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This Week: A Tremendous Relief

Josie Kafka: I'm masterminding this week's This Week post, and I want to get the ball rolling with a weird question: Do you enjoy all the TV you watch?

I tried to watch the first season of White Lotus when it premiered but couldn't get into it. This week, I tried to watch the second season, and I think I like it more, but I'm not sure I actually like it.

I'm watching it because it's pretty. I'm watching it to find out who dies. I'm watching it to listen to the Italian and look at the pretty, interesting clothes. I'm also watching it for Aubrey Plaza. But I'm not 100% sure I'm enjoying the show. Is it good, or just expensive? Is it nuanced, or just really quotidian satire?

What about all of you? What are you watching? What are you enjoying? What are you watching but not enjoying?

And most importantly: am I just really weird?

Sunbunny: Weird but in the best way. I honestly used to watch a lot of TV I didn't enjoy because the clothes were pretty or the people were pretty or just to see what happened. But a few years ago I decided that life is too short. So I read the summary of the last season of Game of Thrones, and enjoy the gifs of Anya Taylor-Joy and Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders without spending hours watching stuff that feels like a chore. A stressful chore, in those two cases. I also used to be the kind of person who would watch something I quit enjoying just because I was so far in I felt invested. Once Upon a Time springs to mind. But now, as I've done with recent seasons of Doctor Who, I just stop watching rather than waste my time. Although in Doctor Who's case I am very excited to return to with a new Doctor. Well, one new Doctor and one new-ish I guess?

Billie Doux: Josie, you are not weird. I watched both seasons of The White Lotus for much the same reasons, and gave myself permission to NOT watch season three, whenever it arrives. I just don't like it. I don't want to spend my time with those characters.

I used to make myself hang in to the bitter end, no matter what. (I'm looking at you, Smallville.) But I'm getting better at dropping shows when I don't love them anymore. Like The Walking Dead. I was deeply into it, and reviewing it. It gradually became a chore-watch. Then it really pissed me off and I quit way before it ended. I even quit watching the spinoff. Not like the old me at all.

Sadly, I got tired of the Berlanti-verse before it ended. I really wish I still enjoyed The Flash so I could watch the final season along with Shari's reviews. In a bit of timeliness, I stopped watching Superman & Lois last week because of a new plotline. I don't want to spoil anyone so I won't say what it is, but if you're watching the show, you know what I'm talking about.

The thing is, you can't always tell when something is going to turn around on you. Season two of Star Trek: Picard was a bit of a chore-watch and I had to push myself to review some missing episodes. But I'm so glad I did because season three has been CRAZY GOOD. I think my tolerance level is different when it comes to Star Trek.

Victoria Grossack: Sometimes I don't have the emotional energy to try something new. Also, I'm one of those people who prefers to binge rather than to string out a story from week to week. I grew impatient with Supergirl in its last season, even though I really liked where it ended – with Supergirl finally switching to pants and her revelation at the end of the series. I've been impatient with The Crown, too, but it's because the current crop of royals is so uninspiring. Why are the Brits allowing themselves to have a King?

I did try a few new things recently. Husband and I tried to watch the movie American Hustle. I tried to watch the movie You People, with Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. In both cases, even though I had high hopes because of the talent, I stopped. Neither engaged me.

I'm still enjoying Manifest, which I'm rewatching because I'm reviewing it (I heard the last 10 episodes may drop April 7). I'm challenging myself with Brooklyn Nine-Nine in French. Comedy, especially spoken quickly and with a lot of slang, is tough, but it's good for me.

Shari: You'll get no arguments from me, Josie. If this weren't the final season of The Flash, I'm not sure that I'd still be reviewing it. But I'm a completionist at heart. At least for shows I've become invested in. Lately, I've been bailing if I'm not hooked after the first two or three episodes.

That said, I'm not quite ready to quit the superhero shows. I've been watching Gotham Knights because... Misha. The premise is that Bruce Wayne is killed while in his Batman costume and his adopted son is the prime suspect. Misha plays Harvey Dent, and if you know anything about the comics you'll realize it's not so clear whose side he's on. So far, so good.

I've also started watching the new Perry Mason starring Matthew Rhys. I know it's been out for two years now, but I didn't have HBO back then. Anyway, it's a grittier, darker version than we've seen before and the supporting cast, which includes John Lithgow and Tatiana Maslany, is phenomenal. It may not be a particularly "fun" watch considering the season one mystery deals with the death of a child but it is compelling. Plus I have to find out if my theory is correct.

Speaking of mysteries, I've been reading The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal which is like reading a Murder, She Wrote novel set on a cruise ship traveling from Earth to Mars. Though there are multiple murders, this one is such a fun read.

Victoria: For anyone watching Perry Mason – and I have not seen the new HBO version – I must point out that Perry Mason means "stone mason," while his traditional opponent, Hamilton Burger, is meant to be "hamburger."

Shari: You learn something new every day...

Adam D. Jones: I only watch stuff I'm going to have fun with. Sometimes that means it's a fun show. Sometimes it's my weekly tradition where I gather a few friends and we make fun of really bad movies. Either way, it needs to be fun. I've already got a job. Why make TV a chore?

I recently started Blockbuster, because Keegan Connor Tracy is (barely) in it. She's charming, as always, but for the most part it felt like the title should be called "Lackluster." Anyway, I kept watching because I needed a short show to wind down with. It felt like a disaster brewing. I get the impression they had no time to do editing and filming at first, because it looks thrown together. But it actually improves, and I'm looking forward to watching the final two episodes.

And as long as Danielle Panabaker is on The Flash, I'm in.

Billie: Adam, it definitely gets more complicated when I'm reviewing something. I commit to reviews, and I feel obligated to finish as long as the show runs. Unfortunately, shows tend to run longer than they stay good. Sometimes sucks for me.

I saw Top Gun: Maverick the other night, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but it was really good, much better than the original movie. It successfully captured the emotions involved in facing mistakes, ageing out of a career and losing people we love, even bringing me to tears a couple of times. Val Kilmer, who can no longer speak in real life, returned as "Iceman" and gave a moving performance with just his facial expressions. The mission that was the center of the action was genuinely compelling and exciting to watch.

Shari: I agree, Billie. But I still don't think it was worth an Academy nod. Not when movies like The Woman King were completely snubbed.

Billie: The Oscars rarely get it right.

Mikey Heinrich: Strange New Worlds season two starts on June 15th! And they've been renewed for season three!

Also, these are the secret reasons that I'm a bad gay. I wasn't really aware that the Oscar nominees had even been announced. Have they already happened?

Also... Deep breath. Vulnerable confession here.

I have never seen Top Gun.

Not even the volleyball scene.

I'll leave my gay card on my way out.

Joseph Santini: *googles*

Shari: It's okay. You were aware of the volleyball scene. Your card is secure.

Mikey: That is a tremendous relief. :)

Joseph: I was clearly not aware. Now going into hiding from Gayland Security.

Mikey: You fool! They have cameras EVERYWHERE.

Adam: Billie, your positive stance on the new Top Gun frustrates me, because I've been avoiding that movie. Partly because Tom Cruise has no talent and exclusively stars in stupid movies, partly because the first Top Gun is, as far as I know, the most reliable cure for insomnia. I can't reconcile this with your statement that it's a movie worth watching. I may short circuit.

Billie: Adam, feel free to ignore anything I said about Top Gun. I'm feeling a bit sorry that I brought it up. :)

Adam: LOTS of people have told me to drop my prejudice and give that one a try. But I promised in college, twenty years ago, to never watch him in anything ever again. It's been a good streak so far, but a good movie is a good movie...

Josie: Wait, no Tom Cruise at all?!

The past couple of Mission Impossible movies (anything directed by Christopher McQuarrie) have been extremely good spy thrillers with excellent practical effects and a far more grown-up vibe than most action movies.

Sunbunny: I've never seen a Tom Cruise movie in its entirety either.

Josie: What is happening here? Seriously: I'm trying to do work right now and you all have presented me with an unanticipated reviewing emergency.

What can I do to convince you to watch a Tom Cruise movie?

What sort of intervention is required here?

(Solving this problem is much, much more interesting than the work I am doing.)

Billie: I suggest Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, 2014. Terrific sci-fi Groundhog Day movie. We should have a review on the site, but we don't.

Mikey: If it adds to the conversation, I don't have strong feelings about Tom Cruise.

I did kind of enjoy that latest mummy movie a few years back, despite its flaws.

As for TV, I'm really excited to start in on season two of Yellowjackets.

CoramDeo: Here to say Tom Cruise’s definitive best performance is in Magnolia. There’s not a single contest.

Mikey: There's an argument to be made for Tropic Thunder.

Joseph: Seguing back... I just couldn't get into Tom's stuff after the whole Scientology thing came out but that's another discussion.

I've been struggling with letting shows go. Doom Patrol started out interesting but one day I noticed I was leaving the show on as background noise, just looking over at the screen now and then to update myself on where the characters were.

I switched over to Stargirl which turned out to be surprisingly good (although I’m tired of superhero shows devolving to superhero shenanigans rather than the whole point of, e.g., helping people as a superhero.) That I finished and wanted more – too bad about the cancellation.

I let Picard go because the second season was a slog for me too but it turned out I needed a rewatch because now I’m enjoying it! Sometimes, as with books and readers, I think shows need to come at the ‘right time’ for the watcher.

Adam: I almost forgot. I know our readers are hanging on my watch habits, and they'll be happy to know I've made it all the way to season six of Gilmore Girls. The question, "Do you enjoy what you watch?" is very relevant here.

It's very fun when Kirk, Luke, and Taylor get into quirky situations involving town politics. That stuff is gold. But Rory leaving Yale because one person didn't like her (cry me a river) is just eye-rollingly annoying. I'm so sorry that the "Everyone Worships Rory" train doesn't make a stop in every single town. Better drop out of school and complain about it a lot.

But the spectacle of this show is fun, and my wife laughs every time we see a new layer of Luke, because apparently he and I are cloned from the same boring strands of DNA, which is probably wear flannel, hate New York, and always buy the same bag of identical socks and wear them every day. (All I'm saying is that my socks always match.)

Anyway, at least half the show is pure torture, and I wouldn't have lasted without my wife to crack jokes with.

Billie: I'm just bound to be on the other side of Adam this week :) but I love Rory, and I love all of Gilmore Girls. Except for Luke's sister and brother-in-law. They make my teeth hurt.

Panda: I actually recently rewatched all of Gilmore Girls (including A Year in the Life) and I really enjoyed most of it. Even the revival was kind of wonderful still, even if a lot of fans weren’t too gone on it. Rory was insufferable at times, especially in her college years, but felt like a product of her surroundings? She was super privileged, and she was at least called out on some of her worst behaviour (dropping out of Yale, breaking up a marriage). The two leads were imperfect, neurotic and self obsessed and yet I still love them anyway.

For me, the most ill conceived character in the entire run of the show was Anna Nardini. Just a really poorly written character, and honestly a terrible mother? I actually skipped past some of her scenes. When she got put in her place later on, I cheered. If only we saw more of her reaction.

Also, Emily is the Gilmore queen. When the series is brought back again (and I’m convinced it’ll get one more go-around) I’d like to see her remain mostly untouched so her future stays as bright as it was at the end of AYITL.

Adam: Kelly Bishop's portrayal of Emily Gilmore could be the finest performance in the history of television. That might be a little lofty, but it also might be true. Emily is incredible. Especially when she gets super serious about the password to her safe room. (It's one... one... one... one.......... one.)

Billie: Absolutely agree with both of you that Kelly Bishop is fabulous. I like Emily, then I hate her, then I love her, then she makes me laugh, and nothing she does ever seems out of character. I also had a controlling maternal grandmother with a strong personality (also named Emily!), although she leaned a lot more toward evil than Emily Gilmore did.

And I was an overachieving A student and a too-adult teenager with a divorced mother that I often had to take care of, so I tend to identify with Rory. She did some acting out in college, but I think she was overdue. Her most egregious flaw was preferring Jess over Dean. Honestly, Logan never did much for me, either. Who could possibly ever measure up to Sam Winchester, though?

So young!

Mikey: Ok, I give. I'm adding Gilmore Girls to my shows to watch list.

ChrisB: Too much to comment on...

I loved the new Top Gun. But, I loved the first one as well. I know — we all have our flaws.

I was SO disappointed in the new Perry Mason. I grew up with Raymond Burr in black and white reruns and I credit that show for eventually making me a lawyer. I wanted the new one to be an updated version of the old one, but it was far too dark for me. I got through the first episode and a half and gave up.

I really need a series to stick to. I find that my tolerance has diminished for any kind of nonsense and so I easily give up. Manifest, Yellowstone, and White Lotus are three recent examples of shows that everyone is talking about and enjoying but I gave up on.

Like Victoria, I loved the early seasons of The Crown but am struggling with the newest. I’m about halfway through the latest season, but can always find something else to watch.

Kelly Bishop dancing down the runway when she does the fashion show. One of my favorite TV moments of all time.

Shari: Objectively, I love the fact that a show is willing to have its protagonist outgrow their love interest rather than have one of them do something to earn the breakup. However, I will say it a million and one times "He built her a car!"

That said, I believe that once Jess matured, he was a better fit for Rory than either Dean or Logan. He was her intellectual equal and understood her in a way that Logan never did.

Samantha M. Quinn: Wow, how did I miss this entire conversation so far?

Gilmore Girls is one of my favorites, and while I can understand some of the actions from the primary characters are questionable sometimes, I love them all. I honestly cannot stand Taylor and I think Mrs. Kim should be arrested for child abuse. Dean and Rory never really made sense beyond a high school romance. Jess was so clearly the opposite of Dean that he made sense, but was also never really a good fit for Rory. The fact that she changed him for the better is the first clue, plus she always wanted to change him rather which is a good reason to not stay together. Logan was okay, kind of didn't like him but I don't hate him. I absolutely agree Kelly Bishop as Emily is great, and is one of the main reasons the show works. I also have to point out Paris as one of my favorites. She is so wonderfully abrasive that she makes Rory's school antics all the better.

I had the same chore-watch syndrome with a few shows. I stopped watching The Flash in season six, The Walking Dead shortly after Negan was introduced (and I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and I just cannot bring myself to go back to The Handmaid's Tale despite how good it is. There have been several others that I just dropped because I couldn't bring myself to continue watching. So I totally get the impulse.

So I'll admit that I'm actually a bit of a Cruise fan. I'll agree with most of everyone's points about his movies, with one exception... I hate Magnolia!!! I won't go into why, but just the mention of me makes me react badly. Some of his best movies are Tropic Thunder, Jerry McGuire, Edge of Tomorrow, Cocktail, Minority Report, Oblivion, Interview with the Vampire and the Mission Impossible series (the second one is kind of not great, but the other five movies are good and two more are coming soon). There are some of his older movies like Top Gun, Risky Business and The Color of Money that I don't really care for, but each of them have merits.

Sunbunny: I loved watching Gilmore Girls when it was first on. I watched with my mom and it was a fun Tuesday ritual. I think we stopped after Rory went to college. But I promised myself when I got into Supernatural I’d never rewatch GG. I had such a hard time remembering that Dean from GG was now Sam and his brother was named Dean. Both are good shows, especially the early seasons.

Panda: I’ve found myself easily able to distinguish Dean v Sam W. It’s all in the hair. That 90s bob he sports in GG is the most un-Winchester thing!

Josie: We're reaching the end of the week – what have we learned?

Tom Cruise is more controversial than I'd thought.
Gilmore Girls will live in our heads forever.
Mikey needs to watch Top Gun.
I am not too weird.

Anything else?

Billie: That if everyone had the same opinion, this would be a very boring blog?

Mikey: Also, the collective noun for a group of otters is a romp.

Not strictly relevant, but fun to know.


  1. Well, believe it or not I made it through all of this. Pretty entertaining. I’ll just comment that I only watch for fun. I don’t continue shows I don’t like. I also prefer action to drama. My life has enough drama of it’s own and doesn’t need company.

    I’m only watching a few shows right now. Mando, Picard, Bad Batch; will watch Andor, SNW, Boba Fett when they return. I’m probably forgetting some. I used to watch more, but recent trauma has produced the strange reaction that I’m able many days to only stream Buffy.

    I like Tom Cruz in some things, my favs are A Few Good Men, Edge of Tomorrow and Oblivian. Edge of Tomorrow is one of those movies I’ll stop & watch any time it’s on. I did not like Tom Cruz as Reacher. Not so much for his acting as for his looks. Reacher was very tall and rather rough looking. Not the Cruz type at all!

    I never seem to tire of Stargate the Movie, and SG1 even though everyone speaks English. Lol. Love both Daniel Jacksons, James Spader & Michael Shanks.

    I really liked The Last of Us, but it was heading into darkland. I also just watched Prey. Wow, awesome. I’ll probably leave a comment on the movie review.

  2. I can't imagine persevering with a show I don't like for a whole season. Even shows that I did like tend to get put on hiatus and may never be completed if they have a string of weak episodes or make a change of direction that I really don't like. I dropped the Walking Dead partway through season 2 and Lost and Arrow partway through season 3. Though I do find I tend to persevere with mediocre, inoffensive shows to the end if I'm invested in the characters or at least mildly curious how things end.

    I'm currently enjoying season1 of Manifest and struggling through season 4 of the Handmaid's Tale.

  3. Interesting question. I usually only watch shows I actually enjoy watching, though it also depends on how much show there is. If I watched three good seasons of a show and then there was a final, rather bad season, I think I'd force myself to watch it to properly finish the show. But if there were, like 5 more bad seasons to slog through, I think I'd stop. I could never get into the Berlanti-verse simply because there is just sooo much of it and most of it doesn't seem that great to me. Of course, that's kind of a different thing than dropping a show because it's getting bad.

    But then there are also some shows that just need a while to become good. Fringe is a prime example of a show that almost takes 1 and a 1/2 seasons to become really good tv on a consistent basis (and I would classify most of the first season as a chore to watch for me, tbh). But then for the last 3 1/2 seasons, basically every episode really is amazing. So with shows like that, it's always a question if it's worth working yourself through the bad parts of a show to get to the good stuff. And I can think of plenty of shows that have a rather weak (or other) season but most of the rest of it is good. Even Supernatural's first season, while fun, isn't nearly as good as what came after.

  4. So many shows get off to slow starts that I think I've been conditioned to be a bit less harsh on first seasons. There's still the novelty factor of watching a new show there. But if I'm onto the second season and it doesn't feel like things are going to improve, that's when my interest starts to wane a bit.


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