Wednesday, January 22, 2020

2010's TV: The Essay (According to Shawn) Part III

2010's TV

The Essay

Part Three

 My extravagant look back at 2010's TV continues. Part II is here and Part I is here

Chapter 6: Which revivals worked?
As much as the 2010's in television was a time of continued experimentation and defining what TV could really do, it also took some ques to what was happening in the movies. Whether we like it or not, it's clear that the 2010's was a decade of nostalgia and even television took time to revive several popular shows from yester-year to see if they could capture that lightning in a bottle again. More often than not, that didn't happen. I had very high hopes for The X-Files, but that was sadly a disappointing couple of seasons. 24 brought Jack Bauer back for one more mediocre season then tried to cash in on the name with a different character, which felt clumsy and awkward. Fuller House was nothing but a nostalgia rally. Heroes:Reborn came and went like a fart in the wind. Despite these few failings, some revivals ended up being more than they had any right to be.

I think my favorite thing that was on TV in all of the 2010's, was Twin Peaks: The Return. I was glad Showtime took a chance on David Lynch. Honestly, no matter what anybody says, that's what any studio does when they allow Lynch to work under them, they are taking a chance. David Lynch is one of the few artists working today whose work is completely unfiltered. Somehow is one of the few artists who has been allowed to be themselves every single time they go to create something. Much like...just about everything Lynch has ever made...Twin Peaks: The Return was weird and surreal and strange and still very much in the vein of the original show. Much like his other work, it depends on how much you invest personally on what type of experience you are going to have with it. I have to imagine hardcore "Twin Peaks" fans had a ball in the summer of 2017. Much like the final "Where's Anne?" line which ended season 2 back in the 90's, the scream heard around the world that ended The Return will probably be talked about and debated about for many, many years to come.

I don't know what inspired Netflix to make more seasons of Canada's Trailer Park Boys. Maybe it was because it became an unexpected hit through the service, but the other seasons ended up being just as funny as the older seasons of the show. Not to mention the spin-offs and the animated show that ended up on the service as well. I was also quite fond of Netflix's revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I haven't watched all of the episodes, but Patton Oswalt is amazing in it, and seeing all the robots again has been a treat. Even though it got cancelled after two seasons, it was still fun to bring this back even in a short while.

 Chapter 7: A Generous supply of Dramedy
I am always fond when anybody can take an idea that is generally treated as drama and are able to shake out a couple of laughs. That to me is impressive. I mean, think real life. You laugh at a funeral, and you will get shunned and dirty looked up and down faster than you can get up and run. But any time a show or a movie can you make you laugh in the middle of a taboo situation, that's something special. It really does teach us that even in the worst times, life is unexpected and we shouldn't take it so serious all the time. And the bad times, like all times, shall pass in time too.

HBO had two of my favorite "drameties" and I highly recommend both Divorce and Crashing. Divorce is...exactly what it sounds like. Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Hayden Church give the performances of their careers as a couple slowly coming apart. The show takes a humorous look at how a couple separating effects the children, how family friends are divied up, figuring out when its okay to date again, and really whose fault it is. Is it the dumper's fault or the dumpees fault? Or is it each person's fault? Looking at all of that and throwing in a humorous situation is genius. As is Crashing, about an inspiring comedian who finds out his girlfriend cheated on him and then decided to keep their place. With no place to live and still unsettled in his career, its a time in the life of this poor man where he has let fate take the wheel a bit. Now, its a show about comedians, so the show is naturally funny. But the situations also squeeze some comedy out of them as well, without ever overdoing it. Even though it only lasted for two season's HBO's Togetherness  had subtly funny look at couple friends and their lives together. 

Netflix's own Master of None also had some dramatic bits to it and wasn't all the way funny, although I guess it had more laughs than not, so I am actually not sure it counts. I guess I would call it a dramedy. The Kominsky Method is another addiction, with some of the best work by Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin

Possibly my favorite dramety was FX's Better Things. About a divorced mother who is constantly trying to keep her life together for her three daughters, while also living with her mom and doing everything she can to simply stay afloat. It's a show that is funny and inspiring and uplifting and even sad at some times. Pamela Aldon is to die for in this show. To. Die. For as are her three children and all the other actors who come by and say hello.

In speaking of FX...

Chapter 8: FX becomes my favorite channel
We've already talked about Archer and Legion we just got done talking about Better Things and while I loved all of those shows, it only really scratched the surface of what FX offered last decade. Whether you wanted to be thrilled, whether you wanted to watch something dramatic, whether you wanted to laugh at just about every style of comedy, FX was there for you. Not to mention that they had some very good access to a host of different types of movies. But since 2004 or so, they've been working hard to become a channel full of unique original programming. 

Do you like to laugh? Yeah? What type of humor do you like? Are you not in the mood for Archer or Better Things? That's fine. If you like raunchy comedy, you can look to It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. I am both shocked and pleasantly surprised that this show has been on the air since 2005. Much like with South Park, I am just blown away more than anything else that It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia hasn't been attacked by the Politically Correct mob. This is a deranged comedy about deranged people, and it doesn't care if you are offended by what it has to say or not. If that is a little too raunchy for you, maybe something like Baskets or The League would be more your style, both of whom are so full of humor. If you like offbeat humor, I hope you enjoy the two seasons of the blissfully weird Man Seeking Woman. Seriously, there is nothing else like it. Or you'll like the drull You're The Worst.

If you like police stories with a little bit more umph in their step, there is Justified an amazing mixture of action and drama. If you like gritty stories of cops and robbers, there is the anthology Fargo. Every single season has been absolutely amazing and it ended up being one of my very favorites of the decade. I may have said that I wasn't crazy about Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story but his other anthology American Crime Story has had two superb seasons, and I can't wait to see what's next. If you like your drama with a little political angst, there is The Americans. And I didn't even mention the mini-series Taboo.

Like I said the channel has been stacked.

Tomorrow, I'll return to discuss more comedy, some great shows that were cancelled after one season and some mini-series.

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