Remember when rainy summer afternoons either meant building forts in the basement, or going to the movies? Remember the movies? Amazing stories that Siskel and Ebert would bicker over as to which one was better crafted than the last? Stories we didn't want to end?
Okay, well, we grew up, and somebody must have paid attention, because we now have these incredible, ongoing series embossed in our collective pantheon; television that completely smokes the current film industry. Imagine being a show runner today and attempting to follow the likes of Breaking Bad, 30 Rock, Mad Men, The Wire and Louie. Good luck.
In the meantime, I hear it. That distant rumbling of your restless soul, searching Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime for something, anything, to fill this desperate 'show hole' you've been dragging around all summer; impatiently waiting for the favorite immersion/obsession to return in the fall. Something to happily surprise us all out of this endless conveyor belt of bad news we're being pummeled with.
Granted, Netflix's Stranger Things scratches the itch, but maybe it's out of desperation more than anything. I can't tell anymore.
Call me spoiled, I don't care. I'm restless and I want options. I'm an American, and it's an election year. I'm sad and disillusioned. My heart hurts for the world around us, and I need a story... right now! It's the dead of summer, and we could really use a happy diversion for a change.
Don't worry. I won't leave you blankly staring off into space like that. I do have a few suggestions up my sleeve.
There's such a rush of content out there today, it's doubtful you've seen everything you've been intending to watch. Pace yourself. Consider this your chance to catch up on shows you've been missing and create some deliciously decadent shared experiences that will elevate your mood, transport you to another world, and engage your imagination - and maybe even offer hope from a place you least expect. Therefore, I give you the following:
15 Shows To Watch During the Summer 'Show Hole'
1. Man Seeks Woman (FXX): This show falls under "Lighten Up Already." It's hilarious!
2. Adam Ruins Everything (TRU): Same as above, and it's informative, too. Bonus.
3. Better Call Saul (AMC): The Breaking Bad prequel that rivals most shows. Period.
4. Empire (FOX): New York Times calls it Godfather meets King Lear. Well put. (There's a nod to the Scottish play in there as well, only waaaay more up-to-date.)
5. Stranger Things (Netflix): Creepy fun. (Check under the bed before retiring.)
6. The Walking Dead (AMC): #1 show in America for the 5th year. Find out why.
7. Game of Thrones (HBO): #1 show on the planet for the 5th year. It's flat out amazing.
8. The Americans (FX): Recently canceled. Huge mistake. It's extraordinary and should continue. You be the judge.
9. Mad Men (AMC): Pitch perfect.
10. Playing House (USA Network): Funny, smart, surprising.
11. Mr. Robot (USA Network): Hello, reality. (I shudder to think.) And season 2 only just started.
12. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW): Discover where all the Golden Globes went.
13. Jessica Jones (Netflix HD): An elevated Marvel Comics offspring. Smart and cool.
14. Orphan Black (BBC America): Suspenseful, intense, expertly crafted.
15. The Andy Griffith Show (Netflix): Humor me. It's better than popcorn. I smell a pie in the oven... great escape any time.
Could I come up with more? Absolutely. But just get on with it already.
I totally understand. You've been meaning to watch (fill in blank here) but you "want to start from the beginning," right? Give it up. Frankly, I don't think I ever became fully invested in any show from the beginning. Not with The Sopranos or Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, not Mad Men or Downton Abbey either. Nope. Instead, as an experiment, start somewhere around the 2nd or 3rd episode from the end of the 2nd season, or maybe even mid-way through the 3rd season. I dare you to watch 6 consecutive episodes. Maybe 7. Then, once you're in--you're in... it's not as overwhelming to attempt to start watching the show from the very beginning at that point.
Maybe binge-watching is a lot like eating Popsicles; everybody's got their own way of going about it. At any rate, the goal is to feed your soul, fill that 'show hole' and maybe even discover a whole new diversion while you're at it this summer. Worth a try.