For those of you who have quote-unquote regular nine to fives, My Life, Made Possible by Pop Culture imagines you want to come home from particularly grueling starts to the week and unwind by flipping on the television and watching something fun. Well, that's too bad-- the joke's on you-- because Monday night network television no longer consistently provides that.
How I Met Your Mother used to fit the bill. It featured a heartwarming story about an old-fashioned romantic and his quest to find true love in a big city. Surrounded by his lovable, relatable group of friends, the show could have been plucked from your own inner circle. Add to the character mystery of "Who Is The Mother?" a whole lot of humorous moments that managed to feel very grounded in reality instead of sitcom-canned, and it was a go-to. But that was then. For the past two seasons the show has moved farther and farther away from its central purpose and instead relied on turning once beloved, seemingly human characters into hammy cartoons. It's hard to care about them when you no longer think they reflect genuine personality traits.
Rules of Engagement and Two and a Half Men were never anything but stereotypical, posturing sitcoms, but as the years have gone on, they too have turned certain likable men into buffoons. So much so that you wonder why they can get the women they have at all. And please don't get me started on Mike & Molly, which despite the producers' best efforts to insist otherwise, is still just fat joke after barrage of fat joke. These shows are lowest common denominator at best, and that is just really, really insulting.
Speaking of lowest common denominator? Chase, which feels totally out of place on NBC when its procedural audience is, on every other night, planted firmly in front of CBS.
House: Honestly I just don't find anything fun about weird diseases or the equally uncomfortable relationships that have formed between the "team" members. Every show attempts a version of that, and I'd rather watch it on some of the other ones. The ones without hemorrhaging patients.
Similarly, I'm not into Gossip Girl. No matter how gorgeous the fashion or how campy the melodrama, I just have no desire to watch privileged kids run around New York City. I saw enough of that when I was in high school myself.
Don't even get me started on Dancing with the Stars and their "not really stars" group! I feel dirty just having a project associated with The Situation mentioned on my blog!
The Event can't be considered unique or interesting when they take a plane, zap it from thin air, and crash land it in the desert like a first draft reject from the LOST pilot script. And some sort of Shtriga-like being, like if the experiment in "The Passage" had gone according to plan and not turned everyone into radioactive vampires? Again, not unique. Not interesting. Definitely not shocking. And featuring scenes where a character gets ganked in the chest when they're not wearing a shirt so we actually get to watch the blood pool out, or one where our hero pleads and pleads to be listened to only to be told he's insane and ignored? Not fun. Not fun at all.
This leaves Lone Star. I wanted to like it. Hell, I wanted to love it. But being so much like Dallas but without the cheese fest that made Dallas memorable just leaves a weak shell of a show. One with poorly executed dialogue from the lead, who always sounds like he's regurgitating an essay, espousing flowery advice well beyond his understanding. I feel bad saying it, but I really don't believe James Wolk can pull off all of the deep character development the writers and producers are heavily-handedly, but strategically, inserting into each week's script.
Admittedly, Hawaii Five-0 is more than entrancing. But for all of its gorgeous scenery (and cast) and some of the more light-hearted attempts at jabbing each other to form a camaraderie, what really works about this series so far is its serious moments. There are very real stakes, and very real crimes, being depicted; characters are in life or death situations multiple times within the hour, and even in their "down time," they have to deal with residual issues from family drama that weighs heavily on their minds and hearts. So, though it is more than deserving of being watched, it's kind of hard to call it too fun.
I guess the best bet (other than to just switch on Showtime!) would be to tune into Castle. In its third year, even the seemingly hard-nosed detective has seemed to loosen up a bit and is able to go toe-to-toe with the titular character's jokey state of delayed maturity. Though it features elements of a crime drama, its cases are always just a little bit absurd, which makes you forgo the tissues and tears for horrific crimes and focus instead on the "kid in a candy store" nature of the characters. There is such glee on Rick Castle's face, it's damn near impossible not to translate onto your own.
Did I forget about Chuck? No, I know it's still on Monday nights and many fans love it more than any other show. But unfortunately I never got into it in the early seasons-- because shows I was more invested in happened to be on in the same time slot-- and now I feel like it's too late to start in with the new season. I'd have to catch up by marathoning the earlier DVDs first, and well, I just haven't had a chance to yet. You can feel free to tell me why I'm wrong and why Chuck is the most fun show on Monday nights in the comments below.
Well, it's easier for you to complain, you may say, but what is your solution? Well, obviously there are some shows on this list I think should dissipate into the snowy ether that is the TV satellite feed. But moreover, If I had my way, I'd take half of the crazy-good Tuesday and Thursday night line-ups and dump them on the wasteland I am finding Monday (and in part, Wednesday) to be to space out the shows I enjoy so much all throughout the week. Ideally, My Generation would get moved to give it half a chance of a decent rating. Maybe even Life Unexpected, since it's currently getting killed on Tuesday nights. Peace of mind, and a chance to unwind, are priceless. And right now I'm really only getting my fair share a few days a week!