Well, I didn't.
Let's just get this out of the way upfront: I am not going to suggest you watch Mad Men (overrated, though I still follow it) or any show I haven't ever actually watched (I know that The Wire and Veep and The Good Wife are all supposedly amazing, but I just haven't gotten into them yet, and unlike the famous books I pretend I've read,* I'm not going to fake it on the TV front.)
All these recommendations have been thoroughly vetted by me.
Funniest (and possibly filthiest) TV show you could watch: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
If you haven't watched It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia yet, it's possible you never will. I mean, how many people have to tell you it's the funniest show on TV (sorry, Parks and Rec--you run a tight second) before you believe?
My personal favorite episode is "Who Pooped The Bed?" though I admit the rampant poop-jokes may be a turn-off to first time viewers.
Therefore, if you want to get into It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia but don't know where to start, may I recommend "The D.E.N.N.I.S. System" of Season 5?
My favorite running gag in It's Always Sunny is the subtle references to the fact that Dennis is a sociopath (and possibly a serial killer). You wouldn't think that could be funny ("Dennis, why do you have plastic zip ties in your trunk?") BUT IT IS. Ninety-percent of the time, Dennis just walks around the episodes like a shallow, selfish person (which is funny), but then on rare occasion, he pulls back the curtain on the darkness in his psyche (WHICH KILLS ME.)
So "The D.E.N.N.I.S. System." Dennis is the most traditionally handsome of the characters on It's Always Sunny, and generally has the easiest time getting women. In this episode, he finally reveals his foolproof method for getting women to fall for him:
Demonstrate Value - do nice things for the targeted girl
Engage Physically - self-explanatory
Nurture Dependence - put her in dangerous or scary circumstances, so she begins to rely on the person utilizing the D.E.N.N.I.S. system for emotional support
Neglect Emotionally - after getting the girl to rely on him for comfort, withdraw inexplicably, causing psychological distress
Inspire Hope - reappear in her life, claiming, "I was just so scared to love you!" Once she's taken him back ...
See what I mean? That's horrible! But so funny, because it's just so true. Let's be honest, aside from "separate entirely," how often is that EXACTLY how a romance novel plays out?
Funniest show on TV. Hands down.
Honorable mention: Broad City. It's only on Season 1, so I feel like it's too early to tell whether this show will be consistently great or flame out gloriously like Party Down.
Creepiest, prettiest show on TV: Hannibal
Confession 1: I do not know how NBC puts this on television without getting fined by the F.C.C. It is that gross.
Confession 2: I was obsessed with the Thomas Hardy novels as a kid. I wanted to join the FBI SO BAD. I have a disturbingly accurate memory of how all the Hannibal Lecter books go. This may have something to do with the fact that I am obsessed with Hannibal now.
Here's the short version for anyone who isn't super familiar with Hannibal Lecter's storyline:
In the very first Hannibal book (Red Dragon), Hannibal has already been caught for his crimes as the Chesapeake Ripper. Red Dragon explains how the FBI's Will Graham caught Hannibal in flashbacks, including the fact that Will had gone to Hannibal on several occasions to ask for help catching serial killers. (Now does it make sense why Jack Crawford sends Clarisse Starling to go chat with Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs, a fact that never really clicked for me until I read the books? Hannibal isn't just a serial killer -- he has a long, personal history with the FBI, including Jack Crawford, the person who sends Clarisse in.) (Yes, I saw Silence of the Lambs as a kid. No, my parents didn't know.)
Hannibal the TV show focuses on the timeline before Red Dragon: the years and months before Hannibal is revealed to be a serial killer himself, in which everyone thinks Hannibal is a pretty cool dude and Will Graham and Jack Crawford and Hannibal are buddies who eat dinner together on the reg (shudder). The creep factor comes in because OBVIOUSLY the entire audience knows what every character does not, and from wondering when characters will begin to see the cracks in Hannibal's story.
Bonus points for having a borderline-autistic main character (Will Graham), having some really lovely scenes (not kidding you about the prettiest TV show currently on air), and never having a wasted episode.
All TV shows should last about 13 episodes a season, in my opinion.
Best show to geek out about: Game of Thrones (duh)
If you haven't gotten into Game of Thrones by now, or read the books, I'm not sure what I could say (other than this and this or just this quote from Parks and Recreation:
- Donna: What is wrong with you today? Did they cancel Game of Thrones?
- Ben: Nothing is wrong, just do your job. And they would never cancel Game of Thrones. It's a crossover hit. It's not just for fantasy enthusiasts, they're telling human stories in a fantasy world.)
So that's it, my 3 top recommendations for TV-watchin' as we enter the summer hiatus. I realize none of them are family-friendly, so if I ever find something kiddo-appropriate, I will be sure to let you know, dear readers.
* Moby Dick, Tess of the Dubervilles, Ethan Frome, Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Hobbit, The Fountainhead, 1984, The Bell Jar, and Ulysses, among many others.
Sorry, teachers of the past. I was really good at faking stuff and I see no reason to stop now. I got a 5 on my AP test anyway!
** I know, I know, the most shameful thing to be is a "writer" who doesn't read. But I do read! I read contemporary and classics and pulpy trash just like everyone else, but the fact is, some things are just not my jam. Yes, I always intended to read some of those books, but I'm 30 now, and it's time to just admit I will never -- NEVER -- really read Tess of the Dubervilles.