Thursday, September 8, 2011

Them Juicy Leaves Archive: High-Brow TV

This is the page where I will be posting random lists of things that I think are truly and undeniably awesome. I will update every month or six weeks or whenever I damn well feel like it.

This month's edition: High-Brow TV!

Do you think TV is super lame? Do you think it's all Simon Cowell and Charlie Sheen and "Celebrity" Apprentice and CSI: *insert city here*? Well I am here to prove you that TV is not lame, and that there are some quality, sophisticated shows out there you should consider watching. This is but a small selection of the best of the on and then go out and get caught up!

(As I pointed out in my leading post, I am by no means a TV snob, and I like a lot of unsophisticated stuff too...but today, I'm trying to win you over, so I present to you the shows that prove I am a classy-ass bitch.)

I should probably advise you that there is at least one NSFW picture in here. And now that I've really got your interest...

Mad Men

Why should you watch Mad Men? It is necessary to watch Mad Men if you want to get your TV Lovers Membership Card. Mad Men is pretty much the boss of television right now. And I'll tell you why: it's not because Mad Men has good actors, phenomenal writing, and a captivating plot, although it does have all those things. But also: suits. And martinis. And smoking, but not the shameful apologetic balcony smoking of today. It is pride smoking. Desk smoking. If you don't smoke like the characters on Mad Men, you're uncivilized and Don Draper will judge you from behind his cigarette and cocktail.

I do not understand your healthful ways.

[I have to add a side note. You should not watch Mad Men until you can properly understand and identify subversion. Mad Men is not reflecting wistfully on the "pre-politically-correct" days of the 60's. Some of you may be surprised to hear this, but the show is actually starkly commenting on those things, in a negative manner. Liking Mad Men does not justify treating women like shit, slapping your children around and/or using offensive gay or ethnic slurs. If you do not understand subversion, you are not allowed to watch Mad Men. Step away from the television set and consult your local bookstore for more information.]

The Walking Dead

If you think it seems odd to name a zombie show in a list of "high-brow" entertainment, then you are officially terrible and you haven't seen the Walking Dead.

There are several reasons that the Walking Dead is a great show. Many people will tell you that this is because it is about the humans, the survivors of the zombie infestation; it is not really a zombie show, but a post-apocalyptic drama. These people are, technically, correct. But come on - it's a tv show where zombies make regular appearances. And it has a very sexy main character, who often kills said zombies with guns or rocks or whatever else he has at his disposal. And if I need to tell you why hot guys killing zombies = awesome, then once again: this show is too good for you. Go watch American Idol.

(Warning: this teaser clip with a scene from Season 2 is epicly violent and possibly triggering.)


Dexter almost defies genre. There are three different ways I could describe it:

1) Dexter is a cop show! It's about a brother-and-sister crimefighting team, raised by a cop father, who work together with their friends in the police department to bring down the criminal network in Miami. The brother is an introverted genius with a secret talent and a dark outlook on life, and the sister is a foul-mouthed detective on a mission for justice. Each season, they're hunting after a new serial killer the likes of which Florida has never seen. CAN THEY DO IT?

2) Dexter is a family drama! It's a heartrending story about a brother and sister whose parents died young, leaving them alone together to navigate their relationships, careers, and adulthood in general. The sister is unlucky in love, moving from one relationship to the next and always chasing after Mr. Wrong; she dives full-tilt into her career to give her life meaning. The brother is a bit of a social outcast, trying to settle into family life, feeling as though nothing fits. Their friends at the police station face similar battles and together, they're just trying to find sense in this crazy world. WILL THEY EVER FIND LOVE?

3) Dexter is a show about a sociopathic vigilante serial killer who ties people down with saran wrap and torments them with photographs of people they've wronged, before chopping them up into pieces, dumping their bodies in the Atlantic, and storing their blood in slides in his air conditioner unit. HOLY MOTHERLOVING HELL.

Fun for the whole family!

Parks and Recreation

OK, so it's a network sitcom, unlike the other shows listed here. But it's a critically acclaimed sitcom and it has Amy Poehler. And I admit I discovered this one rather recently. I couldn't even name all the characters. But I fell pretty hard for this show. You will like this show if you like:

-things that are funny
-funny things that will make you laugh

I mean, it has Amy Poehler, Rob Lowe, Rashida Jones and Aziz Ansari all in one show. That should be enough. But if not, then seriously, just watch it and laugh, and then laugh again, and then you'll see.

It's more than just the lulz, though; in Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler has probably given us the most lovable protagonist on television right now. I mean, let's just to compare her to most of the other protagonists mentioned here: Don Draper is the ultimate anti-hero, Dexter Morgan is hardly cuddly, and most True Blood fans watch the show despite Sookie Stackhouse. The one possible exception, Rick Grimes, is definitely your true American workaday zombie-killing hero, and we do love him. But Leslie Knope? No person has ever been so singularly awesome, ever, in the history of awesomeness.


True Blood

I have been writing this piece for like a month now. One of the reasons it's taken me so long is because I have been thinking through all my favourite TV shows and trying to decide which ones count as "high brow." There are some shows I like that are definitely outside the high-brow arena: I like Glee, but I full-on concede that it is terribly written and horribly acted and how Matthew Morrison was nominated for an Emmy is something that will forever mystify me. The Office and How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory are all really funny and well-done, and even occasionally pretty smart, but I would be hesitant to call them "high brow" shows.

I have been back and forth over whether or not I should include True Blood in this list. Let's face it: True Blood is not Mad Men. True Blood is a show built on a foundation of gratuitous sex, fake southern accents and ridiculous supernatural creatures like fucking werepanthers. It has been cast exclusively by the Hot Twentysomethings Club and there isn't a person alive, male or female, gay or straight, supe or mortal, that doesn't even partly watch the show because they want to fuck at least one person in the cast. I'll give you a minute to enjoy those. (Suggestion: If you're not at work, turn off safe search and spend some quality True Blood Google Image alone time! YOU'RE WELCOME.)

True Blood does have its own brand of depth, though. The polical analogies threaded throughout the series are anything but subtle, but they're definitely interesting. This is Alan Ball, after all: the man that brought us Six Feet Under and American Beauty could hardly tell a story without including a gay rights struggle, even if that struggle is depicted metaphorically with loud-and-proud vampires and closeted werewolves. "God hates fangs"? "Coming out of the coffin"? Ha! Fans of quality punning should really find the time to watch True Blood.

So I am including it. Am I including it as high-brow just because it's on HBO and I feel as though it must therefore be artistically relevant? Maybe. Am I including it because we're coming up to the Season 4 finale and I'm totally psyched? Almost definitely. And that says a whole lot more about my perception of HBO and low attention span than it does about True Blood's quality programming, I guess. But if there's anything I like doing more than admiring Ryan Kwanten's abs, it is talking about Ryan Kwanten's abs, and blogging about True Blood gives me the chance to do both.

No, I don't have a fucking clue why he's wearing angel wings.

Please join me in being really, really happy that this picture exists. I don't know why, or how, or when it happened. But it happened, and that is enough. If the Internet breaks tomorrow, and no print copies of this picture exist anywhere, and the wings are burned up in a tragic photo studio fire, and Ryan Kwanten develops a severe paprazzi-induced phobia of cameras, leaving literally no chance that the picture could ever be taken again and is lost to the world forever - if all of this happens, just close your eyes and remember that this existed once. And happiness will be yours for even just a simple, fleeting moment - and you'll have True Blood to thank.

Archived Them Juicy Leaves editions:
Harry Potter

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