THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST SHOWS OF THE DIGITAL AGE
Illustration by Mariha Lowe
I spent most of the summer on my back. Okay, not literally, but I didn’t do much beside sleep all day, read a couple of books, work my shitastic summer job, and most importantly WATCHED ONE OF THE GREATEST TELEVISION SHOWS OF ALL TIME.
That’s right ladies and gentlemen I saw one of the greatest television shows of all time. What show is that you ask? Breaking Bad, my dear readers. Motherfucking Breaking Bad. Can I get a holy fuck? This show is fucking amazing and let me tell you why.
After a couple of years of listening to raves about the series from a friend and various praise across the interwebz, I finally worked up the strength to grab my remote, press the menu button, click the Netflix icon, and upload the “watch instantly” stream of Breaking Bad. For the record, just to point out to all you naysayers, starting a new television series is a huge investment, of both time and emotions, kind of like the beginning of a new friendship. Am I right? Okay whatever.
I started the first season and was a bit turned off by the opening scene of some ginger mustachio’d man wearing nothing but an apron, a gas mask, and tighty whiteys, driving a trailer at an erratic speed through the New Mexican desert. That was until he speaks into a handheld camera, leaving a message for his wife and son, “I just want you to know that no matter how it may look, I only had you in my heart.” I was forever intrigued.
As many may already know, or not know, Breaking Bad is a television series set in the U.S. meth capital, Albuquerque, New Mexico. High school teacher Walter White (played by the stupendous Bryan Cranston) is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and to provide for his family, teams up with an ex-high school student of his, Jesse Pinkman, to sell and manufacture crystal meth.
Later in the pilot episode, Walter’s life is depicted in a downright pathetic manner. Walter is shown to be an ineffectual chemistry teacher while also working a dead-end job at a local car wash for his asshole boss, just to make ends meet for his family. He is out to be the laughing stock of his family, mostly by his arrogant DEA agent brother-in-law Hank. The pilot is great in the sense that it creates a feeling of genuine pity for a man who is continually getting screwed over whilst just trying to provide for his family.
What I found to be the most captivating aspect about Breaking Bad is the continual transformation of Walter White and the struggle to see things from his point of view as he sheds his moral being and descends into the dark and corrupt world of drug dealing.
Walt’s degradation is captivating and intense. The various seasons string together Walt’s involvement with the local Albuquerque drug scene as well as the growth of Walt’s aggression as he struggles to cover up his lies from his family and cover up his tracks from the local DEA agents who are continually after him.
The two lead characters are wellrounded and the bounds of their partnership/friendship are continually put to the test as we see them engage in multiple relationships during the course of the series. The onset of his cancer begins to show that his relationship becomes strained with his wife, Skyler, and his son, Walt Jr.. Even the relationships of Jesse become strained with his younger brother, parents, and rehabilitating girlfriend. These characters are continually thrown into an inferno of stress and we see these characters continually reevaluate their stance on their situation and test the limits (for that matter, the viewer’s limits too).
Breaking Bad definitely serves as a television show for those of you who love well-written tv with equally amazing acting. The story lines are concise and there are no fucking plotholes. NO MAJOR PLOT HOLES! Every question you might be pondering will be answered such as, will Jesse ever come in contact with that one guy he gave crystal meth to in that one episode? YES HE WILL!
As you can tell, I am excited about this show. I’ve ranted and raved to all of my friends about it, gotten a few of them to watch it, and gotten a few of them to hate me for talking about it so damn much. Either way, there is no denying that this show is one of the most original television shows on air right now. The season is currently underway on its fifth and final season, which will be premiering in two separate parts. The second half is set to premiere next summer. Make the effort to watch this series; it’s worth your time.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
Currently my favorite show on TV is (wait for it) How I Met Your Mother, whose hour long season premiere starts at 8 p.m. on September 24th on CBS.
For the past seven years, millions of the shows hardcore fans have tuned in to watch the comedic adventures of Ted Mosby (Josh Randor), a New York City architect who goes through several failed relationships in order to find the girl he is destined to marry. Interestingly enough, the show is narrated by Ted’s future self (never seen and voiced by Bob Saget) as he tells his son and daughter the excruciatingly long story of how he met their mother (the kids have been sitting around for seven seasons worth of television hearing this story).
The show also explores Ted’s relationships with his four best friends: Marshall (Jason Segel), his roommate from college, Marshall’s wife Lily (Alyson Hannigan), overly confident serial womanizer Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), and Robin (Cobie Smulders), Barney’s on-again, off-again girlfriend and Ted’s ex-girlfriend who provides a crucial, yet undefined role in Ted meeting his future wife.
How I Met Your Mother is by far the most entertaining show on television. I have yet to watch an episode I did not enjoy, and despite being on for so long the series has not lost the fun and spontaneous creativity that made it special in the very beginning. I also like the show because of the mystery involved. While I now know what happens at the end of Harry Potter and how Anakin Skywalker goes to the dark side, How I Met Your Mother gives me the chance to be a huge fan of something with a big unanswered question.
But perhaps the biggest reason why I watch How I Met Your Mother is because I see myself as a real life Ted Mosby.
Like Ted, I feel like everyone is far ahead of me relationship wise. I am 24 years old and have never had a girlfriend. I used to think this meant that there was something wrong with me, but after watching How I Met Your Mother, I have learned that there is nothing wrong with being a late bloomer. Knowing that Ted will eventually meet his future wife gives me hope that someone special is right around the corner. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s someone who enjoys watching How I Met Your Mother as much as I do.
AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL
A fresh crop of college girls makes up the contestant pool for cycle 19 of America’s Next Top Model. Cycle 19 is almost a completely different type of show than we have grown to know and love, or hate, or love to hate.
First off, judges Nigel Barker, Jay Manuel, and Miss J. Alexander all got the axe. Yes, basically every familiar face is gone, except for Tyra and her five-head. Former boxer and model Rob Evans, public relations fashion maven Kelly Cutrone, and Katy Perry’s stylist Rob Evans replaced them. Oh, by the way, you, the viewer, are also in on this. A.N.T.M. catapulted into the digital age by including the viewers as a judge, since you can vote and comment on the Facebook page.
Even though the format, judging and main characters have changed this season, the ridiculous antics and drama from the girls in the house is as present as ever. In just two episodes, it is already obvious who will make for laughs and who needs to just get over themselves and leave the competition, because no one wants to see them and they can’t even produce good pictures.
Victoria Henley, self-proclaimed momma’s girl from Colquitt, GA, is one of those girls that will hopefully last far into the competition. In last Friday’s episode, she told the girls that she has never had sex or a boyfriend and never plans on having one because her mother provides her with the only relationship she could ever want or need. She broke down in tears during a phone call to her beloved mother, and the other girls in the house think, rightfully I might add, that she is completely crazy.
Next week’s episode should be just as exciting on Victoria’s part, since during the preview she said, “You bitch? No, I’m a bitch! No, I’m a real bitch!” Keep in mind that she’s a pasty white, skinny 18-year-old who has been homeschooled her entire life and is basically in love with her mom. It’s even funnier to watch, so if you missed the preview, watch next Friday’s episode.
Other notable highlights were Yvonne Powless’ nasty leg kick that the judges loved but was actually extremely trashy, Kiara Belen’s confrontation with Destiny Strudwick, when she accused her of looking like a hooker, and Jessie Rabideau’s elimination.
Poor Jessie. She was such a cute, nerdy USC student. It was sad to see her go, but as soon as she left the room after being eliminated, she was told that she is still a part of the competition. Also new this season, those eliminated will still participate in the photo shoots and fan votes will bring back one model later in the season to continue to compete for the title of “America’s Next Top Model.”
Jessie definitely has a chance of being that girl to return, since there is a lot of feedback regarding her and her generally loveable personality on the Facebook page.
PARKS AND RECREATION
School is back in session. Thursdays have suddenly become the new Fridays. Like the rest of my peers, I now take part in a college tradition, Thirsty Thursdays. However, before I had to commit to this lifestyle, I used to indulge in another Thursday tradition—NBC’s Must See TV lineup. As a kid, Friends and Will & Grace were my go-to television shows, but even before that, the NBC lineup included comedies like Seinfeld, Cheers, and The Cosby Show, which eventually went on to become classic sitcoms.
Now every statistic you’ll find will show that television views are declining in the age of Hulu and Netflix, but the fan bases of popular comedies like The Office and 30 Rock are still thriving, and better yet, still inspiring memes all over websites such as Tumblr and other various corners of the Internet. One of NBC’s more recent Thursday gems is Parks and Recreation, which will be airing its fifthh season this fall at 9:30 p.m.
What started out as a fun attempt to star SNL comedienne and improv goddess Amy Poehler in a mockumentary style television series has continued to uphold Thursday’s tradition, managing to get better with each season. Most critiques of the show have addressed the unoriginal similarities it has with The Office. After all, it is shot in a single-camera filming style, following the happenings of an overenthusiastic boss and a wide array of employees trying to survive the workday. Despite this, Parks and Recreation offers a more focused approach to each character’s personality development. In addition to that, it has the same silliness and quirky humor of 30 Rock, but viewers can watch it without having to be a complete TV/film/culture snob to understand most jokes written by various Harvard alumni.
I’ll be the first to say the first two seasons of Parks and Recreation are somewhat lukewarm, but with the addition of two sexy men, Rob Lowe (sleazy network exec in Wayne’s World) and Adam Scott (mean guy who sings Sweet Child O’ Mine with his weird family in Step Brothers) at the end of the second season, the series strengthened the overall story line highlighting themes of community, friendship, politics, romance, and waffles.
Set in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, Deputy Director Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) never fails to light up the screen with her sheer sweetness, positivity, and love for her career in local government. Knope’s work relationship and friendship with her boss Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) balances her perky personality, as his character calmly channels his Libertarian lifestyle, reverence of his outstanding mustache, and dedication to red meat and other manly things. The main characters of the show truly shine, but what has surprised me is how Parks and Recreation has managed to bring to light the talent and pure comedy of the minor characters, as well as the hilarity, which ensues between all the various characters.
For the most part, the relationships are crazed, yet endearing whether you’re watching, “sweet, beautiful Ann,” (Rashida Jones) needing to impress cynical and cruel April (Aubrey Plaza), or the interaction between Tom (Aziz Ansari) and Donna (Retta Sirleaf) during their “Treat Yo-self ” days, the play in which the characters poke fun at the various relationships we randomly gain in life, whether it be at work or school.
With the beauty of the internet, you can still participate in Thirsty Thursdays and catch up with your favorite television shows. Better yet, throw back a shot of Snake Juice, add Parks and Recreation to your Instant Queue, and enjoy what Thursday night has to offer.