Veep

Life post-Master’s degree

I graduated with my Master’s two-and-a-half weeks ago, but saying I have a Master’s degree sounds fake. I imagine it will for a while, especially since my future career prospects are still a giant question mark.

Since graduation, I’ve done a lot of applying for jobs, but I’m also basking in the very strange freedom of no impending responsibilities apart from maintaining my own existence. To celebrate graduation, my mom took us to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which was both rewarding and exhausting. We’re happy to have had the experience and to hopefully never need to do it again.

Luckily, this freedom means I have lots of time for my Very Favorite Activities: reading all the books and watching all the TV/movies I can think about. So, to celebrate my first time away from school in 19 years, a mostly successful and rewarding first semester of teaching, and writing a 114-page thesis, here’s how I’ve been spending my hours of entertainment.

Books—I feel like my reading progress should be more substantial since finishing school, but I did finish Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager, an 870-page tome that I expect will be my longest read of 2016, so that makes up for the short reading list. I’ve also knocked out Ta-Nehisi Coates’s though-provoking and beautifully written Between the World and Me, which is essentially 150 pages of reminding white people to check their privilege. We all need more of that in our lives.

As a fairly transitional reading project, I also powered through K.C. Dyer’s Finding Fraser, a light read for fans of the Outlander series. It wasn’t anything terribly enlightening or profound, but it kept me feeling occupied and pleasant for a day or two. I’m also feeling mentally cleansed to delve back into heavier hitting literature, so I’m working through two projects right now: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard. It’s my first time with both of these authors, and I think my first attempt at anything Russian, so I’m hoping for rewarding experiences. Once these are done, I plan to resume my work through Arthur Miller’s collected works since I haven’t revisited those since January and Ernest Hemingway’s collected short stories. It’s such a pleasure to know I will never have a shortage of great things to read.

Movies—My movie-watching habits have been surprisingly lame these days, partially because the movies I have watched have been rewatches rather than anything new. I do intend to see Me Before You when it’s released this week, but there hasn’t been much in theaters to draw my attention—partially because the things I am interested in are only available in limited release. I recently built up my Amazon watchlist, so I’ll hopefully start making a dent in some of those films soon.

TV—It’s probably fair to say that I haven’t watched many movies lately because I’ve been busy with TV. Though most shows I watch have stopped airing for the summer, Game of Thrones, Veep, Outlander, and Inside Amy Schumer all keep me busy enough, but I’m also doing plenty of other TV viewing. I finally got to the War & Peace miniseries adaptation that aired in January and February, and I really loved it (this is a big reason why I decided to tackle Chekov). The more I see of Lily James, the more convinced I become that she’s actually made of sunshine.

I also finished the two seasons of Starz’s cult hit Party Down yesterday, though my journey through the show has been a bit strange. I watched the first 3 episodes on my Bluray player, and when I picked up on my iPad, unknowingly began with episode 4 of season 2. I got all the way through the end of season two and backtracked to the 3 episodes of season 2 I hadn’t seen before I realized the problem. I’d been wondering if I’d been paying bad attention (Where did Jane Lynch go? When did Megan Mullally get here? When did Adam Scott start dating Kristen Bell?) or if they just didn’t explain everything very overtly, so I was glad to realize it was my organizational mistake that created the confusion rather than bad viewing habits. I may have to watch it again from start to finish sometime to make up for my stupidity.

I’ve also watched half of Amazon’s Doctor Thorne, which is charming and lovely. I expect to finish it today. And I’ve started season two of Netflix’s Bloodline, but that’s a show that’s too depressing to really binge, so I expect we’ll take some time with it. I’m also expecting that Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Grantchester will be the next two projects on my list. Nothing like a period piece to momentarily take you out of a humid Kentucky summer.

What are you reading and watching these days? I’m always looking for suggestions!

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My life lately

It feels like years since I’ve updated, but part of that comes from the timing of the semester. Three weeks ago today, I defended my master’s thesis project (and passed!), though it somehow feels like that was really decades ago. Apart from some final copy editing, my thesis is DONE! I’m both thrilled and a little sad to say goodbye to this project. I have a strong sense I’ll return to it in the future (dare I say dissertation?), but I’m quite content to both physically and metaphorically put it on the shelf for now.

Since preparing for my defense and rigorously studying for my oral exam are no longer activities that occupy my days and nights, my time has felt suspiciously free. As a present to myself for my defense, I ordered Voyager, the third book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series, which was really the perfect treat to come home to. Reading for fun without feeling any guilt is one of the most wonderful feelings.

I’m also entering the final weeks of my first semester of teaching, though that seems ridiculous. Somehow I feel like the semester has just started, when in fact we’re three weeks from its conclusion. I will certainly be sad to see my first crop of students go (though I can’t say every moment of teaching and prepping are all that joyous).

So, to atone for being M.I.A. for a month, here’s my update of the pop culture I’m consuming these days. No one ever said being a teacher meant you couldn’t still enjoy copious amounts of television (and I think I’ve proven that).

Books — As mentioned above, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Voyager–though, at 870 pages, it isn’t what you’d call a quick read. I’m only now closing in on the halfway point in the book, but knowing that there are still several other books in the series to dive into means I’m hungry to keep going.

Before starting Voyager, I’d been reading John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, though starting a new book meant I sort of abandoned this one until finishing it last weekend. This was the third Steinbeck I’ve read (after Of Mice and Men in 2014 and The Grapes of Wrath in 2015) and very tonally different from the others–Cannery Row is a very place-oriented, descriptive novel, not a plotty one. It wasn’t my favorite, but it’s a book I see myself returning to later in life.

I’ve generally felt like I’ve been slacking on my 2016 reading list, though I’ve still read 22 books thus far this year. Depending on my pace with Voyager, I may work through another Arthur Miller play or something of that sort to speed up a bit and feel like I’m making better progress. I’ve also got Hamilton: The Revolution (also known as the Hamiltome) waiting on me at home. Though I’m regretting the decision to have it shipped there since I won’t see it until next weekend, the distance means I’m not diving straight into another book, so that’s probably a good thing.

Movies — My movie-watching pace has also slowed considerably (though I’ve currently seen 41 new-to-me movies this year, so I really shouldn’t be complaining). I’ve not seen anything very noteworthy either, though I did watch The Danish Girl last weekend. I liked it, but it makes sense to me that it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. I’ll likely be spending a quiet weekend in, so this might be a good time to knock a few things off my Netflix and Amazon viewing lists.

Television — It would be fair to say that my movie-watching has been hindered by my TV-watching, because I’ve been doing more than my fair share. As far as current programming goes, I’ve been keeping up with Bob’s Burgers, The Last Man on Earth, Call the Midwife, Girls, Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Bates Motel, The People vs. O.J. Simpson, Broad City, and Outlander (and, because I’m kind of an old woman, even Dancing with the Stars and Survivor). Since Girls, Broad City, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend all come to an end this week, my schedule will be a bit freer (though they’ll be replaced next week by Game of Thrones and Veep, so I guess things aren’t changing that much).

As for all these shows… I think The People vs. O.J. Simpson was a really terrific season of TV all around. I smell a well-deserved Emmy in Sarah Paulson’s future (though my ideal situation would feature a tie between Paulson and Kirsten Dunst) and hopefully the same treatment for the stellar Sterling K. Brown. I think Bates Motel is the best it’s been since season 1, and I kind of love the romance between Norma and Alex. I don’t think this is Broad City‘s best season, but there have been a couple standout episodes, including last week’s wonderful Mrs. Doubtfire homage. And OUTLANDER! There’s only been one episode so far in season 2, but I’m enthralled. I’ve rewatched bits of season 1 and can’t seem to get enough of this show lately, so I’m quite happy for its return.

Apart from what’s currently airing, I’ve also done a significant amount of side watching, including lots of Game of Thrones prep. This week I watched the Starz ballet miniseries Flesh and Bone, which was only okay. Lots of pretty dancing, melodramatic storylines, and mediocre acting. And just today (because I’m kind of terrible) I watched all of season 2 of Amazon’s Catastrophe, which I find very charming. Having met these characters last summer in a quick-moving first season, I was glad to see that season 2 developed them further into funny and likeable people (not to say they weren’t that way already). I’ve also watched the pilot episode of the new Starz series The Girlfriend Experience, which I think I’ll stick to since it’s getting good reviews. I didn’t have any particularly strong reactions to the pilot, but I’ll stick it out. And tomorrow’s release of season 2 of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix means my weekend will be just a little brighter (in a fairly literal way, considering Kimmy’s costuming).

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In summary, I’ve been watching a lot of TV–though I swear I do other things too. What things are you reading and watching? I’m always up for additions to my ever-growing lists! 🙂

 

When the only things in life that matter are Hamilton and Manic Pixie Dream Girls

Hello, world.

It’s March. What? I haven’t written anything very substantial here since my Sundance reflection, but I can’t believe more than a month has gone by since then. Apparently teaching and writing a thesis require more of my attention than blogging.

Speaking of those things… yes, my life these days is about scrambling through the last bits of writing on my thesis (defense is March 24 and I’m currently sitting on 101 pages, no biggie) and teaching English to two classes of college freshmen. Both are at times infuriating and exhilarating. I’m incredibly thankful for a semester that allows me two things to focus on that inspire me, but boy, do I yearn for a day to just watch TV without feeling guilty.

Thankfully, I’m enjoying a bit more free time this week with spring break. Since I pride myself on my reading and watching skills, here’s a quick update on the things I’ve been enjoying lately.

Books–Because I’ve been preparing for my oral exam that comes with defending my thesis, lots of my reading this year has just been rereading. I’ve also done a pretty significant number of plays lately. I love reading plays anyway, but I think this choice is more representative of my short attention span as I start to worry about the other things I should be doing rather than recreational reading.

As for things I’ve really liked, I completely loved reading the Collected Sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay for my oral exam. I’ve never been a poetry reader, so the fact that I enjoyed this so much feels like real character development. I also really loved reading Marsha Norman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play ‘Night, Mother and definitely bawled my way through the final 10 pages when I finished it yesterday morning. I have plans to read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go now, which I’ve already started, but I’m having a hard time concentrating with the other things floating in my head. Hopefully I’ll make more progress soon. As of today, I’m 20 books into 2016, so I think I’m doing okay regardless.

TV–Since finishing Pushing Daisies and season two of Transparent in February, I haven’t started a new streaming show (again, too many other things to be concerned with). I’m also in a happy place with the TV that’s currently airing–I’m keeping up with Bob’s Burgers, Girls, Last Man on Earth, Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Broad City, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson. The upcoming returns of Outlander, Veep, and Game of Thrones also have me ridiculously excited, so I’m hoping time moves a little quicker in April.

Movies–Starting the year at Sundance certainly helped my film-watching this year; I’ve already seen 36 new (to me) films so far. Nothing recently has been too exceptional except for The Witch, which is just so fun and weird you can’t help but enjoy it. I also rewatched Room last week after first seeing it in January and enjoyed it even more the second time. I’ve been thinking about it often since, and I think that says a lot about its quality.

Now that I’ve written this, I’m realizing that life has been pretty quiet for me lately–except when I’m blaring the Hamilton soundtrack in my car, which is often. If all goes well, I’ll be writing again in a few weeks, having finished my thesis (!!!) and enjoying the downward slope toward graduation.

See you soon!

Snow Days

I couldn’t be happier to be writing this from the comfort of my bed, snuggled under a pile of blankets with snow falling outside my window. My semester got off to a busy start, so I thought I’d take this moment of reprieve to write a quick update of my pop culture life these days.

Books — School reading obviously takes precedent over any leisurely reading, but I’m still free enough that I’m able to maintain something for myself. After forging my way through a book of William Inge plays, I took a sharp turn to reading Daniel Handler’s The Basic Eight, a fun teen novel about murder (I guess it doesn’t sound that funny, but it really is). My latest Southern lit reading assignment was Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road, a super strange and darkly comic book chronicling the strange lives of a group in Depression-era rural Georgia. It’s a truly entertaining read. This past weekend I finished My Ideal Bookshelf, a collection of lists made by various celebrities of the handful of book they’d put on their “ideal” bookshelves. It was especially fun to read the lists of celebrities I like (like James Franco), and the book provided me with several books I’ve added to my own reading list.

Currently, I’m in the middle of reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles and I’m enjoying the experience tremendously. I’ve also started Ernest Hemingway’s short story collection In Our Time, a book I’m required to present about in one of my classes next month. This snow day (which just might turn into two snow days) is giving me the perfect opportunity to stay in and read guilt-free.

Movies — I’m well on my way with my 100 movie goal for 2015, having watched 23 new movies this year. Some recent favorites include the classic Pulp Fictionwhich I hadn’t seen until recently, and Still Alice, the movie for which Julianne Moore is likely to win an Oscar. Admittedly, I also got really into this Lifetime movie called Restless Virgins that I watched on Netflix, so I guess that should make the list as well. Sometimes you need something mindless to watch, I guess.

TV — I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so busy with TV-watching as I do now. I’m making pretty good progress on my rewatch of Lost (I’m currently watching episode 2×15), but I’m also kept very occupied by all the normal TV shows I watch that are airing. This list includes: Downton Abbey, Girls, Bob’s Burgers, Jane the Virgin, Parks and Recreation, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Broad City, Scandal, Reign, and How to Get Away with Murder. It’s both sad and a little stress-relieving that Parks and Rec and How to Get Away with Murder will be ending in the coming weeks so my watch list can be pared down a bit. However, Bates Motel, Game of Thrones, and Veep will all be returning soon, so the madness continues, I suppose. For now, though, I’m content to stay in my bed and enjoy my cozy day inside.

Emmy Hopes and Predictions: Comedy

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Lena Dunham, Girls
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
  • Melissa McCarthy, Mike and Molly
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Taylor Schilling, Orange in the New Black

Amy Poehler Julia Louis-Dreyfus

This category is a perpetually difficult one for me to predict. If I had the opportunity to vote, I would vote for Amy Poehler, no questions asked. “Parks and Recreation” has been criminally underrated, and Poehler’s ever-perfect performance is the heart and soul of the show. I really, really hope she wins it this year, but it’s hard to really say. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is my second pick. She’s won the past two years in this category for very good reason; she is always spot on. In my mind, this race is really between these two great actresses, so I hope one of them takes home the gold.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Ricky Gervais, Derek
  • Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
  • Louis C.K., Louie
  • William H. Macy, Shameless

Matt LeBlanc

Unfortunately, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a very strong opinion about this category because it tends to be a weird mix of a lot of shows I don’t watch. Because I’m a “Friends” fan, I would love to see Matt LeBlanc win, but I really don’t have an educated opinion because I don’t watch a single show on this list. I imagine Louis C.K. is the front runner here, but I thought that last year and was wrong. I just really hope Jim Parsons doesn’t win for the fourth time. I don’t have anything against him, but I don’t find “The Big Bang Theory” funny, and I don’t think Parsons deserves to be the first person to win four times since Kelsey Grammer did it on “Frasier.”

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Julie Bowen, Modern Family
  • Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
  • Allison Janney, Mom
  • Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
  • Kate Mulgrew, Orange is the New Black
  • Anna Chlumsky, Veep

Kate McKinnon

Though I do really like Anna Chlumsky on “Veep,” my favorite in this category is Kate McKinnon of “Saturday Night Live.” She’s a great performer and comedian, and I would love to see someone win an acting award for “SNL” (though that’s probably never going to happen). I imagine McKinnon is an underdog here, but I’m not sure how this category will pan out. Just as long as Julie Bowen doesn’t win and talk about Sofia Vergara’s or her own boobs/nipples in her acceptance speech, I’ll be happy.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Adam Driver, Girls
  • Ty Burrell, Modern Family
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
  • Fred Armisen, Portlandia
  • Tony Hale, Veep

Adam Driver tonyhalepic

The fact that Tony Hale of “Veep” won this award last year gives me lots of hope for the Emmys in 2014. Hale is completely deserving of another win this year, and I’d be more than happy to see him pull it off. I also really love Adam Driver on “Girls,” but he tends to be a bit under-appreciated by critics. If Hale doesn’t win, I think Andre Braugher might have the next-best shot. He’s great on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” and even though the show was shut out of other categories, I think Braugher might win it.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Laverne Cox, Orange is the New Black
  • Natasha Lyonne, Orange is the New Black
  • Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
  • Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
  • Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live
  • Joan Cusack, Shameless

Melissa McCarthy Uzo Aduba

This one’s a bit tough for me; though I watched all of the first season of “Orange is the New Black,” I’m not really a fan of the show, and so it’s hard for me to choose among these nominees. If one of the “OITNB” actresses does win it, though, I think Uzo Aduba is the most deserving; she’s sweet, compelling and sincere in her role. I don’t think Tina Fey or Melissa McCarthy are nominated for their best “SNL” hosting gigs, but they’re both great, though I think McCarthy was better. And I like Joan Cusack, even though I have no idea what her role on “Shameless” was.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Nathan Lane, Modern Family
  • Steve Buscemi, Portlandia
  • Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live
  • Louis C.K., Saturday Night Live
  • Bob Newhart, The Big Bang Theory
  • Gary Cole, Veep

Gary Cole Jimmy Fallon

I was very happy to see Gary Cole’s name among the nominees here, so I’m mostly putting my support behind him (though I did find his romantic storyline with Sue very strange). Jimmy Fallon was obviously wonderful on “SNL,” but it seems a little like Justin Timberlake was robbed of a co-nomination since they essentially split the hosting duties. These two are my picks, but I have no idea how things will actually pan out.

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • Modern Family, ABC
  • Louie, FX
  • Orange is the New Black, Netflix
  • Veep, HBO
  • Silicon Valley, HBO
  • The Big Bang Theory, CBS

Veep

Remember when I said “Parks and Recreation” was under-appreciated? Yeah, me too. With “Parks” out of the running, though, I have no problem throwing my full support behind “Veep” as the best comedy of the year. I feel like most people I know have given up on “Modern Family,” so I’d be surprised to see it win a fifth time. Though I don’t support it, I have a strong feeling “Orange is the New Black” will be the big winner. However, after three seasons, “Veep” has proved its comedic excellence, and I hope voters recognize that.

Since I’ve already covered the drama and miniseries/movie categories, this is my last pre-Emmys post. Here’s hoping all my wishes come true on August 25!

Year in Review: Top 10 Favorite TV Shows of 2013

For this list, I’ll just be sticking to the shows I have on my TV Bucket List, because if I attempted to cover all the shows I watch regularly, I’d probably be here for days. 2013 was a year of eclectic TV watching for me, so this will be a rather varied list. Here goes nothing!

Bates Motel

1. Bates Motel, A&E, completed May 2013

I’m a huge advocate for this show, so be prepared for some fangirling here. Bates Motel is a modern-day prequel to the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho, and, though that may seem a daunting challenge, the show certainly lives up to its predecessor. Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga give fantastic performances as Norman and Norma Bates, who are probably the most compellingly dysfunctional mother-son pairing since Oedipus and Jocasta. This shows moves easily from creepy to sad to hilarious and pulls riveted viewers through lots of twists and turns. Season two premieres in 2014, and I’ll anxiously be waiting for that moment until it happens.

Breaking Bad

2. Breaking Bad, AMC, completed January 2013

I really only watched a season-and-a-half of Breaking Bad in 2013 if you don’t count the final eight episodes, but that certainly doesn’t diminish its status as one of the greatest shows of the year, and probably in TV history. There isn’t much to say about it except that I’m still reeling over the final episodes, and so very happy with the show’s conclusion. In essence, this is a perfect show, despite its many terribly dark and disturbing moments. You’d be surprised how quickly you think meth dealing might be a viable career option.

Dawson's Creek

3. Dawson’s Creek, Netflix, completed December 2013

I’m kind of stretching the truth on my completion date as I’ve still got one season to go, but at the rate I’ve sped through the past three seasons, it’s safe to say I’ll be done before the end of the month. I was looking for an easy and fun show to balance out some of the dramas and comedies I’d been watching, so I turned to Dawson’s Creek on a whim, and I’m very happy with the decision I made. First of all, the show has totally changed my feelings about Katie Holmes (the moment when someone FINALLY happened tp mention Tom Cruise’s name to Joey was probably the highlight of my week) and I’ve developed such a crush on Joshua Jackson (or maybe just Pacey Witter… it’s kind of hard to say). Though the stories can get a bit dramatic, I’ve really enjoyed watching the show, especially because of the varied and well-developed teenage females that are somewhat rare in television. If you’re ever feeling nostalgic for the 1990s, this is a must-see.

downton_abbey3

4. Downton Abbey, PBS, completed March 2013

Even though I do a lot of binge-watching, there are only a few shows that with which I become truly obsessed, and Downton Abbey has earned its place among the chosen few. Watching Downton is kind of the equivalent of snuggling up on the coach with a hot tea and a good book on a winter day. It’s comforting, heartbreaking, and hilarious, and just British enough to make Americans feel somehow more cultured. It’s safe to say I’ve never cried harder for TV than I did watching Sybil’s death, largely because Tom Branson is basically my favorite fictional human ever (okay, that may not be true, but I just have a lot of favorites). This is perfect for binge-watching over the holidays, especially since the fourth season premieres in the US in January.

Game of Thrones

5. Game of Thrones, HBO, completed March 2013

I have to admit, I was a bit slow on the uptake with this one, but I’m very glad I persevered. After watching the first two episodes in January and feeling underwhelmed, I decided to give it another try in March before the premiere of season three. After overcoming the difficulty of attempting to remember all the characters’ names, I became totally enraptured with the many layered stories in the show. Nerd culture is cool largely in part to this show, so give it a chance if you haven’t. But be warned, the “it’s not porn, it’s HBO” slogan could basically just be applied to just this one show. A word to the wise: this isn’t the kind of show you want to stream in a public place unless you’re looking for some serious embarrassment.

Scandal

6. Scandal, ABC, completed October 2013

I was very reluctant to start Scandal, but when my roommate started watching it, I decided to join in, and it ended up being totally worth it. The first season, which is only seven episodes long, drove me a little crazy, but it still kept enough of my attention to keep me moving with the show. Then, at some point in season two, it just got better; the stories got more interesting and less episodic, the characters developed in unexpected ways, and the chemistry between Olivia Pope and Fitzgerald Grant is too hot to ignore. As an added bonus, Jeff Perry and Joshua Malina are fantastic in two secondary roles that can almost always be relied on for a few laughs during tense episodes. This is a total guilty pleasure show, and since it’s only in season three, it isn’t hard to catch up if you’re interested. On an unhappy note, the show’s last new episode for the fall airs this week and it won’t return until February 27, and they recently cut season three’s total run from 22 to 18 episodes. A serious bummer, but still totally worth a watch.

Top of the Lake

7. Top of the Lake, Sundance Channel/Netflix, completed August 2013

Top of the Lake is perfect if you’re looking for an quick and enticing show to stream over the holidays. It’s a miniseries that premiered last year at the Sundance Film Festival and is now available on Netflix, and with only seven episodes, you can easily cruise through it in a day or two. Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss stars as a cop searching for a pregnant 12-year-old who goes missing at the end of episode one, and the series follows this search and the lives of the strange characters who populate a small New Zealand town. The show at times is both dark and violent, but the story is so interesting you won’t be deterred. Also, Holly Hunter gives a great performance as a total weirdo, so that’s always a plus.

Twin Peaks

8. Twin Peaks, Netflix, completed June 2013

Twin Peaks is a show I’ve heard my mom talk about for years, so this summer, I finally decided to sit down and watch the 30-episode show on Netflix, and it was definitely worth it. (Side note: it’s interesting to watch this before Bates Motel or Top of the Lake, because you’ll see definite similarities in these newer programs). Twin Peaks is about a small community near the Canadian border in Washington that’s populated by a rather eclectic group of people. When a high school sweetheart’s body washes is found in the pilot episode, an FBI agent is brought in to investigate the case. I would say that some of the show’s intrigue wanes toward the end of season two, but there are many moments that will both freak you out completely (I’m serious) and will haunt your nightmares (there are a few images that I still see every time I wake up in the middle of the night, and it isn’t pleasant). This is a bizarre show, but it’s very fun to watch, especially since it plays with various aspects of comedy, horror, and melodrama in a way that keeps viewers guessing.

Veep

9. Veep, HBO, completed June 2013

If you’re interested in watching Veep, the best advice I can give you is to stick it out through season one to get to season two. On the plus side, season one is only eight episodes, so it’s easy to cruise through the opening season when it appears the show was still figuring itself out. Season two, however, flows perfectly, and viewers will certainly see why Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale took home top awards at the Emmys this year for their performances. One line I repeat over and over is that I think the role of Vice President Selina Meyer was absolutely written for Julia Louis-Dreyfus, because she has an uncanny talent for making unlikeable characters intensely likeable. If you’re looking for something smart and funny, this is the show for you.

thewonderyears

10. The Wonder Years, Netflix, completed August 2013

Aside from Dawson’s CreekThe Wonder Years is the longest show I completed this year (I’m still watching Seinfeld and Cheers, so those don’t really count). This is the kind of show to watch with your family; it has endearing characters, moments of happiness and sorrow, and an historical context that adds a layer of complexity to an often lighthearted show. Watching Kevin Arnold and his friends grow up in often funny, sweet, and sad, especially when you get to the final season and realize how much the actors changed over the show’s course. This is an easy show to stream while you’re doing other things since the plot lines are never very complicated, and it’s a pretty comforting way to spend your time. Also, if you’re at all a fan of the new ABC comedy The Goldbergs, you should absolutely watch The Wonder Years since they’re basically the same show, just set in different decades.

What new shows did you discover in 2013? What are you looking forward to next year?

Emmy Awards Part 1: My Predictions/Hopes for the Comedy Categories

While I’ve got the time to indulge in one of my very favorite pastimes (award show prediction/discussion/obsession) before I begin my senior year of college, I’ve decided to go full force and share with you my picks for the Emmy Awards, airing September 22 on CBS. In this post, I’ll only be discussing my picks for the comedy categories, but I’ll also be posting about the drama categories, and, if I’m feeling extra ambitious, the miniseries/movie categories. Here goes nothing!

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • The Big Bang Theory • CBS
  • Girls • HBO
  • Louie • FX Networks
  • Modern Family • ABC
  • 30 Rock • NBC
  • Veep • HBO

Because my very favorite show Parks and Recreation was AGAIN shut out in almost all categories, I would be happiest to see either Girls or Veep win in this category, but I’m really not sure how I see this one playing out. I would also be happy with another win for 30 Rock‘s final season. Either way, Modern Family does NOT deserve another win this year, so I’m hoping we’ll see a change here.

Girls Veep

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Jason Bateman • Arrested Development
  • Jim Parsons • The Big Bang Theory
  • Matt LeBlanc • Episodes
  • Don Cheadle • House of Lies
  • Louis C.K. • Louis
  • Alec Baldwin • 30 Rock

This is another difficult category for me. I kind of think Alec Baldwin has won enough for his role as Jack Donaghy, and this season of Arrested Development wasn’t the best. However, I think I’m still rooting for Jason Bateman here, but I’d also be very happy to see Matt LeBlanc win (out of loyalty, of course). However, it’s been a big year for Louis C.K., so a win for him wouldn’t surprise me.

Jason Bateman

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Laura Dern • Enlightened
  • Lena Dunham • Girls
  • Edie Falco • Nurse Jackie
  • Amy Poehler • Parks and Recreation
  • Tina Fey • 30 Rock
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus • Veep

Because Parks and Recreation is my favorite, I’m obviously going with Amy Poehler as my top pick in this category. It’s such a shame that this show isn’t getting the recognition it deserves. However, I think this category really is wide open. I could see Tina Fey winning again for her final season of 30 Rock, and I think Julia Louis-Dreyfus is more deserving for this season of Veep than when she won for its first season last year. But, again, I could also see Girls getting more attention, so Lena Dunham is another viable candidate. Personally, while I love Girls, I think Dunham showed off more of her dramatic skills than comedic this season, so she’s not my top pick here.

Amy Poehler Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Adam Driver • Girls
  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson • Modern Family
  • Ed O’Neill • Modern Family
  • Ty Burrell • Modern Family
  • Bill Hader • Saturday Night Live
  • Tony Hale • Veep

While I don’t think that Modern Family is deserving of taking up half the spots in this category, I’m very happy to see some new faces represented in the other spots. I’m kind of divided between these other three. I think Adam Driver has created a totally original character on Girls, and his comedic style is all his own. Tony Hale is another of my favorites, and I could see him receiving favor here because of his work as another great supporting comedic character on Arrested Development, a role he’s never been nominated for. And finally, Bill Hader is so immensely talented that I’d be very happy to see him win. Overall, I think Hale is my favorite here, with Driver in a close second.

Tony Hale  Adam Driver

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Mayim Bialik • The Big Bang Theory
  • Jane Lynch • Glee
  • Sofia Vergara • Modern Family
  • Julie Bowen • Modern Family
  • Merritt Wever • Nurse Jackie
  • Jake Krakowski • 30 Rock
  • Anna Chlumsky • Veep

This is another tough one for me, because I don’t have a major favorite. I’m kind of hoping Modern Family gets shut out in most of its nominated categories, and again, I’m glad to see some new faces represented here. Personally, my favorite in this category is Anna Chlumsky, but I’d also be happy to see Jane Krakowski win.

Anna Chlumsky

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Bob Newhart • The Big Bang Theory
  • Nathan Lane • Modern Family
  • Bobby Cannavale • Nurse Jackie
  • Louis C.K. • Saturday Night Live
  • Justin Timberlake • Saturday Night Live
  • Will Forte • 30 Rock

Though I’m very happy Justin Timberlake hosted SNL for his fifth time this year, it wasn’t my favorite of his episodes, so here I’m going with Louis C.K., even if it’s for his great monologue alone.

Louis CK

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Molly Shannon • Enlightened
  • Melissa Leo • Louie
  • Melissa McCarthy • Saturday Night Live
  • Kristen Wiig • Saturday Night Live
  • Elaine Stritch • 30 Rock

This one is a no-brainer for me: Melissa McCarthy is a fantastically funny actress, and she deserves recognition for her second hosting of SNL. However, I could see this category going to Wiig, who was previously nominated during her time at SNL, but never won. This would be a good chance to recognize her for her great work with the show, but McCarthy’s episode was better.

Melissa McCarthy