What Nick's watching

by Nick Smith in

I've yammered at great length over Twitter and in conversations with people about the shows I am watching and why I'm watching them. I figured I'd spell out what shows I'm watching this season and lay down some random thoughts about them. There will be spoilers. If you aren't keeping up with a show and have the intention of doing so and are concerned about spoilers, don't read what I wrote about it. I know I'm only watching sitcoms and no dramas, but frankly I don't have time for dramas. If I'm going to watch a drama, it needs to be something proven, and it takes time to get caught up. Basically I'm not starting any new dramas until I get around to watching the Wire. And probably Breaking Bad.

Running Wilde: I'm a sucker for Will Arnett. It hasn't completely won me over yet, but I'm watching until it gets cancelled or I stop liking it. So far it's been mostly OK, not outstanding, but the fourth episode, "The Junior Affair" had me laughing my ass off. This show has the potential. Honestly, as great as he was in Arrested Development, David Cross is dead weight here, and I don't know if they can be good if they keep shoehorning him into plots. I don't expect it to last past the season, especially with Fox's itchy trigger finger, but I'll enjoy the ride while it lasts.

The Big Bang Theory: As awful and unfortunate as it was, Kaley Cuoco's injury has inadvertently helped this show begin to work itself out of a hole. It is incredibly difficult to keep a show good when you decide to take a constant sexual tension between two characters and resolve it. It's even harder to keep the show good if you break them up, like they've done with Leonard and Penny. The Leonard/Penny dynamic was a little awkward to start the season, but she hasn't appeared in the last couple episodes (I would assume due to the injury), and it has allowed the focus to shine on other plots and characters, and allowed Leonard to start moving on so that some normalcy may be returned to the Leonard/Penny dynamic when she returns. I also really like Amy Farrah-Fowler. She lights up every scene she's in.  My big concern about this show is that with Jim Parsons' Emmy and the widespread recognition it is receiving, much of it based on Sheldon's character, the show is susceptible to becoming The Sheldon Cooper Show, which would a terrible development. Honestly I think if there is a central character in this show it is Leonard and I really don't want to see him be relegated to being no more than Sheldon's straight man. I've seen both positive and negative indications on this front so far this season. I have my fingers crossed that Leonard continues to stay relevant.

Community: This show is ON FIRE right now. I'm laughing my ass off every week. This is the best show NBC has right now. The first season was good and now that everything is established they are hitting their stride. I have a really hard time describing what I like so much about this show. But I shouldn't need to be describing it to you. You are making a huge mistake by not watching. Up until about a week ago I would have said this is the best show on network TV.

30 Rock: I've said it a million times but I'll say it again. This show is plagued by contrived plots and shallow characters, but it has one thing it does so well that none of that matters: It is a joke machine. Unsurprisingly, it is incredibly difficult to sustain the levels of hilarious they were getting week in and week out for the first few season. I'm not giving up on the show, but it's starting to get old.

The Office: I really hope everyone sees the light and decides to make this the last season. It's time. Steve Carrell is leaving. It's not as funny as it used to be. They've crammed in too many characters to try to keep things interesting. Michael Scott is going to prove irreplaceable. You can't bring in somebody new. You can't promote from within. You had a good run. Please ride off into the sunset before it gets bad. I probably won't ever stop watching no matter how far down it slides for 2 reasons: First, Over the past 5 years, I have become very emotionally invested in these characters and if they are doing something, I am going to want to see it. Second, they have flat-out earned it. I am happy to throw them a season or 2 of viewing their now-unstellar program because they have given me so much. It's been a great run, and I'd feel like an asshole if I left them hanging now just because they've slipped a little.

Outsourced: First of all, this is the perfect place for me to express just how pissed I am at NBC for shelving Parks and Recreation. This show just started to get really good last season, and it is an idiotic move to jeopardize its audience like this. What the hell, man?  Going into the season I was determined to hate Outsourced for booting Parks and Recreation from the lineup. But on the night of all the premieres it was on after the Office and I'm lazy so I decided to give it a shot. It is by no means great. But it is by no means what I was afraid it would be, which is "Brown people are funny because they're brown!" The show definitely makes an effort to treat the Indian characters as individuals and not as stereotypes. Honestly the biggest problem right now is that is making the mistake Parks and Recreation did in its first season, which is failing to differentiate itself from the Office. It's basically what the Office would be like if Michael left and Jim were promoted to manager. Assistant manager Rajeev is a little too close to Dwight. Asha is like Pam early on when she was still dating Roy (except there isn't an actual guy, just plans for an arranged marriage). If they can find their own unique groove like Parks and Recreation did before it, this can turn into something really good. For now it's just OK.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: Due to my parents cancelling their cable and asinine Hulu policies (30 fucking days????), I've only seen the first two episodes. It's amazing that this is the 6th season and they still haven't lost their fastball. I loved the mini-arc with Dennis' marriage. I have high hopes for the rest of the season, if I ever get to see it.

Louie: Technically this isn't on now, it was on over the summer, but this is the best show on television. If you didn't know Louis CK was a genius, you no longer have an excuse. The line of thinking I've developed about this show is that it is for right now what Seinfeld was for the 90's. Seinfeld had a staggering amount of insight into the human condition, looking at society's unwritten rules and standards of human interaction with an eye for catching the quirky things to point and laugh at. Louie takes all of these things and examines them focusing on the brutality of everyday life. Every episode is composed of little stories pointing out just how shitty life is for Louie. But it works so well because it cuts so deep. It is life, not in the magic little moments that make us all smile, but in the awful moments where we wish someone would come along and put us out of our misery.

Modern Family: I missed the boat on this last season. I finally buckled down and spent the last week getting caught up. The verdict: HOLY SHIT. It quickly vaulted Community as my favorite network offering. I'm a sucker for shows with large ensemble casts where the characters are so close with each other they are more "family" than friends. In this case they literally are a family. In these types of shows, I'm usually just happy when the child actors don't drag everything down, but Manny is one of my favorite characters. I am really interested to see just how long they can keep the show this good. If you know me well you know that I'm a total sap, and so the way every episode tends to wrap up in a heartwarming way gets me every time. This show just knows how to push my buttons. Also, kudos to Julie Bowen for managing to be consistently hot for 15 years and counting now. I've loved her ever since Happy Gilmore and on through Ed.

There you have it folks. That's what I'm watching. Feel free to chime in and tell me how wrong I am about everything.

Nonjudgementally, Nick

It went over like a fart in church.