Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Top Ten TV Shows I Never Thought I Would Like

Since the new Fall TV season will soon be upon us, I thought I would share with you my new favorite shows, all of which are shows that I never in a million years thought I would ever watch, let alone like.

Actually, I don't just like these TV shows.  I LOVE THEM!

Now before I go into the details about why I love them, I want to say that these shows do not replace my usual favorites that I knew I would love and I do, because you know I am a reality TV junkie.  And these are worthy shows.  "Survivor," "So You Think You Can Dance," "The Amazing Race," "Top Chef," "Dateline," The Housewives, "The View..." I could go on and on.. Well, maybe the Housewives aren't particularly worthy, but we all have to have our guilty pleasures. 

I have my regular shows that make up my viewing repertoire season after season and I knew I would like them because I like competitions, dancing, racing around the world, food, true crime and talking heads.  I also see myself as a glamorous housewife, so that's where they come in.

No, the shows I am going to talk about here are ones that I happened upon or was urged to watch, never thinking they would turn out to be so GOOD.

So let that be a lesson to you...don't have preconceived ideas.  Get outside your comfort zone from time to time.  You just might find some gems.

And here are mine:

I never thought I would like this show because how boring is it to watch someone being alone?

I can do that by looking in the mirror.

But, boy, was I wrong.  Watching someone trying to survive all alone in the wilderness can be riveting.

I am not sure how I happened to watch this show.  I think I read a review and I do really like reality shows and I like "Survivor," which is actually kind of strange since I am about as far from an outdoorsy person as you can get.  I can't swim, I am afraid of mountain lions and I sunburn very easily.  My idea of being outdoors is sitting under an umbrella on a deck drinking a pina colada.  
And this show is on the History Channel and actually about as far from "Survivor" as you can get.  There are no tribes, no plotting, no competitions, no cameramen.  Just 10 guys, each scattered around the uninhabitable west side of Vancouver Island (B.C.) and all very much alone.
There is however a prize.  Whomever can stay out there the longest wins $500,000.  Let's just say four guys didn't make a week.
Each guy is able to take 10 items of their choice and must film themselves as they go about their business setting up camp, trying to find food and avoiding the many scary critters hanging about.
You would think this would be boring but it is anything but.  It is a fascinating exploration of man vs. nature.  Who will last and who won't?
And it is absolutely riveting and thrilling.
I never thought I would like a show with a title like that. 

I like a lot of crap TV, but I usually draw the line at really tacky titles.

This is another survival show and I know what you are thinking.  No, it's not the naked part I am interested in.  Hubby probably is, but no... It's the afraid part.  I was turned on to this show...well, maybe those are the wrong words.  A friend mentioned this one to me and I think he actually was drawn to the naked part at first but it intrigued me. I actually started watching this show before "Alone" came along.

But this show is as far from prurient as you can get unless you are into naked butts.  Yes, lots of butts, but all of the "naughty bits" are pixilated out, and I noted that as soon as someone could weave a skirt, she did. For most of us, being naked is not something we choose.
This show is similar to "Alone" but here you have a man and a woman who meet naked and must survive for 21 days in some godforsaken place like the Amazon or the Colombian jungle.  Each can bring one survival item (they usually choose a fire starter or machete), but otherwise no food, no water, no clothes.  They do however have a camera crew, but the crew does not interfere unless it's a matter of life or death. 

But here is the kicker. 


These people must be nuts.  They do this for what?  The pride thing?  Something to talk about at cocktail parties?

"Hey, I survived out in the Everglades for 21 days with another person of the opposite sex and we didn't have any clothes the whole time or food and we had to eat rats and poop in the woods." 

"What the hell is that about?" you ask.

"I don't know.  So I could say I did it?"
The show is a fascinating experiment on not just survival but the psychological issues that can arise between a man and a woman who have never met before, who are naked together in the wild and who must survive together.  All kinds of things come to light.  Funny how often the issue is the man trying to run things.  Mmmm.
But this show is fascinating.  So fascinating in fact that I fantasized about how I would do on the show. (Here are more details on that).
I never thought I would like a show about something I knew very little about.

I didn't even know what steampunk was until a couple of years ago when we did a library program about this literary genre. 

Here I am in my version of a Steampunk Vampire.

(See how much fun libraries are?)!

Now it's a lifestyle (not for me but, you know, other people).
This is a competition show that combines elements of "Design Star," "Project Runway," and the Maker Culture as the contestants, steampunk devotees all, create various rooms in "The Manor" and an appropriate steampunk costume.
As in most shows like this, there are personality conflicts and drama (the men are clueless about how chauvinistic they are).

If you like design shows with something a little different, such as rooms with medicine cabinets full of poisons and swords that come out of unexpected places, fashion with epaulets and top hats and repurposing items, you will enjoy this show.

I never thought I would like a show about genealogy.

I mean, zzzzzz.

Reference librarians are not often fans of people doing genealogy as they can sometimes be very demanding and annoying.  Sorry, genealogists, but you know how you can get.  But I understand, because searching for one's ancestors is difficult work, despite the many online resources now available. (Just imagine us older librarians who had to help people do it by hand)!

But this show, produced by Lisa Kudrow, is a personal and insightful look into the lives of famous personalities from Tom Bergeron to Alfre Woodard to Kelly Clarkson as they strive to find out about their ancestors.  They travel to the countries of their ancestors to meet with historians and genealogists to find out where they came from and what their ancestors had to go through so they could get born. Fascinating unknown facts come to life such as Bergeron finding out he is a descendant of the "filles du roi," "The Daughters of the King," who were sent over to Canada in the 17th century to help boost Canada's population.

Sobering and utterly riveting.

I never thought I would like a show where celebrity dishing was the main theme. 

OK, yes, I would, but I didn't know that's what this show was all about.
"The Wendy Williams Show" has been on the air since 2008 and since I love talk shows, I am surprised that I did not start watching it until this year.  If I had known she is as big a devotee to celebrity gossip and pop culture as I am, I would have been there years ago.
She starts each of her shows sitting in a chair dishing about what is going on with Kanye and Kim and The Housewives and Ariana Grande...you name them, she dishes about them.  It's like having a wine-infused lunch with your girlfriends.  She is funny and disarming and tells it like it is.  She takes herself less seriously than the ladies on "The View," and is more down-to-earth than Ellen.
If you like to be in "the know," watch Wendy!
I never thought I would like a show where people had to pitch their small business ideas to a bunch of mean entrepreneurs.

It didn't sound very interesting at all.  But it is!
Hubby and I discovered this show while on a vacation when we couldn't find anything we wanted to watch on the hotel TV.  "Shark Tank" was having a marathon so we hunkered down and really, really enjoyed it. 
Like most reality shows, it's all about the personalities and this one is no exception.  Those poor small business hopefuls must get up in front of The Sharks, highly successful businesspeople, and pitch their ideas.  The regular and recurring Sharks are Barbara Corcoran, Mark CubanLori Greiner, Robert Herjovec (my fave), Daymond John and Kevin O'Leary ("Mr. Wonderful" because he's not). In fact, he can be quite mean.
The show started in Japan as "Dragon's Den (Canada's version is also called that and is as much fun as ours and can also be found on cable. The Canadian "Dragons" are not as mean as our "Sharks.")
If you liked Simon Cowell on "American Idol," these guys are kind of like that, except they are dashing the dreams of small business entrepreneurs instead of singers.  But it's fun!
I never thought I would like a show that was on early on a Sunday morning and reminded me of church.

I grew up in a church-going family and my Dad didn't expect much from us kids, except not forgetting what he asked us to do and going to church.  So by the time I was 18 I was ready to no longer go to church.  And by the time I finished my freshman year in college and took Philosophy 101 I no longer thought religion had a place in my life.
But now that I am a woman of a certain age, I am thinking about my mortality and my place in the world and The Church of Oprah works out just fine.

As you know, I have discovered meditation and I have Oprah to thank for that.  And you know how I feel about Oprah.
This show is on Sunday mornings and Oprah gathers an impressive roster of people involved in spiritual growth from the late Wayne Dyer to Gary Zukav to  Elizabeth Gilbert to get us thinking about being better people. Oprah interviews them in amazing settings that are Oprah's homes and you get to feel you are sitting in on a seminar with Oprah. Oprah is using her power for good.
I didn't like going to church but I can do "The Church of Oprah."
I never thought I would like a show that I thought was stupid.

When I first heard about this show, I thought "no way!" 

Talk about a stupid reality show.  The premise is a man and a woman are matched up by "experts" and they agree to marry that person sight unseen.  They don't meet until the day of the wedding when she is bedecked in her wedding gown and he is waiting for her at the end of the aisle.
But on a visit to my son and daughter-in-law's, I found out they were watching it and it was almost over.  My daughter-in-law was traveling and I was there to help my son until she returned. They invited me to watch the finale with them when she got back, but that meant I had to get up to speed, so while I was waiting for my daughter-in-law to return from her business trip, I watched all of the earlier episodes.  So I did my homework, watched every episode and it was absolutely fascinating.
Here you had four couples invited to participate in a "social experiment," who were handpicked for each other.  They had to get married, to live together for six months and then decide whether to stay married or not.  And what a ride.
The couple you thought would never stay together did better than the couple who liked the look of each other and jumped into bed right away.
A year later and a restraining order, you wonder about messing with Mother Nature.  Can't wait for another season!
I never thought I would like a show about selling real estate.

Again, I am a big fan of "House Hunters" and "House Hunters International," because I am a huge "looky lou," but I never thought I would enjoy a program about real estate brokers selling homes I could never hope to ever own. 

I knew "Million Dollar Listing: New York" had been on as well as the L.A. version, but I just wasn't interested until the San Francisco installment came on.  I had lived most of my adult life in San Francisco and environs so now they had my interest.
But this show is all about the brokers who you will love or love to hate.  And now that I have started watching "Million Dollar Listing: LA" I realize this show is all about the personalities of the brokers.   I love Roh, the Muslim broker who is open to expanding his understanding of others, Justin Fichelston, the king of tech buyers and Andrew Greenwell, the openly gay broker whose biting comments about the other brokers are gold.

These guys are endearing in their desire to be the best. It's funny how enjoyable it can be to learn about real estate and drool over homes you will never hope to live in.
I never thought I would like a show about medieval stuff, dragons and fighting and peasants and torture and other unpleasantness.

But I do!

So this show did not initially spark my interest at all. 

Initially, meaning about 5 seasons ago. But you have to have been living under a rock to not notice how popular it was and all of the Emmys it has amassed.  My daughter was a huge fan and this show kept getting in my face until I thought, hey, I need to get off the reality TV wagon and start watching some shows that other people like. However, Season 5 was just starting and despite knowing I had to watch four seasons to get caught up, I decided to bite the bullet and record Season 5 thinking that with binge watching we could get to real time quickly.
So I got Season One from the library and we jumped in.  However, this project was also smack dab in the middle of our trip to Italy so I took Season 3 and 4 with us.  There's nothing like watching "Game of Thrones" on the computer in Rome.
We were hooked after about three episodes.
No matter what the era or whether there are dragons or not, this has all the elements of great theatre - family drama, empire building, love, abandonment, jealousy.  It's all here and it's amazing.
So now that I know what I have been missing by not watching this award winning drama, I start wondering what else I have been missing:  "Orange is the New Black," "Scandal," "Homeland," "The Fall," "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad"....did I miss any? 

Let the binge-watching commence!

So if we are ever talking about TV shows and I say, "I don't think I like...," stop me and remind me what I said about these shows.

I might be missing my next favorite!

Thanks for Reading! 
See you Friday

for my review of the new movie 
"A Walk in the Woods"
(Robert Redford's take on the Bill Bryson book) 

The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)
and the latest on

My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
 I Die Project."

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  1. I am a HUGE fan of genealogy shows. I have no idea why since I haven't done much with researching my own family but I am always fascinated by other people's stories. I love the Henry Louis Gates PBS show also and since I met him in my old job at a Stanford U dept it is even more special to me. For someone as famous as he is he is one of the nicest most down to earth people I met in that job.

    BUT I sure get what you have to say about genealogy researchers! I attended a library workshop on the subject and the old people (like me) thought they knew more than the ref librarian. Took him awhile to prove he had more resources for them than the Family History Center at the local Mormon Church. Never ever doubt a librarian!!


    1. I like the Gates show too. He got in big trouble for letting Ben Affleck dictate how hus segment was going to go. Ben didn't want it known that one of his ancestors was a slave owner.

  2. Forgot to mention your steampunk look. Love it!

    I too am new to steampunk. Found out about it when I was toying with making jewelry a couple of years ago.