Binge Watching… The New Great American Novel
(Guilt-Free Summer Pleasure)
By Lori Hope Baumel
Originally appeared in Around Wellington on July 1, 2015
It’s hot out. Who wants to go any further than the pool, beach or car? Those who live in south Florida during the summer months often remain in our air-conditioned homes, offices and malls. The snowbirds flee to the mountains and the equestrian’s barns are nearly empty. For those of us who don’t have the luxury of hauling out of town, we have to make the best of it.
July and August, at one time, was a quiet opportunity to catch up on the summer book list. It still is… and I’ve been flying through my audible and e-books quicker than previous years. But hey, it’s 2015. Let’s be real. If you’re reading this article, then you most likely have access to the Internet or cable television. One of the best things to happen to summer in south Florida (that doesn’t involve sunscreen) is the wide variety of mini-series, television shows, movies and “vodcasts” available via Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Ted Talks and other on-demand formats.
So, go ahead… indulge. It’s less fattening than Ben and Jerry’s and there’s no need to feel guilty. Books are mind movies anyway. So toss it up a bit and catch a few chapters of a tried and true series or documentary.
How do you binge watch without figuring out the formula of a show? Simple. Screenwriters often employ gimmicks that tend to repeat themselves. Choose a diverse set of series as if you’re choosing a book list. Watch one or two episodes of each show per week. Intersperse the styles of entertainment and don’t watch more than two episodes in a row. Choose your entertainment wisely.
2015 will be known as the end of an era for television. Letterman, Jon Stewart and Colbert (as we knew him) bid us adieu. Mad Men gave us a phenomenal finale and PBS offered incredible documentaries like The Roosevelts. Some shows, like Revenge, were not worthy of more than 2 seasons but lingered on. Well, guess what? YOU are in control of your remote control. If two or three seasons of Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Weeds or Game of Thrones satisfies – stop watching. It’s like putting down a book that no longer interests you. You can pick it up again next summer. Some shows, like Parks and Recreation or Grace and Frankie take a few episodes to get going.
Instead of my usual “top 5,” I have prepared a summer list of binge-watching favorites in many categories. Also included are movies that are worthy of catching up on. Be sure to get some exercise and stay hydrated. Spend some time at the gym or take an early morning run. I’ll be catching up on my “mind movies” on the elliptical machine. I may not go very far, but I’ll still…
Live… Go… Do!
Top 5 for July and August
In many cases, some shows/films may not be suitable for children. Viewer discretion is advised.
1) Popular TV Dramas:
Scandal, Mad Men, How to Get Away With Murder, House of Cards, Downton Abbey, Empire, Outlander, Game of Thrones, Transparent, Olive Kitteridge, A Young Doctor’s Notebook, The Knick, The Paradise, Boardwalk, Halt and Catch Fire, Masters of Sex, The Good Wife, The Waltons, The West Wing, House, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and more.
2) Popular comedies/musicals/classics:
Modern Family, Friends, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, 30 Rock, Futurama, The Simpsons, Fawlty Towers, Seinfeld, Glee, Scrubs, Big Bang Theory, Parks and Recreation, Louie, How I met Your Mother, Frasier, Roseanne, The Office, Everybody Loves Raymond, All in The Family, The Honeymooners, Taxi, Cheers, I Love Lucy, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, That Girl, 40 years of SNL, Night Court, Happy Days and many more.
3) Dramas with a comedic edge (dramedies):
Better Call Saul, Weeds, Star Trek (a variety of versions that span over 5 decades), Orange Is the New Black, Nurse Jackie, M*A*S*H, Barney Miller, Maude, Sex and The City, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, Murphy Brown, Moonlighting, Wonder Years, Northern Exposure, Girls, Ally McBeal and more.
4) Summer themed movies: Grease, Vicki Christina Barcelona, Woodstock, Dirty Dancing, Meatballs, In the Heat of the Night, Brokeback Mountain, A Streetcar Named Desire, Body Heat, Independence Day, Caddyshack, The Seven Year Itch, (500) Days of Summer, 12 Angry Men, American Graffiti, Dog Day Afternoon, Rear Window, Do The Right Thing, Jaws and many more.
Other classics and notable film series: Star Wars (better catch up on them – in order), Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Citizen Kane, Manhattan, Annie Hall, The early James Bond films as well as the ones starring Daniel Craig, The Avengers, Speed, Top Gun, Inception, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Alien, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Spider-man, The various Batman films, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Die Hard, The Lion King, Pirates of the Caribbean, Chocolat, Ghostbusters, Back To The Future, Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein and my all-time favorite: Casablanca.
5) Documentaries (warning – some are these pieces are thought provoking or disturbing and may not suit a variety of tastes):
Anything produced by Kevin Burns, The Roosevelts, Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey, Undefeated, Room 237, Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin’, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Exit Through The Gift Shop, Hoop Dreams, Man On Wire, How To Survive A Plague, Scientology, CitizenFour, Fahrenheit 9/11, Super Size Me, Virunga, Finding Vivian Maier, Sinatra: All or Nothing At All, Paper Clips, When the Levees Broke, and Last Days In Vietnam.
For more choices go to:
And the amazing…
One more thing… before, after or between your binge-watch, take advantage of the wonderful restaurants Wellington has to offer. Summertime comes with multi-course price fixe menus and rarely a need for a reservation. For us “Wellingtonians” this is a well-deserved perk!