“House of Cards”: It’s Okay Not to Care

House of Cards

(Photo courtesy of manybits)

I’m missing out on a moment today.

When House of Card debuted to considerable fanfare last February, I did not have access to a Netflix account or the money necessary to acquire such access. I observed from the sidelines as the binge-watchers tore through each episode, finishing the series within one weekend. I observed as the show faded from the pop culture conversation as people moved on to other things (binge-watching Arrested Development). I observed as binge-watch skeptics (I would count myself among them, to an extent) finished the series at their own leisurely pace. I observed as the show became the first streaming-only, television-scale scripted series to merit serious consideration at the Emmys and the Golden Globes.

And then I was granted access to a Netflix account. But I didn’t start with House of Cards. I started with Orange is the New Black, by far the most warmly reviewed series of Netflix’s modern foray into “television.” Then I worked my way through the dense fourth season of Arrested Development, marveling at the massively complex puzzle structure while sometimes wondering why it had been seventeen minutes since I’d laughed.

And finally, I got to House of Cards.

I watched four episodes. I might have watched more, but the end of winter break and the beginning of my spring semester loomed. Tough decisions had to be made. And I decided I’d seen enough of House of Cards to know that I wasn’t clamoring to finish it.

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The M&M Report, Episode 15: The Year’s Best Television

Orange is the New Black

Listen to Episode 15 here.

Happy New Year! 2014 promises to be an exciting year, but Devin and I decided to look back before we look ahead. On this week’s episode of The M&M Report, we talked about an amazing year in television. We looked back at six of our favorite shows, debated the merits of binge-watching, discussed the first-world problem of “too much TV” and gave thanks for this TV Golden Age we’re living in.

Keep in mind that we weren’t listing our favorite shows of the year – for instance, I didn’t even talk about Breaking Bad, the show of the year by many standards. Rather, we offered some suggestions of really good shows that we enjoyed and we think you might too.

Tune in to find out which show Devin’s mom abandoned, why Mark likes shows about interesting communities that seem to exist even when the cameras aren’t watching, and what happened to Devin’s plan to binge-watch the entirety of Breaking Bad over winter break.

Devin and I are really exciting to keep the podcast alive in the new year, and we hope you’ll take the journey with us. Thanks for listening!

(In addition to this podcast, you can find my thoughts on the year in television here, here and here.)

Stay tuned for the time breakdown:

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2013 in Review: My Ten Favorite TV Shows

Parks

Yesterday I offered an overview of the year in television. Today, check out my list of my ten favorite TV shows of 2013. A few caveats:

1. I haven’t seen everything. Here’s a partial list of shows I can’t include on this list because I haven’t watched them: The Good Wife. Game of Thrones. Enlightened. Bob’s Burgers. Girls.Veep. Eastbound and Down. Treme. Broadchurch. The Fall. Masters of Sex. Justified. Sons of Anarchy. Boardwalk Empire. I’m not paid to watch television. I’m doing the best I can.

2. I didn’t rank these ten shows because I didn’t have the energy. Why bother? They’re all great. I’d recommend any of them to people who love watching TV.

3. Making lists is fun but inevitably arbitrary. Tomorrow, I’ll post another list of shows that missed this list but still deserved recognition. Boiling things down to a list of ten is important for the purposes of making difficult judgment but meaningless for the pursuit of quality viewing.

And now, the list.

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2013 in Review: Kingpins, Inmates and Serial Killers in a Rich Year for Television

Orphan Black

In 2013, couch potatoes reframed the phrase “too much TV” to signify the veritable bounties of powerful dramas, gut-busting comedies and intriguing hybrids splashed across an unprecedented array of channels and platforms. No longer can concerned parents or frustrated roommates complain that you need to get out more – they’re too busy binging on House of Cards and catching up on Scandal.

Regardless of what this visual buffet means for the state of physical fitness, there’s no denying that 2013 brought riches aplenty for people who find value in the artistic medium of “television.” Whether you were letting Netflix give you the royal treatment, carrying you from one episode to the next without so much as a click of the mouse, or you were continuing to exert power over your remote control, greatness was bursting from every frame. A brilliant thriller about an alliterative meth king ended its run in a blaze of frightfully intense glory. Serial killers and murder mysteries reigned supreme in a wide range of settings, tones and character shadings. We dove headfirst into the emotional lives of inmates in a women’s prison, found surprising emotional depth in the tale of two Russian spies whose marriage oscillates between fa├žade and fulfillment, and marveled at the dexterity of a young woman tasked with simultaneously portraying nearly a dozen versions of herself.

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