Oh summer. The hardest of all seasons for the employed. First, the weather gets nice, slapping you in the face with Instagram pictures of people on beaches and under trees, reminding you that by the time you retire you will only have about one good year left before you die of a pulmonary embolism brought on by years of sitting at a desk doing tasks that will, by that point, be completed in 4 nano seconds by a super computer in Asia. And your as-yet-unborn children will still be saddled with your 2 million dollar student loan debt. Compound interest I think. It's a hard time.
So it makes sense that all you want to do is watch some good TV, indoors, away from the cruel sunshine. And yet, all the good shows are off the air. And you are alone.
But fear not, fellow lovers of fictional worlds! Summer has another, secret purpose! It is time for you to go deep into all the shows you never watched when they were on. The ones people talk about after a glass or two of wine at happy hour or quote from on your Facebook wall. The ones you nod about and pretend you've seen. Now is the time to actually see them! And you don't even need a television set to do it! All you need is the magic of the internet and a serviceable computer! What follows are my recommendations of how to save yourself from a sunburn and embrace your indoor-kid nature this summer:
What to watch on Netflix Instant:
I will barely even be friends with a person who hasn't seen this show. In a way, every good comedy on TV now is its direct descendant. Amazing cast, brilliant writing and topical humor THAT WILL STILL MAKE YOU LAUGH six years later. This is your first assignment. Watch it. It will change your life.
Okay, I am not the first person who has told you to watch Battlestar Galactica. I am not even the fifth. But I hope I am the one you listen to, because if by the end of the summer you still think fracking is a controversial way of removing fossil fuels from the depths of the Earth, you will have failed.
Downton Abbey is the socially acceptable soap opera about old-timey (ish) England that even your MOM has seen. Season 3 is coming out in early 2013 and seriously, you need to be ready this time. No more excuses. At a grand total of 16 episodes, it's not even that long.
Do you like westerns? Do you like science fiction? Do you like a mixture of both things, tough guys and girls with hearts of gold and a great story? I'm assuming you aren't a Cylon (watch Battlestar Galactica already!) so I am pretty sure you will love Firefly.
I grew up without a TV so I missed out on talking about Jordan Catalano, the dreamy brooding love-interest played by Jared Leto, for years. Don't suffer this fate. If there is one thing that we can all relate to, it is teenage angst and a love of flannels. Watch this show and be so so glad you are a grown-up now. Pro tip: avoid the Christmas Special. It is completely awful.
I was not convinced that I would ever like a zombie show. First off, I'm not too into scary things. And old me thought zombies were boring and stupid. After watching The Walking Dead however, I have decided zombies are potentially the most apt metaphor available for our time. Who hasn't felt surrounded by hordes of people with glazed-over eyes who seem vaguely familiar but also appear to want to feast on our flesh and souls (and not just in downtown San Francisco)? And the worst part is: all it takes for us to become one of them is the tiniest little bite. Technical note: Season 2 is not on Netflix Instant but it is on iTunes which brings us to...
Take the leap and buy these shows on iTunes:
I recently gave up a weekend to re-watching the first season of this grimy western written in a crazy, potentially made-up, curse-filled version of English. You come away from this show feeling like the Gold Rush was a pretty uncomfortable time, for miners, sheriffs, pimps and prostitutes alike. And everyone must have died young from liver failure with all the whiskey they are constantly drinking. But watching Deadwood is still an amazing, visceral experience. And a good counter-point to The Walking Dead's supposition that zombies are only in our future. Our past was full of them too.
8. Party Down
This show lasted only 2 seasons because all of the principles got so famous (Jane Lynch moved on to Glee and Adam Scott to Parks and Recreation). Watching them as a group of wanna-be actors who pay the bills as cater-waiters to the actual rich and famous (playing themselves) is truly entertaining. It makes no sense that this show you are about to love was cut down in its prime while things like Two and a Half Men are allowed to live seemingly forever, but that's the world we live in people.
I'm not saying I'm old, but this show started the year I graduated from high school and it's pretty much a classic by now. Set aside some serious time to get invested in the Fisher family and their undertaking business because the best part of this drama is that, unlike a lot of other great HBO shows, they actually got to finish it. So when you make it through all 5 seasons, you will be rewarded with the best, most satisfying ending in television history. Hyperbole? Never. I will go watch it on YouTube now and I promise you I'll start crying.
Bonus! Watch this show, available to all on the Internet!
10. Burning Love
Some of the cast from Party Down (Ken Marino, Adam Scott, Kristen Bell, June Diane Raphael), as well as a lot of other well-known funny people (Michael Ian Black, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor), have joined forces on an internet show that you will actually want to watch. Burning Love is a perfect send-up of the Bachelor franchise, though instead of roses, the bachelor gives out hoses (he's a fireman...). The episodes are only about 7 minutes long, which means you can watch 4 on your lunch break! Go forth now! Enjoy your summer the way you were meant to -- by watching TV shows about other people's fabulous or at least interesting lives!