- High Fidelity (Hulu) – An unexpectedly amazing take on the most perfect original, with Zoe Kravitz handling the Cusack character with sharp cynical chops in a world where record shops are even more esoteric than they were back then.
- The Third Day (HBO) A beautifully shot, outrageously tripped out story about a cult living on a British Island separated by a causeway making it impossible to escape during high tide.
- Flight Attendant (HBO) – A wacky and whimsical caper about a party girl flight attendant who gets caught up in murder and espionage.
- The Sinner: Season 2 (USA) – Surprisingly even more bingeable than season 1.
- We Hunt Together (Showtime) Another slickly produced British crime show about sociopaths and detectives.
- Marcella: Season 2 (Netflix) – Marcella is incredible as a badass British Detective, undercovered and unhinged.
- Queen’s Gambit (Netflix) – Yeah, it’s that good – even if you don’t like chess.
- I Know This Much Is True (HBO) – Mark Ruffalo plays both twins in this somber story about mental illness and family curses.
- Succession: Season 2 – Game of thrones in the media world continues its ascent.
- The Deuce: Season 3 (HBO) – The gritty last season of this underappreciated look at NYC and the beginning of the porn business as it goes from film to video.
- Normal People (Hulu) At times sweet and sentimental, other times raw and dark, this coming of age tale could have been sappy, but instead it stayed tough.
- Better Things – Pamela Adlon’s brilliant look at being a single mom and aging actress in LA.
- Dave – The raunchiest family series about a nerdy aspiring white rapper and his odd crew.
- Industry (HBO) – A bunch of pretentious college grads compete for coveted Wall Street jobs in London.
- Ted Lasso (Apple TV) – A bumpkin from Kansas moves to England to manage a soccer team.
- The Affair: Season 6 (Showtime) – After a few rocky middle seasons this dysfunctional family finally rights the ship.
- Better Call Saul: Season 5(AMC) – Yeah, Saul is the man.
- Lovecraft Country (HBO) – A 1950’s sci-fi caper set in the land of Jim Crow where nothing is what it seems.
- The Stranger (Netflix) – The third Harlen Cobin crime story adapted and released on Netflix.
- Unorthodox (HBO) – A young woman runs away from an arranged marriage and the intense traditions of Orthodoxy.
The Bestest 2019: TV
I watch a lot of TV …
The Bestest TV
1. Better Things
2. The Loudest Voice In The Room
4. The Sinner
5. The Deuce
6. Dead To Me
9. Ray Donovan
10. Big Little Lies
11. The Affair
12. Silicon Valley
The Bestest 2018: Television
I watch way too much TV, but that’s because it’s so damn good.
- Evil Genius
- Better Call Saul
- The Deuce
- The Sinner
- Patrick Melrose
- Wild Wild Country
Mad Men – Dir. (Jon Hamm, Vincent Kartheiser, John Slattery)
I don’t watch a lot of television beyond the odd HBO drama, but “Mad Men” is the real thing, more an epic mini-series than a cable drama. The sense of time a place – 60’s Madison Avenue – is about as authentic as anything since the real thing, except that the real thing was never captured in such in such vivid colorful honesty. This is a time where cigarette smoke hangs almost romantically amongst the starless but impeccable cast. A place where the midday drinks and bottles are not hidden in desk drawers and consumed behind locked doors, but are accepted and even expected as part of the program, a perk of the trade.
Long gone are the days when advertsing was glamorous, when pretty pictures and perfect words accountable to no one except television coverage and heads of companies who look at the work as art, or at least the product of confident salesmenship. Each character represents a product of a distant dream. This is a time where agenecy men wore slick suits, and even slicker hair, where hipsterism and $200 jeans were not part of the program. Back then women were secretaries and minorities ran the elevators, not the accounts. This is a microscope help up industry that no longer resembles itself. Sure there is creativity but it is of another sort.
Today in an era of “accountable marketing” and “measurable ROI,” where pitches are orchestrated with elaborate powerpoint slides, and decisions are made with analytic projections of efficiently delivered impressions, advertsing is a science and not an art. “Mad Men” is reminder of how far we have come, but as much as we can see this as progress, it sure makes you long for the old days.