Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Premium Worth the Premium

     To commence, I have realized in recent weeks that I should probably stop calling myself a non-TV gal since, as you have probably ascertained from the B-logue as well, I have actually grown to be quite the premium cable addict. As it was happening, I was not consciously aware of my blossoming affinity for premium cable original series. (Read, Showtime and HBO shows inclusive but not limited to Homeland and Nurse Jackie. Detailed accounts to be discussed shortly.). I believe the rationale for touting myself as a minimal TV viewer in the past was actually rooted not in my TV viewing overall but in my network TV habits. And even to those who don't spend their days evaluating the merits and falls of network prime, cable, cable prime and the likes, believe me when I say this. There is an enormous differential between network shows, cable shows, and my clear biased preferred genre of the bunch, premium cable shows. The differences are noticeable and they are vast -- the acting and actors are of higher caliber, the plotlines generally stronger (and right from the onset), and the characters richer. There is definite eye rolling taking place right now from the Modern Family/How I Met Your Mother/Criminal Minds (and others of the sort) fans. I sense it all the way over here. But I digress.
     I would say my network prime viewership started its progressive decline just about ten years ago. In pondering, this timing is actually anything but coincidental. It was approximately a decade ago when I graduated  from my I'm-in-college-I-have-no-money-for-a-cable-subscription days and like any cultured "grown up" girl would do, moved to Manhattan.  Not that I had any more money then but I did have priorities. And I felt it my rightful obligation and duty to subscribe to as many premium channels as I could. After all, I did work in media, right? So October 2003 marked a monumental month in the timeline of my life: it marked the first time I had my very own TV in my own room with my very own premium cable subscription. And how lovely it was. That momentous occasion commenced my evolution away from every-man TV shows to premium-only.
     My freshman premium cable favorite was, cliche I know, Sex and the City. Instead of going to my parental-funded-friends-with-cable's apartments to occasionally watch in college, I now had the luxury of watching the gals on Sunday nights in my own shoebox, er, room. It was a sad day when Carrie and crew left me with no fabulous company on Sunday nights. But I got the DVD's. From there, my next obsessive addiction was In Treatment. No psychological pun intended there for my beloved therapist-meets-patient program. Gabriel Byrne, Dianne Wiest and their vast array of emotionally disturbed patients had a steady fixture for roughly three years on HBO and in my life. In Treatment is for me, to this day, one of the highest quality thirty minute dramas to grace the small screen. The characters were real, they had no seeming pretenses, and, from an adoring psychology lover/major, the most genuine look at therapy outside of a real doctor's office I have seen. But of course the day came when HBO pulled the plug on that, too. *Tear rolling down cheek*. Thirdly, and clearly no less importantly, in my premium cable chronology...The Sopranos. Jersey mafia meets Real Housewives meets In Treatment. Starring Edie Falco and Lorraine Bracco. Enough said. I watched Girls out of some cultural sense of obligation and to my surprise, grew to quite enjoy the fucked-up-twenty-something chick dramedy. That whole Lena Q-tip thing was a little unnecessary and Marnie got a little too skinny to be believable in her role but overall...pretty solid.
     If HBO was my premium cable infant, Showtime was my adult. (For those that get this, that line is pretty amusing). I am certain that I skipped a few along the way but I would like to move onto Showtime. I think one single word is sufficient here: Homeland. Since this is getting pretty long as it is, I will bypass going into my feelings of adoration on this hour long love-infused CIA seat gripper. Unrivaled, unpredictable, flawlessly-acted. Carrie and Brody had me at hello. And now to the present. In typical fashion, I was a little behind the times with this one when I started Season 1 of Nurse Jackie just last month. But allow me to indulge this for just a moment -- the wait was worth it.  I recognize I've previously gone into great depth on the extraordinary caliber of this show but I will say it again. Nurse Jackie is undoubtedly the best character study I have witnessed on the small screen. And not just as a hospital show -- overall. Edie Falco's stunning portrayal of prescription-painkiller-addicted Jackie is nothing short of mesmerizing. Clearly she mesmerized me: I watched four straight seasons of the show in a week's time.
     My current endeavor is Showtime's Shameless. I am trying to get full-fledged into it as I have with my aforementioned premium loves. I haven't quite gotten there yet; I'm still in the "it's okay I'm willing to give it another episode" stage. It remains to be seen whether a drunk William H. Macy and trying-to-be-trashy Emmy Rossum will reel me in. I'll be sure to report back on that one. In the meanwhile and in conclusion, I urge all of you out there who assert that "premium cable isn't worth the premium" to change your tune. Trust me, if this primetime sitcom bashing gal can be swayed, so can you. Do it - take the premium plunge.

No comments:

Post a Comment