Seven Deadly-Serious Reasons Why I Cannot Give Up TV for Lent

I took one of those BUZZFEED quizzes the other day that’s supposed to tell you what to give up for Lent, thinking it would be kind of funny, but it turned out to touch a bit of a nerve for me. Not that I watch that much TV, but what I do watch, I’m quite passionate about, and it’s a very exciting season in the world of television. I’m not talking about any of that so-called reality crap. Instead, I want to focus on well-scripted, thought-provoking hour-long dramas. The things that are filling the void left by Breaking Bad for me. So here, in no particular order are the series that I am currently watching and simply cannot give up for God or anyone.

1. True Detective – HBO


Sunday night the finale to this 8-episode season will air. All this time wondering who the Yellow King is, if in fact the Yellow King is the murderer. I can’t just stop watching now. Plus Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are just riveting in these roles. It’s dark and it’s vicious, and totally worth watching.

2. The Americans – FX


Last season was really good, but when it was over, I wondered how they were going to keep the idea of Russian spies in 1980’s suburbia in play. Well, this season, the whole family is in danger, not just the spy parents. Add in that the daughter is starting to suspect something is up with her mom and dad and you have one taught thriller.

3. Game of Thrones – HBO


Season 4 starts April 6th, a full two weeks before the end of Lent, and I’ve got to tell you, I freaking LOVE this show. There are so many characters, so many layers. It’s so well-written that I can forget that there are dragons and white walkers, which aren’t usually my thing. But still, those things are intimidating. So many great performances, so many plot twists. I know I could read the books to find out what happens, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise of the show. It’s simply the best thing on television right now. (Well, right now starting April 6th.)

4. Justified


The best season was the second one, but still, I could watch Timothy Olyphant just walk across the screen all night long. Damn. Oh, oh, oh, and there’s some witty dialogue in there too.

5. Fargo


I realize this series has yet to air. In fact, it starts on FX on April 15th. But I loved the Coen Brothers movie upon which it is based, and if the series has any kind of the same dark humor as the film, I will be hooked. Also, what a cast!! Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk,  Colin Hanks, Oliver Platt, and many more. I can’t wait.

6. Mr. Selfridge


PBS has been churning out some great TV via the BBC for many years, and for anyone going through withdrawal from Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge provides a fine fix. Jeremy Piven, formerly of HBO’s Entourage plays the title character, who’s part P.T, Barnum, part Don Draper. He’s interesting and all, but the other characters (and there are quite a few) are just as compelling. Miss Agnes Towler (Aisling Loftus) is like an Edwardian Peggy Olsen, smart, ambitious and hoping to find a true career. If you haven’t seen Season 1, I highly recommend you catch up before Season 2 premiers March 30th.

7. Mad Men


Well, I’ve been with Don Draper from the beginning, so it’s too late to give up now, right? Seriously though, the end of Season 6 saw Don setting off in a new direction, and it will be very interesting to see where he ends up. My only complaint is that AMC is breaking up the final season into two mini-seasons, with the first part beginning April 13th. Not sure I like this new trend. It’s as if TV executives saw the marketing potential in splitting Breaking Bad into to two seasons, so now every long-running series will have its final one milked into two. Kind of like how Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was cut into two movies, so then so was Twilight: Breaking Dawn, and now Mocking Jay will follow suit. (Don’t get me wrong, Deathly Hallows needed two movies to be done right. Not so sure about the other two.) But I digress. However many episodes they stretch Mad Men into, I will watch every one.

Mad Men teaser trailer on AMC.

And mind you, these are just the dramas. There are a few sit-coms that are worth watching out there too, but I will save them for another post. In any case, the DVR will be working overtime this Spring, and reading books will just have to wait for Summer.

Mad Men Will Return Aug. 16th


Last night I dreamt of this guy:


Jon Hamm as Don Draper on the set of the new season of Mad Men.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on the set of the new season of Mad Men.


Not that I want the summer to fly by, but I can’t wait ’til August.

Good to Be Home

Just got back from a fabulous week at the beach.  Good family time, with near-perfect weather.

One of my mental snapshots is a moment when I was getting dressed for the beach, and T3 pointed to my exposed bikini area and said, “Mom, you’re growing hair. Are you going to become a man?” 

It was a surprisingly relaxing vacation though.  The kids got into a groove on the beach, playing with other kids and boogie boarding.  Ee would play a bit, then get her ice cream before sacking out totally under the umbrella for like three hours.  It was awesome.

At night, after the kids were in bed, Manfrengensen and I got into Mad Men, every night ON DEMAND, which was really compelling. We watched the whole season in a week. Reminded us a lot of The Sopranos in its tone and sense of morality.  We both found the character of Peter totally sleazy and disturbing. Kind of wished Don had gone Tony Soprano on that guy and kicked his ass.  All in all, very well-written with interesting characters and attention to authentic period props and sets. Can’t wait to see the new season starting June 27th.

In addition to the quality TV-time, Manfrengensen also read a couple of books, and I got about a third of the way into Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

The boys started camp today, and they both loved it. I had thought that just having Ee all day would be so easy, but it turned out that we had QUITE A DAY together…I think she wanted to stick close to home, but I had to go grocery shopping. She was not at all happy with me, even though I took her out for lunch. That was the best part of the day, the only time she was smiling at me.  Just sitting next to her in the booth as she ate her grilled cheese was so much fun.  She was happy, and every once in a while, she would lean over and press her forehead against mine, smiling and looking deeply into my eyes.  Then when we left, she was back to asserting her independence, which is good, but you know, it takes patience to deal with sometimes.

She spent the rest of the day pulling out things (with a preference for things with multiple parts) and leaving them on the floor. Then when I asked her to help clean it up, she would say, “No, you.” Pretty much anything I asked her to do, get her clothes, find her cup when she wanted more milk, whatever, the response I got was, “No, you.” And in between that, she would stall with this kind of escalating sing-songy two-syllable “Why?” as in  Ee can you please put your shoes on? “Why-y?” Because we have to go out. “Why-y?” Because we need groceries. “Why-y?” Because we need them for dinner tonight. “Why-y?” And the line would continue until…until she broke me.

The day flew by, and then the boys were home again.  She was thrilled to see them, and the three of them went right upstairs to play with cars, dolls, and other toys they’d been missing.  It was great!  Whatever they did, they all got along and didn’t need me to mediate at all.  It’s great when everyone plays nice.