Anyway, along came digital recording and online viewing, bringing an abrupt end to my smug boasts about not watching TV. Here’s a list of some of my earlier favorites. To watch these, I suggest searching where you can stream them for free. Between Hulu, Prime, Netflix, and good old fashioned reruns, you can find most anything.
Hart of Dixie
(Premiered 2011) Zoe Hart (played by Rachel Bilson who played the mother’s roommate in How I Met Your Mother–HIMYM) is a New York trained doctor who takes a temporary job in small town Alabama and winds up moving to Dixie permanently. Dr. Hart can be gratingly annoying, but the characters are–for the most part–fun to watch. I especially liked the Lavon Hayes character played by Cress Williams.
No real deep topics here. Just some delightful brain candy. Also, and this is huge to me (speaking of HIMYM), the series finale satisfactorily brings things to a natural end. Not for young kids though; like most shows, it has lots of unveiled adult banter and plenty of PG-13 scenes.
Switched at Birth
(Premiered 2011) Now this one is extra fun for me because I grew up around children who were deaf. We lived in a town with a school for deaf students and my mother–who basically taught herself ASL–substituted there from time to time.
Switched at Birth features two girls–one fair-skinned and red-headed who is deaf, the other a hearing girl of Italian/Latina descent–who were switched in the hospital at their births and were thereby sent home with the wrong families. Implausible? Yeah. I hear you. But just try to get over that so you can enjoy a great family drama that deals with some tough issues (consent, culture clashes, addiction) and brings awareness to issues pertaining to deafness (communication limitations, prejudice, accessibility to education). I really enjoyed this one, but again, lots of adult scenes so view it when the young teens aren’t around.
(Premiered 2010) This is perhaps my favorite show of the decade. Parenthood tells the story of the Braverman family. The parents have been married for nearly 50 years and their four children have grown up to varying degrees of social acceptability. Lauren Graham (of Gilmore Girls fame), plays the oldest daughter who is the single parent of two children. Her older brother owns his own business, has a wife and two kids, and a home in the suburbs. Her younger brother (played by one of my faves, Dax Shepherd) is a laid-back musician who has no interest in being a responsible adult. The youngest, a girl, is a big shot lawyer happily married to a hunky contractor with whom she has one child.
Parenthood deals with many real-life issues: mid-life crises, cancer, unplanned pregnancy, Aspergers syndrome, generational alcoholism, and more. Sometimes I agreed with the way writers handled the issues, sometimes I didn’t; but the story line was always compelling and the acting excellent. One criticism: I don’t like the way the oldest son treats Shepherd’s character and felt that shtick went on way too long.
Like Hart of Dixie and Psych, the series wraps up succinctly–if poignantly–and gives closure to all the different plot lines.
(Premiered 2006) This show makes me laugh so much. The two main characters–20-something men who have been best friends since childhood–open a psychic detective agency although neither is psychic. Similar to Monk (below) in many ways, Psych is funnier, in my opinion (Monk’s OCD can be hard for me to watch at times). Shaun (played by James Roday) and Gus (Dule’ Hill) frustrate the Santa Barbara police by often solving crimes faster than the officers on the force.
The plots are interesting and the resolutions rarely predictable: a good detective show. But for me, the draw is the relationship between Shaun and Gus. If you’ve ever had a best friend, or wanted one, you’ll enjoy the interactions between the laid-back, unhurried Shaun and intense, hard-working Gus.
This series also features one of the best finales ever. (Caveat: I saw the Psych series finale right after I saw the finale of HIMYM; so Psych‘s ending could have been mediocre, but since it didn’t totally upend the ENTIRE PREVIOUS SEASON, I recall it as a masterpiece of television drama.)
(Premiered 2002) Another police/detective show, Monk stars Tony Shalhoub as the title character, Adrian Monk. Monk, a distinguished and accomplished police officer, suffers a nervous breakdown after the tragic death of his wife. His OCD and phobic disorders, while apparently present before her death, worsen to the point that Monk becomes completely disabled. However, due to friendships, new and old, he is able to find his way back to reality, using his quirks as gifts in solving crime. The show chronicles his new life as a private investigator with an almost supernatural attention to detail.
Also, I’ve watched some shows more than once and found, unlike many detective shows, that they hold their interest for subsequent viewings. Shalhoub is brilliant and hilarious; the writers creative and innovative.
I need new recommendations! What have you binge watched?