December 2015 Media Round-up (TV)

Trying to rush through these December things so that I can maybe try out a new posting format for 2016.

Shows I kept current with: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Elementary, Grandfathered, iZombie, Jane the Virgin, London Spy, Please Like Me, The Flash, The Good Wife, The Perfect Insider, You’re the Worst

Pilots tried: The Man in High Castle

Non-current shows watched: Broadchurch, Justified (seasons 1-2), Never Mind the Buzzcocks (season 19, episodes 1-5; seasons 21-22)


Things of note:

London Spy

Interesting timing, with this coming out around the same time as Spectre, given the premise of the show and the amount of 00Q slash-fiction1. But even without the specific Ben Whishaw connection, London Spy has a really intriguing premise—episode 1 mostly focuses on the meet-cute and developing relationship between these two dudes, hard-partying Danny and awkward math genius Alex, only for it to end with Danny discovering Alex’s body in a trunk in a secret BDSM attic in Alex’s house. It turns out Alex was an MI6 agent and there’s a whole conspiracy—which Danny spends the series trying to uncover—w.r.t. his death being staged as a kinky sex accident when it was actually murder (BUT WHY????).

The actual follow-through on the premise—somewhat less intriguing. There are some effective moments, and I am a Whishaw fan, but the plotting and pacing just didn’t quite work, I think. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly the issue is; there are so many elements of this show that should make it, like, fucking amazing, and yet. The collection of reviews on its Wikipedia page do a pretty good job of expressing that frustration, actually.

I don’t know, I wonder if London Spy would have been better if Alex had still been alive in the end, somehow? If it found a way to deal with the emotional fallout of Danny finding out that his partner was completely lying about his identity, without as much of a focus on the murder conspiracy angle? That might just be a completely different show, but I think it would get at the story’s underlying strength2. Because a lot of the conspiracy thriller elements end up feeling pretty generic; the whole thing with the police injecting Danny with HIV-positive blood was pretty effective and unique, especially given his backstory, but nothing else stood out as much, I think.

Still, glad this show even exists, and it was only ~5 hours of my time.  And think of all of the 00Q fangirls whose dreams came true with London Spy‘s existence.

Please Like Me

Okay, so I felt pretty indifferently towards the first two seasons of this show. And yet I kept up with it, because it’s a half-hour sitcom and the seasons are relatively short and there’s nothing super objectionable about it. Frankly, the most negative sentiment I can sum up for the first two seasons was that they were a bit too twee/precious and that the (relatively small but fairly intense) amount of hype that they generated in certain circles was undeserved.

Anyway, the most recent season (3) was pretty solid. I mean, it’s still twee as fuck, but the tweeness maybe felt more clever than it had in the past? Or more balanced, somehow, by the characters showing a self-awareness that they might not have in earlier seasons? Hard to say, because the earlier seasons are pretty unmemorable to me, which is perhaps part of the problem with the earlier seasons.

The major appeal of this show for me: Australian millennials hanging out and shooting the shit, in a way that’s very reflective of (a particular, v. familiar-feeling segment of) our generation, in terms of the delivery—the vocal inflections and specific colloquialisms used—and the actual content of their discussions—their views on adulthood, sexuality, etc. The writing is, of course much sharper than any actual conversation between real people would be, because this is television, but there is that backbone of realism behind the quipping, I guess? And that’s not always a given in sitcoms. The dialogue in Girls is probably similar in capturing realistic delivery/content while maintaining TV cleverness, but, like, fuck Girls.

I know, I know, I’m supposed to say something about the significance of the way that Please Like Me handled Claire’s abortion, but I just can’t be bothered. [Insert feminist think-piece here, yeah?]

You’re the Worst

Super well-written sitcom about two assholes who fall in love and continue being assholes together. Season 2 has been lauded for its take on clinical depression, so that’s a thing; the show continues to be just really fucking funny while still dealing with that sort of Big Issue. Very much a Would Recommend, unless you’re one of those people who can’t deal with “unlikable” characters, in which case, I don’t know, you probably don’t even deserve to be watching such an excellent show. Anyway, here are some GIFs.


Man, so I had no idea what this show was actually about, despite seeing it on Best Of lists for, like, 5 years. The seeming Western-ness didn’t appeal and Timothy Olyphant doesn’t really live up to his reputation for handsomeness in still photos, so I never quite felt compelled to start watching. Still, the desolate December TV landscape got to me, and thus I watched the first two seasons of Justified. I still don’t really have a sense of what the show’s Big Picture will end up being, but I respect the particular mixture of serial vs procedural elements that the show has maintained (heavier on the serial side, thank god) and holy shit, Timothy Olyphant is like the most charismatic man alive. Will probably keep watching, although I still don’t feel a driving need to find out what happens.

1. Unsurprisingly, 17 out of the 87 works of London Spy fanfic on AO3 at the moment are James Bond/London Spy crossover works. ^
2. It would also leave open the opportunity for a happy ending, which might make it less of a Serious Drama, but would certainly be more satisfying. Fuck it, give me happy endings over prestige any time. ^


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