While reality television has taken over the scripted world, it also has this (god-given) magical effect of completely disgusting you to the point of no return for weeks… Well, for me at least. And while I’m currently going through this no-reality-tv-for-me-ever-again-in-my-life phase, I’m actually beginning to accept the idea as a norm. Particularly from a writer’s stance, the scripts for plotted shows are ten times better than the scripts for reality shows. Yes, I said: the scripts for reality shows. At this point, you have to decide if you enjoy watching the rehearsed bickering and fighting of people who make fifty times more money than you for being fifty times as annoying, or a series of cleverly executed scenes with beautiful actors in tip-to-toe make-up as charming/loathing characters to perfection. I choose the latter. And I think you should give it a try, too, if you haven’t recently.
Here are my top three nights that I used to battle the remote between the two, and why my now favorite shows won the last call. Also, a few alternatives for each night, in case my taste doesn’t tickle your fancy. (But why wouldn’t it?)
TURN FROM: KHLOE & LAMAR/ HOUSEWIVES OF NJ / SHAHS OF SUNSET /
SAY HELLO TO: GIRLS
“Girls” is the latest HBO sensation. Following the lives of the main character Hannah, and her three close friends, the witty dialogue and picture-perfect scenarios that all recent college graduates can relate to is what has already rallied its largest crowd since Entourage. The characters are charming, smart, silly, and most importantly– blatantly baggaged. It’s relative to the now-canned HBO favorite How To Make It In America, with less.. umm… melanin.
Still, their journey becomes more exciting with every episode. From the opening scene with Hannah mimicking all graduated interns’ lives, to leaky condoms, unplanned abortions, a 22-year-old virgin and feminine boyfriends, it’s no wonder the show has already been renewed for another season.
But with sensation comes criticism, and “Girls” has come under fire recently for having a lack of diversity. My opinion on its color-scheme has been weighing in on both sides. For starters, I don’t need to see someone who looks like me to relate to their character. So before the criticism came forth, I hadn’t even thought about the lack of color. But as the show progresses, and you become aware that the location is NYC– one of the most segregated melting pots on the planet– the criticism makes sense, to an extent. While the creator Lena Durham blames the lack of POC on her “half-Jewish, half-Waspy” background, others are calling for a better representation of NYC to take place. No one wants a stereotypical representation of themselves, but no one wants to be completely written out of existence either. So it’ll be interesting to see if any of the criticism is taken into consideration.
With or without the changes, though, I’ll still be tuning in. Judge me now.
ALTERNATIVES: 60 MINUTES, BOB’s BURGERS, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES
TURN FROM: BASKETBALL WIVES / BAD GIRLS CLUB / THE BACHELORETTE
SAY HELLO TO: SMASH
“SMASH” is a hit for me, and NBC. With the highest 18-49 Demographic ratings since January 2011. This show has catapulted NBC back in the running amongst the heavyweights of ABC, CBS, and FOX. And for good reason.
From a first glance, it may seem that “Smash” isn’t for everyone; but that’s due to its element of musical. But unlike the teen sensation of “Glee,” “Smash” uses its vocal chords in a much-more high-stakes, calculated and mature breath for audiences. Most times I forget the show is even a musical, aside from it actually taking place as a Broadway Musical.(DOH!) The star-studded cast from Debra Messing, Katharine McPhee, Jack Davenport, and now (hopefully a temporary) Uma Thurman, the stars have never out-shined the characters. In a race for deadlines, memorized songs, rehearsed dialogue, perfected dances and blocking, there’s the most juicy stories of them all. Even better than your favorite reality show.
Love triangles turn into love squares and trapezoids with the tangled and dangling plots from money, love, sex, betrayal, and friendships. But with everything taking place at the same time, the home of the Broadway Musical is what sets this apart from any cheesy and cheap-coated soap opera. The characters aren’t overtly evil, but naturally human. The songs aren’t over-done, but fluid and brilliant–from remakes to originals. And with every given episode, you are sitting on the edge of your seat (or bed, couch, hell- maybe even from your own rehearsal studio). It’s a great insight into Broadway and Hollywood and a genius mixture of all cinemas of entertainment. J’adore.
ALTERNATIVES: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER / TWO AND A HALF MEN
TURN FROM: PAULY D PROJECT / PUNK’D / MARY MARY
SAY HELLO TO: SCANDAL
The first thing I should say about this show is Kerry Washington. And the second is Shonda Rhimes. The beautiful, talented, and illuminating: both. As the lead role in this crime-solving, fast-paced drama, Washington delivers a strong, convincing, and emotionally-driven performance as the head woman in charge; from the White House to her own Private Investigation Firm. (P.S. Columbus Short and Tony Goldwyn add my favorite faces to the cast as well). Loosely based on the former George Bush Administration aide Judy Smith, Washington’s portrayal as Olivia Pope is the best power move I’ve seen in a long while. Differing from other shows like CSI, Prison Break, and the like is the unique relationship shared between Kerry, the Presidential Administration (including the President himself), her own team of lesser-profiled but highly intellectual professionals, and their uncanny relationship with clients.
Shonda Rhimes is one of few African-American writers to make an impact on television in this revolutionary way. From Grey’s Anatomy to Private Practice, her work as producer/director/screenwriter is top-notch. The plot of the story thickens as it begins to tangle Pope’s past and present with her clients. From murders and military cover-ups, to White House threats, infidelity, unwarranted pregnancies, secret service hitmen, and beyond, this look at the Oval Office has never been so high-stakes. On a steady incline of viewers with every episode, this show is a must-see. The writing is realistic and the dialogue is tastefully dramatic; trust me, you’ll want to begin from the very beginning. (Don’t worry, HULU can help you with that). It’s the way we’ve all basically envisioned the White House, with high-tech mileage telescopes, pitch-prefect noise invaders and a comfy pillow. Gotcha, Mr. President!
ALTERNATIVES: COMMUNITY / THE OFFICE / PARKS & RECREATION
Can’t say I never tried to sway you from that reality poison!