I don’t watch too much TV but I do enjoy an occasional binge. And since we’ve been running high temperatures in the 50s (also known as leave home ONLY if necessary weather) fairly regularly here recently, I’ve been watching more TV than usual in response. Here are my reviews of a couple of shows I’ve devoured way too quickly and really enjoyed.
Please note that this series is not complete yet so you may want to wait until all the episodes are available if your TV habits mirror mine (watch a ton for a day or two, then none for months). I’m a sucker for nature documentaries, especially when they’re about animals. The BBC does some of the best ones I’ve seen and this is no exception. The narration by Sir David Attenborough (yes, he is THAT good) is excellent, providing insightful explanations of what you’re seeing, dramatic personification, and delightful British flair. For example, Dynasties becomes DINasties and hilarious “Queen’s English” phrasing is sprinkled in liberally. The footage is excellent and in case there were any doubt about how much effort, patience, and commitment went into getting it, that notion is dispelled by the behind the scenes portion near the end of each episode. Entire crews of people are literally spending a year or more of their lives in places like Africa and Antarctica, living as amongst nature as possible to make this happen. Their sacrifice is paying enormous dividends for all of us although I imagine they would reject it being characterized as a sacrifice at all and are probably coming away far richer for their experiences. I highly recommend this series to anyone who wants to learn more about our incredible world and some of its inhabitants, who by the way have enough human qualities to give even the most fervent denier of evolution some pause.
F is for Family – Season 3 (Netflix)
This show is just phenomenal and the fact that I know so few people who watch it is both an indictment of my networking abilities and a fair criticism of society as a whole. Set in the 70s against the backdrop of a middle class neighborhood somewhere on the east coast (I don’t believe an exact location is given and context clues seem inconclusive so perhaps it is an amalgamation of places), the show is a portrayal of American family life at that time from Bill Burr’s perspective that is sometimes funny, occasionally heartwarming, and always brutally honest. It can get extremely dark and that is probably one reason more people don’t watch it. With an “absolutely everyone is full of shit” ethos permeating almost everything that happens, I can easily see this being a little too real for plenty of people, all of whom are in fact full of shit but few of whom are willing to admit it. And please don’t think I’m implying this doesn’t apply to me as well. We are ALL full of shit and the only attribute that separates us is how honest we are about it with ourselves and others.
Not since Moral Orel have I seen a cartoon show that did such an incredible job of reeling the viewer in with unabashed, irreverent hilarity and then barreling deep down the rabbit hole of the dark side of American society and the inner sanctum of the family in particular, in such a remorseless, visceral manner. Morel Orel started with shots at organized Christianity and branched out from there in a fairly exponential manner whereas the social commentary of F is for Family is much broader and pretty much full throttle from the word go.
Along with continuing to develop the plot lines from season two, season three also introduces some new ones, particularly in the form of some new neighbors. This season plumbs slightly deeper than the series has previously, culminating in some very soul crushing moments. As always, some episodes are weaker than others and there were times when I began to wonder if maybe an optimistic moment or two could have provided enough of a respite to prevent total desensitization taking away from appreciation of what the show does best. But it was still an excellent social commentary with plenty of side splitting jokes and I was left feeling that this show is still firing on all cylinders. That will be difficult to maintain with a concept like this one as there are only so many facets of society to deflower and jokes will get stale if repeated but for now, it is still a strong recommend from me to anyone with a strong enough constitution to appreciate the beauty in the ugliness of something as frank as this.