As a writer, I consider watching quality (and sometimes not-so-quality) television as part of my job. Yes, I do it for fun, too, but great television shows can also fill the creative well and offer a lot of inspiration. That’s why I’m glad I live in the time of streaming TV. I love being able to focus on just a handful of shows and watch them in close enough succession to see the story and character arcs in all their glory.
However, sometimes I don’t know which show to pick. There are so many now! In fact, one of these shows was selected for me by my reader group The Fearless Romantics when I went to them for suggestions. (And they were totally spot on!) So in case you suffer from the same affliction, I’m sharing some of the ones I’ve been loving lately and who I think they’d be a good fit for.
If you’re like me and missed the Buffy the Vampire Slayer phenomenon…
This was the show that my reader group overwhelmingly voted to be my next binge watch. Now, I obviously was aware of the show and had probably seen a few episodes randomly here and there back in the day. But season 1 premiered in March of 1997. That was two months before I graduated high school. I had so much going on during that time that I wasn’t in a place to pick up new TV shows. So I missed the train.
However, I’m so glad that I’m no longer out of that loop. I started watching season one in October 2018 and got through all 144 episodes this past Wednesday. That is a LOT of episodes, y’all, especially considering I only watched TV at night because I was drafting a book at the same time. But once I started, I couldn’t stop. The characters, the humor, the horror, and romance were all like TV crack to me. I should’ve known. I’ve always appreciated a good vampire story. I loved the True Blood series and the first few seasons of The Vampire Diaries (I still have seasons to catch up with on that one.) But I didn’t expect to get through these that quickly and to grow so attached.
That’s why I got enormously excited this week when I was browsing in a Barnes and Noble and randomly spotted the new Kiersten White book Slayer, which just came out and takes place in the Buffy universe. That came home with me.
So most of you are probably like, wow, how have you never watched this before? But if you’re like me and missed it, it’s a good one to dive into if you like supernatural shows. Some seasons are stronger than others, and don’t judge it by the first short season. I don’t think Joss Whedon took more control until the very end of season one. Things picked up after that.
My favorite seasons were seasons 2 and 3. I really loved season 6, too, until late in the season when they had a scene with my favorite character, Spike, acting in a way that didn’t make since for his character or the story arc. That pissed me off. I still loved the season, but that put a damper on it. The last season was just meh for me but still worth watching.
I’m now moving onto Angel, the spinoff, which has five seasons for me to enjoy. :)
Where to stream: Hulu
If you’re into snarky serial killers who think they’re in their own rom com movie…
The show YOU is based on a book of the same name by Caroline Kepnes, and I’m not sure how I first heard about it, but I’m glad I found it. Joe is a bookstore owner and seems to outsiders like an every day nice guy. He could be the Tom Hanks character in a rom com. That is, until you hear his inner thoughts, which are done voiceover style in the show, and he starts stalking a woman he’s interested in. Joe is a sociopath, but the beauty of this show/book is that he’s so snarky and smug (and kind to children), that he’s oddly likable. The female lead, on the other hand, isn’t all that likable so you kind of understand why Joe has issues with some of her actions. (Not that it justifies his behavior of course, lol.)
The show can be over the top and don’t watch with your kids nearby because it’s explicit, but it’s a compelling ride with a lot of tension and dark humor. I found that the middle of the season slowed a bit because it ventured a little too far into the over the top territory, but it picked up again toward the end. There will be a second season, but until then, I’ve picked up book 2 on audiobook.
Where to stream: I started watching YOU when it was streaming on Lifetime, but it has recently moved to Netflix, so it’s easy to access.
If you’re into edgy and smart yet endearing shows about the messiness of being a teenager…
Sex Education is a new show that just premiered on Netflix last week. I’ve already watched 6 of the 8 episode season if that tells you anything about how much I’m enjoying it. This is considered a “dramedy” and I’d say that’s an apt description but leans more to comedy. I’ve laughed out loud a lot for this one. It follows Otis, a teen whose mother is a sex therapist (played by Gillian Anderson.) He pairs up with the edgy outcast girl at his high school and they start charging other teens for sex therapy. Otis is awkward and adorable and earnest. You can’t help but be endeared. And his best friend and the female lead are equally as compelling. This kind of feels like if John Hughes movies had been explicit. It has that nostalgic quality, too, even though it’s set in present day. The show captures the awkwardness of being a teen full of hormones, insecurity, and angst. Warning: this show is explicit with nudity, sex, and language. Also, it’s British, so the accents can be a little bit of a challenge. My American ear needs to put on subtitles for this one to help. But I love this show and hope that it continues for many more seasons.
Where to stream: Netflix
If you need something that the whole family can enjoy…
My son and I always pick one or two sitcoms to watch together. It’s our thing. We started with The Goldbergs about two years ago, and when we caught up, we needed another one to binge together. It’s surprisingly hard to find sitcoms that are appropriate for an 11-year old and are also not “kid” shows that I won’t be into. The Middle has been the perfect choice post-Goldbergs. I missed this show during it’s regular run, but kidlet and I have been working our way through the seasons over the past year and we’ve reached the final season. We’re still in the beginning of season 9, but already I’m feeling sad that we’re getting to the end. This show has stayed consistently good through nine seasons, and you really do grow attached to the family. So if you’re looking for something the whole family can enjoy, this is a funny and heartwarming show that hits the spot.
Where to stream: Unfortunately this one isn’t on any subscription streaming service, though I think you can get some on ABC’s website.. You can set up to record reruns which I believe play on Freeform. But we ended up buying most of the seasons on Amazon. For some reason, Amazon didn’t have the last season so we had to buy it on VUDU.
So, that’s what I’m watching. What have you watched lately that you’d recommend? Anyone else watching any of the above?