Our final days of classes are soon to be a distant and fuzzy memory, clouded by the sting of UV rays and the familiar scent of sunblock. Summer is fast-approaching, which means some much needed time to relax, decompress and question your life choices after yet another grueling semester. But who needs Vitamin D and sandy beaches when you have a recliner and a guide channel that’s saturated with some fantastic new shows? Here are a few of the upcoming series I am most excited for. You can bet your firstborns I’ll be holed up safely indoors for these summer premieres.
Nestled among the frozen plains of the snowy American landscape is a locale as foreign to some as it is familiar to my corn-growing, cheese-loving roots. The inhabitants of this region bundle themselves in fur hats and down parkas and express themselves with an abundance of “Oh ya”s and “You betcha”s. Their daily struggles range from whether or not to make meatloaf for dinner to how to best cover up a botched attempt at kidnapping your own wife for ransom. This is the Midwest, or at least the Midwest envisioned by a pair of goofball filmmakers known informally to us as the Coen brothers. Yah der hey.
It’s been over four years since the inception of one of premium cable’s most celebrated series—HBO’s "Game of Thrones,”—and I must admit that until a few weeks ago I couldn’t have cared less. It’s not that I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it—I take pleasure in nerding out to medieval fantasy dramas as much as the rest of you—but at the time I had my nose in other pastures. Long story short, I had already been watching far too much TV and I just wasn’t ready for the commitment.
Let’s talk about Alfred Hitchcock—master of suspense and arguably categorized among some of the greatest American filmmakers of all time. One of his most acclaimed thrillers, as well as one of my personal favorites, was the 1960 American classic, “Psycho.” Some critics called it the most terrifying film ever made. It was not only groundbreaking stylistically but ideologically as well. Having wanted it to retain the look and feel of a cheap exploitation flick, “Psycho” featured sexually explicit content and brutal violence that was largely frowned upon by studio censors—it had a shower scene before the shower scene was a thing. Whether or not you agree, cinephiles of the last fifty years continue to applaud him as a pioneer in the industry for his precise pacing and ability to subvert our expectations through meticulous plot construction, impressive camerawork and clever editing, among other things.
I’m sure you all have your guilty pleasures—those delightful bits of enjoyment you try to eradicate from your search histories in attempts to salvage your credibility—and I am no exception. Whether you enjoy the occasional supernatural romance or find some sort of bizarre pleasure in watching bourgeois housewives pull each others’ hair, these underrated—or maybe properly rated—TV trifles are both the joy and the bane of our existence. Here are some of my current favorite guilty pleasures. I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me.
Our parents will invariably tell us that they love their children equally, but we’re old enough to know it’s a big fat lie. There’s always one child in the family who seems to glow with a golden aura of promise and success—he earns good grades, says his please and thank you’s and controls his peers with the bat of an eyelash. Meanwhile, the other kid is off doing God knows what and getting into all sorts of trouble in a desperate attempt to garner any form of residual attention. I tend to think of traditional broadcast television as the latter of the two, and I feel incredibly guilty treating it as something of an ugly stepchild while I continue to be charmed by the allure of its cable counterpart. It’s time to see what the little rascal has been up to during those many months of neglect.
A few weeks ago, I raved about HBO’s newest crime drama, “True Detective,” and warned you all about its irrevocable tendency to drive a previously sane person down a path of complete and utter madness—in the best way possible, of course. After deconstructing its myriad interconnected parts and scouring for what I believed—what we all believed at the time—to be “clues,” I settled on three predictions for how the season would culminate, one of which turned out to be true. Well, half true. Nevertheless, I consider myself victorious.
It was the dead of night. I found myself cowering beneath a canopy of blankets in the center of a dark room, illuminated only by the flickers of a television set that served to feed my growing paranoia. I was alone; or was I?
Last summer, I holed up in an air-conditioned room and didn’t resurface until I had binged the entire first season of "House of Cards," Netflix’s first successful stab at original programming. The opening scene is still as vivid in my mind today as it was those many months ago—we hear a dog get hit by a car offscreen and an impeccably dressed Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) arrives at the pitiful scene. While wrapping his bare hands around the neck of the whimpering dog, he looks directly at the camera and delivers the first of many monologues in a quaint, southern accent. He squeezes until its cries become faint and, after a few seconds, they cease altogether. We get the sense that Frank Underwood is the epitome of a ruthless pragmatist and a perfect spokesperson for the political underworld.
It was a night like any other. I wrapped myself in a blanket burrito, took to the television and traversed the channels until I happened upon HBO’s latest endeavor—an eight-episode collection called "True Detective." Its menacing black claws had me ensnared by the end of the first episode and with each passing week, they dig deeper and deeper into my psyche. If I could go back in time, maybe I wouldn’t have chosen this path—alas, there is no turning back.