In a not-quite-timely seasonal episode, we talk about our favorite Christmas specials and Andrew and Margaret get into a fight about fictional snowmen. Andrew speaks up for the Rankin and Bass classics, and Kathryn hearkens back to a lost Angela Lansbury treasure.
For our final installment of the Cranford TV Book Club, things with Dr Hotbutt get quite complicated, and we talk about the importance of muslin with a fine, close weave.
As this truly questionable year winds down, the crew talks about the TV shows that they missed the first time around that they’d like to sit down and catch up on during the holiday break.
Then, we talk about some quotes from the head of ABC’s entertainment division. Art so often reflects the age it’s made in, and as we go forward we’ll see TV respond to the reality of Donald Trump’s election in both potentially good and potentially disappointing ways.
This week we kick things off with a discussion of the TBS show Search Party and how great it is and how everyone should watch it.
We then move on to the second part in our TV Book Club on Cranford, covering episodes 2 and 3. Cow pajamas and Loch Lomond sing-a-longs are involved.
This week, we'll lead you into an all-out, no-holds-barred discussion of Netflix's Gilmore Girls revival. Will you follow? Anywhere that we tell you to?
The short version is that Rory is a monster, Lorelai is Lorelai, and Kelly Bishop is a national treasure.
For the first segment this week, we look at two recent depictions of abortion on television on Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Although we think they're both important, we talk about the differences in those stories and the few things we wish one show had done differently. As a part of this conversation, we touch on why it's so vital for TV to tell these kinds of stories, and we also discover that Margaret's not entirely sure about the pronunciation of the word "gallant."
Our second segment is the kick-off for our newest TV Book Club - the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford. Margaret and Kathryn are already way in the tank for this show, but we do our best to restrain ourselves in the discussion of the miniseries' first episode. Andrew still has some reservations, which he expresses partly through fanfiction.
In light of our feelings about the 2016 US presidential election, we work through some of our feelings and have a conversation about how notionally “frivolous” TV and TV criticism are still important, and how they will continue to be important going forward.
Then, we go into some comfort TV shows that you can use to make yourself feel just a little better if you’re feeling as bad as we are. And also: dick jokes??!
As a break between TV book clubs, we turn to a broader topic this week - houses and apartments on TV. We kick things off with a TV vs TV debate between Andrew and Kathryn over the best, most memorable TV house. As per usual, Margaret is forced to make a somewhat arbitrary but ultimately binding decision. There are no take-backs in TV vs TV court.
After the debate, we turn to a bigger discussion of the role of houses on TV. What makes a good one? What makes a TV home distracting? Which is better, Joey and Chandler's apartment, or Monica and Rachel's? Is there a difference between three-cam sitcom houses, and single-cam ones? What about dramas versus comedies?
This week we kick things off by making three of the next great TV shows using a fun tool of the same name from The Ringer. Then, we wrap up our TV Book Club segment on Veep, something that seemed a lot more fun before we had to confront our present political reality.
Speaking of that, this episode was recorded in mid-October when this devastating loss seemed all but impossible. We make jokes to that effect toward the end of the show. They’re hard to listen to now, but we’re leaving them in on the off chance that it helps any of you remember what it was like to feel normal.
For the final installment of our fall Good TV/Bad TV series, we first look at the British show Fleabag, which is now available for streaming on Amazon. Andrew and Margaret have seen all of the short series, and discuss its unusual protagonist, the show's uncanny ability to find emotional depth in minor characters, and the pleasure of identifying yourself inside deeply unappealing characters.
We then turn to different but even less appealing characters for Kathryn's Bad TV selection, the ostensibly real people of Ben and Lauren: Happily Ever After?. Unfortunately for Andrew, Kathryn and Margaret are too delighted with how terrible this show is to truly commiserate with his misery at being forced to watch it. Still, everyone agrees that it is remarkably terrible television.
This week we open with a chat about the first couple episodes of ABC’s Speechless, a zany family sitcom in which one family member has cerebral palsy. It’s satisfyingly progressive and fresh in a lot of ways (and it’s oddly regressive in a couple of others).
We then move on to the next batch of Veep episodes - our appetite for lusty cussing is as healthy as ever, don’t even worry about it, but it’s not like the show is COMPLETELY perfect.
We return to our fall Good TV/Bad TV series, this week with a look at the not-quite-a-24-reboot Designated Survivor and the not-quite-a-functional-TV-show, CBS's new MacGyver reboot. We talk about Designated Survivor's useful role as a silly security romp, its Obama-era politics, and the importance of acting with and without glasses. We then talk about the pilot Andrew's chosen to inflict on us all, the first episode of the new MacGyver. Spoiler: we are not fans.
We're all about politics this week, both real and fictional. After some chatter about televised debates, we talk about some of our favorite totally-political-but-not-about-politics TV shows. Then, we kick off our newest TV Book Club segment on the first two episodes of the first season of HBO's Veep.
In our continuing coverage of new TV series for fall 2016, we take a closer look at one promising new series, and begin our tour of the three terrible shows that we've selected to force each other to watch. For our promising show, we talk about the first few episodes of NBC's new comedy The Good Place. We take apart the things we like, the things we'd like to see improve, and speculate about the kinds of obstacles The Good Place might face in the future.
Our first Bad TV Choice was selected by Margaret, who's elected to force Kathryn and Andrew to watch the pilot of a new CBS legal procedural, Bull. As anticipated, it is terrible. Much yelling ensues.
This week we take a dive into Donald Glover's Atlanta, a show which is currently running its first season on FX. It's the latest in a vein of odd-yet-deeply-personal comedies, very much in the vein of Louie and Master of None (and you can also see hints of it in shows like FX's Better Things, a Pamela Adlon-Louis CK joint).
From there, we move into fall TV shows that we're excited about—there are some returning champions and some fresh faces. And then each of us picks a pretty-bad-looking fall TV show that we'll be making the others watch and discuss in the coming weeks.
We tackle some tough issues in this week's episode, beginning with a deep mourning for the loss of Mel and Sue from the Great British Bake-Off. We talk about what they mean to that series, the larger upset at the BBC generally, and how tragic it will be if the Bake-Off takes a sharp turn towards the commercial.
Our second segment is in response to a note from a listener, who wrote in to ask about a portion of our live show episode. It's a tricky and important question, and we take some time to try to unpack our relationship with shows like The Bachelor, our "liberal art hazmat suits," and some of the many ways TV inflects issues of class and audience. Kathryn gets a little too mired in current politics, Margaret has a metaphor about buggy whips, and Andrew longs for an alternate universe where rather than the Bachelor, we were all members of a Joe Millionaire Nation.
This week it's all about kids, starting with the TV kids who make us roll the eyes and go "ugh, TV kids" the most.
Then we wrap up our Stranger Things edition of TV Book Club, talking about everything we liked and a handful of things we wish had been handled differently. Here's looking forward to season two!
Our friend Kate Racculia joins us this week to talk about why teens and kids are such good detectives, and to weigh in on all things Stranger. We talk about Veronica Mars, Scooby Doo, and Nancy Drew, and we try desperately to stop Andrew from reading Inspector Gadget fanfic out lout. In the third installment of Stranger Things TV Book Club, we go deep on representation in fiction and The Cult of Barb. Margaret admits her love for Hopper, we all swear unending fealty to Dustin, and Kate helps us keep our Curiosity Doors open.
The underwater episode of BoJack Horseman prompts our opening discussion this week, but you'll want to STAY TUNED because AFTERWARD we talk about TV theme songs so much that you'll never want to hear another TV theme song again! Or maybe you will, because TV theme songs are wonderful.
For our first segment, we start out with the intention of discussing the currently airing season of Great British Bake-Off as a follow-up to our previous TV Book Club. We do that, but we also stray through several other topics, including Kathryn's TV hookup and Margaret's TV crushes.
Our second segment is the second installment in the Stranger Things TV Book Club, covering episodes 2-5. While we do eventually get to some deeper discussions about the show's influences, its depiction of gender, and the role of Eleven, we have to dig through some conversational quarries to get there.
On tap for this week: Thorough examination and praise of the boozy antics on ABC's Alec Baldwin-hosted Match Game reboot. Then, a discussion of Auteur TV based on the alleged behind-the-camera turmoil at Netflix's Baz Luhrmann-helmed The Get Down. Also, Margaret is just tipsy enough for it to be funny.
For our first segment this week, we pick apart the new teaser for the Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls. Topics include: Amy Schumer's celebrity timeliness, nostalgia, smartphones, teaser editing, and corpse flowers. The bulk of our episode, though, is a look at the first episode of Netflix's Stranger Things, our newest selection for TV Book Club. We talk about its movie influences, its popcorniness, the celebrity persona of Winona Ryder, and Dungeons and Dragons. There is also a moment when Margaret and Kathryn sing Toto, and we'd like to apologize for that.
This week is all about our favorite reality show hobby horse, The Bachelor/ette franchise. This is Andrew's first season watching, and the gang talks about the way their Rose Buddies-inspired fantasy league has affected their viewing.
Then we fire up the ol' TV vs TV cannon to settle that age-old debate: which is actually a better show, The Bachelor or The Bachelorette?
After a bumper crop of responses to our segment on animated TV shows, we talk about some of the comments we received. We highlight a few listener suggestions for other animated shows to check out.
Our big segment this week is a spoiler-filled discussion of Orange is the New Black's fourth season. We talk about some of the controversies surrounding the last handful of episodes, about the difficulty of negotiating OITNB's interest in the Black Lives Matter movement, about TV's troublesome Bury Your Gays trope, and about whether we think the season works as a whole. To no one's surprise, Piper is still a huge bummer.
Nielsen ratings—the things we use to determine how many people watched a given TV show, not reviews of TV shows by families named Nielsen—are still widely used and Netflix just gave us a rare peek at its ratings for the season four premiere of Orange is the New Black, but how useful are they, really?
Then, using OITNB as a springboard, the gang talks about how characters on TV (and TV shows themselves) use references to movies, music, books, and other TV shows. When is it useful character development? When is it lazy writing? When is it just played for laughs? And what current TV shows would your favorite Star Trek characters be REALLY into?