So the new television season is in full swing, yet I find myself unexcited and uninterested. I mean, do I really want to watch a show about airline stewardesses or Playboy bunnies? Do I really care if a transgendered person is dancing with a hottie to horrific cover versions of songs I used to enjoy? Do I really care if Ashton Kutcher took over for Charlie Sheen on a show I’ve never, ever seen before?
But there are definitely some shows on my radar. For better or worse, these are the shows that I will go out of my way to watch this season…and I think you should, too.
1. Dexter – This is the best show on television, bar none. Going into its sixth season, Dexter is the story of a serial killer with morals, making his way through life always trying to do the right thing but somehow always getting into trouble. Okay…that’s a REALLY lame description of the show and trust me when I say it’s sooooo much deeper than that. There’s a very good reason why people rave about this show. Michael C. Hall is absolutely incredible in the role, having been nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor four years in a row. When people tell me that they haven’t watched Dexter because it’s about a serial killer, I try to explain to them how it’s so much more than that; how that serial killer has morals and is constantly conflicted over the entire concept of “good vs evil”. It’s simply the best-written show on television.
2. Survivor – I know, I know…why in the world is this on my list? In fact, there were a number of seasons where I didn’t watch at all (I had no idea who Ozzie was this season, even though he had apparently played twice before). I love that the game itself has evolved and hasn’t stayed complacent. I love the hidden immunity idols and Redemption Island and returning players mixed-in with new players. These changes have made the show more interesting. And, as always, it’s all about the people they choose to play. It seems like it’s always a blend of “crazy” and “normal” with a dash of “really?’ mixed in for good measure. And hey…if Random Esquire can be a fan, then that’s good enough for me.
3. The Walking Dead – I’m fascinated by the whole “zombie apocalypse” idea. Whether it be a viral infection of some sort or just an unexplainable turn of events, zombies are intriguing to think about because there’s just enough semblance of realism in the back story on how they come to be; the body is alive though the mind is gone. And I’m no fan of gore, either…so I haven’t seen most of the zombie movies out there. So I was hesitant when initially watching The Walking Dead, but I read some really great things about it before it debuted last season so I gave it a shot. I’m so glad I did!! This isn’t so much a show about zombies (although there are a lot of them and they die in some pretty gruesome ways) as it is about how people survive in a zombie apocalypse. Where do you go? What do you eat? How do you fend for yourself? How do you react to others reacting to the apocalypse? It’s really a fantastic view of the human psyche. Seriously.
4. The X-Factor – This is the show that started it all…and the fact that it hasn’t been marketed that way is probably a reason people aren’t jumping all over it like they should be. American Idol came from this. America’s Got Talent came from this. The Voice came from this. The X-Factor is a blend of all those shows (a singing competition with live auditions where the judges turn into mentors throughout the competition) and, at least in the U.K. version, does it better than the rest. Now having said all that, the first two episodes didn’t blow me away last week. When I first heard that this show was coming to North America, I watched the most recent season of the U.K. version to see what it was like and was blown away…not only by the unique talent on display, but the uniqueness and heart and talent of the show itself. Last week’s U.S. version didn’t really have a ton of talent and the “heart” seemed forced, but that’s all about the editing choices and can be easily remedied. I don’t know about you, but I want to see the best of the best and I want some great stories that I can get into (like how the most recent America’s Got Talent winner was washing cars before the season started!). Give this show a chance…I think you’ll end up being pleasantly surprised and quite entertained.
5. The Biggest Loser – I’ll admit to being “late to the party” on this one, but this is definitely one of the more inspiring shows on television. To see what these people can do to change their bodies and change their lives helps me believe that anything is possible. Of course, if I had two or three months off from work to do nothing but work out all day and eat veggies on somebody else’s dime, I might be able to lose the weight, too. Regardless, it’s not like what they do is easy…and it’s amazing to see some of the transformations. This year will be really weird because Jillian Hall is gone and Anna Kournikova is her replacement (at least she’s not Cara Castronuova…who was BRUTAL last season). But in the end, it’s all about the stories and the people and their struggle with food addiction. Year and year, it’s a great show to get into.
So what am I missing? What shows are just SOOOO good that I absolutely need to watch them?