Economic Woman

Econometrics, gender, equity and more.

Off-topic request: Good television

with 19 comments

My mother is looking for a new TV show. After many years mostly ignoring the medium, she was sucked in by a gift of West Wing DVDs. Now that she’s finished that show, I’m not sure what to recommend. This is similar to my own experience with television – didn’t watch any until Buffy, in my first year of university. Everything has been a bit of a disappointment since then.

The show need not be about politics, but good writing is essential. It doesn’t need to be recent, so long as it’s available on DVD. Not too much violence – preferably no gore. My first instinct is Battlestar Galactica, but that may just be my own affection coming out – it’s pretty dark stuff. Someone else has suggested Boston Legal, which I know little about. Is there a particularly good stream of Law and Order? Something British?


Written by Allison

24 July 2008 at 7:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

19 Responses

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  1. how about the L-word? maybe too sexy for your mum…


    24 July 2008 at 8:47 pm

  2. I think Battlestar is brilliant – so sad it’s ending! I was about to recommend Bones but that definitely has some gore (but the characters are just so quirkily likeable!). I’ll admit that one of my guilty pleasures this past year was Dirty Sexy Money. I’ve also heard great things about Mad Men. As for older stuff, especially if she liked West Wing, then she has to check out Sports Night (hmmm, maybe I just like Peter Krause :-)).


    24 July 2008 at 9:12 pm

  3. Battlestar Galactica has some really good things going for it, yeah. Mad Men is getting a lot of press lately as a thinking person’s show; Joss Whedon’s Firefly (alas, only one season and a movie) has some of the smartest writing and best female characters I’ve seen in a while (albeit with some serious race casting issues); I’ve heard very good things about Friday Night Lights over the last few months; and if she’s into magical realism, it’s hard to go wrong with due South.


    25 July 2008 at 9:50 am

  4. It won’t last her too long, but Bleak House from the BBC is excellent.


    25 July 2008 at 5:59 pm

  5. And I’ll second Mad Men. It’s exceptional.


    25 July 2008 at 5:59 pm

  6. I just rewatched My So Called Life. This ran for one season in the 90s and stars Claire Dane as in introspective high school girl. It is pretty great. Along those same lines (high school) Freaks and Geeks was fabulous. I also like Scrubs, it is very silly, but actually sort of emotionally realistic.

    I love Bones! But yeah, the gore factor is high. And of course the Wire is violent.


    25 July 2008 at 7:17 pm

  7. The Wire! It’s smart, funny and realistic. Unless of course your mom is easily offended, then you might consider watching it first. It is violent and the language is strong, but it doesn’t patronize the viewer like a lot of television. It is finished now, but you can get the first four seasons on dvd and the fifth one next month.


    26 July 2008 at 9:50 am

  8. I’d second Firefly (though I disagree that it has serious race casting issues, one third of the main cast are people of colour which is a pretty solid percentage on an American tv show).

    Also, Arrested Development is very funny but also surprisingly political (but subtle about it).

    Jacob K.

    26 July 2008 at 7:59 pm

  9. Yes to Arrested Development. Good writing, and mostly a good balance between silly and smart gags. I also liked the first 3 seasons of the U.S. version of The Office, and the British version is good too… but not as – warm.


    27 July 2008 at 10:01 pm

  10. I think ‘The Wire’ might be an option for your mother, but it doesn’t feature an awful lot of really likeable characters (unless she’s like me and can’t get enough of the vigilante justice wrought by Omar). She also might like something like ’24’. It’s probably at least on par with ‘The West Wing’ in terms of fast talking.

    If you’re looking for more Aaron Sorkin, you might want to try ‘Sport’s Night’ as someone above suggested, or ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’. I haven’t seen either, but they get some fairly decent reviews.


    28 July 2008 at 3:40 pm

  11. Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll try a couple of them by rentals from the video shop and if one hooks me, I’ll buy some DVDs.

    Marion Blute

    31 July 2008 at 11:45 pm

  12. I’ll third Firefly. Also Becker (who says all the things we want to say but are too polite and civilized to say.)

    I LOVE Law & Order and my favorite are the first 5 seasons wtih Michael Moriarty as the DA.

    Northern Exposure is GREAT!


    30 August 2008 at 4:00 pm

  13. PS somehow I sent it a little too early.

    NORTHERN EXPOSURE is quirky, likeable characteres, no violence or gore, and I’ve heard that the stories are frequently inspired by fable, folklore and such. It’s out on DVD.

    There’s always M.A.S.H. for good, intelligent entertainment.

    There’s also STAR TREK,

    and I’ve recently become enamored iwth a program I never thought I’d even look at – a reality based show for which I generally have no interest – but I stumbled on this one and LOVE it – PROJECT RUNWAY and it is out on DVD.


    30 August 2008 at 4:05 pm

  14. Another vote for Mad Men. I wouldn’t champion many TV shows, but this one seems really worthwhile (writing, social commentary, thematic development are all excellent.)


    15 September 2008 at 7:34 pm

  15. this was ages ago, but if your mom still wants good dvd suggestions:

    -slings and arrows = fantastic series that is about the stratford theatre festival in a very intentionally thinly-veiled way (a lot of stratford actors/directors have been involved with it on various levels). a lot of the humour is obviously very theatrically-oriented, but you really don’t need to be a theatre person to get it. paul gross, on of the principal actors, has called it an “employment comedy”, which is basically what it is. it comes at the whole thing from a very businessy angle, which is a lot funnier than it sounds, i promise. it ran for three seasons, which was exactly as long as it meant to, and each season is only six episodes, so it’s very tight. um i have way too many good things to say about this, but hopefully that’s enough to make you think it’s perhaps important.

    -hamish macbeth? i haven’t seen too much of this myself, but my mother swoons over it much. so it’s something mothers like? and i have enjoyed it when i’ve watched it, i just haven’t felt compelled to watch it with any regularity. which is about how i feel about the west wing.

    -wonderfalls = satisfyingly twisty, but unsatisfyingly plotted, since it was cancelled just as they were starting to set up some really interesting stuff so they kinda had to wrap it all up in a tidy package all of a sudden at a point that was supposed to have been mid-season.


    23 October 2008 at 10:20 am

  16. hi there.

    I love The Wire, and second Battlestar Galactica, the new version. I would offer the following:

    Life on Mars(The British version)
    Doctor Who(the new version, smart writing, great acting by Christopher Eccelston and David Tennant, although I postively hated Martha Jones)

    I loved the Miniseries Band of Brothers(HBO), I felt it was one of the better written, and excellently acted series on war.

    I also like Life, which has Damian Lewis from Band of Brothers as the star. It’s a little in the “quirky detective solves complicated murder mysteries while dealing with a slightly impossible personal life” but I do like it a lot. I like the first season much more than the second though.

    there are some more that I am missing, I need to look at my Netflix list to see what ones I watched lately.


    17 November 2008 at 8:26 pm

  17. As Time Goes By
    British situation comedy w/Judy Dench even!
    My mom loves it.


    19 February 2009 at 4:39 pm

  18. I would normally have suggested The Wire and Deadwood, by far my personal favorites. But both series are chock full of profanity and violence, which I think you said your mom doesn’t like. (Mine either.)

    OTOH, my mom loves Reba.


    19 February 2009 at 4:41 pm

  19. Mad Men!! It’s amazing.
    My parents like Six Feet Under.

    natalie m

    24 August 2009 at 12:10 pm

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