24 July 2017

The Sopranos

Show Creator: David Chase

The Sopranos taught me that you could like characters who do horrible things as long as there was psychological justification. David chase created characters who were horrible but entertaining. There wasn’t a single person in that series that I would ever want to know in real life. But watching them onscreen was magic.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Show Creator: Joss Whedon

At the time, TV had strict limits on what a Genre could do and be. Joss showed the world that genre rules were made to be broken. Looking back it occurs to me that that sort of experiment in TV could never have been done by any network that wasn’t as desperate for viewers as UPN was at the time.


Show Creators: Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Tress MacNeille

Live before Pixar… Animation was for kids. Live action was for adults. That changed with Animaniacs. The show did adult jokes beside slapstick, some of which I remember to this day: “You can’t split us up!!! We go together like civil war chess pieces from the franklin mint.” Who can forget the rambling kid telling stories: “Ok, so onetime I was sitting on the porch and I felt a lick and thought it was a dog but it wasn’t it just just some guy who liked to do that. Ok, I love you bye bye.” Comedic Genius.

Reboot of Dragnet (First Season)

Show Creator: Dick Wolf

I remember watching this reboot by Dick Wolf having very low expectations. The writing was fucking amazing. It showed me that something could be uniquely derivative. That you could take something, honor the past and supersede the past with such a great effect.

The Jeffersons

Show Creator: Norman Lear, Don Nicholl, Michael Ross

It can’t be understated how much TV has changed American culture. I lived in the DEEP, DEEP south and the black people I saw (when I saw them) in the 1970’s were primarily poor, or at best lower-middle class, like my family. That’s just the way it was. At ten years old, I didn’t have the ability or language to question that view of the world. It simply was. The Jeffersons presented a view of the world where a black person was a successful businessman and lived in a New York High Rise with a maid …and the white people in the show were the “cracker-honkey-whitebreads”. That was a revolutionary idea to me. After the first few episodes, it was accepted reality. Somewhere a black person is rich and lives in a high rise with a sassy maid and a terminally white awkward neighbor. That was the reality simply because TV presented it to me in a way that made me laugh and enjoy it. And just that quickly the world was changed.

The show’s view of race seems so dated now, it’s easy to forget just how revolutionary it truly was.

Also the chemistry between Martha Gibbs and Sherman Hemsley has really never been duplicated anywhere since. Every show with a sassy maid thereafter was just chasing shadows trying to be a tenth as good as those two comedic actors at the top of their game.


Show Creator: Sol Sacks

Bewitched made me think about what I wanted my life to be as an adult. I wanted to come home to a house with modern furniture, mix a martini (though I had no idea what that was) and sit on the couch and talk about the day with someone. It’s weird how everyone remembers this show for the magic but I remember it for the mundane things that were so interesting to me as an adolescent.

Rockford Files // CHiPs

Show Creator: Stephen J. Cannell, Roy Huggins // Rick Rosner, Paul Playdon

The Rockford Files and Chips taught me that the only place on the planet to live was Southern California. I developed a real love for the setting. I think this was where my move to Southern California was first planted in my mind. The first time I walked on that hard-pack California clay-rock, I thought to myself… it’s just like on CHiPs!!!

Gilmore Girls

Show Creator: Amy Sherman-Palladino

Has there ever been a show that packs so much interesting dialog into 42 minutes? The show was completely built on dialog. Nobody ever did anything. They just talked about doing it. And talked about not doing it. Whether they should do something or not was a topic of endless debate and I continue to marvel at how well the back and forth of dialog created a show literally out of nothing.

Designing Women // Golden Girls

Show Creators: Linda Bloodworth-Thomason // Susan Harris

What can I say about Designing Women and Golden Girls that hasn’t already been said by a thousand other gay men in a thousand other kvetchy tweets, articles and blog entries. Sassy women with rich inner lives talking about their thoughts on sex, politics, and religion. They were wonderfully entertaining and the world will never see their like again.