I used to watch everything that made my adrenals go crazy: shows about ghosts and murder and mafia brides. People screaming for various reasons, generally. And I wondered why I didn’t feel good. After sleeping like a kitten in a garbage bag soon to be tossed off a cliff into the sea (read: not well), I decided it was time to avert my gaze from housewives, or anything with the preface “real,” or “paranormal” for that matter. (But if “Paranormal Amish Housewives” becomes a thing, all bets are off.)
It’s so easy to get into the habit of neglecting our own creative work because we’re scared, and television is the perfect avoidance-teat at which to suckle indefinitely. So I seriously reassessed my viewing habits and adjusted accordingly. But I do love some television, and now try to limit it to that which makes me feel decent. “Treehouse Masters” and “Beachfront Bargain Hunt” bring me that “Calgon, take me away” feeling. There are the exceptions, like “The Leftovers,” “House of Cards,” and “Black Mirror,” which make me feel gross, but they’re high-quality enough to pass my filter.
Of course there’s the Duffer brothers’ “Stranger Things,” which most people have seen, but if you haven’t and you enjoy Winona Ryder, throwbacks involving a ragtag bunch of kids on bikes (think “The Goonies” in the dark), and monster mysteries, then check it out. I like this show so much I’ll likely watch the first season again (on Netflix) before season two arrives in October.
I recently fell in love with “People of Earth,” a TBS sitcom about a support group for people (“experiencers”) who have been abducted by aliens. If you’ve ever heard conspiracy theorists or alien-enthusiasts talking about “reptilians” (i.e. that so many presidents and famous people are reptilians, etc.), you’ll see that creator David Jenkins gets it completely right, tongue planted firmly in cheek. Ana Gasteyer is hilarious, Wyatt Cenac (“The Daily Show”) is spot-on as protagonist Ozzie, and you can’t help but fall in love with the rest of the ensemble — and the aliens, for that matter, who suffer the same bureaucratic crap humans do. This show feels so good and manages to be just scary enough at times. Major heart here.
Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” blew my mind. It is the smartest, funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time, and pokes at race in a super fresh way. IMDb summarizes: “Two cousins, with different views on art versus commerce, on their way up through the Atlanta rap scene; ‘Earnest ‘Earn’ Marks,’ an ambitious college drop-out and his estranged cousin, who suddenly becomes a star.” Just watch it. I fell in love with Glover on “Community,” and am consistently wowed by what he creates, from this stellar show to his music project, Childish Gambino. Can’t wait to see him as Lando Calrissian in the Han Solo “Star Wars” prequel.
For now, a show needs to surprise, inspire, and feel like a warm bath to garner my attention. That is until the next “Breaking Bad” comes along. But Heisenbergs aren’t born every day.
Jenn Sutkowski still asks around about Teresa and Joe, Carole Radziwill and The Countess, Kyle and Kim, NeNe and Phaedra. Find her looking maybe too hard at another screen at jennsutkowski.com.
This Full Frontal column was first published in the Newport Mercury.
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
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