The Kids Are Alright (Television Thoughts: The Conners, Episodes 2 & 3)

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In case you were wondering, and I was, but ‘The Conners’ seem to be doing just fine without Roseann. I have just seen episodes two and three (the last one being the Halloween episode) and they are getting their groove on. Obviously, Barr was always the focus before, but now, it really looks like Darlene (Sara Gilbert) will be at the center, and it looks like it will focus more on how she is raising her own children. The second episode is good, as Darlene finds out that her daughter has sex while on a sleepover at her ex-husband’s house. I like how they have Darlene get mad first, then be understanding. The series is even brave enough to mention the morning-after pill, and I wonder how conservative middle America would react to that. Johnny Galecki guest stars as David, and I wish he would appear more, as his chemistry with Sara Gilbert is definitely so honed in. On the Halloween episode, we see the series as it moves on more, asserting its own voice. Darlene goes off on the school principal when her son Mark ‘s costume (Frida Kahlo) is deemed insensitive. Darlene does seem to be the kind of parent who will take a stand, and I feel that’s what the series is also doing. I feel emotionally invested in these characters, and slowly I can feel them easing in to their new roles.

Life After Ro (Television Thoughts: The Conners, ABC)

p15661264_b_v12_aaWill ‘Roseanne’ survive without Roseanne? That has been the burning question since ABC fired Barr from her eponymous sitcom. And if you go back and read what I wrote earlier this year about the reboot, she was the one that turned me off most about the show. As a matter of fact, I stopped watching at some point. So of course, now that she isn’t there anymore, I am more than happy to give the new show a chance. And after watching the first episode of ‘The Conners,’ I can say that I have hope. This episode isn’t as full of laughs as previous episodes, but I guess I have to give it a little bit of air. There is a bittersweet feeling in the household, and I am sure the energy is the same. Just like them, we are kind of mourning Roseanne the character, who in the series has dies of an opiod overdose. The family deals with it the best they know how, with their acerbic dark humor.  Darlene (Sara Gilbert) has seemingly taken over being the female lead of the series, but I think the best actors in there are still Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman (the latter lost so much weight)  Even though I didn’t really care for that story line of Jackie rearranging things in the kitchen to deal with her sister’s death, but for sure Metcalf sold it with all her might, and by Golly, darn if it didn’t end up as one of the best things from the pilot episode. And it was a nice surprise to have a nice ‘coming out’ sub story line with Darlene’s son finally acknowledging the fact that he is attracted to the same sex, and Dan reluctantly helping him out with it. All in all, a nice sobering start, and hopefully it lightens up as the season progresses.

I’m Just Wild About Happy (Television Thoughts: Happy Together, CBS)

Happy-Together-season-1-poster-CBS-key-artMuch has been said (and written) about that story about Harry Styles living at his accountant Ben Winston’s attic for two years. He did it to get away from the constant paparazzi so he chose the most ordinary people from his people. The premise sounded too interesting to be true, so of course it is the perfect foil for a sitcom. I was lured into the show by Harry, of course, and I really was not expecting to get much from watching this. But lo and behold, yes, I liked the pilot, and I liked it a lot that I am already looking forward to future episodes – and trust me, that doesn’t really happen often. Maybe because I really liked Marlon Wayans Jr and Amber Stevens West who play Jake and Claire, the couple who adopts Cooper (Felix Mallard) the pop star who wants to just chill in an ‘ordinary’ environment. Harry Styles himself is a producer of the show, and they aren’t shy on basing the character on him, from the flouncy blouses to the coif. Mallard, for now, plays the character a little too cool-for-school (perhaps intentionally) so I am curios as to how they plan on evolving it. I have to admit the show was a pleasant surprise for me: it’s charming and it put a smile on my face.

In A State of Grief (Television Thoughts: Sorry For Your Loss, Facebook Watch)

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There are a lot of layers to the piece. We don’t really know what caused her husband’s death, and there are hints that he may have kept a lot of secrets from her, and this just adds to the texture of the story line. Olsen is fantastic, and we totally get the messiness of what she is going through – the deep sadness, the confusion, the longing, the surrealness of material things remaining the same as its owners are gone. Believe you me, I have been there. There are times that grief still envelopes me, there are times that I still look for new purpose after grief has taken over. I know and have felt these emotions that the characters here are experiencing – and the writing rings so true. And this makes this show so compelling – and important – for me.

Love Online (Television Thoughts: Swiped, HBO)

swipedAs if dating, and online dating isn’t already depressing, I had to go and watch ‘Swiped,’ the HBO documentary about Tinder. I always say that for me, the definition of a good documentary is when you learn something new about it subject. And I can honestly say that I learned really nothing from this film. Rather, it just confirmed all my gripes. I know social dating apps via Grindr, and basically, the syndrome just now extends to the heterosexuals. All the complaints – girls getting dick picks, the proliferation of casual sex – just moved platforms. There used to be bars, and now there are apps.  IS Tindr dangerous? I think it’s in the same league as everything else in life – if you let it overcome your life, it will. The document shames them, though it gives the creators of the app equal time. And in all fairness, the Tindr people are just at a loss. They know what they are doing. The film focuses on singles residing in New York City, and I think it would have been more interesting if they had done research in less congested areas. I wonder if singles fare better there, although, really no one knows how anyone is faring, as Tindr people admit they have no figures whatsoever to calculate *anything* (although they get emails all the time from satisfied people [rolls eyes])  So yeah, I sound bitter and cynical and probably needs to stop writing now.

Yours Truly (Television Thoughts, You S01E03 and S01E04, Lifetime)

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I have just finished Episodes three and four of ‘You’ and…it’s definitely weird.  I don’t even know if I like it or not, though for sure I cannot stop watching it. The tone is dark, for sure, and there’s a lightness. too, and he series is very self-aware. Most of episode four looks like it is a set-up. We learn a little about Beck’s back story, about her father who we all thought has been dead. And of course, Joe quickly figures out what is going on. I wonder now if Joe will do something about the father, too, just like he ‘took care’ of the boyfriend (I wonder if he really is able to get away with that)

I am continually impressed by Badgely, and even liken his performance with Darren Criss’s on the Versace series. He is good at showing a dark side while still managing to be charming. And as I had thought, Beck is showing a darker side as well. It’s all heady and intoxicating, and I normally don’t watch these kinds of shows (at least it’s really not as violent and bloody as others) but I assure you I am paying attention.

It’s Not You, It’s You (Television Thoughts: You, S01E01 and S01E02)

You-season-1-posterI didn’t really read up on ‘You.’ the new show on Lifetime, before settling in to watch the first two episodes. The show, based on Caroline Kepnese’s novel, is not what I expected it to be. Well, sort of. I thought this was going to be one of those cute comedy/drama love stories, as it starts out when Joe (Penn Badgley) and Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) have a ‘meet cute’ at a bookshop. I thought that was kind of sweet and romantic, actually. But then Joe goes ahead and starts ‘researching’ for her on the internet (“All her profiles are public, it’s as if she wants to be found”)  and okay, I thought, this is kind of weird. And by the end of the first episode, we get to the ‘really weird’ category.  This gets to psychotic real fast, and the inner dialogue that Joe has – more sinister – takes over. Well, it doesn’t totally – there is still a semi-sweet touch to their courtship. but at this point you know this isn’t going to be one of those ‘touchy feely’ dramas.

Badgley is fantastic as your everyman meets psycho, and I think he is even more attractive now than when he was at ‘Gossip Girl.’ The material helps him – it shows both sides of teh character – the loving, softie who helps a little kid in his building, and the stalker who eliminates everything in his way for the love of Beck. And Beck isn’t as sweet as she seems to be, so far. I am guessing she has a dark side to her as well.  In short, I am already hooked.