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Rory’s 2023: TV

TV and YouTube-esque video are the only media where I don’t get auto-generated stats about my year. (I still don’t have a great way to track YouTube watching, so I’m not recapping 2023.) But I did track TV via Notion in 2023, to somewhat messy results. I’m not happy with it. Unfortunately, I have no better ideas on how to track it right now, so I’ll probably do the same for 2024 (unless Letterboxd actually launches TV tracking and I don’t hate it).

Still, messy or not, I can talk broadly about the shows I watched.

Old rewatches

-Community: It’s hard to be Very Online at my age and not have seen at least some Community. During my early-2023 winter slump, watching in full was a good way to pass the time. It’s not an uncomplicated watch—many of the jokes and stances haven’t aged well, and there’s a whole lot of behind-the-scenes goings-on that I can’t begin to watch—but Troy and Abed are two of my all-time favorite TV characters.

-The Untamed: I started 2024 with a rewatch of this, too! Wonder who I have to bother to get a US physical release of this show so I can stop worrying about it disappearing forever. I think this is the only comfort rewatch TV I have at the moment, and I’m happy to have it.

-Big Love: I watched Big Love in full as it aired and remembered loving the ending, so I wanted to see how it held up on a rewatch. (Answer: I still like it, but the last season is largely silly and undermines it.) It’s fascinating how the show’s fiction is built around the myths of Mormon polygamy just as much as some of the realities; watching Sister Wives and looking up analysis of that has taught me a lot in that regard.

(Yes, I also watched Sister Wives and Shiny Happy People this year, but I’m largely refraining from commentary because TLC is completely morally bankrupt, and I would have to do a lot of grounding in greater context to feel like I’m even beginning to do that justice. I rec Shiny Happy People if you can handle it, though; look up trigger warnings first.)

-Interview with the Vampire s1: I made a point of rewatching when they had the episodes up on (HBO) Max temporarily. A quick marathon was nice after doing a week-to-week first watch. It worked great both ways! I wish there were more episodes, but the writers filled the time beautifully. Makes me regret how dull I found Mayfair Witches (but then, I’ve always been more into Vampire Chronicles).

Shows that finished in 2023

-Succession: A show that rushed its ending, but they were far from the only HBO show to have that problem in 2023. (I suspect the looming strike was also a factor.) Endings are hard, but even with everything, I found Succession’s last season satisfying and emotionally devastating in parts. I’m extremely pleased that this was the Sarah Snook-Kieran Culkin award season. My faves!

-Scott Pilgrim Takes Off: I never fully clicked with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but Scott Pilgrim Takes Off was a fascinating revisit with a lot of the same people. In this case, age came with evolved perspectives on people and relationships. I like art that recognizes that we can grow and be kinder over time!

-The Crown: This was a comfort show for me in the first couple seasons, so seeing its writing degrade over time was a real bummer. (Nothing in the show topped 2×06.) I don’t regret watching the rest because I liked the production design and some of the casting. Plus, I felt like they were circling a monarchy-is-dying message in the finale that was interesting. But ultimately, it was a lot of unchecked bigotry and unchallenged regurgitation of palace narratives.

-Schmigadoon!: One of two shows I moved from my “may have more seasons” to “finished” column before I started writing this. It’s a shame because there was a lot of talent and fun here, but I’d be lying if I said season two didn’t capture me like season one did. Maybe it’s better that Apple canceled it before it became Ted Lasso? Still, disappointing to lose an outlet as an agoraphobic musical-theater kid.

-Our Flag Means Death: Here’s the second show I moved to “finished”. The trajectory this show took in my life is fascinating. I went from elated and telling everyone I knew about it as season one aired, to cooling on the show while waiting for season two, to sad while watching season two. It definitely didn’t deserve the obvious shoestring budget it was working off, and I loved all the ensemble. Here’s hoping I can watch Vico Ortiz in something else soon.

Continuing shows

-Heartstopper: I might not have a lot of comfort TV shows, but Heartstopper is one of my comfort comics, and I love its TV adaptation deeply. Season two was even better than season one for me, although I watched both back-to-back and had a great time. I’m so glad season three’s in progress.

-Good Omens: I love the Good Omens book, but I haven’t quite clicked with the show in the same way. S1 wasn’t a bad adaptation of the book, but it still missed something for me? And then s2 was forging its own path and worked even less. (This might have been because I didn’t get to watching the new episodes right away, and the online hype grew too big.) I’ll still watch the last season, whenever that happens.

-What We Do In The Shadows: Guillermo! It’s hard to keep a show fresh for multiple seasons, but I’ve loved Guillermo’s journey the whole way through. I think 2024’s going to have the show’s last season, and while I’m sad, I do think it makes sense and doesn’t feel overly rushed. Maybe this will be a comfort rewatch show when I have all of it. (Fingers crossed they don’t blow the landing.)

-Wheel of Time: I love this show despite myself? Some of it is that I imprinted on the book series as a young teen and seeing some parts onscreen will never not be a thrill. But there are several arcs that dragged, and several things that were iffy in the books and felt worse onscreen (sul’dam/damane, anyone?). All that said, I still felt a huge rush of joy watching the finale. Sometimes, you just wanna see the ride, even if it’s flawed. (It helps that the Forsaken are fantastic so far!)

Star Trek

This gets its own section!

-Lower Decks: I think Lower Decks is as good as any show can be in its fourth season. Which is really good, but definitely showing a little wear? I thought the Mariner arc was fun, and there were some highlights this season that were as good as any of the best episodes in other seasons, but they’re in a place where they kind of had to promote everyone, and that moves it away from some of the ensemble charm and core lower-decks identity that’s always been my favorite part. That’s pretty nitpicky on my part, though. I still enjoy every episode more than basically any other show on TV.

-Strange New Worlds: High highs and low lows. Lower Decks does a good job at channeling the 90s era Treks, and SNW does a decent job at translating classic Trek into the 2020s. I wish I could jettison the post-Enterprise grossness around military and ethics, and I wish it was remotely queer. Still, I definitely have fun most of the time. They had body swap! A musical episode! Red-shirt and time-travel shenanigans! I just wish it didn’t also have “eugenics is good actually” and “M’Benga can just kill whoever he wants”? But unevenness is also in line with original Trek, so…good job, I guess?

-Lower Decks on Strange New Worlds: SO GOOD. I can’t believe how well they translated animated comedy characters into a live-action show! Boimler and Spock blowing things up together was so fun, and I loved Mariner bonding with the crew. Possibly one of my all-time favorite episodes of Trek?

Rory Hume is a rainbow gay, cat whisperer, and concert swag addict.

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