Recommended if you like: “BoJack Horseman”
The romantic leads on “You’re the Worst” aren’t great people, but they know how to make a show worth watching.
The two meet in the first episode outside a wedding one of them has ruined and the other has stolen a gift from. They proceed to have a one night stand where they reveal everything terrible about themselves. This show, from former “Orange is the New Black” writer Stephen Falk, makes their trials and tribulations as a couple falling in love engaging, even if they don’t believe in the concept.
Calling out the triteness of romantic comedies through its actively rude and blunt characters’ adventures in day-drinking, sex-having and rapper-hang-outing, “You’re the Worst” simultaneously plays into these tropes. It elevates into something fresh and exciting with fearless commitment to both its barbed wit and the seriousness in the characters’ emotional arcs.
The raw chemistry of Chris Greere and Aya Cash, whose performances are particularly breathtaking, would be enough to carry most shows of its variety, but “You’re the Worst“ seeks to challenge the superficial aspects of love and dig deep into what makes these characters who they are. Without betraying its role as a comedy, the show has opened up discussions on clinical depression, sexism in the entertainment industry, PTSD and suburban ennui. It’s the best.
“You’re the Worst” is currently airing its third season at 10:30/9:30 C on FXX.
Beyond its groundbreaking premise centered on a transgender woman coming out to her children at the age of 70, “Transparent” is a series of radical empathy.
The family at the core of the series, the Pfeffermans, is a flawed bunch of screw-ups trying to understand their mistakes even as they keep making them. Filmed in a gauzy glow from an intimate perch, “Transparent” delves into their lives if only to normalize the various issues each member has — such as the main character Maura.
For a long time, transgender characters in movies have been reduced to heart-of-gold stand-ins for an entire group of people. Maura is allowed to be a real person — one that is at times selfish, arrogant and needy. In one of the series best scenes, she admits to having been sexist when she was younger and isn’t crucified for it. With those basic measures, “Transparent” is a quantum leap toward normalizing the transgender community in entertainment and elsewhere.
It doesn’t want to be revolutionary, though, in this or any other aspects. “Transparent” just deeply cares about its characters, and it wants you to as well.
The third season of “Transparent” will be available on Amazon Prime on Sept. 23.
NETFLIX: “Cheers” (Seasons 1-11)
Recommended if you like: good TV
One of the all-time great TV series, there’s a little bit of “Cheers” in every show.
The original will-they-won’t-they romance between ladies man/bartender Sam (Ted Danson) and intellectual waitress Diane (Shelley Long) have been in the building blocks of every TV couple since. “Cheers” clever comedic rhythms and timing have been aspired to by every great sitcom that followed. Its use of a studio audience reminds one how effective audible laughter and its absence in moments of drama can be when done right.
Set in a Boston dive bar, “Cheers” focuses on the lives of the titular location’s wayward employees, its barflies and the various personalities that walk in and stir up trouble for them.
In this stationary premise, the show tapped into the intimacy and primal qualities of live theater, winding up one-liners and gags with an immediacy that remains fresh and exciting. The gelling of a lightning-rod writers room, the most acclaimed director in television history (co-creator James Burrows) and perhaps the greatest ensemble cast helped to solidify these elements into something unforgettable.
If you like “Friends,” “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” or any sitcom really, “Cheers” is essential.