Some Summer TV Thoughts

Spoilers in the footnotes, which look like what you see at the end of this sentence1. Or at the bottom of the post.

You’re The Worst – Season 1

A new show on FX about a loathsome couple that meet at a mutual friend’s wedding2, and end up going home together and hooking up. The rest of the season shows the early evolution of their relationship, and the hook is how truly horrible of people they both are. The cast is mostly unrecognizable unless you recognize Aya Cash from a brief stint on The Newsroom as the Occupy Wallstreet girl.

The show got off to a rough start, and like many shows these days, it was hard to see how they could take a show like this and make it work for multiple seasons. How could the couple not fall in love in the first 10 episodes? And if they didn’t, would the audiences keep coming back? This show is raunchy, shocking and hilarious most of the time. There is just the right amount of everything to make it highly entertaining without seeming like it’s forcing the issue. Sure at times everyone seems like an extreme caricature of some stereotype, but that doesn’t make it less fun.

It slowly became a show to look forward to more and more each week, and even found a way to wrap things up in just the right way as to make sure the show still works going forward. And no show has lived up to it’s name as well as this in a long time.

Will watch again. Potentially a top tier sitcom

Married – Season 1

FX’s other new show didn’t come gain as much notoriety, but was surprising solid. Many critics recommended skipping the pilot3, and jumping in headfirst to the 2nd episode. The show stars Judy Greer (someone almost anyone would recognize from somewhere) and Nat Faxton (who is probably one of those “that guys” at this point, but actually won an Oscar for writing The Descendants) as a married couple kind of stuck in that stereotypical rut with three kids all under the age of like 13, all their dreams gone, and the reality and monotony of life engulfing them. Unlike You’re the Worst, that theme is really as close as things get to a full-blown story arc. The supporting cast includes Brett Gelman (the only good part about Go On) as their rich, drug addicted friend who is always hatching some scheme to accomplish something.

This show succeeds despite a cast that isn’t super deep, and without an really significant hooks. Greer is funny and charming in an “every woman” sort of way. Faxton does a great job of playing a grumpy stoner, who pretty much hates his life but goes along with it anyway. Their have remarkable chemistry together and that is likely what moves the needle from “unwatchable” to “pretty good”. Because this show isn’t trying to ride some sort of hook, it has staying power as long as it stays funny. Overall it was solid, but not amazing.

Masters of Sex – Season 2

Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan were back for season two of their historical fictional series about sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. The first season was very, very good. It was a total breakout performance for Caplan. Season two, however, was not the sophomore performance one hoped for.

Many people don’t know the details of Masters and Johnson’s lives, neither personal or professional, so most people aren’t waiting for something specific to happen like they are with someone like Boardwalk Empire’sAl Capone character. But even people with just a basic understanding know that their work spanned decades, and that the pace the show went on in season one was unsustainable.

That of course can be handled in a multitude of ways, and the writers chose to execute it in a way that seemed to mess with viewers a tad too much4. It had an adverse affect on pacing of the show, and although it had to happen, it can make the story feel weird.

The season also spent far more time dealing with the personal lives of the characters (both main and supporting) and less time on the research. Perhaps this was always the plan. Perhaps the show will mix this up a bit in season 3, but it was far less interesting than season 15. There were several arcs throughout the season that didn’t pay off for the most part, and at times things felt sluggish.

The performances of Sheen and Caplan were again magnificent though. And it’s clear (in a similar way to Jon Hamm in latter Mad Men seasons) that they keep this show in people’s good graces. Sheen plays a bland man like Bill Master’s to perfection, and this season in particular has a couple of great scenes.

Overall, season two was very uneven. Not Homeland season 2 bad, but definitely not the sophomore season The Americans put on earlier this year. Sheen and Caplan do enough to get people coming back, but this show could do better.

  1. Footnote! []
  2. The man is an ex of the bride, the woman is best friends with the bride’s sister []
  3. I did []
  4. It was multiple time jumps, of varying lengths in the midpoint of the season []
  5. It almost felt like they made almost no progress in season two on the study, despite covering several years. This is a problem []