21 Best TV Shows Similar to Friends
Jul i Blodfjell
When you’re done watching the usual stuff, consider one of these very bizarre attempts at holiday cheer.
When AMC released their holiday programming lineup this year, it seemed like an attempt at a joke: in addition to a handful of aging comedies that have nothing to do with Christmas (or any other holiday for that matter), like Uncle Buck and Caddyshack, the now-ubiquitous Elf was scheduled to air no less than sixteen times in thirty days, and that wasn’t counting the December 2nd “anniversary celebration” marathon. Second to Elf was National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, scheduled to air twelve times. Filling out the remaining time not occupied by Elf or National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was woeful C-tier fare nobody enjoyed the first time around, like Christmas With the Kranks and Fred Claus.
In the era of streaming, finding Christmas entertainment now requires keeping track of who has the rights to show what special or movie at any given time. Gone are the days of CBS airing A Charlie Brown Christmas every year for decades: now it's under the sole domain of Apple TV+. Its former companion How the Grinch Stole Christmas is available only on Peacock, and all manner of Muppet-related programming is exclusive to Disney+. If the pickings aren’t slim, then they’re disbursed like so much reindeer feed across multiple platforms. Continue Reading →
When Frasier premiered in the fall of 1993 it had massive shoes to fill. That's probably an understatement. Its parent show, Cheers, was a critical and commercial monster in a way that can only happen when there are only three shows for two hundred million people to choose from. It was nominated for almost two hundred Emmys over the course of its eleven-year run, and its series finale aired to 90 million people (40% of the country’s then population) three months before Frasier’s start. So yeah, expectations were pretty high, and Frasier ended up pretty much meeting them all. While never as popular as Cheers (nothing has been as popular as Cheers since Cheers), it was nevertheless a solid commercial hit that carved out its own identity and won more Emmys than its parent show over the course of its own eleven-year run. A lot of that success was rooted in Frasier’s ability as its own, independent show with its own characters and rhythms instead of being Cheers 2.0. Continue Reading →
Survival of the Thickest
In 1995, way back last century, I went shopping for a dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding. Accompanied by my mother, it soon became apparent to us both that I, both a big and tall girl, wouldn’t be able to buy a dress in the Juniors section. My options eventually whittled down to one adult black velvet dress that, while the saleswoman assured us was totally chic for weddings, nevertheless showcased to the world that I could not fit into a fun or stylish dress for someone my age and that’s rough. It’s very rough. Continue Reading →
In its first season, Cruel Summer was a roller coaster of a television show. It offered a new twist, loop, or drop around every corner. Cruel Summer Season 2, by contrast, feels more like the Slingshot. For one, the journey is much easier to understand and anticipate. Of course, there are still thrills to be hand. Still, it lacks a certain gonzo quality. As a result, this season is better and more logically plotted, but also significantly less likely to leave a viewer’s head spinning. Continue Reading →
Based on a True Story
Delia, oh, Delia, Delia all my life/If I hadn't have shot poor Delia/I'd have had her for my wife/Delia's gone, one more round, Delia's gone." Continue Reading →
Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields
The acclaimed documentarian joins The Spool to discuss Brooke Shields, her work, her life, and her relationship to "Brooke Shields" the image.
In 1981, Roger Ebert wrote a profile on Brooke Shields in which he—quoting a press agent—said, “She will be with us for the rest of our lives.” That turned out to be remarkably prescient, but neither the agent nor Ebert could have anticipated the myriad number of ways Shields has been with us in that time. Yes, she is extraordinarily beautiful. But many equally attractive people have come and gone, while Shields remains a consistent part of pop culture’s firmament. From her early appearances in films like Pretty Baby (1978), The Blue Lagoon (1980), and Endless Love (1981) and her controversial TV ads for Calvin Klein jeans, all of which focused on her sexuality while she was literally a child, to her shift in the later Eighties to become America’s Virgin to her reinvention as a comedic actress in the Nineties to becoming an advocate for those suffering from postpartum depression (and suffering the slings and arrows of Tom Cruise in full asshole mode as a result), Shields has been a persistently relevant figure in the American popular consciousness.
While Shields has lived much of her life in the public eye, Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, a fascinating two-part documentary from Lana Wilson now streaming on Hulu, proves that she still has a great deal to say. Given access to nearly a half-century’s worth of archival material, which she presents alongside contemporary interviews with Shields, Wilson paints a fascinating, eye-opening portrait that demands a new consideration of Shields and her career. Much of her story is harrowing, be it specific to her life—her wrenching descriptions of sexual assault and her tumultuous relationship with her mother—or experiences too many young women in the spotlight share. (If you think having someone inquire about the state of your virginity sounds awful, imagine having talk show hosts do so on live television.) And yet, not only has Shields survived, she is thriving. She has found peace with herself and is able to look back on her life with a sense of control over it. Continue Reading →
Salvage Hunters: The Restaurators
In Season 2, Hunters remains dedicated to exploring whether vengeance and justice can ever be one and the same. Continue Reading →
The Christmas industrial complex quickly consumes the whole of pop culture. One can barely slip the surly bonds of October 31st before being inundated with a whirlwind of tinsel-tinged music, decorations, and of course, T.V. specials. There’s nothing wrong with that! While the totality of it can be overwhelming at times, even for enthusiasts, there’s something downright pleasant about a big communal celebration touching the whole of society in some way, including our favorite television shows. Continue Reading →
Fleishman Is in Trouble
Fleishman Is in Trouble, the adaptation of Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s novel starring Jesse Eisenberg, Claire Danes, and Lizzy Caplan, has a first-act problem. Or rather, a first-episode problem. Continue Reading →
The first season of Avenue 5 premiered in January 2020. The comedic show about a large group of people stuck in the same location for an extended period of time seemed to resonate with audiences who suddenly found themselves in a somewhat similar situation with the emergence of COVID-19. The show’s second season was delayed due to the pandemic and logistical scheduling hurdles of corralling its stacked roster of talent. Nevertheless, show creator Armando Iannucci and company persisted, and 2+ years later, we’re treated to another season of clever space satire in the second season of Avenue 5. Continue Reading →
Chad and JT Go Deep
There’s been a recent boom in the television sphere of hybrid comedy/documentary series, ranging from altered talk shows (The Eric Andre Show) to pranks with the pals (Jackass) and cringe “reality” series (The Rehearsal). Looking to join the ranks is Netflix’s new show Chad and JT Go Deep, a comedic mockumentary series that flirts with cringe comedy, advocates for important causes, and aims to make us all members of “stokenation.” Continue Reading →
Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers
No one mistakes HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Los Angeles Lakers for a 30 For 30 documentary. So why does that series feel more authentic to the Golden Era of professional basketball, and the team that helped elevate the NBA into an American pastime, than a ten-hour documentary about the Lakers? Continue Reading →
Flowers in the Attic: The Origin
A note: This movie contains several scenes of sexual assault, which, though not graphic, are intense and should be handled with caution. Continue Reading →
Season 1 of Hacks literally left things up in the air with Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and Ava (Hannah Einbinder), as they boarded Vance’s private jet back to Las Vegas. Deborah has convinced reluctant writer Ava to join her on tour. Unbeknownst to Deborah, Ava’s aired their dirty laundry via email to a team of British writers, who are keen to use the material as inspiration for a horrible boss-type sitcom. Ava’s in full crisis mode when news of her email reaches manager Jimmy (Paul W. Downs) as she boards the flight. Continue Reading →
I Love That for You
Vanessa Bayer, known for her time on SNL, joins the ranks of recent alums hitting the TV market with her own show, I Love That For You. Writing and starring, Bayer plays Joanna Gold, a Midwestern woman chasing her dream. At the start, she breaks free of her coddling parents and Costco career. She then achieves her dream of becoming a host on QVC-esque Special Value Network (SVN). Continue Reading →
How I Met Your Father
Hulu’s new series How I Met Your Father attempts to recreate the magic of the - wait for it! - legendary status of the original series How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM for short). This update proves a nostalgic ride for fans of the original series and an enjoyable journey for newcomers, even if it lacks some of the fresh qualities of its predecessor. Continue Reading →
It's doubtful Dickinson Season 3 will convert any new subscribers to AppleTV+. Still, the final season provides a strong salute to wartime poet Emily Dickinson. Don't think of Dickinson in those terms? You're hardly alone. Continue Reading →
M.O.D.O.K. isn’t set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it is firmly set in the newest trend in adult-sewing American animation. Popularized by Rick & Morty and BoJack Horseman, these cartoons put on an exterior dick jokes and fart gags but are actually about deeper explorations of weighty turmoil’s. Considering this phenomenon has produced shows like Horseman and Harley Quinn, it’s one of the better TV trends out there. The best parts of M.O.D.O.K. exemplify why. There’s something enduringly impressive about balancing out raunchiness with genuinely insightful drama. Continue Reading →
Birds of Prey
Despite solid reviews, DC's latest putting Harley Quinn front & center struggles to find an audience.
This past weekend, something rare happened. A live-action title based on a Marvel Comics or DC Comics property underperformed at the box office. Usually, such movies are bulletproof at the box office but Birds of Prey proved that not everything with the DC label on it is destined for box office glory. Opening to just $33.2 million, Birds of Prey came in severely under expectations this frame and scored the lowest debut for a live-action DC title since Jonah Hex. Among prior February openers, Birds of Prey opened just below the $33.3 million debut of microbudget horror title Get Out and also below the $34.1 million opening of last years would-be WB tentpole The LEGO Movie 2.
Birds of Prey is gonna need some incredible box office stamina to recover in the coming weeks, and it feels practically assured at this point that the film will become the only the eighth 21st-century live-action DC Comics project to miss $100 million domestically, following in the footsteps of Catwoman and the two RED movies. Normally you can pinpoint an exact reason these kinds of blockbuster titles went awry, but in the case of Birds of Prey, it’s hard to see what lead to this opening. The marketing was distinct and emphasized the kind of elements (action & comedy namely) audiences look for in these movies, reviews were strong, February has always been a successful launchpad for comic book fare and Harley Quinn is an incredibly popular character.
Perhaps it simply boils down to the fact that sometimes, a surefire success just doesn’t turn out to be as surefire as it seemed. At least Birds of Prey only cost $84 million to make, so the financial losses will be minimal. After all, it’s a tentpole title released by an arm of AT&T, a company so financially secure that it can more than withstand a million mild underperformers like Birds of Prey. Plus, Birds of Prey did score two genuinely impressive box office feats in its opening. First off, as near as I can tell, Birds of Prey is the first time in history a live-action film directed by a woman of color topped the domestic box office. It also joins a rare group of films (which includes The Birdcage) with queer lead characters that managed to open number one at the domestic box office. Continue Reading →