What I Did On My Summer Vacation
Surely you remember the mundane essays we all wrote in grade school – What I Did on my Summer Vacation. Mine usually consisted of fairly standard fare – lake vacations, afternoons at the pool, summer camp. These days, our breaks are probably occupied with internships, summer classes, and of course, the classic standard “hanging out with friends.” Some things just never change.
If you’ve spent any time at all on this blog, you know that my life is dominated by television approximately 90 percent of my waking hours. It would stand to reason that my summer was filled with much of the same – TV. The intense rating burden and the pressure to produce cutting-edge, critically acclaimed content are (mostly) lessened. Broadcast and cable networks alike are free to lighten up their schedules with more crowd-pleasers and purely fun programs. It takes a specific kind of show to be successful in the summer weeks. Us laymen call them the “guilty pleasure” shows.
So without further ado, I proudly present “My Summer Vacation” (also known as “The Five Shows I Semi-Guiltily But Entirely Pleasurably Wasted My Summer Hours Away With”).
Teen Wolf (MTV)
Yes, Teen Wolf. Yes, it’s on MTV; yes, it’s based on the 1985 film with Michael J. Fox. Yes, it’s set in high school; yes, it’s about werewolves; and (most importantly) yes, it stars some incredibly attractive young actors. It’s a wonderfully delicious action, supernatural, and shirtlessness sandwich. The show just wrapped up its second season, so you’ve got 24 episodes to help you procrastinate the beginning of the semester and live in fantasy-land, where the days are still long and classes just don’t exist. I promise, it’s so much better than you’d think.
Like Teen Wolf, Suits just finished up the first part of its sophomore run (it returns with new episodes sometime in the winter). No werewolves here though, just a pot-smoking college-dropout fake-lawyer with an eidetic memory, and his ass kicking Harvard-educated, “I Win At Everything Because Winning is Everything” mentor. There’s mystery solving and case winning and general badassery.
I love TV, so it would stand to reason that I would also love a show about TV. Well, I do. Episodes stars Matt LeBlanc as… Matt LeBlanc, a highly-exaggerated and highly-entertaining version of himself. The show revolves around a British couple brought across the pond to produce a US version of their hit sitcom. It’s truly an exercise in Occam’s Razor – everything that can go wrong, the network makes go wrong. There are accents, stalkers and Friends-references galore – even a guest spot from a certain former cast member with hair as bright as the sun!
Political Animals (USA)
Usually when I write lists like these, I try to spread the love around. Different genres, different networks. (Un)fortunately for me, the USA Network kind of has the market cornered on your typical summer fare – full of light, entertaining, attractive stars. But the reason the network makes my list twice is that this year they branched out a little with Political Animals. The show is loosely based on the life of current Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and stars Sigourney Weaver, Carla Gugino, Sebastian Stan, Ellen Burstyn, Ciarán Hinds, Adrian Pascar, Dylan Baker… the list literally could go on and on. It’s something of a typical political drama, but its added family flair and ties to real life take the mini-series to a whole new level. Make sure you stick around until the finale – it’ll shock, awe, and amaze.
The Newsroom (HBO)
I saved Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom for last for a very specific reason. Not because it’s the most entertaining or the most fun, but because the first season is honestly the ten most powerful hours of television I have ever seen. Each episode centers around a real life news event that occurred some time in the past two years – events like the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and the death of Osama Bin Laden. It’s not just a show about making a news program, it’s also a retelling of those events from the point of view we see least often – the people that carry the burden of first knowledge and are tasked with sharing that information to the rest of the country. It’s got heart and truth and emotion and honesty – but most of all, it has pure, unadulterated humanity.