My favorite TV shows, or: How I realized I might be a TV junkie

Last week, I may or may not have marked my calendar with the start dates of every fall show I watch. Because, apparently, I am obsessed with television.

OK, it’s not a clinical obsession. But over the years, storytelling on TV has gotten so dang good that I can’t help but get excited for more.

After reading Greatest Escapist’s top favorite shows of all time, I decided to shamelessly steal her blog post idea and come up with my top 10 favorite shows of all time. (Sorry ’bout that, Kate. And thank you!!)

10. Orange is the New Black–It has one of the world’s best ensemble casts, a notation often lost to the likes of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. The “girl power!” shouter in me adores that it gives meaty, interesting roles to women otherwise lost in TV land. And I love the invisible line between who is “good” and who is “bad,” a line I’d argue that Caputo walks brilliantly.

Litchfield’s best inmate. I don’t want to talk about it.

9. Roseanne–I watched this show religiously as a kid, and when I find reruns, I’m always amazed at how much it holds up. I mean … just look at that cast. Love her or hate her, Roseanne is a perfect, bitchy, loving mother. John Goodman is John Goodman. Aunt Jackie should have won a frickin’ Tony Award this year. Plus, the family encounters legit, real issues (let’s not talk about that final season, ‘k?) Dan and Roseanne’s constant battle with themselves to merge the crazy kids of their youth with the responsible parents they become is the show’s best conflict. And their Halloween episodes are my absolute favorite themed TV episodes.

Click on the pics to zoom.

8. Friends–Let’s be honest: I’m floored this isn’t higher on the list. It goes to show how much wonderful stories are being told out there. I was the prime age to be a Friends-o-phobe, and I have very distinct memories of it, including freshman year of college, where every single girl on the second floor of Humphrey Hall watched with their doors open, and when we learned that Ross was the father, every single girl on the second floor of Humphrey Hall screamed.

The One Where No One’s Ready, or: The single best episode of Friends. Could I BE wearing any more clothes?

7. Sex and the City–True confession: I hated this show when I first saw it. I didn’t get the appeal. Maybe because I was a virgin, I dunno. But this is one of the few shows on this list I could happily spend an entire evening watching. Each character is too much, but together, they’re all of us (except maybe Charlotte–I don’t think any of those women would actually like her). While I could never be as free with myself as Samantha, I think she’s about the best possible role model: strong but soft, successful, and the very best friend.

6. Game of Thrones–I do not like to judge people for their tastes. We should never be made to feel guilty about what we like. However, there is a contingency out there who refuse to watch this show. To them I say: Stop being stupid. “But I don’t like fantasy.” “It’s too rapey.” “There are too many characters.” Blah, blech, and blarg. GoT is storytelling and suspense at its finest. Nothing happens for no reason. The simple plotting such a detailed storyline requires, it’s completely fascinating. (And if you’ve watched it and don’t like it, two thumbs up. It’s that weird “I’m cool because I’ve never seen an episode of X popular thing” thing I don’t understand.)

Sir Davos, the savior or Westeros. (Or simply … my favorite character in a slew of A+ characters. Anytime he’s in peril, my husband all but smothers me with pillows to get me to stop muttering, “Anyone but Davos, anyone but Davos, anyone but Davos.”)

5. The Big Bang Theory–I love a show that focuses on nerds. I love how much science and physics and math is the draw, and I love how the writers make it all work, even though they know their audience probably has no idea what they’re talking about. I love that Penny unwittingly teaches the nerds how to be social, and I love how that favor is returned, showing her the value is being bright. In a world of sarcasm, BBT theory is sweet and hopeful.

“The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis” ends with one of those scenes that makes me double over laughing, no matter how many times I see it.

4. The Twilight Zone–I start every new year right: On the couch for as long as humanly possible, watching Syfy’s The Twilight Zone marathon. I love the stories. I love the twists. I love how sweet it is, and how creepy it is. I love baby Burgess Meredith in the most unfair situation on the planet and baby William Shatner freaked out by the single worst gremlin costume on the planet.

There are certainly more popular episodes of The Twilight Zone than The Hunt (including the two linked above), but this one is my favorite. If you don’t have a twinkly tear in your eye by the end, you have no heart–and I’m not even much of an animal person.

3. The Cosby Show–Until relatively recently, the Cosby’s held the top spot in my heart. I love this family so hard. It is rare to love every character on a show with so many actors. Cosby anniversary episodes could be a primer in how to do a sitcom right. Plus, it gave so many quoteables, even as a little kid: zerberts, jammin on the one (wtf does that mean?), the mating of the wildebeests (I’ve wanted to go to Nairobi ever since), I brought you in this world, and I’ll take you out.

PETER! Also, that little cutie on the end, in the striped leggins? Totally Alicia Keys.

2. The Walking Dead–Oh man, did I resist this show. I don’t like zombies, and I find zombie pop culture to be completely boring. Oh … you mean The Walking Dead isn’t about zombies? They’re just, like, a plot point? The writing and characters are some of the most fascinating in TV? Ohhhh. Got it. I got pretty into my early Walking Dead love a year and a half ago, if you’re interested. The love, clearly, has only grown from there. Because it is nearly my very favorite show in existence, second only to …

I follow so many Walking Dead actors and producers on social media. The cast seems simply spectacular. Hershel 4eva.

1. Boston Legal–Oh, Alan Shore and Denny Crane, my favoritest fictional relationship in the history of fictional relationships. Like Sex and the City and The Big Bang Theory, I can wake up at 9 a.m., turn on Boston Legal, and watch until 1 a.m., no doubt in my mind. I love how smart it is, I love how silly it is. I love how important its topics are and how silly its topics are. The episode Son of the Defender produces TV magic unlike any I have seen before or since, pulling from William Shatner’s loooooong career of acting. It can make me double over laughing and sob to the point of stopping my breath. Entertainment at its finest.

Runners up: Gilmore Girls, Breaking Bad, Girls

Potential runners up (as in, I’m mid-binge and loving these each SO SO MUCH, but I haven’t finished them yet so DON’T YOU DARE DISCUSS THEM IN THE COMMENTS): Parenthood, Mad Men. One of these could potentially take my No. 10 spot. Parenthood is dangerously close.

A theory about the Game of Thrones end game

I’m going to talk about the season 5 finale of “Game of Thrones.” If you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know what happened, might I suggest you look at puppies instead? If you have seen it, and have read ahead in the books, please don’t be a weenie–let’s just stick with info that has happened in the first five seasons of the HBO show, please and thank you.

After it happened, we all saw it coming, right? The signs were all there: Allister’s “You have a kind heart, Snow, that’ll get you killed” warning; the absolute daggers coming out of Ollie, a kid we knew to be lethal (still missing you, Ygrette); the fact that, despite doing what he truly believed to be best, Jon Snow pissed off pretty much every last night’s watchman by marching the sworn enemy through camp and opening the door to Westeros.

Let’s remember him during younger, happier times, shall we? Meeting Ghost for the first time.

Season 5 of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” ended with a trio of hectic badassery (honestly, those back-to-back-to-back episodes might be the most exciting three hours in HBO history). Some plot points made us cheer (Jorah is still alive! Tyrion and Dany meet!), some made us feel uncomfortable (Cersei, we hate you, but … I’m so sorry you had to do that), and some made us rage against the Westerosi machine (I think Jon’s death was met with the biggest “I’M NEVER WATCHING AGAIN” empty promises of the series, perhaps more so than the Mountain opening up the Viper’s head like a ripe watermelon).

But with every new twist and turn and revelation, I want to throw out a theory as to Martin’s end game. Please note: This theory is based on the first five seasons of the TV series Game of Thrones. I read the respective books after the seasons, and “A Feast for Crows” will get read within the next year, before season 6 begins. To reiterate the note above: If you read the books, please don’t comment with any spoilers. Let’s make this a spoiler-free zone pretty please!!

When all is said and done, when the final page turns and the final credits roll, the white walkers will have won.

That’s it. At the end of the series, we will get a bird’s eye view a swarm of walkers overtaking all of the earth (or whatever the Game of Thrones planet is called), a la Stannis getting slaughtered at Winterfell. Or maybe we’ll get a series of dead characters opening their icy blue eyes instead: Cersei, Tyrion, Davos, Olenna, Hodor, Arya (well, her eyes are already kind of icy now, aren’t they?)

I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer (Danaerys Downer?) here–I think we’ve had plenty of clues that this is where Martin is taking his story.

  • The cold opening of season 1, episode 1. Three nights watchmen are riding in the snow. Walkers get two, and one escapes. This happens even before we heard that now classic GoT theme song that has spawned ring tones and spoofs a plenty. When the fellow who escapes runs into Ned Stark and co., the poor fellow is promptly beheaded. Sorry, terrified guy who just got away with his life–we don’t believe you. Our problems are much more important, so I’m going to use you as a lesson to my children, all of whom will be dead or crippled or Rickon in the next three years, because it’s important that I chop off your head myself. Thanks for your sacrifice. Valar morghulis.
  • The title of the show. GAME of Thrones. To Martin, it’s all just a game. We may be competitive players, but that doesn’t mean our actions are any more important than Rummy or Monopoloy because, soon, ice zombies will take over the world.
  • Martin’s insistence that he does not need to follow storytelling’s tried and true mores: Specifically, The gun from episode two will have to go off by the end. Remember when Arya stashed Needle after agreeing to shed her essential Arya-ness in a quest to become no one? As she covered the sword with rocks, we thought, “Excellent. She’s staying prepared for when she blows this joint.” Welllll, she’s blind now. So long, Needle.
  • Information we’re dying to know dies with our characters. Think of all Maester Aemon took with him to the grave about the Mad King. Dany was just learning about Rhagar for the first time when Sir Barristan bit it. The last time Ned and Jon spoke, Ned promised to tell his son who his mother was. All key points to a complicated story, and Martin’s insistence that “Hey, this doesn’t matter” tells me there there is a bad reason why that doesn’t matter.
  • We assume Dany is the end game, but consider what we know about her. She has very little control over her dragons (Drogon is nothing but a sullen teenager; Rhaegal and Viserion are still chained up in a crypt, and they look like they’re more likely to eat Dany than ever let her ride them), and she can’t have future kings or queens. In her “I’m going to break the wheel” speech, we see hints that she’s going to turn Westeros into a democracy, which would make it OK that she can’t provide an heir. But in this land full of whiny children, what’s to stop the masses from pulling a Nights Watch coup and stabbing her? Unless she can unite everyone by saving them in the face of the White Walkers. (For a second, I thought Tyrion and Jon might be her fellow dragon riders. Damn.)

    Viserion and Rhaegal are NOT happy with Mama.

  • Martin has said that his sprawling tale is, at its core, a story about consequences. Jon has to face the consequences for refusing to listen to his men. Stannis has to face the consequences of becoming a murdering despot. Arya has to face the consequences of lying to not-Jaquen. Cersei has to face the consequences of giving power to psychotic religious nutjobs. With enough bad decisions piling up, we’re left wondering if any of our heroes or antiheroes stand a chance in winter against what’s coming.

Because in the face of the White Walkers, every single story line is moot. Who cares if Brienne kills Stannis or if she’d have stayed a moment longer to spy Sansa’s candle. Who cares whether the Lord of Light lied to Melisandre or she misread the flames. In this world, anger means little, vengeance means little, gods mean little, even magic doesn’t mean all that much. These characters get wrapped up in their own stories and fates, and I think Martin will make the overarching point that those stories and fates are even littler than all that.

Depressing? Yes. Got anything better? What are your end-game thoughts?

A Game of Thrones top 8 list: Who done it? (Not for those who missed the royal wedding shennanigans)

If you have not seen season 4, episode 2 of Game of Thrones, the one with the royal wedding, for the luva God, DON’T READ ON.

OK?

OK. 

I’m assuming you’ve stopped reading now. I no longer claim any responsibility for any spoilers.

Since Sunday night’s epic Game of Thrones episode, I have wanted to talk about little else. My favorite topic of conversation for the last two days has been simply: Who done it??

There’s a whole list of people who want King Joffrey Baratheon dead–basically, everyone except his mother. I’ve compiled a list of the folks I find most likely to have poisoned the brat king. In ascending order of likelihood:

8. Cersei Lannister. Yes, I just said she’s the only person in Westeros who doesn’t want her son dead. but I’ve heard too many wonderings about her to leave her off the list. She would absolutely want to frame her brother Tyrion, who looks like he’s going to spend the rest of the season in the dungeons. She has less control over Joff than ever, in part due to his age and attitude, in part due to the fact that he’s the king and his asshole’ness has increased a billion, in part due to new queen Margaery. Cersei has previously declared that she wishes she had been born a man because women have no power, and she has enjoyed the power she’s had as queen regent. Margaery and Joffrey produced no heirs in the two hours they were wed, and in all likelihood, Cersei will regain the throne until her younger son, Prince Tommen, comes of age. (I’m very looking forward to seeing who is in charge next.)  Despite all this, I contend that Joffrey is the only happiness in Cersei’s life. It wasn’t her. Chances that she offed her son: 1:1,000

7. Sansa Stark. Of every name on this list, Sansa Stark as the most reasons for wanting the Prince of Death dead: Beheading her father. Joking about the murder of her brother ALL THE TIME. And her mother. Trying to witness the bedding ceremony for her marriage to a man she doesn’t remotely love or ever want to bed. Being treated as a general play thing in liu of a human being. Alas, Sansa doesn’t have the balls to do anything but sit there and look frightened. Chances that she offed her ex-fiance: 1: 600

6. Maester Pycelle. In The Game of Thrones, nothing is as it seems. I won’t go so far as to say Bran warg’ed in on Reek, who slayed the new king in secret, but I do think a left-field character is a possible assassin. I keep remembering the scene back from season one or two of Pycelle dismissing a whore from his room, to drop down and do some pushups or other exercise that made him look about a hundred years younger. After, he grabbed his walking stick and hobbled away like a cripple. Pycelle is a major yes-man, but dude is hiding something. Also, as a maester, he would absolutely have access to the kind of poison necessary to make you bleed out your eyeballs. Chances that he offed the king: 1:550

5. Lady Olenna. Currently my favorite character in the Game, Lady Olenna is whip smart and crafty. Hers is the only mind that could go head-to-head with Tywin, the man who puppeteered the Red Wedding from afar. As such, she would be able to orchestrate something as public as a wedding murder without being caught. Clearly, she wouldn’t want her granddaughter to wed such a monster, and she forshadowed Joffrey’s death to Sansa: “Killing a man at a wedding … horrid. What kind of monster would do something like that?” A sly admission of guilt? Perhaps. Alas, when Joffrey began to choke, Lady Olenna was one of the first to call for help. And she’s a power player. As much of a monster as Joffrey is, Lady Olenna knows what it would mean for her beloved granddaughter to birth his babies. Chances that she offed her grandson-in-law: 1:500

4. Margaery Tyrell. God, what kind of dread must have filled this woman as her wedding night approached? We’ve seen what Joffrey does to the whores Uncle Tyrion and Littlefinger provide. I’m not convinced Joffrey had any kind of sex drive whatsoever, a kind of  evildoer Sheldon of Westeros. I’m not sure of the royal rules of King’s Landing, but Margaery has said before that she doesn’t want to be queen–she wants to be the queen. When the king dies and the queen has not provided a royal heir, does she get to takeover? Alas, Margaery gets her smarts from her grandmother, and she knows that watching her second king husband die will not bode well for her. Chances that she offed her husband: 1:250

3. Prince Oberyn Martell. The man arrived at King’s Landing and declared that he was there to kill people. Seems a little too obvious for George R.R., but in terms of my list, this is where shit starts to get real. Oberyn’s beloved sister Elia and her two kids were murdered by Gregor Clegan, aka The Mountain, likely on Tywin Lannister’s orders during Robert’s Rebellion.  Elia had been hanging out in King’s Landing with her baby daddy Rhaegar, Mad King Aerys’ son and Daenerys Targaryen’s older brother. Oberyn swore revenge. Murdering Tywin’s king grandson would certainly count. Chances that he offed a Lannister: 1: 50

2. Ser Dontos. In the first episode of this season, Ser Dontos, the fool and former knight, and Sansa had one of the sweetest, saddest interactions in the Game. Back in season 2, Sansa saved Dontos from Joffrey, and he did not forget this kindness. While his family has dissolved into drunks and fools, he knew one of the last honors to be bestowed upon his family would be if Lady Sansa, the king’s kind aunt, would wear his mother’s necklace. During the wedding, as the Death of the Joff began, Ser Dontos did not miss a beat; he ran to Sansa and got all Kyle Reese on her with the King’s Landing version of, “Come with me, if you want to live!” Dontos is an underdog in all ways, and I’m not sure he’s smart enough, or sober enough, to consider the consequences should be be found out. Plus, when Joffrey began to choke, Dontos was one of two people who did not seem surprised. Chances the fool offed his king: 1:10. The other person who did not seem surprised?

1. Tywin Lannister. The hand of the king spent all of season two writing letters while, unbeknownst to him, a Stark girl fetched his water. A season later, Rob got stabbed, Catelyn got her throat slit, and Tywin continued to glare and look sinister. This kind of plotting is this man’s forte. Desperate to keep the Lannisters in power, Tywin would want his sniveling grandson dead before he could father a Lannister-Tyrell baby, giving a much smarter, much more beloved player–Margaery–a better hand in this jacked up game of poker. Tyrell clearly doesn’t care a lick for his family, as he wed Tyrion off to Sansa and betrothed Cersei to the Knight of the Gay Flowers, Loras–both to much protestations. To assure his family remains on the throne, Tywin would not want the weakest member to take the seat. Seven gods know Prince Tommon would be much easier to manipulate, both for his age and his temperament. Chances he offed his grandson: 1:3

Now, in the land of George R.R. Martin, nothing is ever as it seems, which means it is most likely that NONE of the above characters killed Joffrey.

Obviously, it was Hodor.

I want your thoughts in the comments! If you’re read ahead in the books, SAY NOTHING.