Shows You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Last-Minute Binge Watching Edition

The long, lazy days of summer are winding down, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it – because it means TV season is upon us! However, there’s enough summer left before premiere week to squeeze in a couple kayaking trips, or finally go on that weekend-long hike, or throw a big outdoor barbeque for all of your friends. Or – better idea! – you can binge watch all of these great shows and be caught up by the time the next season begins. With 1-3 seasons under their belt, these are shows you should be watching – and with a proper binge watching technique, we think they’re shows you can be watching. Let’s make those last weeks of summer count, kids.

 Traci’s Suggestions

For beginner binge-watchers looking for a laughcry: About a Boy

Seasons to catch up on: 1

Next season begins: Tuesday, October 14th on NBC

Why you should be watching:

This NBC sitcom was a mid-season replacement earlier this year (and we also talked about it then too) and only has 13 episodes that are 22 minutes long! About a Boy is based off the 2002 movie starring Hugh Grant, which was based on the 1998 novel by Nick Hornby, but the pilot is the only episode that is like the movie. After that, it’s about the boy, brilliantly played by Benjamin Stockham,, his mom, brilliantly played by Minnie Driver, and the bachelor neighbor who turns out to be the best father figure in the boy’s life, brilliantly played by David Walton. If you like your comedies with a side of crying and a handful of heart, this show’s for you. This show’s also for you if you are a fan of Parenthood or Friday Night Lights, as it has the same tone as those shows, except with a few more jokes. Also it’s by creator/executive producer Jason Katims, who helmed said shows. He really can do nothing wrong.

For the rom-com loving semi-professional TV watchers: The Mindy Project

Seasons to catch up on: 2

Next season begins: Tuesday, September 16th on FOX

Why you should be watching:

Just like a fine wine or Mindy’s alma mater, The Office, this show only gets better with time. With every episode, the writers and actors found their true voice, and by the end of season two, it became not only one of my favorite shows, but it was hard to believe that such a strong series was only in its second season. As the creator, executive producer and star of the show, there’s no doubt that Mindy Kaling’s own voice is all over the series, which is a good thing. To be clear, Mindy doesn’t play herself, she plays a woman named Mindy who is a gynecologist with her own practice. I can’t think of a female in television who is like her – there’s Tina Fey, but she and Mindy have such different comedic styles which are both great in their own ways. While Tina used 30 Rock as an offbeat showcase for her humor, Mindy takes the nuances of her friendships and romances and amplifies them to create a fairly accurate portrait of life as a working single woman in 2014. And for gals like me, I greatly appreciate that there is a minority woman representin’ in a sea of (for lack of a better term) white men in comedy. There are 46 half hour (22 minute) episodes to catch up on before September 16th, but I promise they will go faster than you can say Beyonce Pad Thai (you’ll eventually get that reference).

For the dramatically inclined hardcore TV addicts: Scandal

Seasons to catch up on: 3

Next season begins: Thursday, September 25th on ABC

Why you should be watching:

My friends know I’m insane about television, so when they ask me for suggestions as for what to watch next, I always say Scandal. Always. This is mainly for selfish reasons so I can have other people to freak out with when shit goes down on the show. But really, the show itself is really good you guys. If for some reason you don’t know what Scandal’s about (where have you been), the basic plot centers around Olivia Pope (played by the gorgeous and talented Kerry Washington), who is a Washington D.C. fixer. She makes bad situations better, or even makes them go away completely. Oh, small side note is that she’s having an affair with the President. Who’s married. With kids. AND YOU STILL FIND YOURSELF ROOTING FOR THE PEOPLE HAVING THE AFFAIR. But that’s one of the best aspects of the show – the line of right and wrong is always blurred and you don’t know whose side to be on.

Plus the show moves QUICKLY. There are 47 hour-long episodes but they go by super fast (if you binge-watched Grey’s Anatomy like me, I’m convinced Shonda Rhimes puts crack in her eps to make you want to watch one right after the other). Not only time wise, but plot wise too – I have never seen so many things happen in an hour than in Scandal. People die, people lie, people have family members you never knew existed – it’s a lot to take in, but it’s so worth it. Also, you want to catch up (all three seasons are on Netflix instant!) so you can watch live come September. Another great part about watching the show live is live tweeting. Most of the cast tweets live from both coasts every Thursday, which is takes the viewing experience to a whole new level. And if you’re concerned about watching 47 episodes in a month – just know that I watched seasons 1 and 2 of Scandal in 8 days. What’s even more impressive is that that’s not even my best record for binge-watching a series. Side note: I just remembered there’s a site where you can calculate how many hours of your life you’ve spent watching TV, and it’s scary. Unrelatedly, I’m gonna go play outside for the next year.

Molly’s Suggestions

For displaced comedy nerds: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Seasons to catch up on: 1

Next season begins: Sunday, September 28 on FOX

Why you should be watching:

The Golden Globes got this one right – Brooklyn Nine-Nine is an ensemble workplace comedy with clever writing and a hilarious cast. Despite TV’s love affair with police procedurals and sitcoms about coworkers, it’s also the only combination of the two currently on the small screen. With comedy vets  Andy Samberg, Chelsea Peretti and Joe Lo Truglio, cop show vet Andre Braugher, talented (relative) newcomers Stephanie Beatriz and Melissa Fumero, and a former football player just because (Terry Crews), this is a cast with a rapport like people you’d find at an actual workplace. Except, you know, funnier.

If you are a sitcom lover still reeling over the loss of The Office and 30 Rock, and bracing for the end of Parks And Recreation, and kind of confused about what’s going on with Community, this show will fill the hole in your heart and also the one in your TV schedule.

For insomniacs and horror fans who aren’t afraid of the dark: American Horror Story

 Seasons to catch up on: 3 – or zero. We’ll explain.

Next season begins: Wednesday, October 8th on FX

Why you should be watching:

Look. I’m not a horror movie person, really, but this is just good television. Let’s talk about the cast: Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson, Zachary Quinto, Angela Bassett, Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Gabourey Sidibe – although not all of them appear in all seasons, some of the best actors of today are on AHS. The whole thing is headed up by Ryan Murphy after he jumped ship from Glee (can you blame him?). And the format – AHS functions like a reperatory company, with actors taking different roles in the different seasons. That means each season tells an entirely different story. They can all be watched independently of each other, so you only have to catch up on as much as you want to.

The seasons are themed. In the past we’ve had Murder House (ghosts!), Asylum (psychological torture!), and Coven (witches!), but the upcoming season will be scariest of all: Freak Show (clowns!). Such is my fear of the circus that I was terrified of my sister’s clown doll for my whole childhood, and one of my brothers would swing open my bedroom door and smile a giant, frozen clown smile while singing that awful circus calliope song. This is going to be full-on spooky.

For escapists with time to spare: Once Upon A Time

Seasons to catch up on: 3

Next season begins: Sunday, September 28 on ABC

Why you should be watching:

I think we all have those people who we trust implicitly when it comes to TV recommendations. Traci is one of mine, by the way, so you should probably watch what she tells you to watch because she always nails it. Another is my sister-in-law. A couple years ago she told me about Once Upon A Time, and I was like “girl … fairy tales? Not sure.”

I started watching a few weeks ago and I am sold. Once Upon A Time is set in Storybrooke, Maine, a town populated by fairy tale characters. The evil queen levied a curse (do you levy curses or did law school just ruin me as a person?) and everybody forgot about their fairy tale past and lived as normal people – until Snow White’s daughter shows up on her 28th birthday and sets the wheels a-turning. Each episode contains a plot line in the present day as the townspeople try to figure out what’s up, and a fairy tale backstory of one of the characters in their former life.

Remember in the TGIF days when each of the ABC shows had an episode set at Disney every year? Once Upon A Time is like the ultimate ABC-Disney tie-in. I mean, don’t worry, Anna and Elsa have already been cast. But it’s not all fluff. Once Upon A Time is the brainchild of the creators of Lost, so there’s a lot of crazy theories you can keep track of, plus a bunch of Lost references.

I just finished season one and I’m not sure if I’ll get through two more in the next month. It’s certainly doable. But if you don’t mind spoiling yourself, you could probably watch season one, select random episodes of the other season to watch, and use Wikipedia for the rest.

 

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Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: About A Boy

Well, we’ve reached the halfway point in the TV season, and it’s when networks usually introduce new shows to replace the sucky ones they cancelled. One of the standout shows from this bunch of mid-season replacements is NBC’s About a Boy.

The show premiered after the Olympics, which is a tactic that NBC has devised before – they did it with Go On last year, which unfortunately was cancelled after one season. To prevent About a Boy receiving the same fate, how about we all give this show a try and keep it on the air for just a little longer.

Storyline

“Successful songwriter and bachelor Will Freeman lives a carefree life as the “ultimate man-child”. His perfect world is turned upside down when single mom Fiona and her 11-year-old son Marcus move in next door.” It’s also worth noting that if this title sounds familiar, it’s because it was based on the 2002 movie with Hugh Grant, which was based on the 1998 novel by Nick Hornby.

Reasons Why You Should Watch

Jason Katims

Damnit Katims, you did it again. Producer/Writer/Director extraordinaire, Jason has created some of the best (and also some of my favorite) shows over the past few years, including Friday Night Lights and Parenthood. Jason has a way of creating characters you care deeply about, scenarios that could actually happen in real-life, moments of hilarity and of course moments of non-stop crying. That’s what makes each of his shows so special there’s a quality that you can feel from the pilot – it has heart. That’s surprisingly hard to come by in television these days, but thanks to Katims, I can count on his shows to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside while still wiping away tears from my face. About a Boy is no different. Will and Marcus form a quick bond throughout the 22 minute pilot, but you can tell that they’re changing each others’ lives in such a short amount of time already. Whether you’re an 11 year old kid who’s new in town or a loser of a guy in his 30s, the show seeks to prove that your life can change when you least expect it, when you don’t think you want it to and in the unlikeliest of places – but you wouldn’t want it any other way.

The Boy

Benjamin Stockham plays young Marcus, a delightful young boy who, along with his mom played by Minnie Driver, move to San Francisco right next door to Will. Minnie’s a vegan hippie sort and Will, a meat-eater, is just trying to fit in at school. But le tme tell you, this kid’s acting and comedic timing is off the chain. He’s only 13 years old, but could easily be 40 if you told me he was. He’s not one of those annoying kids you see on TV (or in real life), he’s someone you want to cheer for and possibly hug whenever you get a chance. I also had to look up his past credits and guess what – he was in the gone-too-soon comedy, 1600 Penn alongside Josh Gag, Bill Pullman and Jenna Elfman. And he was great it that too, but 10 times better in this.

Potential guest stars and crossovers

Parenthood is where this whole crossover thing took it to the next level. Katims was all, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and hire the same actors from my Emmy award-winning show to be on my new show.’ So you know, he made his calls and throughout the course of all the five seasons, FNL stars like Minka Kelly, Michael B. Jordan, Matt Lauria, Jurnee Smollett and Derek Phillips have all been on the show (not to mention Jesse Plemmons’ return as Landry on this FNL/Parenthood crossover that blew my mind). That being said, it’s inevitable to have FNL and/or Parenthood folks on About a Boy. Case in point: it has already been announced that Adrienne Palicki (good old Tyra on FNL) will have an arc on the show as one of Will’s love interests. Plus, David Walton (Will) has already been in a recent episode of Parenthood as one of Crosby’s (Dax Shepard) poker buddies. It helps that both shows take place in the bay area, because Crosby’s going to be in an ep of About a Boy too. TV nerds celebrate the crossover magic!

No book, No movie, no problem

As I previously mentioned, About a Boy is based on a book which was based on a movie. Now if anyone’s up for the task of adapting something that’s already been adapted before, it’s Jason Katims. He did it with both FNL and Parenthood, but managed to keep the story going on season after season. In the pilot of About a Boy, fans familiar with the book and movie will find it similar to what they already know about the story. Will and Fiona (Minnie Driver) immediately hate each other, he has a lot of women coming in and out of his boudoir, and there’s even a big talent show featuring Marcus at the end. But that’s it. You don’t need to have seen the movie or read the book in order to enjoy the show. I’ve only seen the movie and I saw it around the time it first came out, so I clearly have no recollection of anything that happened, besides the fact that Hugh Grant befriended Nicholas Hoult aka Mr. Jennifer Lawrence. So no need to fret if you’re unfamiliar. You’ll fall in love with these characters and will be genuinely interested in their lives as the series goes on, and you’ll completely forget it was based on something else in the first place.

About a Boy is on NBC, Tuesdays @ 9:00pm

Watch the pilot here!