My relationship with my television satellite supplier is a love/hate thing. Most of the time I hate them for the usurious monthly rates they charge – more than I pay for heat and hydro who provide a more valuable service. However, after years of resisting, I finally caved in a couple of years ago and ordered HBO and PVR. Some of the programming on #HBO is of such good quality that I’ve become a bit of a nuisance in trying to convince friends to subscribe so I can talk to them about the programs I like to watch.
In addition to #Bill Maher, Broadchurch and a number of other programs, I’m a great fan of Girls. Twenty-seven-year-old #Lena Dunham is absolutely brilliant (and I don’t use that word very often) as one of four New-York single girls coping with everyday life. She’s an author, screen-writer, actor, producer, director – you name it – she’s done it. While the writing, dialogue, plots and characters in the show are masterful, it’s Dunham’s physical presence that continually commands my admiration. She’s not your typical tall, thin-with-big-plastic-breasts blonde, toothy version of young womanhood so prevalent in the media today. Dunham is a real, unaltered, natural and intelligent human being who should be held up as a role model for young women today instead of the above-described Barbie-doll types. Her figure is not perfect; her teeth are not the oversized wall-to-wall bright white veneers flashed by everyone else on TV; her hair is brunette and does not appear to involve complex extensions and hours of work in the chair; her makeup is usually minimal with none of those fool-the-camera makeup tricks; and in the character of Hanna, her clothes are unspectacular and often unflattering. Her voice is feminine without the baby-doll inflection common in young women’s speech patterns. In short, she looks and sounds like most of the human race and I love her for it.
I’ve also started watching and really enjoying “Getting On“, a show about a group of geriatric patients in a California extended care facility, and their quirky care-giving staff. Based on an original BBC series created by comedienne Jo Brand, #Getting On is a dark comedy, again with excellent writing and a killer cast. One of the things I like most about this show is the realistic cast of actors including Laurie Metcalf who played Roseanne’s sister, as the tightly-wound Dr. Jenna James, an angst-ridden doctor who is not entirely happy in her line of work as she feels she has a higher calling. The three nurses played by Alex Borstein, Niecy Nash and Mel Rodriguez are perfect caricatures of any nurses you would encounter when visiting your own relative in a similar facility. The humour is dark and at times unbelievable but that’s the essence of its appeal. I heard the producers being interviewed on Sirius satellite radio and they had genuine concerns about being able to find actors who actually looked old in the land of over-the-top plastic surgery. They brought many older actors out of retirement for the show and the results are wonderful. One of the patients, Birdie Lamb, is played by Ann Guilbert who used to play Laura Petrie’s neighbour Millie in the old Dick van Dyke show in the 60s. Again, minimal to no makeup, people who look and talk like real human beings and scenarios that are a ton of fun to watch.
The flexibility of television viewing now has evolved to the point that we can truly watch what we want, when we want. With PVR, Netflix, On-Demand, internet streaming and other options available, we can pretty much craft our TV watching to eliminate the crap we don’t want. Hopefully, before long that will include eliminating the extortionist rates charged by our service providers. That’s something I’d really like to see.