Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mood Meds

Elizabeth asked in comments whether Brothers and Sisters is worth watching; she said she needs another series to hold her interest. Since she turned me on to two of the most enjoyably intense TV series ever, Breaking Bad and Friday Night Lights, and because I know that adrift feeling when you don't have a go-to series on Netflix, I want to give a thoughtful answer. I'm answering here rather than in comments or email in case anyone else needs a series to unwind with at the end of the day. Brothers and Sisters can be that, like an old tee shirt, soft with use, the comfort predictable and familiar when you want to just mentally float. It's definitely not heavy lifting, but it's diverting, occasionally funny, occasionally sad, occasionally silly, and it does have some actors I enjoy watching—Rachel Griffiths (formerly of Six Feet Under), Sally Field, Ron Rifkin, Matthew Rhys.

I also enjoy the large close squabbling chaotic can't-keep-a-secret family aspect of it, and its determined if superficial correctness on social issues (gay marriage, trans racial adoption, politics, motherhood, marital affairs, surprise offspring, foster care). And when I get sleepy I just turn it off mid-sentence; it never keeps me up at night. It ran for five seasons of 24 episodes each, so it can last a while. It's not anything like Breaking Bad, Six Feet Under, Friday Night Lights, Downton Abby, or Homeland in the way it absorbs and galvanizes my thoughts for hours after. It's not taxing like that, but I'd still recommend it for when you don't want to be taxed but don't particularly want to think about other things either. The series quite efficiently holds my attention and gives me a voyeuristic sense of living in a perfectly appointed house, too. I'm now two-thirds of the way through the final season and can tell things are winding-down.

Now Parenthood. Elizabeth, you mentioned you have been watching that. Several people have mentioned that series to me, and I got the sense that it's like Brothers and Sisters but slightly elevated as an ensemble drama. I was probably going to go to that series next, but in your comment you sound a little lukewarm about it. How are you finding it?

And everyone else, what series are you watching that you can't get enough of or simply find easy to return to? At the risk of sounding like a commercial, watching back-to-back episodes of an entertaining or thought-provoking series on my Kindle Fire has been like mood meds for me. Curling up with an ongoing series levels me out and keeps my noisy brain from yapping too loudly. So please send along those recommendations for watchable dramas that might quiet the noise. Thank you my loves.


  1. Deadwood. But it WILL keep you up at night.

  2. I am so grateful for this post, Angella -- and feel like we're just twin TV-watching souls as far as the life-saving possibilities of Netflix/Kindle Fire television watching. Parenthood? Well, I think it's ridiculous -- sometimes ridiculously bad -- but I watch it avidly, if that makes sense. I can't remember a single one of the character's names (except Zeke, the father) and when my best friend and I recap whatever episode we've watched, we refer to "the mother," "the matronly teenager," "the autistic kid," "the short girl," "the single mom," "the tortured teenager," "the blonde," "the bitchy lawyer," "the hatchet-faced guy," etc. -- and that makes us crack up. So, I actually love it and highly recommend it.


  3. Have you ever tried Sons of Anarchy? It's Breaking Bad(esque) on a Motorcycle.

  4. I'm rewatching Weeds for lack of motivation. I'm thinking about Walking Dead, Homeland, and the motorcycle gang one that I can never remember the name of. Also American Horror Story (not sure that's the right name either).

    Don't know how I can netflix them if I can't even remember their titles. Sigh.


  5. i'm big on Sons of Anarchy, The Office, the newest version of Sherlock Holmes, Intelligence (out of Canada--great), MI-5, Southland, Treme, Generation Kill (david simon's miniseries on the invasion of Iraq--brilliant), a Brit comedy series called Black Books, about a bookstore.

  6. I love Parenthood. Loved brothers and sisters, but Parenthood is ten times better. Really, can't go wronng.

  7. For everyone who has poignant, teenagery feelings of discontent and misplaced intensity, I highly recommend My So-Called Life.

    Have you ever seen it, Angella? It was a network drama back in the 90s. Claire Danes plays a 15-year old (named Angela) who struggles... well, who struggles. It only went one season but all 19 episodes are brilliant. I think it's very similar to Six Feet Under with its realistic plotlines and deeply drawn characters.

    I think I have just talked myself into re-watching it :)

  8. Treme. Oh, baby, please watch Treme and then come on down and visit.

    LOVE the BBC Sherlock Holmes. And then I watched BBC's Luther which I really liked. (I borrow my friend's Netflix password because I only ever watch TV shows when I'm sick, and his girlfriend saw his queue and asked, "When are you watching this show?" "Dude. Crime drama, black guy. Who watches that show? Marie.")

    Do you ever watch Modern Family? I know it's campy but it really makes me laugh. I still don't like the "new" Lily though. They took away the cute twins and I'm still bitter. And on the ridiculous, Big Bang Theory always gets me. Adding Mayim Bialik was brilliant.

    There was also this Australian show that I caught a few times in Liberia that's called East-West 101. Man, that show was great and I'd love to watch it all.

  9. We're about to start Homeland here. Good to know about Brothers and Sisters! I also really love Southland, which is about as good as a cop show ever gets.

  10. We've put The Practice in our Netflix queue and, 2 discs into it, we're hooked. We have zero tolerance for commercials and having to watch things at a set time (we don't have DVR), so we never start watching a series when it's on; we wait, years if necessary, till it's on Netflix!

  11. love these reviews!! not a series but I just watch Men of Honor...great movie with my (younger version)boyfriend robert nediro(sp?) and a younger cuba(something)ha! jr....anyway..good if you haven't seen it. Friday night lights was my fav...sons of anarchy...kind of good. Homeland to me was a little boring until the last disc. I'm going to check out treme and The Practice...never heard of them..