A spinoff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel follows the titular vampire with a soul as he seeks redemption on the streets of L.A. Though somewhat campy, when it delivers, the show doesn’t hold back. Its characters grow and change exponentially, and the series explores both their lovable and darker natures. Angel raises questions about morality and one’s place in the world, all the while mixing angst with humor.
Perhaps because it was ahead of its time, Dollhouse was initially panned. I tried to describe its uniqueness to someone who replied, “Oh, I think I understand—it’s a metaphysical show.” This intense and unsettling series focuses on an organization which brainwashes people (“dolls”) and rents them out, mostly as prostitutes, sometimes as super agents or other experimental creations. Dollhouse mediates on identity, trauma, sexism, reality, exploitation, control, fear, ethics—the list goes on.
Downton Abbey (Season 1) (2010)
Though I’m not a big fan of the later seasons of Downton Abbey, I adored season one. Impeccably written and acted, the series begins in 1912. Downton Abbey is a grand estate which houses the Earl of Grantham’s family and their servants. Each of its twenty-plus characters is mysterious and distinct, and almost every line is revealing. Though it doesn’t dwell on all the harsh realities of the time, it contains a psychological truth. Warning: very addictive.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005-present)
The brilliant It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia features the owners of a mostly empty dive bar in Philadelphia. In one commentary, the show’s creators (and actors) dubbed it a pirate show. Our sociopathic and moronic “heroes,” who sabotage one another and innocent bystanders, are sometimes taken advantage of by a world which is as chaotic and cruel as they are. This scathing satire is hysterically funny, if frequently disturbing.
If It’s Always Sunny is a sitcom taken to the extreme, The Office is an anti-sitcom. This mockumentary interviews employees of a paper company in a dismal town, with a particular focus on the embarrassingly offensive manager David Brent. As hilarious as it is painful, the audience is treated to petty office politics and numbing shots of paper machines and bored employees. Though the setting is stultifying and tedious, the show is anything but.
Six Feet Under (2001-2005)
Six Feet Under is a beautiful show about a family that runs a funeral home and those who revolve around them. Tragic, humorous, excellently acted, and sometimes dreamlike, one of the first things I noticed about the show was that each episode was more moving than many films. Most of its characters are prickly, but they all evolve—or devolve. Watching them go on their journeys can be very therapeutic.
Slings and Arrows (2003-2006)
Required viewing for theater lovers, Slings and Arrows portrays a Canadian theater company whose glory days are behind it. Each of its three seasons tracks a different Shakespeare play and the passionate, remarkably consistent characters who run the company. The show has a few forced moments, and its treatment of minorities is dubious. Nonetheless, this series can be irresistible for anyone who believes in the power of art, or simply for those looking for something funny and thoughtful.
Because this scene can not be reblogged too many times. I mean… it’s Spike and Angel banter… and the infamous Caveman and Astronaut debate!… just ignore all the feels and depression the rest of the episode gives you…
omg shall we discuss Wes’ tacticleneck?
And I was evil! lol