While this is a book blog and we are all book people, we are not anti-TV. We love TV! (Basically, we are just indoor kids.) None of the books I am reading at the moment lend themselves to blogging, but I have watched some GREAT TV this summer* and look, I have a blog! So here are my summer TV recommendations:
UnREAL–This Lifetime drama is set behind the scenes of a fictionalized version of the Bachelor. Did every element of that sentence just make you roll your eyes? Listen, this is not a typical Lifetime show and it’s not really about reality TV. It’s a drama about the trade-offs people make between professional success and personal happiness, and about how far you can bend, ethically, before you break. The most amazing thing about the show is the main character, who I have seen described as a female anti-hero, a reality show Walter White. Shiri Appleby (who I have loved since Roswell and who was great in Life Unexpected, which only I watched) plays Rachel, a producer on the show. She does terrible things, but your heart still breaks for her. Also, she generally looks awful, especially when compared to the glammed out contestants, which was genuinely surprising to see from a woman on television. The first season is just 10 45-minute episodes, and every one gets wilder and wilder. I watched this on my cable’s OnDemand but I think it’s also on the Lifetime app and/or website.
Catastrophe–This is a tiny little show, 6 half hour episodes, and my only complaint is that there is not enough of it. The premise is that an American business man goes to London, has a week-long fling with a British woman, and she gets pregnant. He decides to move to London to be with her and the baby, and the show is them trying to navigate this weird situation like grown-ups. It’s hilarious and raunchy and awfully sweet. As a bonus, Carrie Fisher plays his mother, who is awful. This is available on Amazon, free for those of us with Prime.
The Fall–We all knew that Gillian Anderson was cool, but I am now dedicating my life to becoming her character in this show. Stella Gibson is a British police officer who goes to Belfast to investigate a series of murders being committed by a remarkably well-adjusted serial killer (played by Jamie Dornan). The show spends equal time with these two main characters so, as a viewer, you always know what’s going on–this isn’t a whodunit, it’s about the cat-and-mouse game of the police desperately chasing this guy and him evading them. But the best part is that Stella is this whip smart, sarcastic woman with no patience for men, who always wears the most perfect silk blouses, and is always in control of the situation. My friend Lisa brilliantly summed her up by saying that she’s what Claire Danes’s character on Homeland could have been, if she weren’t so busy crying and falling in love. The show itself is dark and creepy and made me check the chain on my door over and over, but it’s also hypnotic. Watch it on Netflix and turn on the closed captioning so you don’t miss anything between the whispering and the accents.
Finally, just to spread the love across media platforms: a podcast. I have an annoyingly long commute and podcasts keep me sane. Mostly I listen to pop culture podcasts, but I recently found the History of English podcast and I am hooked. This is a VERY detailed review of the history of the English language, starting with it’s earliest origins. Have you ever wondered why sometimes we pronounce the letter c like an s and sometimes like k? There’s a whole episode about that! Would you like to know how the ancient Hittite language is related to English? You’ve come to the right place. This is maybe the geekiest thing I think I have ever been interested in, and that is saying A LOT. There are 60 episodes and counting, so this is an investment, but that’s a plus for me as I look into a future of morning rush hours. Plus, as someone who had years of speech therapy and can still just barely control what sounds come out of my mouth, I am fascinated by linguists who can demonstrate what Old English or Proto-Indo-European would have sounded like. That ability feels like a superpower to me, and the host of this podcast does a great job of it.