17 Best TV Shows Similar to The Big Bang Theory
Gus Van Sant & Jon Robin Baitz collaborate on a miniseries rich in both vintage style & human drama.
Nora Ephron once said “Everything is copy.” When you’re a writer, anything you see, experience, or hear, even in confidence, might be filed away to use as creative fodder later, despite the potentially sketchy ethics of it. If you’re lucky, maybe your friends won’t recognize themselves quite as easily as the friends of Truman Capote did when he wrote “La Côte Basque, 1965,” a short story published in Esquire. Though the story purported to be fiction, it was thinly veiled fiction at best. So thin, in fact, you could see right through it.
The events leading up to the publication of Capote’s work in 1975, and the fallout afterward, is the focus of Feud: Capote vs. The Swans, a limited series that at first blush looks like it’s going to be camp nonsense in the vein of the interminable Real Housewives franchise, but has a deep sense of melancholy at its core. With the first four episodes directed by Gus Van Sant, where an easy approach would be to clearly delineate villains and heroes from the beginning, instead it offers something a little more complicated, and asks some uncomfortable questions about friendship, creativity, and trust. Continue Reading →
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 →
GREGORY HORROR SHOW
A quick overview of the high highs and middling disappointments in horror this year.
With the social media app formerly known as Twitter now a shell of its former self, horror fans have been forced to return to Facebook to continue such interminable debates as “What does or doesn’t qualify something as ‘horror’?” “What the hell is ‘elevated horror,’ anyway?” “Are remakes inherently bad?” “Have horror movies gotten too ‘woke’?” “Were we wrong for letting women make horror?”
In a year when both David Gordon Green and M. Night Shyamalan released new movies, the horror discourse was especially spicy, and that’s before we get to the really interesting stories, like the surprise viral success of Skinamarink, which, with the way time seems to be passing nowadays, feels like it was released five years ago. Both indie and mainstream horror made daring choices, not looking to appeal to as broad a range of audiences as possible, and treating the genre as a serious art form, as opposed to just a machine that prints money. But the biggest surprise came in October, with the release of Saw X, the tenth film in a seemingly unkillable franchise, which ended up being one of the best, most coherent entries in the entire series. 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 →
In 1983, a group of crooks broke into a vault at the Heathrow International Trading Estate in London, patrolled by Brink’s Mat security conglomeration. The Brinks company was already famous for a famous robbery, one that was carried out in the '50s in the North End in Boston, an incident that turned into a charmingly strange movie by William Friedkin in 1978. Continue Reading →
The Morning Show
Aaron Sorkin learned the hard way that no one takes TV as seriously as TV people. When he followed up his critically acclaimed The West Wing, a show about the inner workings of the White House, with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip he discovered that you can’t treat everything with the gravity of a cabinet meeting and the wit of a theater major who gets straight Bs. His backstage drama about a fake sketch show pleased no one. When he tried to course correct with The Newsroom he tried to portray the American news media out to be brave warriors for the cause of truth. Both shows have lived rich second lives as meme generators about what Andrew Sarris would call "strained seriousness." Continue Reading →
From De Palma's series launcher on, Cruise has used the tales of Ethan Hunt to ponder the nature of cinema as performance, perception, and manipulation.
The Mission: Impossible movies begin in perhaps the most inauspicious fashion possible: a computer tech, played by Emilio Estevez, watching security camera footage of clandestine crime scene clean-up. One of the men he's watching happens to be Tom Cruise in heavy prosthetics and a wig. It's an odd opening for an eight-film mega-franchise, a globe-trotting stunt spectacular that has attracted some of the world's biggest stars and most interesting actors—America's answer to Bond movies. But as the opening to a Brian De Palma movie, it's a no-brainer. Of course it starts with a dorky guy in a cramped little room watching unappealing CCTV footage of a crime of passion. That's De Palma.
Though Robert Towne wrote the script (he and Cruise were friends and artistic confidants; Cruise produced his 1998 movie Without Limits), the film is thoroughly De Palma's, never more so than when indulging in its covert operations. He films the opening sting from Cruise's POV, and its dizzying effect is rather like the opening to Dario Argento's Opera or its fellow perverse Italian horror thrillers. It is always disconcerting when movie characters address us but speak to someone else when we see what the hero sees see but cannot control what they do. We are seeing a performance from the inside, knowing that if the scene doesn't go off without a hitch, it could mean death for the man whose eyes we've been given for the duration. The Mission: Impossible movies have since changed directors four times, but their central tenet remains: they are about performance. They are about making movies to make sense of a senseless world. Continue Reading →
Mulligan may be an animated comedy about a ragtag group of survivors of an alien attack on Earth. However, Hardcore 30 Rock fans will quickly discover Netflix’s new animated series feels pretty familiar to the early-aughts sitcom. First, there’s the fast-paced comedic timing, a signature of producers Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, and Sam Means. Next, both series feature the infectious, bouncy music of Jeff Richmond. Finally, both got off to a bit of a rough start. Still, just like hang gliding over an apocalyptic alien attack, Mulligan’s an amusing, wild journey that rewards viewers who hang on for the ride. Continue Reading →
Much of the pre-release buzz about AppleTV+’s new original series Extrapolations was concerned with its potential to be preachy. In much the same way this writer doesn’t mind a bit of emotional manipulation in entertainment, I can be fine with preachiness. Some things are worth preaching about. Extrapolations’ flaw isn’t that it has a soapbox and is using it. It’s that it’s such a mess. Continue Reading →
One of the hardest things in television is creating the impression of change without breaking the show or making it feel like half-assed window dressing. That’s the problem facing Mythic Quest at the start of Season 3. Continue Reading →
From Promising Young Women to Big Little Lies, we’re in a golden age of female revenge stories. Looking to add to the ranks is AppleTV+’s new series Bad Sisters. It follows the tight-knit group of sisters who slowly turn on their prick-ish brother-in-law after years of misogynistic torture. It’s a dash of thriller Big Little Lies with a sprinkle of the comedy of 9 to 5, all set in a coastal Irish town. 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 →
Dr. Death borrows its tantalizing title from the Wondery podcast, which similarly breaks down a harrowing true story about a neurosurgeon who — for whatever reason — keeps killing or permanently harming his patients on the operating table. Continue Reading →
Syfy’s new show Resident Alien starts out with a bang: an alien crashes on Earth and hides out in the sleepy town of Patience, Colorado. The alien takes the human form of Dr. Harry Vanderspeigle (Alan Tudyk) in order to fit in and complete his as-yet-unclear mission. However, when the town doctor is found dead, local Sheriff Mike Thompson (Corey Reynolds), Deputy Liv Baker (Elizabeth Bowen), and Mayor Ben Hawthorne (Levi Fiehler) rope Harry into the murder investigation. Continue Reading →
As TV’s best series about mental illness and addiction comes to an end, our hero BoJack doesn’t get closure, exactly (because there’s really no such thing), but is further down the road to self-awareness and real insight than he ever was. He may end up making yet another bad decision based both on self-loathing and selfishness, but there has to be some reason he keeps getting another chance, another hit at the reset button. If you’ve ever struggled with depression and/or addiction, then you know how both wonderful and absolutely terrifying that feels. Though the final season stumbles a bit with extended bits on cancel culture and open relationships, it ends on a subtle, melancholy note: “Life’s a bitch, and then you go on living.” [Gena Radcliffe] Continue Reading →