women, an outsider, strikes up a relationship with the mysterious, Shane-like desperado who had shown up at her doorstep one night, giving her no choice but to shoot him. Independent women, stunning shots of the mountainous desert, horses in every scene. So much to love about this show. Sidenote: I’ve read about the controversy over the show being billed as feminist, but not living up to the label. I’d seen hardly any ads for this before watching, so I didn’t have any expectations at the time, though I was happy to see female characters taking responsibility for themselves and protecting each other. Now that I’ve seen the show and read the opinions, which are valid, I would still consider this a win for feminism because it is ultimately a step forward, and equality will realistically be achieved via several small steps, rather than one giant leap.

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Snow Day!

You probably know that the South is currently experiencing a winter weather crisis. While North Carolina is not yet in a state of emergency, nonstop snow, sleet, hail, and freezing rain for the past 48 hours have essentially shut down my county since yesterday.

IMG_1150My Ohio friends have probably already gone to work and class in worse conditions this year, but understand that North Carolina is much less prepared to clear icy roads, since bad weather hardly comes through here. Technically, this snow day shouldn’t affect me, since I currently work from home, but it’s been a tad difficult to be productive, knowing that almost everyone else in the city has the day off… So let’s just say I’ve been taking plenty of breaks!IMG_1153

I started reading Henry James’s What Maisie Knew, which, I’ll admit, I was inspired to read after seeing last year’s film interpretation. The story, about a child caught in the middle of a terrible divorce between two dysfunctional parents, is both fascinating and heartbreaking. Other books I’ve recently read include: Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex (winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction), Veronica Roth’s Divergent (since the movie version is coming out next month), and P.L. Travers’s Mary Poppins (very different from, but just as good as the Disney film).

friday-night-lightsBesides the Olympics coverage, I’ve been watching Friday Night Lights, which I only started, with low expectations, because some of my friends are obsessed, but has since proven to be a touching and sometimes thought-provoking show with some really great performances by the main characters. It’s not the best show I’ve ever seen, but, along with American Horror Story, it’s been filling my TV void that was left by last year’s ending of my favorite shows (30 RockThe OfficeBreaking Bad), and I’d recommend it (available on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video).IMG_1154

Yesterday, I pulled off a hangnail (I can never help it!), and now the area is swollen and extremely sensitive. Fortunately, epsom salt is one of those amazing remedies that have endless uses. I’d never used it until I got runner’s toe (black toenails… Google it, if you dare!) from running the marathon. Basically, the entire area around my big toe was super swollen, my toenail was becoming ingrown, and it looked pretty bad and felt even worse. Before committing myself to whatever misery awaited me at the doctor’s, I decided to try epsom salt baths… Worked like a charm! After a week of regularly soaking my foot, the swelling went down, the pain disappeared, and if there’d been an infection before, it was gone. Epsom salt is a miracle cure for just about everything, and I’m sure it will restore my finger to its original condition soon.

This “Scared Straight: Liberal Arts Edition” video is the best Buzzfeed post I’ve seen in a while. It hit a little close to home, since I double-majored and double-minored in four “useless” studies, but the video is an exaggeration, and I found it to be hilarious.

IMG_1158My mom baked a delicious green tea cake, using matcha powder, and it tastes like a green tea Frappuccino from Starbucks. I’ve pretty much been eating it all day!

11648228604_e52fdb4909I recently came across cartoonist Gemma Correll’s website, and I can’t get enough! Her work is clever and funny, like that of The Oatmeal, Hyperbole and a Half, and The Perry Bible Fellowship. But her style and content, which I personally find more relatable, set her apart from other popular artists. Some of my favorites:

12361471234_7730f22d12Societal reference? Check.
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Classic literature reference? Check.

9270715122_f423c23375Pop culture reference? Check.
f23d39d1265cc81bb4f73ecd72a5782fReference to one of my all-time favorite movies? Check.

Hope everyone had a fantastic day, whether or not it was a snow day! And please keep those Southerners in dire situations in your thoughts and prayers.