TV world: growing up

In edition to watching shows about zombies (I’ve also recently finished the last two books in the Newsflesh trilogy and my brain is still trying to untangle itself from that reality. Definitely a series worth checking out if you want to read about a zombie apocalypse in a wildly different world (see: bloggers, virology, science!). Not the best writing, but the trilogy’s concept/world building is so worth it.), I love watching shows about growing up and dealing with the “actual world.”

These shows just feel so real and relatable and are a nice (but also depressing) break from other shows out there that are more about specific situations/jobs (crime, firefighting, medicine) or different worlds (fantasy, sci-fi) rather than the real world and the everyday.

Not going to talk about My So-Called Life or Undeclared or Freaks and Geeks because I’ve already covered them here.

So what shows could I possibly be talking about?

1. Shameless (US, Showtime, 4 seasons, renewed for 5th)

Admittedly, I’ve never seen a single episode of the original UK series (on netflix I believe) the US one is based on, but I’ve seen reviews that the US one is just as good or even better than the UK one. The US one is possibly one of best shows I’ve watched in the past few years, it’s incredibly consistent in its amazingness (unlike The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones and even Mad Men). I don’t think there’s a single season so far that I have disliked or fell short of another, and I think consistency says so much about a show and its ability to mature and move forward.

The premise of the show is fairly simple: we follow the members of the Gallagher family as they live and grow up in the South Side neighborhood of Chicago, and according to someone who has a better grasp of things (since I would be the worst person to know if the show’s portrayal of poverty is accurate or not), does a halfway decent job of portraying what it’s like to live at poverty level. We mainly follow the Gallagher “kids” as they all deal with the hand they’ve been dealt (incompetent parents, abandonment) as well as mental health, homosexuality, relationships, etc.

The show doesn’t try to paint characters as the good guy or the bad guy, but as real people with both good and bad sides. The characters are shades of gray (maybe some are darker gray than others). They all have their flaws, which is what makes this show entertaining and heartbreaking to watch. Since the majority (like 90%) of the main characters are younger than 25, it’s a great show about growing up, set in a place that is unforgiving of mistakes. I don’t have a favorite sibling because they’re all so different and as cheesy as it sounds, I see a little bit of myself in each one (except maybe Liam since he’s like two apart from the fact that I, too, was once two).

The show gets unbelievably dark at times (like this past season) but it also has great comedic timing and writing. They have some of the best lines and monologues (spoilers, but here are a fuckton of gifsets of great acting/scenes) I’ve ever heard and the acting is stellar. I really like how there really isn’t a central plot other than grow up, get a break and try to live a better life.

Also, the chemistry between the cast members is fantastic. It’s Showtime, so there is nudity, (questionable) sex, drugs, swearing, the whole nine yards. Some things that happen are just INSANE but somehow, you still feel like there’s someone in this world that has been in that situation before. They also have great recaps at the beginning of each episode.

My favorite show right now. It’s emotionally exhausting and often times ridiculous but oh so good and I want the next season now. Like right now.

Here‘s where you can find the episodes. (Click on the season you want to watch. I’d recommend installing AdBlock).

2. My Mad Fat Diary (UK, E4, 2 seasons, can’t find renewal news)

My Mad Fat Diary (MMFD) hails from the UK and is a show based on the book/memoir My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary. The show usually takes place from Rae Earl’s (the main character and author of the book) perspective as an over weight 16-year-old in 1996. The show focuses on her struggles with her body and mental health as well as her interactions with her group of friends who also go through their own struggles. Like Shameless, there isn’t a specific plot other than following Rae as she grows up, learns from her experiences and moves on with her life.

While Shameless may focus on family and growing up in present day, MMFD takes place in the 90s and focuses more on friendship (and family too) and mental health including body weight/image issues and depression while also touching upon homophobia and homosexuality, bullying, relationships, self-harm, therapy, etc. What I really like about MMFD is that these issues aren’t the only personality trait of these characters which I think is really important.

I find this to be a really compelling series that can be ridiculously funny (maybe a spoiler so don’t click if you’re worried about that) and honest but often painful to watch. It’s not as in-your-face as Shameless, but MMFD’s more subtle story-telling approach is what really hits you in the feelings when they deal with these issues that many of us have had to deal with. The characters are relatable and you learn to sympathize with all (or most) of them.

The acting is seriously great. Sharon Rooney, who plays Rae, is a great lead. Like really really great. She’s one of those actors that can convey a lot just using facial expressions and can convey even more with a great script. The rest of the cast is also wonderful and their interactions feel so real and never forced. Another wonderful aspect of the show is its portrayal ofย  friendship and family. You see the characters fall out with each other and remain angry at each other for like half the season– more realistic than getting back on friendly terms within the same episode.

The only thing that may turn people (not from the UK) off are the thick/non-London accents. It’s kind of hard to figure out what they’re saying at first, but I quickly adjusted after an episode. The series starts off a little slow but I really liked that the show took its time to flesh out all the characters because it added dimensionality as the show began following/revealing the different struggles of her friends as well (spoilers: 1, 2). My favorite episode is told from the perspective of Rae’s best friend and it’s just such an enlightening and interesting thing because you don’t realize that Rae isn’t always as reliable of a narrator as you think. There isn’t much nudity (I think the worst you see is butts? lol) but there’s swearing. And a lot of crying (both on the show and you) and emotional scenes that can hit you really hard.

Also, another thing that sets the show about is their use of animation doodles. The show often has voiceovers of Rae writing/reading her diary about the events along with animated scribbles and doodles over frozen shots of certain scenes. Exhibit A:

You probably can’t tell, but these really do add so much to scenes and the story telling. They’re used to add comedy and to also further convey emotions like anger, sadness, frustration, etc.

Also, 90s music soundtrack. Oasis, Radiohead, The Cure, Weezer and more. 90s songs have never been used in better context. So much good music setting scenes up perfectly.

Also, cuteness (… both the scene and the boy. I may or may not have a Nico Mirallegro situation):

Here‘s where you can find the episodes. (Click on the season you want to watch. I’d recommend installing AdBlock).

So go watch these shows! Or else I’ll judge you so hard for reading all this text with nothing to prove.

-amy

p.s. in addition to the shows listed before the cut, other shows i would have covered if they weren’t already pretty popular are skins uk (netflix), the o.c., greek (netflix), vmars

also, i typed this up at like 12-2am and i corrected a ton of its/it’s mistakes, but i know there are other grammar things that slipped past my tired mind so please excuse those

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5 thoughts on “TV world: growing up

  1. Haha, you’re watching/recommending shows I’ve heard a lot about and have been meaning to get around to watching! (not that I think it’ll ever happen, but it’s nice to have a “to-watch list” LOL)

    I actually tried watching the first episode of Shameless and couldn’t get into it. (same thing happened with Mad Men and Breaking Bad) Got to say the only Showtime TV show I liked was Dexter… but I still haven’t watched the last season. XD

    BUT OMG 90s SOUNDTRACK??? I need to make a new 90s music playlist XD

    • do itttt

      i don’t remember much about the first ep of shameless, but both shows take like 2-3 episodes to really get going. but then again, they aren’t for everyone ๐Ÿ™‚

      LOL i’ve never watched dexter. it seems slow? and dragged out

      YEAH 90S

      • XD

        I have no patience for shows that start slowly, haha it’s so bad and I’m sure I’m missing out on a lot of awesome shows, but when I watch TV I need it to be interesting right away. XD I’ve stopped watching a lot of shows because they lost my interest.

        Dexter is kind of slow but IDK, somehow I really got into that one. Probably because it has to do with police/blood/science. XD

        BEST DECADE.

      • aww sad. because once shameless starts rolling (aka after hey introduce everyone), shit gets real. haha same with mmfd i guess but less hectic

        lol do you watch hannibal then? because it’s police/blood/some science and it’s beautiful

        AW YEAH

      • MAYBE ONE DAY.

        LOL I started Hannibal and was kind of into it, but I haven’t watched any of the second season because it was ehhhhhhh. IDK, I’M PICKY.

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