The 29 Shows I Binge-Watched in 2017

Dear Friends,

If you’re looking for shows to binge-watch this winter, do I ever have the list for you! Full disclosure — we are premium cable, Amazon Prime and Netflix subscribers, so some of these shows may not be accessible to everyone. Okay, pull up a chair and let’s get started!

29 Shows?!? Seriously? What were you thinking?!?

  1. Mind Hunter — While the anachronisms of the years and the music choices drive me a little crazy, this deep dive into the genesis of forensic science has been really fun to watch.
  2. Hap and Leonard — Not since True Detective paired Harrelson and McConaughey have I seen such brilliant casting as partners James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Williams. These two are perfect together. It was fun to see Christina Hendricks again, too. I’ve missed MAD MEN so! This series is based on the books by author Joe R. Lansdale, all of which I binge-read — he has a new one out I cannot wait to get my hands on!
  3. The Patriot — Quirky, clever, and captivating. Also, this has probably one of the most haunting pieces of opening music of all the shows I’ve heard this year, second, maybe, to the opening music in Season 1 of The Affair. Here’s a link to The Patriot’s opening theme song (I’ll forewarn you, it’s a haunting ear worm. I’m hounding Jack’s guitar teacher to teach it so I can sing along, much to Jack’s chagrin). “The Train Song” by Vashti Bunyan: https://youtu.be/0AGD78mWcss
  4. Fortitude — This series, set on an uber-bleak isle off of Norway, is the site of murder and sci-fi mayhem. You’ll recognize two actors from Game of Thrones and in Season 2, Dennis Quaid plays a lead role brilliantly.
  5. Stranger Things — I talked about that previously, here. It gave me an ’80s-gasm from which I have yet to recover.
  6. Orphan Black — I have such a show hangover from this one. I sorely miss the believably different characters Kosima, Allison, Sarah — all played by actress Tatiana Maslany, who has given Streep a run for her money. And then there’s Felix…I miss Felix’s amazing flat. This series was so much fun!
  7. The OA — This series was super quirky and haunting. It made me yearn for more.
  8. Fargo — Regardless of the season, I love, love, love this quirky murder mystery series set in the Coen Brothers’ world. Watch them all.
  9. Channel Zero: Candy Cove — This was super creepy and probably fairly inexpensively made. It had a really interesting concept.
  10. The Missing — Season 1 is eerily reminiscent of the tragic Madeline McCann case, and this has your heart breaking for the parents of a missing boy and the long-term effect it has on them. I had to binge-watch Season 2 right away, as enamored as I was of the wonderful French “cold case” detective, Julien Baptiste.
  11. Catastrophe — This romantic dramedy is such smart writing, and I loved Carrie Fisher’s role in it. (I’m still so sad she is gone–watch her last documentary with Debbie Reynolds–haunting.)
  12. Sneaky Pete — This has that “Wait! I HAVE to see what happens in the next episode!” quality to it of Breaking Bad, and it was created by Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston in one of the lead roles. It’s wonderful.
  13. Better Call Saul — I’ve had many friends tell me they didn’t like this as much as Breaking Bad. To me, it’s just as good, but you have to be more patient with letting the story evolve than you may have been in Breaking Bad.
  14. Preacher — Okay, I must admit, I wasn’t keen on seeing the Christ — the religious figure on whom I base my entire religion — having sex, but outside of that, this quirky story and cast of characters was a blast to watch. Tulip is the best, and oddly enough, you’ll feel empathy for Hitler. I know, that news is hard to swallow, but trust me.
  15. Taboo — Tom Hardy had probably one of the greatest sex scenes of all the shows I’ve seen in the past year. I can’t wait to see what happens in Season 2. Oona Chaplin is wonderful, too. I hope she is back.
  16. Mr. Robot — I’ll admit, I’ve only seen Season 1. After the “big reveal” at the end of Season 1, I’m truly unsure if I can move forward, but I’ll probably give it a go for a couple of episodes.
  17. Tin Star — I was happy to see Christina Hendricks in another great role, but sadly, her character wasn’t likable, nor were any of the characters. After the last episode, I sat and thought about it, and realized I genuinely disliked every. single. character — even Tim Roth, who played the lead.
  18. Longmire — There’s a comfort to watching this series — that slower-paced, unpretentious western vibe, and the Indian reservation and the customs they discuss are fascinating to me. If you loved Battlestar Galactica, you’ll recognize the wonderful Katee Sackhoff.
  19. Black Mirror — This is the Twilight Zone for the modern era. I love it. But frankly, if I had never seen the episode with the Prime Minister having sex with a pig, I’d be a little less traumatized. I’m told that episode was loosely based on some true story, which sickens me even more.
  20. Ray Donovan — I binge-watched Season 1 and I found the storyline of a dysfunctional Boston family transplanted in L.A. fairly enthralling, but somehow, I lost steam on this one. I’ll give it another go.
  21. The Americans — I am a couple of seasons behind, but I really enjoy this one. It’s not the level of Breaking Bad (can anything ever be?) but it’s engaging.
  22. Homeland — Now that they’ve gone PC and started foregoing the route of mentioning radical Islam in any storylines, I’m losing interest and finding this fairly dull.
  23. Westworld — This show taps into the zeitgeist of sexbot and artificial intelligence anxiety in such a smart way. The opening music and imagery is beautifully rendered and let’s face it — anything with Anthony Hopkins and Peter Weller…how can it lose?
  24. Big Little Lies — While it was hard to see Alexander Skaarsgard, my favorite True Blood vampire, playing the role of an abusive husband, the storyline and its stellar cast kept me hooked and let’s face it — anything set in a California backdrop…sigh…
  25. The Affair — I binge-watched Season 1 and have Season 2 waiting for me, but I’m sort of losing steam on this one, as much as I love Maura Tierney.
  26. Broadchurch — This is my current binge-watch show. I finished Season 3 last night. I adore the pairing of actors David Tennant and Olivia Colman. I also like how they wove the characters & tropes from Season 1 into Seasons 2 and 3. I wish for more, but alas, it’s a trilogy.
  27. The Walking Dead — Once they killed Glenn so brutally in Episode 1 this past season, I could never go back. It was torture porn to my mind. Now my friends just tell me what’s happening, and that’s enough for me. I don’t need to see it.
  28. Fear the Walking Dead — The Walking Dead set in California and Mexico made for some interesting scenes, but to be honest, most of the characters in this season aren’t terribly likable, aside from Colman Domingo. It doesn’t help that the lead actress is a Katie Couric look-alike, since she irritates the shit out of me.
  29. The X-Files — I was beyond thrilled to see new episodes, but I need to know what happened to Scully & Mulder’s child! Keep filming!

Well…it’s clear I need to be doing more productive things with my time than binge-watching shows. That explains some unfinished paintings in my office. I didn’t realize how insanely extensive this list was until I got to the very end! Maybe I’ll be better next year…

 

 

 

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Stranger Things: I Want My ’80s Back!

My fitness trainer Kim shared with me her iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts during our Monday night workout. According to Kim, this was no ordinary iced coffee. This one had been cold-brewed for 12 hours. Whatever that meant … it was a new offering on the menu. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. As much of a coffee addict as I am, iced coffee rarely calls my name.

Dunkin' Donuts Cold-Brewed Coffee: Heaven in a plastic cup.

Dunkin’ Donuts Cold-Brewed Coffee: Heaven in a plastic cup.

I took one tiny sip, just being polite. I was instantly transported.

Were this a Twilight  Zone episode, you’d see that bad special effect of me, sans color, dizzily spinning backwards in time, calendar pages flipping past me in fast succession. In my case, I time machined back to age six. I was standing on our kitchen stool so I could reach the sink, washing the family’s dinner dishes. The first part of this evening chore meant washing my dad’s lunchbox tupperware, and his khaki-green metal coffee thermos. Dad had engraved his name into the side of the metal. I’d trace his signature with my fingertips as I was washing the outside of it. When no one was looking, I’d sneak a sip of its contents — his day-old java — pretending I was a grown up. (I know, I know … I’m still pretending.) This Dunkin’ Donuts cold-brewed fare mimicked Dad’s day-old coffee, perhaps because Dad’s had steeped for a good 12 hours in his thermos. While it can’t bring my father back, the nostalgia of those lost days washes over me with every swallow. I’m hooked!

On the website CockedEyed.com, you can create your own "STRANGER THINGS" Lightbulb Message Encoder. How cool is that?!?

On the website CockedEyed.com, you can create your own “STRANGER THINGS” Lightbulb Message Encoder. How cool is that?!?

The much-talked-about Netflix horror series Stranger Things became my other childhood time portal recently. I binge-watched the entire series in two nights. It was beyond amazing. Winona Ryder portrays the emotional fragility of a frantic parent as believably as Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice. Maybe moreso. The camaraderie feeling we get from Stephen King’s Stand By Me (and the origin story to that film, The Body) combines with the government conspiracy style narratives of Dean R. Koontz. The music, the fashion, the cars, the bad basement decor. The vulnerable, gawky, tender awkwardness of being a teen. It all felt so familiar — like an old friend returning. A friend I didn’t realize I had been yearning for as hard as I had.

For us Gen-Xers, those were magical times. Whenever I discuss Stranger Things with my peers, I always ask them, “If you could go back to the ’80s, would you?”

Without hesitation, faces telegraphing that “Are you daft, girl?” expression, every single friend has declared, “In. A. Heartbeat.”

My Friend Peter Harper’s First Solo Album

The immensely talented artist, musician an all-around ridiculously handsome PETER HARPER.

The immensely talented artist, musician, and all-around ridiculously handsome PETER HARPER.

Peter Harper is one of my friends whom I don’t chat with for a while, but when I do, it’s always invigorating and feels like no time has passed. He and I first connected when he was doing his amazing art project, “Faces of Life” Masks (which he’s still curating) and I was scheduling UFC Champ client Bas Rutten, TV attorney client Jeffrey Brown, and True Blood/Magic Mike actor Joe Manganiello to get their face masks done. (I think Bas was the only one brazen enough to do his with an open mouth.)

I feel bad about it, but somehow I had totally missed out on the fact that Peter produced an album and has been touring all over the place. To rectify that, here’s an iTunes link to his album: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/peter-harper/id73107349 If his last name is familiar, Peter is brother to musical talent, Ben Harper, but Peter totally holds his own musically. What a ridiculously talented family! If you watch the “Take it Home” video, you’ll discover a unique guitar…which Peter crafted himself. Like I said…ridiculously talented.

Peter’s music is easy. Soul soothing. Pour yourself a glass of (insert your favorite mellow beverage here) and give it a listen. Here’s your link to do so:

http://peterharper.net