If you like Mad Men, The Sopranos, and Six Feet Under
Sometimes watching TV is like savoring a steak, and sometimes it’s like shoving store-bought cupcakes into your mouth. Boardwalk Empire is like a pile of Kobe beef showered in flecks of gold. This relatively new offering from HBO, focusing on Atlantic City during 1930s Prohibition, is a godsend for fans of gritty, deep, atmospheric period drama. Starring the creepily magnetic Steve Buscemi as crime lord Nucky Thompson, Boardwalk Empire examines the nature of wealth, sexuality, and wrongdoing in an era of secret and dangerous decadence. The show represents the extremes of stark poverty and sumptuous comfort with a steady, delicate touch. From the sordid lives of the main characters (Paz de la Huerta stands out as Nucky’s sensual, psychotic mistress) to the revolving door of would-be criminals and seedy gamblers, Boardwalk Empire keeps passions high with simmering dialogue and perfectly drawn backdrops. Every episode feels like a nibble of something hot, flavorful, and just a little bit greasy.
If you like 30 Rock, Eastbound & Down, and The Office
It feels like every day I see more and more comedies revolving around the faux-family atmosphere of boring jobs. Amy Poehler’s baby, Parks and Recreation, veers off slightly from the paradigm by loosening the reins and not creating forced chemistry between all members of its ensemble cast. The personality types warring in Park’s eponymous forgotten city government office are so wildly disparate that every interaction between high-strung Leslie (Poehler), eerie neanderthal Ron, and young, dead-eyed secretary April crackles with the worst kind of awkward tension. Most of these characters badly want to be somewhere else and have nothing better to do than muse about their hopeless occupations and become inappropriately emotionally invested in the various initiatives of their department. The comedy is not as friendly as The Office or as culturally incisive as 30 Rock, but the show hits all the right notes, and you’ll quickly find yourself watching four episodes in one sitting.
If you like vampires (and Canada)
I bet there’s someone reading this that just got excited. You freak. Anyway, vampires are a thing, I guess, and Blood Ties, a trashy, entertaining series from Canada, joins the revolution in style. Megan Ozeran PO ’11 told me about this one, insisting “It’s Buffy for adults!” An attractive, sassy private investigator teams up with a smoldering 480-year vampire in order to solve her cases. Why is this necessary? She’s going blind. By the way, the vampire is the bastard son of Henry the Eighth. He’s also a graphic novelist, apparently having found nothing better to do after half a century of exploring the earth and feasting on its mortals. Not curious yet? Let’s see…there’s a demon named Asteroth and a jealous policeman ex-boyfriend. If this sounds like a nightmare you had after watching Twilight drunk, then what are you waiting for? See what kind of vampire fantasies those Canucks are cooking up to keep warm! I can’t be held responsible if you get addicted after your first bite.