Favorite TV shows formulate in your consciousness in a different way than favorite movies do. Favorite movies often stem from sometime in childhood, when you had ample time to watch and rewatch and when obsessions were encouraged. These are less likely to fade away from your favor because they’re so reminiscent of how you became who you are. These stay embedded in your mind, serving as an ever-faithful time capsule that triggers your brain to recite lines and reenact scenes like nobody’s business.
Favorite TV shows are liable to change over time, molding to fit the phase of life you’re in, and you may outgrow these more quickly. Such is the case for me with this list, and the favorite shows I decided upon only were mostly newer shows that feel particularly monumental to who I am and what I’m drawn to.
This is the most constant of my TV favorites. It hooked me from an early age, so it really blows my mind when I hear about people in their late teens and twenties watching it for the first time. I don’t watch it as often as I did then, but its take on friends-as-family, clever wordplay, and physical comedy is the ultimate recipe for comfort in my book. The Thanksgiving episodes remain a must-watch every year, and, yes, I’m a total Monica with underlying qualities of Chandler and Ross.
I’ve mentioned before that finishing Lost inspired me to pursue entertainment journalism, and as a gradual result, I was lucky to spend almost two years in a dream position in that field. It was the first series I watched that showed me the power of television storytelling and how the medium could be used to its full potential. I stick to the belief that it kicked off the flashback trend in TV dramas, and as seen with NBC’s Manifest, its mystical plot and ensemble cast are still inspiring the basic structure of so many shows.
3) The Middle
In addition to Everybody Loves Raymond, The Middle is the closest existing TV portrayal of my family. We watched this one from the beginning, and our real-life situations always closely mirrored what was happening on it at the time. Reruns provide a dose of nourishing nostalgia and, seeing as I once watched episodes on a international flight that was homeward bound, revisiting it will always feel like coming home.
The America’s Next Top Model binge fever has spread through my house, and now my sisters have recently rewatched Cycles 6 and 7, two classics that are just so fun. I’ve also just discovered the Jays Chat videos starring Jay Manuel and J. Alexander as they recap their memories of each cycle. So in conclusion, ANTM really is the perfect quarantine viewing.
I’m aware of her legendary status in the world of ’70s TV, but I’m of the age that only knows Marlo Thomas as Rachel’s mom on Friends. Still, after seeing this CBS Sunday Morning piece about her and her husband, I’m so interested in reading their book of interviews with long-lasting celebrity couples.
Similarly, the always handsome Tony Dokoupil charmed me with his package on working from home alongside his wife, MSNBC anchor Katy Tur (who wrote a fascinating memoir about covering Donald Trump’s presidential campaign for NBC News).
I recently took in Forget Paris, a ’90s rom-com that Billy Crystal produced, directed, co-wrote, and starred in. Its dialogue style is fairly similar to When Harry Met Sally, so it sounds exactly how Billy Crystal talks, which I love. He’s one of those New York celebrities who emulates home for me. In addition to just being a low-stakes, slice-of-life story, the movie’s packed with a fun cast, including a pre-West Wing John Spencer, a very dashing and dark-haired Joe Mantegna, the second mom from Air Bud, and Joey’s dad from Friends. Keep your ears open for the actress behind Marge Simpson to pop up!
The Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist finale was devastatingly beautiful. I’d already been feeling a little emotional (blame the general state of the world for that), but that episode and its final scene just about did it. But on a fluffier note, how swoony is Skylar Astin as Max? I don’t envy the network executives who have to figure out TV renewals right now, but I have my fingers crossed for a second season.
Al Roker’s pure-hearted Instagram page, which is already a blessing during ordinary times, but nowadays, I adore his cooking videos and the behind-the-scenes looks at the kitchen table set-up where he broadcasts.
The TODAY Show anchors in general. I was raised as a staunch TODAY loyalist. My mother and I talk about anchors’ major life events as if they’re neighbors’ doings, I had a VHS tape of Katie Couric’s Sesame Street episode, and I spent weekdays off in high school watching Kathie Lee and Hoda. Seeing the current team talk via their Brady Bunch isolation boxes (and occasionally crack, just like we do at home) is bittersweet, but everyone’s dedication to their jobs and delivering both the news and joy is very comforting.
TV became an art form to me as I watched Lost for the first time in my late teens. I obviously loved the medium beforehand, but I know that now because I’ve seen how much the heavily literary message of late ’90s and early 2000s PBS Kids programming influenced who I became. Lost taught me how television adapts ancient narrative devices, philosophies, and instincts into a masterful story, but in between crying about Desmond and Penny’s love and biting nails during Ben and Locke’s confrontations, it is not the show to utilize when you need to turn off your brain and seek healing from TV.
Blame the rom-com revival seemingly surging in response to the state of the world, but I appreciate a TV show that doubles as a gentle salve now more than ever. When it comes to my televisual education, I’ve yet to see Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and probably many other dramas known for their brooding leading men and dark realities. Maybe one day I’ll feel like cracking into those, but for now, I want the stories that simultaneously make you laugh and consider life’s cyclical pattern of generosity and good people getting one through a mess.
Luckily, I’ve found my classic, go-to balms and discovered shows that particularly brought me delight in recent months.
Friends, for being my sitcom standard, the show I can play in the background for an instinctive dose of familiarity if I’m feeling sick, stressed, or upset.
Dinner Date, for confirming that nothing is more captivating than watching a man cook for a date, whether or not he is doing it competently.
As I said in my last post about what I was watching on TV, the past year has seen me go through phases of not wanting to watch many shows outside of work. Maybe it’s because the big shows I usually cover, This Is Us and The Bachelor, are in between seasons now and new TV is winding down for the summer, but I’ve become way better in keeping up with my other shows and starting ones I’ve always meant to watch. So, while I’m more than ready for The Bachelorette to premiere and take over my Monday nights again, I’ve loved having the freedom to just watch whatever TV I’d like at night the past few weeks!
The past month has also brought me amazing work opportunities allowing me to watch new content, dust off my English major’s analyzing skills, interview interesting people, and produce features that I’m very proud of. Read on to hear more about these experiences and how they affected my recent TV viewing, plus thoughts on what shows I’ve been loving lately!
Okay, guys, I know I’m like two years late on this, but I was on the fence about starting Stranger Things for a long time. Sci-fi has never been my thing, so I was very skeptical about whether I’d enjoy the show. I finally figured that in the immediate lead-up to Season 3, I would inevitably have to work on Stranger Things content, and it sounded like the type of the show I’d rather not just rely on online summaries in order to write about. So, admittedly after discovering David Harbour and developing a bit of a crush, I caved, and now I’m about halfway through Season 1. I don’t love it so far, but I’m definitely invested and have enjoyed each episode. Also, the slimy, breathing substance in the Hawkins lab never ceases to remind me of “The Beast Below” episode of Doctor Who.
If you saw my post about which movie scenes always make me cry, then it’s no surprise to you that I cry over certain TV shows on a regular basis. It could be a character’s death, an emotional monologue or, in the case of the usual suspect Call the Midwife, a particularly devastating medical twist. I seem to be ridiculously sensitive to TV trauma, and because I’m such an emotional sop, I wanted to share 6 of the TV episodes that made me cry the hardest.
There are definitely spoilers ahead (mostly with a theme of dead characters), and I’ve reserved the most spoiler-y episodes for the last two slots on the list. If you’ve yet to finish the most recent season of This Is Us, watch out for No. 1 in the post. As for the rest of them…well, it’s been quite awhile since they aired!
I’ve read a lot of nonfiction lately, but the novels I have read have had characters who instantly match with a certain actor in my mind. I love thinking of actors whose looks or past roles just immediately link to characters in a book I’m reading. My “If These Books Were Movies” posts are some of my favorite to write, and I can never resist adding another blog to that archive!
If this is the first “dream cast” post of mine you’ve come across, check out the tag for the series here!
1) James Norton as Liam Finucane (The Jane Austen Project, by Kathleen A. Flynn)
“We are just vessels. The art is eternal.”
I was totally crushing on Henry Austen in this time travel story, and although I never fully got over him, Liam is quite the stoic charmer. He’s an actor-turned-academic, and as he and Rachel begin their mission in 1815 to find a lost Jane Austen manuscript, he’s quite unreadable. It’s not until the mission intensifies and the two grow closer while posing as siblings that their goal becomes a tad more far-fetched.
I snatched up this great-sounding topic from The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday subject list! That is my good-to source for inspiration when I’m stuck on what to write about, and this particular idea takes the concept of what authors I’d like to meet (which I wrote about ages ago) to the next level. I took “bookish” to mean writers of any kind, whether they’re journalists, authors or general creators. These are people who inspire me, create escapist worlds, and remind me that pursuing the written word in a career is far from being silly.
Here we go!
1) J.K. Rowling
I mean, duh.
2) Heidi Thomas
Not only is Heidi the creator and main writer of one of my favorite shows, Call the Midwife (and married to Stephen McGann / Dr. Turner, which I’m low-key jealous of), she’s also the mind behind the recent adaptations of Ballet Shoes, the musical Gigi, and the upcoming (in the U.S.) version of Little Women. Call the Midwife is such an underrated show, but it celebrates women, their strength, and good men who support them so well. I admire Heidi so much, and I love how she works with mostly female directors on the show. She also uses her platform to share so many unique birth stories and highlight reproductive and general health issues women faced in the mid-twentieth century.
I love getting to roll out the Christmas movies and specials every year. After seeing other bloggers’ end-of-the-year book surveys, I was inspired to create my own Christmas pop culture survey focused on the TV episodes, movies, and specials associated with this time of year. If you’re compelled to try out the survey on your own blog, please feel free to do so! I’d love to see your answers, so link back to this post so I’m in the know!
1) What is your favorite Christmas TV episode?
The most memorable one for me has always been Full House‘s “A Very Tanner Christmas,” which I basically grew up watching every year. Something about the holidays in the ’90s just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside, no matter how cheesy the episode is. Also, watching that clip, I’m reminded of one of my favorite sitcom tropes – where do all of the guests at main characters’ house parties comes from? Suddenly they all have great friends outside of the recurring cast? These are the little details that haunt me, guys.
In recent years, I’ve loved the Season 3 Christmas special of Call the Midwife (although all of its specials are just delicious) and, being another show that does great holiday episodes, The Middle‘s “Not So Silent Night” from two years ago. While it’s not distinctly a Christmas episode, How I Met Your Mother‘s “False Positive” also gets a special shout-out.