I had dinner with a friend last night. The rare, one on one, for no reason at all, bread breaking. Neither of us were at our most animated but we covered lots of ground. I expected to leave and write a post about motivation, the difference between translation and interpretation, and how running is absolutely not like flying.

Instead I find myself coming back again and again to her throw away comment that she hadn’t watched any TV in 20 years. None. For the past few years she has begun to dip her toe in the water of current TV. So I will focus on 1990-2010. Good years.

Its a lot like the frozen caveman situation…but just about TV, which obviously is almost as critical. So I will prepare a prescription that will take not entirely 20 years. I’m  factoring in that she (and I) like relationship driven talkies. What that means is I have 90210 on here, and not Breaking Bad. Think of this as the chick lit of TV lists.

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So no one in the history of imdb has voted this onto a top 100 list. At least not the two lists that I used to steal the bulk of the images for this post. I understand this. It is not really good TV in any critical sense. As in…what critics might sense. But in the way that these kids (or the characters because the actors were famously in their thirties) were exactly my age, and I could totally hang out with them every thursday night whether I was popular or ostracized…that is critical TV. I will never go back and watch every episode of this show the way I did West Wing, My So Called Life, Veronica Mars or a few others…but I’m not sure any of those other great shows have ever made me feel quite the kind of nostalgia for a summer trip to Paris with a boyfriend who went on the be Superman that 90210 did, either. Plus I never had to light a float on fire to show my inner pain because…been there, done that.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.47.06 PMI’m trying really hard not to call this the show about nothing. We all imagine we are imminently interesting to the people in our lives (see blog, Shelburbia) Jerry actually IS. Because he is fucking funny. Without Seinfeld we would never have had status updates, and social media would not be what it is today. Yada Yada Yada.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.47.51 PMMy love for Blue Velvet led me to Twin Peaks, and the first season was everything I never knew I wanted in TV. After a while I went from feeling as though I was watching a masterpiece to thinking maybe I was down the rabbit hole with the puppet master…but the performances, music, tempo, staging, timing, and strange midgets dancing are worth a season at least.

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.48.28 PMThe smoking man’s in this one! Compelling as a weekly procedural because of the relationship between the leads (scientific skeptic, v believer with all the sexual tension you need) this show was the first to teach me how compelling a conspiracy theory threadline can be. Equally great stoned and sober.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.49.07 PM It is possible that MSCL has stood the test of time because there were only 19 episodes, so they never had to endure the irritating aging of cast members, or writers strikes. I watched it on network TV, and began running on my hamster wheel to create VHS tapes by episode 3. I had worn out these tapes by the time it aired for the first time on MTV about a year later and I finally got to record the first 2 episodes. You complete me. I was precient enough to know there would be a time that I would re-watch the show and relate more to Bess Armstrong’s character than Claire Danes’. That time is now. Perhaps that time was a little before now, but it is for sure still now. Oddly, I still want Jordan Catalano. Remember when we found out he couldn’t read? And “Brain” tutored him? If you don’t remember I gift you the utter wonder of My So Called Life.

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.51.06 PMThis is why I don’t loathe Sarah Michelle Gellar. She’s Buffy! She slayed vampires way way way before they were cool. The scary stuff isn’t so scary, and the daytime stuff is so bright and sunny they just as well could have named that high school Sunnydale high. It was so fun and fluffy that I got sucked into the dark and dank Angel sequel. A fate that twenty years later has kept me from watching “The Originals.” Pretty sure I made the right choice there.

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.51.50 PMSo I had forgotten Billy. This show didn’t weave itself into my inner consciousness like some of the others…but if you can get around Calista Flockhart the other characters are all slightly cartoonish and FULLY awesome. And it helped me teach Leo what a wattle is. Even if I am not confident in the spelling.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.52.36 PMI almost left this one off, because the horrible movies have brought it past our era of TV darkness…but it is the best 20 something single woman material ever produced…and my friend who was 20 something and single during this era somehow survived without it. Doesn’t seem possible, but color me Mulder.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.53.26 PMNoel….Ben…. I was on team Noel all the way. Every freaking mumbling Ben minute. That only made the show better for its frustration factor. A super young Jennifer Garner makes a more than cameo…and it will also make you understand the the heat on Scandal has been simmering for a long long time.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.54.25 PMI thought I would like the freaks.

Instead I liked the geeks, but they made each other so much better.

And isn’t that the point? I mean, its the ultimate High School lesson. That and forging your parent’s signature.

 

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Dawson’s Creek

If it hadn’t had Dawson this show would have been first rate. But that little wanker had a name check, so every episode required between 12- 33 minutes of misery. The rest was the best though…and now there is pausing and fast forwarding ON TV. So go ahead. Give it a try. Pretend it really is Cape Cod.

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.56.19 PMNow everyone knows who POTUS is. Not so at the beginning. When I watched West Wing in real time I read the paper every day. So I could understand the facts behind the incredible moral high ground that the show takes. Plus walking and talking, and Donna and Josh, and CJ.

I would vote for any of them.

 

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One Tree Hill. The step brother of Dawson’s Creek. It tries to be edgier, and admits that everything is filmed in NC. But it is worse in every way. With my big love for high school TV I can’t just ignore it.

If you watch only the first season you will not hate me. Anything after that is on you. Not good my friends, not good at all.

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.57.38 PMThe Sopranos is the reason I can talk about being in therapy. Tony is a total badass and he benefits from therapy. Plus it features such touching family tales, with a little cheating and getting whacked for good measure. The show that made HBO, and was great almost until the end.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.58.30 PMThe first show to glamorize being 16 and pregnant, Gilmore Girls’ central fast talking relationship is between a 32 year old mother and a 16 year old daughter. Guess what? They are both old enough to date! Their small town has all of the charm and comfort of every other imaginary small town, with the wackiness you riff off. And Melissa Mcarthy waaaaaay before Bridesmaids.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 7.59.13 PMSkins makes American teens seem prude, or American media seem hopelessly naive.Both may be true.

I couldn’t keep my eyes off of skins then. It was like the movie Kids. But for longer, so you knew these kids, which made things even harder for you.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 8.00.26 PMI loved it. From the opening death scene, to the credits I was fascinated by the world surrounding death. How some characters were in the midst of grief while the others were just in the day to day grind. Weird to think about these actors in their new roles on Parenthood, Dexter, and that Sally Field show that just went off the air. You could play a pretty fun six degrees of six feet under game. If you wanted.

 

 

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Party Down is awesome and funny and if you are a male person or in a relationship with a male person they will hurdle beyond tolerance to enjoyment of this show.

Crazy LA parties, real comedy, cater waiters…

Plus Jane Lynch.

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 8.02.37 PMJason Bateman was my original crush. The first guy I kissed looked so much like him that I tried to convince my friends that he WAS him. You can imagine how well that went.

About as well as the kiss.

Putting that aside this is a wicked, wacky, madcap good show.

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 8.03.15 PMA long time ago, we used to be friends…but I HAVE in fact thought of you lately. Like today in fact when I read my kickstarter update. And yesterday when I wore my i heart KB t shirt, and the day before when I thought about a friend who I forced to watch the show who didn’t believe me that she would love Logan but obviously she loved Logan. Because. Logan.

 

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 8.04.51 PMIts a medical mystery tour. As long as you dont border on the hypochondriacal…or get annoyed by medical mumbo jumbo…you should enjoy House. Hugh Laurie is brilliant. As is the character he plays. Its a bit of a weekly formula: Odd symptom, inconclusive tests, first treatment, precipitous decline, dual treatments one will save the other kill. Critical choice. Recovery. But the drama!

 

 

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I saved the best for last. I’m not going to say anything except watch it.

And

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts…

 

 

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Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble, Parent.co, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.

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