Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Sunday Night TV Dilemma...


When I was a kid, Sunday nights were dreaded in my household. They were the nights I had to cram for Monday's tests, sure, but mostly I had a few hours before an early bedtime to mentally prepare myself for the week of school ahead. I never liked going to class, even in elementary school. Kids learn at different rates, and I always felt like I would be better suited to just read the material at home and then come in and be tested on it whenever the teacher wanted. I didn't want to sit through repetition for those who didn't understand things the first time (and I'm not saying that I always understood things the first time-- especially not later when they put me into accelerated math classes in which I didn't truly deserve to be-- but I was always too embarrassed to be one of the kids that slowed down the pack, so I'd just take my questions home and try to figure it out on my own time. I did that with a lot in life. But I digress...). Sunday nights were dreaded, as well, because whether or not there was an abundance of quality TV available, I wasn't allowed to partake. For one thing, we only had a handful of channels in my childhood apartment-- and most of those were playing Sunday Night Football. For another, it was the one night a week my parents were focused enough to enforce that I shut off the television at a "decent hour" and get a good night's sleep-- because if I started my week off tired, I'd never recover. Or something. But these days, Sunday nights are the most celebrated nights in my own personal household, and I guess part of it is because I enjoy what I do so I actually look forward to getting back to it during the week, but mostly it is because there is just such an amazing television line-up that it almost seems too good to be true. And I'm going to declare it now: 2012 Sundays are the reason I may have to cave and get a DVR.

Yes, folks, even with screeners, it's just not cutting it. After all, most networks don't send copies of every episode ahead of airtime or ever, and with the television schedule being as competitive as it is, Sunday nights has become a Sophie's Choice across each time slot. Let's look at my schedule, shall we? 

(for the record, blue indicates that I watch "live," red means I watch on screener, usually ahead of time, and green means I catch it online or on-demand the day after airing, where possible)


8pm:
  • The Amazing Race (CBS) - We're practically in season one thousand right now, but as sad as this is, this show allows me to see parts of the world I'd very much like to someday visit first-hand (albeit, under better circumstances). For now, I feel the need to continue watching the show for the little glimpses of beautiful landscapes and important monuments. Honestly, the show is cut down to about 15 minutes when I do watch, though, because I skip through all the teams' bickerings just to look for the cities and villages they are in.
  • Once Upon A Time (ABC) - It's only the freshman season, but I was enchanted by the series from the pilot "go," and I have really only become more so, as the stories of beloved characters I thought I knew so well have twisted and turned more ways than expected in such a few episodes. They're really thinking outside of the box when it comes to how to keep the story going. After all, television characters can't be as one-dimensional as fairy-tale characters tend to. There is no black or white, pure good versus pure evil, in life, and television needs to reflect life. I am invested in watching Snow White and Prince Charming/Mary Margaret and David find their way back to each other, sure, but I think I may care most about watching the change in Emma when she gives in to what is going on and accepts her importance in this place.
9pm:
  • Desperate Housewives (ABC)* - Okay, I admit I stopped watching this show for a good chunk of its run, but now that we're so close to the end, I plan to come back and re-join the journey there. So this is only a factor for a few more weeks-- but when you think about it, all of this is just a factor for a few more weeks because next season is wide open for networks to shuffle and schedule!
  • The Good Wife (CBS) - It's been no secret that I haven't been as in love with this season as I was with the first two, but Julianna Margulies, Archie Panjabi, and Christine Baranski are perfection. So has been Alan Cumming, and each and every single one of their guest stars this year (from Jonathan Groff, who I usually find cloying-- I know, I know!, to Matthew Perry, to Carrie Preston, to the returns of Michael J. Fox and Martha Plimpton).
  • The Killing (AMC) - I don't care as much about who actually killed Rosie Larsen this year, and I think that's exactly where season two needs to be. The first season, partially led by the marketing, the focus was on the mystery of the murder. I found myself scrutinizing every scene for clues for the answer, and that is a really narrow-minded way to watch a show. About two-thirds through season one, I relaxed a little, partially because of the pace, and was able to just get wrapped up in the complicated, dark characters, and now that is what I am swimming in. The Linden/Holder relationship has especially piqued my interest, as as the odd Stan/Terry relationship.
  • Nurse Jackie (SHO) - I am really pulling for Jackie in a way I never thought I would for someone in her position. I was never sympathetic to drug users. I understand addiction is a disease, but if they don't want to help themselves, I don't want to hurt myself by trying futilely to save them. This year, though, Jackie seems to truly want to save herself. If she stays clean post-rehab, her problems will be much different going forward with the show, but it's season four, and that's right around the time most shows re-invent themselves. Hey, this one did it by adding the precociously cute kid (Jake Cannavale is ah-may-zing!), and it's really working!
9:30pm:
  • The Big C (SHO) - I may never forgive Darlene Hunt and Jenny Bicks for reviving Paul, but I'm going to keep watching because I've always been so emotionally moved by the show (and Laura Linney is just perfection), that I'd be super sad to let it go prematurely.
10pm:
  • GCB (ABC) - It's fluffy entertainment, absolutely, but sometimes that's the perfect way to ease into a new, busy, stressful week. Plus it has Eric Winter, who gets better every time I see him, and this is yet another show I can cut down to about 15 minutes because I mostly only care about the Cricket and Blake storyline (and they don't deal with them as a couple in every episode anyway).
  • Veep (HBO) - Julia Louis-Dreyfus is back, bitches! She is the queen of comedy, and I will watch her do anything, though I'm still a little sad I can't watch her battle the Meanie Moms in Old Christine anymore. Taking on stodgy politicians is the next best thing, though. There's something so tickling about how inept she is-- but how even more inept her staff is. It's a perfect commentary on the state of our own political system, but she does it in a way that makes the mistakes seem charming, not catastrophic. 
 10:30pm:
  • Girls (HBO) - I didn't expect to love this show as much as I actually do, and here's why: I relate to Hannah. I relate to her more than I should probably be comfortable admitting. Depending on your own outlook on life, she can seem entitled or lazy, but I don't think that was ever Lena Dunham's intention; I think that's the label you stick onto her when you have baggage of your own that you don't want to consider. to me, Hannah is a dreamer, but she doesn't quite yet know how to turn that into being a doer. And that's so typical of her generation, and/or so many creative and artistic types. But mostly in her generation. Because we (and I'm older than her, but not by *that* much, so I think it's okay to say these things started with my class) were told we were special little snowflakes; we were put in gifted classes and given participation trophies; we were told we could do anything we wanted, but we were taught to the test only. For many of us, we were carried by our parents financially-- and oftentimes with schoolwork, as the competition as to who had the smartest kid really became about who was willing to cheat the most so the parents who took credit for their kids' achievements had the best "status" in that classroom-- and then thrust into the real world with no urgency to "settle" for a "real" job, always blindly believing our wildest dreams could come true. Television was my teacher growing up, and I could have *really* used a show like Girls to show the reality of life!

And I'm pretty sure I don't even have it the worst! As you probably noticed, I left off a couple of known favorites-- Game of Thrones, Mad Men, and The Borgias, perhaps most notably. Let's be honest: personally, I don't really need to add more shows to my plate on any night of the week, let alone one that is already so insanely packed, but professionally, these are three shows I really should be caught up on and writing about consistently, regardless of whether or not I just can't quite get into them the way so may others can. In order to do so, though, that's where the DVR will probably have to come in. Though I've been able to watch the first three episodes of each HBO show on screener, I don't anticipate getting the rest of the episodes sent ahead of time that way. So tacking on another 9pm, and two other 10pm shows? Well, my eyes are already bleeding; how about yours?

What do YOU guys watch on Sundays? And is that your busiest TV night of the week or are you having my dilemma, just on a different evening? Sound off in the comments below!

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