Pop Cultured Summer To-Do List 2014

With the regular TV season over, I miraculously have some free time. Not a lot, mind you, because there’s still other summer shows and movies to watch, but enough time that I can put towards doing things I’ve been meaning to do. Will I get everything watched/read/done before September rolls around? Maybe, maybe not (probably not) but I’m gonna sure as hell try.

TV

Because a TV addict like me doesn’t already watch enough TV, I still have other shows (past and present) that I need to catch up on.

  • Friday Night Lights: I’ll admit, I didn’t watch this show when it first aired because high school football? Not really my thing. But years later, having heard so much about it and becoming fans of a lot of the people who came from the show (Scott Porter, Taylor Kitsch, Connie Britton, Michael B. Jordan, Adrianne Palicki, Minka Kelly, creator/writer Jason Katims), I figured it was about time I got around to watching it. I started watching it while I was on vacation and only continued on once all my other shows had finished for the season. Now I’m done and I admit, it was a DAMN GOOD show.
  • Firefly: A nerd like me and I never watched Firefly? Shame on me. All caught up now though and I certainly see the appeal and how it cultivated such a cult following. It was a really fun show.
  • The Americans S2: Here’s my problem with shows premiering “midseason” – I’m already set in my schedule, save for a few spots, so some shows inevitably get put on the backburner. I was a fan of the first season with Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys in the lead roles of undercover KGB spies in 1980s America. I really wanted to watch the new season, but with an already packed schedule, I felt it best to save it until summer.
  • Turn: Consider this a casualty of the packed Sunday nights. The show premiered in April, and I wanted to watch this in support of Nikita creator Craig Silverstein but Sundays somehow became incredibly packed. A show about the first spy ring didn’t quite have the same pull as another new show, Salem, that got my time/attention instead.

MOVIES

My insistence on reading about movies, matched with having two older siblings who lived through the 80s, well let’s just say my knowledge of movies far surpasses the number of movies I’ve actually seen. These are on the top of my to-watch list.

  • 12 Monkeys: There’s going to be a Syfy show based on this movie and starring some of my favourite people from from some of my favourite shows – Aaron Stanford (Nikita), Noah Bean (Nikita), Amanda Schull (Suits, Center Stage), Kirk Acevedo (Fringe). I’m sure it’s not completely necessary to watch the movie, but I’m one of those people who like referencing the source material first before getting into anything.
  • Seven: I’ve heard such great things about the movie and I’ve always been a fan of psychological thrillers, so it’s kind of a no-brainer for me to watch this. Plus, it’s a David Fincher-directed film!
  • Back to the Future: Over the years I’ve seen bits and pieces of the first two films in the trilogy, mainly when it aired on TV, but never saw all of it. I’m a little bit ashamed of that but I am determined to fix that.
  • Before Sunrise/Before Sunset/Before Midnight: Another trilogy I am determined to finally get around to watching. Sure, Before Midnight is fairly recent, having been released last year, but it’s been almost 20 years since the first film.

BOOKS

I will always be behind on my reading. There was a time when I used to read all the time and then I got wrapped up in watching too many TV series. I really have no idea how I studied/did homework, read novels, and watched the amount of TV that I did when I was in school (let’s be real honest here, I didn’t have a life and was the very definition of nerd back then). Lately, most of my reading gets done only when I’m on vacation and it’s because I don’t have TV to watch. That being said, these are the books that I am working on reading. I’m so not going to get all these read this summer (unless I do some serious camping out/lining up at SDCC and have lots of time to waste), but I’m working on it.

  • Bossypants: I’ve been actually working on reading Tina Fey’s autobiography for some time now. But for some reason or another, I haven’t finished it.
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me: What I said about Bossypants, pretty much applies here as well. From what I’ve read so far, well I just absolutely adore Mindy Kaling.
  • Suck It Wonder Woman!: C’mon, that title alone is worth checking out. I must admit I’ve been impressed with Olivia Munn over the years with her career choices.
  • The Fault In Our Stars: So what if this is a YA novel? Clearly people are responding positively to it and made a big deal about the movie that just came out starring Shailene Woodley + Ansel Elgort. I want to know what all the hype is about!
  • The Casual Vacancy: I gobbled up all those Harry Potter books when I was younger, so it’s a little surprising I didn’t immediately go pick up J.K. Rowling’s first novel aimed at adults.
  • S: It’s what you’ve come to expect from J.J. Abrams in the form of a book! I’m so intrigued by the concept of the book, sort of a story within a story.
  • The Double: I saw a movie earlier this year called Enemy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and directed by Denis Villeneuve, which is about a man who finds his doppelganger and becomes obsessed with him. After watching the film, I just had so many questions about the different themes, meanings, etc. that I had to get this book by Jose Saramago, which served as the basis of the film.

That would be everything that I’m trying to watch and read. I now turn things over to you: what pop culture-y things are you behind on and hope to catch up on during the summer downtime?

Falling Out of Love…With a TV Show

It’s happened to the best of us. We find something we really like, fall for its charms, stick by it even when others say bad stuff about it, and then the day comes that you realize it just wasn’t what you thought it would be – your relationship with your favourite TV shows can end up being heartbreaking. As a TV addict, I have a number of shows that I LOVE and a whole lot more shows that I really like. Now, regardless of the degree of adoration, it hurts all the same when a TV show I regularly watch starts losing its way or begins to disappoint me with its quality, or possibly worse, bores me. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I watch SO. MUCH. TV, but I seemingly have a certain standard to what I want out of my TV shows (except for when I don’t – I know that makes no sense, just roll with it). It was made all the more clear after I came back from a two-week vacation. As soon as I got back, I started working on the backlog of TV shows I had missed while I was away. It dawned on me not only the extent to which my TV obsession lay, but I also couldn’t believe what shows I was still watching that I should’ve given up a long time ago.

Quitting a show that I once loved to watch isn’t anything particularly new. Grey’s Anatomy, Glee, The Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars – shows that are still on the air that I have pulled the plug on for some time. A lot of times, once I start feeling the inclination that things are going south, I still finish out their current season in the hopes that they will renew my interest by the finale. Let me tell you, that hasn’t happened. Only Glee has been able to reel me back in for a couple episodes after I decided to break up with it – namely the Cory Monteith tribute (for how they were going to deal with his passing) and the 100th episode (just to see the returnees). Otherwise, once I made the decision to stop watching a show, I stopped.

Things get a little more complicated for shows that I know for a fact are ending. I binge-watched Dexter halfway through its run, after hearing pretty great things about it. It was really good but somewhere between the end of season 5 and the entirety of season 6, I wasn’t so sure. Religion’s an iffy topic for me, and with S6 being so focused on it, the show started losing me. The final minute of S6 kept me going for S7, which was an improvement on the previous season, and then knowing that S8 was going to be the last I figured I would just finish it off. I kind of regret that decision now, knowing how they decided to end things. True Blood is heading into its seventh and final season, and as I sit here, I’m still debating whether or not I care enough to watch how it all ends.

Anybody still watching or anticipating the new season?

Anybody still watching or anticipating the final season? For the record, S7 premieres June 22nd.

At the beginning of this year, when the mid-season shows began premiering, that was when my epiphany (of sorts) came to me. It started with the return of The Following – a show that while very flawed, I very much enjoyed its first season and cared enough about it to go to its SDCC panel. That panel gave me hope that they had fixed their issues and were going to come back better and stronger to prove those naysayers wrong. I lasted about six episodes before I called it quits. The show started feeling like it was going to be repetitive and going in circles until the time comes at the end of the series where (SPOILER ALERT?) Ryan Hardy finally kills Joe Carroll for good and frankly, I don’t have the energy to follow along. The same can be said for Revenge, which needs an end date so the writers/producers can work towards it, because again, it’s a big cat and mouse chase right now. Sure, they’ve made great improvements over the convoluted mess of season 2, but I’m not sure it has all been enough. There are only a few episodes left, so I’ll finish it off, but if the show returns for a fourth season, I’m not coming back. I stopped caring about it and realize now that I probably should’ve stopped watching it this time last year.

L-R: James Purefoy (who made a "surprise" appearance), Valorie Curry, EP Marcos Siega, Kevin Bacon, EP Kevin Williamson, Shawn Ashmore

Oh how quickly things change – less than a year ago, sitting in Ballroom 20 at SDCC to excitedly hear about S2 of The Following. Now? Got bored with it.

While catching up on the shows I missed while I was away, not to mention knowing all the shows that were premiering April, it kind of made me realize that there are some shows I watch mostly because they are part of the pop culture zeitgeist and thus as a pop culture fan/enthusiast I have a weird sense of obligation to stay on top of what’s “in” or “popular.” The purpose of that run-on sentence is to say that, when it comes to shows like Scandal and Game of Thrones, I’m quite conflicted on how I truly feel. When I first heard about Scandal, I thought it was an intriguing premise (and definitely a departure from the medical shows we know of from Shonda Rhimes). I binge-watched the first season on Netflix and caught up with S2 part way through, before I was able to watch it week to week. I loved that they were going all out with the writing, giving a cliffhanger pretty much every week, just burning through stories, and then there was this soapy quality to it that made it almost like a guilty pleasure. Partway through this past season, I started thinking that everything I loved about the show was turning into the things I didn’t like about it. They keep raising the stakes so much and are so focused on giving “OMG” moments in EVERY regular episode (so that people will want to talk about it on social media), that the finale fell a little flat. Really, how long can they continue going at high speeds before they start to crash and burn? For all intents and purposes, Game of Thrones really does appeal to me with the fantasy, almost medieval genre that it is. What I came to realize over the years though is that while I do enjoy watching the show, my retention of what actually happens during an episode is remarkably low. So much going on, so many characters to keep track of, I’m at a point where I’m ready to stop, and not because it’s bad, just that I’m not that into it.

TV is super competitive these days; I get it. I also know that I can’t watch everything, particularly live or same day, because that’s just ridiculous. Plus, some shows – regardless of rave reviews by critics and the general population – just aren’t for me. As the regular TV season winds down, I’m preparing myself to cut ties with a lot of shows, be it through network cancellation or by my own accord. After all, come September, there’s probably going to be some new shows for me to obsess over and not have time for.

So friends/readers, how many of you have had to stop watching a show because it simply wasn’t the same as it used to be? What other things factor into your decision to break up with a show?