Saturday, May 16, 2015

Five Fandom Friday (on Saturday): 5 Binge-Worthy TV Shows

Image courtesy Takkk
I have a love-hate relationship with television. As in: I hate 90% of it, but then there is a 10% that I am absolutely obsessed with.

The dawn of the web and cheap broadband connections and affordable video technology is going to do a lot to change the face of what we used to call "television." One day there is going to be an independent web series—not something still semi-corporate like House of Cards or Orange is the New Black, but something that's just a bunch of artists without much money doing what they love—that absolutely blows. up. That will change entertainment forever, and (I think) for the better. I look forward to that day.

Still, that doesn't change the fact that there is that 10% of corporate/mainstream/whatever television that I not only like but feel compelled to watch in marathon sessions.

Confession: when I do these 5 Fandom Friday posts, I always feel conflicted about whether I should count "up" or "down" (that is, should I start with my top choice or leave it for last?). Usually I count "up" and start with my top choice, but I don't know, that seems like bad blog practice. So I'm switching it up a bit today.

#5. Other Space

So this one is cheating a bit, since it's new to Yahoo! Screen and has only one season so far, but whatever. I think it's great. I'm hoping it continues into season 2 and beyond, because I think the writers have a lot of potential to work with!

#4. Elementary

Once upon a time, I really liked Sherlock. Then the writing went down the toilet, Moffat showed his ass as an all-around douchecanoe with a heaping helping of misogyny to boot, and I said, "No." Fortunately Elementary was there to fill the void. It's impossible for me to watch anything less than like three episodes at a go. 

Of course, I say that as if Elementary is a knock-off of Sherlock and it isn't, it just had the bad luck to not be the first to air. 

Imagine the original ACD stories as your favorite band. If Sherlock is something like a really good/cross-genre cover band, then Elementary is like a brand new original band made up of musicians who have the same favorite that you do. If you want the exact same songs, maybe updated or fancied up somehow, then Sherlock is your bag. If you want new material, with maybe a riff or a cover thrown in once in a while, then Elementary is what you're after.

#3. The Queen's Classroom

Okay, so even though I am perpetually faux homesick (faumesick?) for South Korea and loved my time teaching there, I never got into the whole K-drama scene. Unless you're big into American soap operas, K-dramas are just way too melodramatic to take seriously. Either that, or they're marketing gimmicks to push some new idols the record labels are hoping will be The Next Big Thing.

The Queen's Classroom is a rare exception. It came out after I had left Korea so I had to wait for it to be uploaded on sites like Drama Addiction and so on, and it was torture. TORTURE. Such cliffhanger endings and plot twists and just ugh. So many gut punches. If you want to watch it (and you should), you really need to watch it in one huge binge otherwise you won't be able to deal. Trust me on this one.

I'm not sure if it was a side effect of having to read subtitles instead of just watching and listening, but the kid actors were actually good actors. It was also refreshing to see a show with characters who all looked human and different, instead of characters who have all undergone the same cosmetic surgery procedures to look more like an incredibly bland beauty ideal.

Of course, the Korean show is an adaptation of a Japanese show. The story is basically the same, so if you'd rather practice your Japanese, that version works just as well.

#2. Community

Image courtesy Keith McDuffee
Oh, the little Internet cult favorite that could! I disagree with most of the rest of fandom (and, I guess, the actors, too) who loathe season 4. I love just about every episode. I love the wide range of interesting characters. I like the show's dedication to reusing secondary/side characters as often as possible: Leonard, Garrett, (Fat) Neil, Vicky, Starburns, Annie Kim. I love (most of) the writing. The show is damn near perfect (and might be the Internet series that changes television? we'll see!). I don't think I've ever not laughed in an episode. Sometimes, when I'm feeling down, a marathon of my favorite Community episodes is the best thing to pick me up.

#1. Mystery Science Theater 3000

I didn't know this book existed until today, but now I need it more than anything.

I spent my childhood growing up on cartoons and PBS and other things that, while I liked them, weren't an obsession. This all changed when my brother told me about a show he had seen on the SciFi channel. I must have been 11  at the time, and my brother 8, so it's a credit to his brains that he 1) was interested in the show at all and 2) thought it was hilarious. I don't remember how I found it after that—my brother's description and explanation of the joke was not the funniest-sounding thing and I was skeptical—but I remember that my first episode was Prince of Space and that I thought it was amazing. From that moment on, I was hooked.

That summer Saturday morning basically changed the course of the rest of my life. That story is worth a post on its own, so I'll refrain from going into details here, but more than any other show on this list, MST3K is my show. That's why it's #1. And yes, even though each episode is 90 minutes long, I have been known to have marathon sessions.

What are your binge-worthy watches?


  1. I've been wanting to start Community! I wish I had realized this was the Friday topic sooner, it's such an easy one for me! Maybe I'll write one anyway, hahah.

    1. It's a free Internet! I still have to do fictional moms. That's a topic I like, too, but I didn't have time to write it this week.


  2. I love Elementary. Jonny Lee Miller does a fantastic job as Sherlock!

    1. You know, I forgot he was Zero Cool in Hackers? (God, remember Hackers?) He was part of my childhood nostalgia and I never even realized until I creeped on his Wikipedia.

    2. Hackers!! - so old school. Loved that movie. I've just started watching Elementary. I feel like I'm cheating on Sherlock though

    3. "28.8 kpbs modem? I want it to have my babies!!" That line still slays me, every time.

      Sherlock and Elementary are two different beasts and trying to accomplish two different things, IMO. I say it's not cheating. It's just....sampling from the buffet?