What Are You Watching?: “The Goldbergs”

The Goldbergs (2013 – 2015, ABC)

THE GOLDBERGS
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Some of the best stories ever told are based on true events. Some of the most successful comedians base their comedy off of their families. Mindy Kaling, Kathy Griffin, and Chelsea Handler’s autobiographical books are all New York Times bestsellers based on their real life family and friends.

I could now talk about my insane family and the time my uncle “pimp-slapped” me, the time my aunt spontaneously sang the “Star Spangled Banner” to my best friend because she is a history major, or the time my mom and I got into a lengthy argument about Britney Spears and her influence – I won that one. I could collect all of the oddities that have become moments in my family’s history and try to form them into something like a narrative or a short story, but Adam Goldberg took it one step further. He took his family and turned them into the main characters of an ABC sitcom: The Goldbergs.

The Goldbergs are a typical family in “nineteen-eighty-something” living in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. Murray and Beverly Goldberg are the parents of Erika, Barry, and Adam who are young teens/pre-teens with their own sets of social ineptitudes and quirks.

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What Are You Watching?: “The Lizzie Borden Chronicles”

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (2015, Lifetime)

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles
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Flipping through channels is a dangerous game. Five times out of six, this digital form of Russian Roulette results in horrible television shows that are so simplistic that you question who on earth is watching something so mindless. At least that’s how I feel when seeing TV show titles like My Kid Ate What? and then being disgusted that it was so popular it got a spin-off: My Dog Ate What? Please kill me now.

With the game of “Remote Roulette” comes, occasionally, a show that catches your eye and makes you wonder, “how is this going to be done?” That is what happened to me the other day when I saw that Lifetime was premiering a new show called The Lizzie Borden Chronicles – yes, this is real life.

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles is an eight episode Lifetime miniseries continuation from, I’m assuming, the 2014 Lifetime Original Movie, Lizzie Borden Took an Ax. Now, I will say I’m all for a strong female lead, as you can probably tell by my previous reviews, and I’ve been intrigued with the Lizzie Borden trials since I was in grade school, but this show is in a whole other world.

The show stars Christina Ricci, who is known for playing Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family remake movies and starring in the former ABC series Pan Am, both of which I’m a fan. This show is somehow a hybrid of modern social norms and an 1890s small town setting – think Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter on the “how accurate is this show” meter.

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What Are You Watching?: “Gilmore Girls”

Gilmore Girls (2000 – 2007, The CW)

Gilmore Girls
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Take a charming town in Connecticut, add Melissa McCarthy before she was typecast by her role as Megan in Bridesmaids, and throw in a quick-talking, pop-culture addicted, snarky, sassy mother-daughter duo–there you have Gilmore Girls. This show about love, acceptance, and family graced TV screens for seven complete seasons with its quick-wit and charm.

Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Bunheads), the show followed the story of Lorelai (Lauren Graham, Parenthood) and Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) – a young mother and daughter who were more best friends or a team than part of a typical family hierarchy. This relationship that I often envied is only made more believable by the immense chemistry that Graham and Bledel have together.

Lorelai is a young mother who got pregnant at sixteen and left home to raise her daughter on her own. She began working at the Independence Inn, a small inn in the fictional Stars Hollow, and eventually became manager. Her daughter Rory was named after herself, which Rory explains: “She named me after herself. She was lying in the hospital thinking about how men name boys after themselves all the time, you know, so why couldn’t women? She says her feminism just kind of took over. Though personally I think a lot of Demerol also went into that decision.” (Season 1, Episode 1, Pilot).

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What Are You Watching?: “Ringer”

Ringer (2011, The CW)

Ringer
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Binge-watching TV shows has become more of a lifestyle than a hobby for me because I hate cliffhangers. I am a true millennial in the sense that I’m incredibly impatient and need everything provided to me instantly – especially answers to plot points in television series. That said, I finally rewatched a show I had watched when it was on air a few years back, Ringer, and I was so glad I didn’t have to wait through commercials or days until the next episode aired.

Ringer is a concluded TV drama that lasted only one season, which I attribute to it being aired on a younger-viewer network. At the time of Ringer’s premiere, the CW was already talking about ending its front-running series Gossip Girl and was looking for a replacement. However, Ringer’s complex plot about murder and deception was not the right fit to replace Gossip Girl’s quick-witted sass and the Upper East Side drama of love affairs. Had Ringer been picked up by a more mature-audience based network, like ABC, it definitely would’ve hit its target audience and lasted much longer.

This show, though short lived, was thankfully aired in a full order of 22 episodes and also marked the return of the incomparable Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) to television.

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What Are You Watching?: “Young & Hungry“

Young & Hungry
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Young & Hungry (2014-2015 ABC Family)

Lately, I’ve been in a very nostalgic and reflective mood. I’m constantly remembering old Disney Channel shows like Even Stevens or Disney Channel Original Movies like Phantom of the Megaplex or Zenon and I’m left wondering where the time has gone. The end of my Disney Channel days, because I sadly chose to “grow up,” occurred at the beginning of Hannah Montana – the story about an undercover pop star who lives a normal life in secret.

With the Hannah Montana gang in mind, I turned to the new comedy on ABC Family, Young & Hungry. This new series features Hannah Montana starlet, Emily Osment. With quick-paced stories and expectedly unexpected situations, I found the show to have the same heart of shows I had grown up with, but with a much more adult sense of humor. I had come for the nostalgia and ultimately stayed for the story.

The series’ executive producer is Ashley Tisdale of Disney’s High School Musical and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Following in suit with nostalgic stars, the show includes Jesse McCartney, Emily Osment, and many others.

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What Are You Watching?: “Younger” (TV Land 2015)

Younger
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Age is just a number in the new TV Land series, Younger. The show, which is created by Darren Star (Sex & the City), revolves around Liza (Sutton Foster – Bunheads & Thoroughly Modern Millie), who is a 40-year-old recent divorcee and mother. She once worked at Random House Publishing for three years where she became editor and then left her job to raise her daughter.

Now, fourteen years later, her daughter goes on a mission trip to Mumbai and Liza is left alone and needs a job to support her and her daughter. But the publishing world has changed during her hiatus and she’s finding she can’t even get into the glass room to hit the glass ceiling because of her age.

To soothe her bruised ego, she and her best lesbian friend, Maggie (Debi Mazar – Entourage), go out to drink the pain away. While they’re out, Liz is hit on by a 26-year-old, Josh (Nico Tortorella – The Following), who believes her to be that same age. Empowered by this ego boost and with the understanding of “people believe what you tell them,” Liz goes to another interview pretending to be 26 and eventually gets the job.

From there, Liz has to keep up with the fast-paced environment of publishing, the advances made in marketing with technology, and the unfiltered office chatter with her new friend, Kelsey, played by Hilary Duff (Lizzie McGuire).

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What Are You Watching?: “Playing House”

“Playing House” (2014-2015, USA)

Playing House
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Is there anything better than having a best friend? Someone who understands your mild breaks in sanity or can always bring up a great, and often embarrassing, story from when you were younger is great to have around.

That’s basically the magic behind the new comedy on USA, “Playing House.” The show was created and written by real life best friends Jessica St. Clair (“Bridesmaids”) and Lennon Parham (“Accidentally on Purpose”), who also star in the show. That gives the show a chemistry unlike any other.

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