tv 2016: americans through atlanta
richard pryor live in concert (jeff margolis, 1979)

tv 2016: better things through downton abbey

Better Things. Wonderful “comedy” co-created by and starring Pamela Adlon (Louis C.K. was the other creator, and while I haven’t seen his own show, apparently Better Things is a bit like Louie). There are plenty of autobiographical elements in this story of a single mom with three daughters. I admit I wasn’t overwhelmed with the premise, but critics loved it, so I gave it a try, and I loved it, too. Adlon is the perfect center of a show like this, and all three of the actresses who play her daughters are strong (casting of kids is often the downfall of shows with families). Definitely looking forward to Season Two.

Black Mirror. “Not sure this makes sense, but I like this show enough that I don’t feel the need to binge. Each episode is a stand-alone, which is probably the main reason ... I can sit down for an hour, and feel I’ve gotten enough for one day.” I join with those who rank ‘San Junipero’ as the best episode of the season, perhaps of the entire series (one episode features Hayley Atwell, so you know I like that one).

Broad City. At this point, I can’t imagine anyone is unfamiliar with Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. Abbi even gave one of the finest performances ever on Lip Sync Battle. (Ilana wasn’t bad either ... in fact, she was declared the winner of the battle.) Comedies like this are never 100% perfect, but when Broad City hits, nothing compares.

Casual. “Over two seasons, the three main characters work gradually towards becoming better people. All three of them are extremely self-absorbed, but when they step outside of themselves we see some pretty decent people. The characters feel real, with all of their flaws, and we root for them. Except the brother is the #1 amongst equals when it comes to self-absorption. I know this kind of person ... I am this kind of person. And I try to do better, as does the character. But he is so horrible that he is practically unwatchable. The writing is good, the acting is good, but I simply can’t stand that guy. I don’t even like when he gets a comeuppance, because I know it will lead to more scenes where he thinks only of himself and his traumas. Let’s just say he hits too close to home for me. It’s a good show, but I can’t say I enjoy it much.”

Downton Abbey. “Progress for the downstairs servants was always limited. Barrow was the most ambitious of the servants when the series began, and he was the most outright unlikeable character on the show, as if wanting to improve himself was a bad thing. In the finale, Barrow got what he had always wanted: he became the butler. He didn’t become rich, he didn’t gain any power beyond the walls of the Abbey. But that was enough to fulfill his ambitions. The finale was nice and tidy, and in the future, I’ll remember the better things about the show, and hopefully forget about the endless legal problems of Bates, or the pointless cattiness of Mary against her sister Edith, or any of the other plotlines that served only as digressions designed to get us through another season. Downton Abbey is not the worst show that I stuck with for six seasons, but it is far from the best.”

Better Things trailer:

Black Mirror Season 3 trailer:

Broad City Season 3 trailer:

Casual Season 2 trailer:

Downton Abbey Season 6 trailer: