Rotten Tomatoes

Mildly Enthusiastic Review: Younger

So far these reviews have showed you a slightly untrue version of me. As untrue as, say, a 40-year-old pretending to be 26? No, not like that, but still I didn’t review a single TV show and it’s really TV shows that take up most of my cultural interests (after books, I guess). However, you caught me at a special time when after a 2-month detox I stopped watching TV shows for a while. However, I got back to Younger as an ironing show (very much a thing for me) and in the middle of the second season started watching the rest without any ironing as an excuse.

er-youngerYounger (seasons 1–3)

Category: TV shows

Find it on: Amazon, as streaming TV. S1 | S2 | S3

What it is:
A really, really silly (but fun) show about a woman who gets a divorce and starts looking for a job in publishing. When no one wants to hire a 40-year-old, she pretends to be 26 and, of course, gets hired immediately (in the most non-toxic publishing house on the screen). She starts leading a double life, fitting almost seamlessly into her new identity because she’s that young at heart. It’s produced by Darren Star, of Sex and the City fame and some of it carries. (This pun was so unintended. Not sorry though.)

How I found it:
I remembered it had good reviews and it sounded like something you don’t need to pay much attention to while it’s on so, in other words, a perfect show to watch while ironing.

Summary judgment:
It’s a TV bubble gum, only better because I don’t really like bubble gum and I enjoy this show a lot.

Best things about it:
It’s fun, light-hearted and prettily shot. The interiors and the actors look good and the emotional drama is enough to keep you interested without really getting you down. And yes, there’s space in everyone’s life for exactly this kind of a show. And, as you may expect from the guy who brought you Carrie Bradshaw, clothes are awesome sometimes.

Worst things about it:
The premise is totally unbelievable. Sometimes it actually adds to the fun but sometimes it forces the writers to employ desperate measures to avoid the whole secret unraveling. Like, spoiler, when Thad gets killed by a metal-beam-ex-machina at the end of season 2? Almost made me stop watching. (Only it didn’t.)

Other pluses:
I like that it avoids any obvious villains (except for comic relief) and that Hillary Duff’s character is actually a friend not a rival, as one would expect her to be when she first appears. The writers make female friendship very much a theme and that’s good.
I really like Charles. I don’t like Liza all that much but I think I still ship them. It’s the “will they, won’t they” that really keeps me interested but I’m just this predictable kind of viewer.
I also really like these sitcommy, 20-minute-long chunks of my casual TV because I can always squeeze an episode into my busy day.

Other minuses:
The music is awful. It tries so hard to be young and fresh – and what do I know, maybe it is – but I just find it grating.

How it enriched my life:
It made a lot of ironing (even more) fun and relaxed me. I also learned some (probably inaccurate) things about 20-something New Yorkers.

Fun fact:
It’s probably not so much fun but this show has been a wedge that broke my resolution and since I watched it, I’ve gotten back to watching some TV (significantly less than before though).

I will be watching season 4 to see who learns the truth at the end of it. There are only really about two people left who don’t know in all of New York.

Recommended for:
People who want to watch something easy and relaxing and are not bothered by obvious holes in the story but can instead focus on pretty clothes and mildly funny jokes.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Next time: IKEA

Rotten Tomatoes

Bloody True Love

er-truebloodThis is going to be a love story and like the best of them it’s filled with delight and excitement, as well as frustration and disappointment. It ended last Sunday when HBO showed the last episode of True Blood after seven extremely uneven seasons.

I watch a lot of TV, good and bad, and sometimes I get too invested in TV shows but that first season of True Blood was absolutely magical: it got me hooked immediately and kept me up at night, watching episode after episode, completely immersed in the story of Sookie and vampire Bill. I came into it unprepared, only vaguely aware that it had vampires and maybe expecting something like Buffy but certainly not ready to fall head over heels for the atmosphere, the colors, the characters and the accents. I was transfixed; the gritty opening credits felt like the new TV quality that it actually was. I recommended the show to some people and was appalled if they didn’t see the beauty of Bon Temps.

I know some people were already disappointed with season two but I still had my Louisiana-swamp-colored glasses on and I thoroughly enjoyed at least the half of it which had anything to do with vampires. In fact, I think the Dallas storyline was one of the most exciting for me, back when things were mysterious but promised to make sense one day. It was that magical time when you have absolute trust. The second part of the season, about the maenad didn’t make that much sense and didn’t really fit in with the Dallas half but when you love, you forgive little things that make no sense.

But then season three came and I began to worry: what happened to our beautiful friendship, True Blood? What did you go and add sexually-predatory white-trash girl-werepanthers for? What the hell were you thinking with those pointless werewolves? There were still good moments so I strove to ignore the bad ones: Russell was awesome and there was more Eric. But the seed of discontent was planted and grew and already you could see it would become a damn shady tree with all the unnecessary disjoint storylines.

By season four I settled into disgruntlement. I kept watching because you don’t just give up on love even if it leaves dirty socks on the floor or, more to the point, adds new ridiculous characters instead of doing something with the good old ones. Things continued pretty much the same as in season three, without saving graces and with Sam still not dead. Plus, there was the horrid opening scene in fairyland, which at first I couldn’t believe. Still, the witches’ storyline, disappointing as it was, organized most of the season and was at least related to vampires.

But when season five happened, it felt as if I was allowing someone to repeatedly hit me on the head and pretended to like it. I still don’t know why I watched all of season five because I hated pretty much everything about it: I guess it must have been what Jason Stackhouse calls “stockholder’s syndrome.” I hated how every storyline started and ended out of the blue. How the big bad was someone who only appeared in one scene. How they never got rid of the damn-awful Sam, no matter how useless he got. The ifrit storyline, oh hell, the ifrit storyline. And, worst of all, they finally got to show vampire politics – something I longed for since Nancy Flanagan appeared in season one – and made it the most ludicrous, horrid and boring storyline one could imagine. Oh yes, and there was Lilith, too. I hit rock-bottom with that season and honestly promised myself I was done. I wasn’t going to touch the next season. Good riddance, True Blood, you’ve worn me thin.

And then Alan Ball left the show, after running it completely to the ground and I thought: screw it. Let’s see what they will do with this show, now that they certainly can’t make it any worse. Ani DiFranco said: “They say that alcoholics are always alcoholics / Even when they’re as dry as my lips for years / Even when they’re stranded on a small desert island / With no place within two thousand miles to buy beer.” Well, I’m not an alcoholic. But there I was, watching season six.

And hey, I was right: they didn’t make it any worse. In fact, the whole season was a heroic attempt by new show-runners to eradicate some of the worst mistakes of the previous horrible seasons, most importantly limiting the story to one main vampire-centered storyline. It was heartwarming to watch how the writers eliminated one useless character after another (but Sam still lingered, damn it) and struggled to make the vampire mythology interesting again after the Lilith nonsense and without giving everyone amnesia so that they could say the previous three years didn’t happen. Well, it wasn’t nowhere near as good as even season two but I still hadn’t believed it possible for them to get out of everything that happened and make a story that I would care for again. I felt that the new show-runners were kindred spirits: people who also loved the first seasons and wondered how the hell to return to what was once good about this show. (I guess they were in it for money but I’ll cling to my romantic notions.)

So I was firmly on board for the final season. Everyone knew it was the last one and I appreciated the chance to say goodbye, without any illusions anymore. And it was a decent season, once you shed most expectations. Now, I know people hated the finale. People who expected explosions, car chases and zombies found it boring and useless. But for me, and I’m sure for other fans who had a similarly unhealthy relationship to the show, it was a good closure. It made the courageous decision to stop trying to outrun itself and slow down enough to send off the characters gracefully. It ended on a peaceful note and I appreciate that.

So even though you stole hours of my life, True Blood, you treated me like a fool, screamed at me and refused to make sense, I will remember the good things: Sookie’s spunk, Eric’s meaningful looks, Jason’s lines, everything about Pam, and Jessica’s insane eyelashes.