Friday, August 1, 2008

Summer TV

As I get older, I'm becoming more aware of the world around me. It's interesting, because I find myself becoming aware of things, and wondering if they're new things because of the changing times, or if they've always been that way, and my juvenile mind has been inward focused enough to not notice.

One of those things is summer tv. Now, I remember as a kid always having my summer packed with reruns. Now summer's the time to try out new tv shows and see what makes it to fall to be added to the list. Has summer always been a time for new shows? Or are the stations just looking for new ways to inundate us with television? I have a feeling it's the latter, but realizing that I've been pretty oblivious of things in the past, I have to wonder.

This summer I've become devoted to two shows: The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Swingtown. Interestingly enough, both about sex. The Secret Life is about a teenage girl, about 15, who gets pregnant at band camp over the summer. I have to say, it is probably one of the worst shows on tv, in terms of talent and writing. The scripts are awful! No one talks like that, seriously. And many of the actors are pretty bad, in my opinion. But, I'm intrigued. Mostly, I think, because the main character (the one who's pregnant) is phenomonal! Okay...maybe not phenononal, but comparatively speaking...she's really good. And I'm invested in her. I want to know what happens. I want to know if she decides to keep the baby or have an abortion. I want to know if she tells her parents, and if she does, how they react. I want to know how she's going to respond to her new boyfriend who now wants to marry her and claim the baby as his. Granted...writing being poor, she is able to switch emotions pretty quickly - from angry at herself and the world to madly in love with this quirky guy who's joining the band just to be with her. But, what teenager doesn't have raging emotions that change in a flash? All badness aside, this is a great show - one to definately to keep me around. It's from the creators of 7th Heaven, and if I remember correctly, 7th Heaven had some pretty bad acting and writing to begin with. But it overcame, and sustained, what, ten years on tv? Maybe there's hope for the Secret Life, too.

The second show is Swingtown. It's about what it sounds like it's about...Swingers. Ha! What an amazing concept. I love recent history - like 50s, 60s, 70s. The decades they never taught us in school because our teachers had lived them and didn't want to be reminded of them. This show is like a history lesson in narrative...yet, is about the history they NEVER would have talked about in school! It's mainly about a couple who move to a new neighborhood, leaving their best friends behind. They meet the new neighbors, who throw swinger parties at their house and even have a "special room" downstairs where all the fun happens. In an effort to keep their old friends, they continue to invite them around, not really knowing what they're all getting themselves into. We're several episodes in, so there's too much to account, but, contrary to the Secret Life, this show contains some really good acting and script writing. The characters seem real - and like they really live in the 70s, but still have current appeal. There's the classic housewife (the old friend) and the classic bad girl (the new friend) and the caught-in-between main character, but it's gone so much further than that, to talk about relationships, and fidelity, and what love really is. The most interesting thing, I think, is that there's a storyline with the kids, too - the daughter dating her summer school teacher and the son sort of beginning his first romance with the girl next door. And even those stories are valued - just as much a part of the whole show as the parents/adults. I was a little unsure of this show at first, but I'm completely hooked. Mostly because they don't do a whole lot of stupid things...and when they do, consequences ensue. And they don't dodge the issues...they lay them out there on the table. They're not perfect, they're real, in a refreshing way.

So...that's my summer line up. What's yours?

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