Commentary

TV Is The New Black

I recently signed up for MoviePass, which allows me to see a movie every day if I like, for an annual fee of $90.

I don’t know how long the company will survive using this model. As reported in the business press, it’s definitely in trouble.

But I’m having my own troubles trying to take full advantage of MoviePass. There are so many weeks when there isn't a film I really want to see.

In fact, since March, I’ve only seen one memorable feature — “Black Panther” — and two I enjoyed somewhat less: the weird black comedy “The Death of Stalin” and “Love, Simon,” a sweet high-school coming-out story.

In that same span of time, I’ve had many excellent adventures in TV, a label I’m using to refer to anything on a smaller screen.

These included rediscovering one of my all-time favorites, the 1990s-era comedy “Cybill” on Amazon Prime. I also said good-bye to a longtime source of fascination, that dispassionate killing machine Elizabeth Jennings (played brilliantly by Keri Russell) on FX’s “The Americans” — and found a new, more fun, paid assassin to (kind of) root for: the fashion-conscious, witty Villanelle on BBC America’s “Killing Eve.”

Comparing the two experiences — and noticing just how few appealing, grown-up movies are released these days —  made me realize a stark truth: TV has leapt ahead of movies in prestige and popularity as a popular art form.

For example, when was the last time you could get people talking at a party by asking if they’d seen this or that film? Meanwhile, the question “Binge anything good lately?” is often the quickest way to kick-start a conversation and bond with a stranger.

So to bond with you, my reader, I’ll end with just two suggestions to watch on TV. And I’ll go beyond the obvious choices of the happy fantasy “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Amazon Prime and the anxiety-tracking “Orange Is the New Black” on Netflix.

TNT’s “Good Behavior,” whose first season is now available on Hulu, stars Michelle Dockery ("Downton Abbey"), but offers more than the immediate shock of watching Lady Mary clean toilets and rob hotel rooms. There is also sexy suspense with a gorgeous hit man, played by Juan Diego Botto.

(Another paid killing machine on TV? Definitely a theme, also chronicled in the fun post “Welcome To The Golden Age Of Shows About Assassins,” by Brian Grubb on Uproxx.)

Going back to “Cybill,” on Amazon, I’d suggest watching the first and second seasons.  You’ll see a fun take on a fictional D-List actress’ life (played by Cybill Shepherd), and be privy to the first long-run TV appearance of gifted theater veteran Christine Baranski. She plays the hard-drinking, revenge-obsessed Maryann Thorpe, truly a character for the ages.

1 comment about "TV Is The New Black".
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  1. Sara Guaglione from MediaPost, June 20, 2018 at 2:32 p.m.

    Totally agree!

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