Shows to travel home to
When I think of going home, I picture the warmth and clutter of my childhood bedroom, my mom’s cooking and screaming over Wii games with my sisters. But mostly, I think of the nine-hour car ride. Though long road trips were a form of agony for a younger version of myself who was eager to arrive at the destination, I now catch myself wishing the journey was just a couple hours longer. After all, there’s just so much you can do, and more importantly, so much TV you can catch up on. But if you don’t know what to watch, don’t worry. Whether home is an hour flight away, a 10-hour drive away or right where you are, we’ve compiled a perfect list of diverse TV recommendations (and where you can watch them) to occupy your time.
—Sophia Yoon, Daily TV Editor
“Veep” (HBO Max, Hulu Premium)
Stick with me on this one. It’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus, it’s politics at its ugliest and it’s unapologetic satire. At face value, it doesn’t sound far off from a sketch on “Saturday Night Live,” but trust me when I say it’s nearly the complete opposite. The iconic Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays the charismatic and brash Selina Meyer, vice president of the United States. She’s such a professional politician that you can’t even tell what party she aligns with throughout the entire series; all we know is that she wants to win, and she’ll do anything to get there.
I completely understand why this is a hard sell. Exhausting modern politics make it hard to find shows like this attractive, but trust me when I say that the writers are one of us. They know how draining politics can be these days, so they found a way to strike the perfect balance between satire and reality. Every character’s flaw is hilariously obvious, and no character is safe from brutal one-liners like “Jonah, you're not even a man. You're like an early draft of a man, where they just sketched out a giant mangled skeleton, but they didn't have time to add details, like pigment or self-respect.” And that’s on the tame side.
If you want a good laugh on the way home, watch “Veep.” It’s cathartic, detached enough from reality for it to be entertaining but real enough to make us thank the universe (over and over again) that we don’t have to deal with another four years of our incumbent president. Just make sure to use earbuds, because it’s HBO.
—Sophia Yoon, Daily TV Editor
“Bob’s Burgers” (Hulu, FOX)
Everyone in my family is a character in “Bob’s Burgers.” In fact, I’m pretty sure everyone from my hometown is a character in “Bob’s Burgers.” Whether you’re from a small town or just have some painfully awkward siblings, the fan-favorite family cartoon offers a lighthearted and wholesome reprieve from other network comedies. In a nondescript beach town on the coast of an unknown state, the Belcher family has the kind of charm a nice video of someone falling down might have. Familiar, yet still entertaining, none of the plotlines on “Bob’s Burgers” really matter. Put on any episode from any season, and you’ll laugh. Cringe a lot too, but mostly laugh. It’s easy to see ourselves in Bob, Linda, Tina, Gene and Louise. In American pop culture, idiots with a heart of gold are king, and this show has a raccoon named Little King Trashmouth.
When I go home, my family, like many others, spends most of our precious time together sitting silently in front of a TV playing a show we’ve seen twenty times before. Sometimes, that show is “New Girl” or “Community,” but most often, the time-waster of choice is “Bob’s Burgers.” The Belchers may be one of the few families on television that truly love and accept each other without tearing each other down for cheap laughs. Whether you see your own family reelected in the Belchers or you just think the animation is silly, “Bob’s Burgers” can feel like going home, even if you don’t know exactly where that is.
—Anya Soller, Daily Arts Writer
Full disclosure: I love limited series. I’ve had enough of shows with over six seasons only to have a finale that leaves you with more questions than you started with.
That’s why Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s six episode mini-series “Crashing” holds a special place in my heart. Its colorful characters, endless drama and wacky plotlines make the series as funny as it is immersive, and the best part is that you know that as the series begins, the ending is already there waiting for you. That feels like home to me and is what makes “Crashing” the perfect watch for the journey there.
At its surface, “Crashing” is about six twenty-somethings living as property guardians in a hospital, but it’s ultimately a study of people and their emotions, and how they clash and blossom and misfire. I think in our own lives, among our family, friends and even strangers, we are all trying to read each other and hoping we are being read the same way. Of course, there are misreads along the way. But when is a mistake too much to forgive? At what point does a typo ruin a whole book?
“Crashing” plays around with this. Through miscommunications, differences in intentions and differences in worldviews, it’s easy to feel like everything is crashing all around you. But “Crashing” also asserts that perhaps an underlying love beneath it all can hold us together in spite of it. It’s the perfect comfort watch, particularly for a journey between two homes.
—Sarah Rahman, Daily Arts Writer
“Neon Genesis Evangelion” (Netflix)
Explosions. Sex. Giant robots fighting monsters of biblical proportions. These are the first things that come to mind when describing the cult classic ’90s anime, “Neon Genesis Evangelion” (a.k.a “Eva”). But underneath the glitzy surface of the show, Eva is a surprisingly nuanced take on depression, sexuality and what it means to be a person. After re-emerging in the spotlight once it was adopted by Netflix, “Eva” remains one of the most interesting TV shows, as well as extremely prescient for our time.
In a world where half of humanity has been wiped out by a catastrophe, humanity’s existence is under threat from the “Angels,” a race of giant monsters. The only way to fight them is with the Evangelions, giant humanoid robots that can be piloted only by specially selected adolescent pilots. The show also makes many references to Jewish folklore, Freudian psychoanalysis and 1800s European philosophy.
On your way back home, be prepared to cry, to laugh and to think. Despite being a fun, fantastical show on the surface, Eva doesn’t hold back in its depictions of the worst parts of humanity, whether it’s childhood abandonment, devastating loneliness or abusive relationships. I have a deep personal relationship with it because it has so many relevant themes and relatable moments. Especially during the COVID era, where many of our relationships with others become more and more strained, “Neon Genesis Evangelion” remains an extremely interesting and relevant show for 2020.
—Joshua Thomas, Daily Arts Writer
“Shark Tank” (Hulu, ABC) and “Ugly Betty” (Hulu, ABC, Amazon Prime Video)
Of all of the twists and turns that 2020 has brought me, one of the most unexpected developments has to be my newfound addiction to the ABC show “Shark Tank.” Senator Sanders, please forgive me. Before I am excommunicated from leftist circles for endorsing the most capitalistic show on television, I have to emphasize that this affair began as a joke. How could you not enjoy week after week, season after season of Entrepreneur Bros™ being told that their “groundbreaking” ideas are, in fact, flaming garbage? But, when I began to catch myself laughing with the corporate-friendly banter of the Sharks, rather than at the forced humor, I knew I was in too deep.
When I travel home for Thanksgiving break, I hope to use that time as a reset for my mental and physical health, but in particular, I need to reset my taste in television — which is currently being torn between the aforementioned “Tank” and the mind-numbing “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” While I am not exactly in the headspace to process acclaimed dramas like “I May Destroy You,” the bare minimum I need to accomplish is watching something that has been scripted.
“Ugly Betty,” most likely, was not the title you were expecting, but it is presenting the best option. The show’s campy humor and fashion-industry backdrop provide the perfect antidote to the straight guy content I have been devouring as of late. This will not be the first time I am watching “Ugly Betty,” but with each day bringing more news of the appeasement of fascists, the last thing my nerves can handle is a surprise. Most importantly, this holiday season, I’m running home to the welcoming arms of “Ugly Betty” because no other show has the ability to make me feel like it’s just another Thursday night in 2008. And what sounds better than that?
—Ally Owens, Senior Arts Editor
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (HBO Max)
Ah, comedies. Everyone loves a good comedy to watch on the way home to distract ourselves from the stresses of everyday life. At the start of the ’90s, comedy TV shows reached their peak, airing on a variety of networks and created for all ages. Starring the legendary Will Smith, who plays a fictionalized character of himself, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” was the highest-rated sitcom during its first season in 1990. You can’t help but rap along with its iconic theme song.
Originally from West Philadelphia, Will is sent to Bel-Air to live with his wealthy relatives to stay out of trouble and get a head start in life. The family of five plus Will butt heads in familiar family situations that we can all relate to. With Will’s witty sense of humor and Carlton’s renowned “Carlton dance,” you’ll be sure to get stomach cramps from laughing so hard. However, while the show is a 10 on the goof scale, it also deals with serious issues relating to sex, race and the importance of family, which is hard to achieve in a comedy. The TV show redefined ’90s sitcoms, setting the blueprint for similar TV shows while also putting hip-hop in the mainstream. So, get comfortable for an episode (or 20) and watch Will Smith sit on his throne as the prince of Bel-Air!
—Jessica Curney, Daily Arts Writer
“How I Met Your Mother” (Hulu Premium)
To say that these past few months have been stress-inducing would be an understatement. Somewhere between global pandemic and future-defining election, a chunk of my brain has powered off. I’m running on empty with four shaky donut tires, and I know you are too. It’s why Thanksgiving break this year is looking like a big, warm hug, and there are few things in the world that complement that feeling more than hearing “bah bah bah bah, bahhh” as old, yellowed photos flash across my screen. I’m talking, of course, about “How I Met Your Mother.”
When the world lets you down, Marshmallow and Lily Pad will not. When the entire country is in shambles, there’s Barney, doing the Naked Man. With all its inside jokes and heartbreaks, “HIMYM” never failed to make its audience feel like part of the gang. I know these characters. I know their families and the way they speak. I know every girl Ted has dated, and I know why they ended. I know that Robin was secretly a Canadian pop icon who descended into punk rock madness due to a romantic obsession with Paul Shaffer.
That’s why when I finally get a chance to take a break from work and catch my breath, I know I’ll be spending it with good company. That’s the power of comfort TV. That’s why six years ago, when the finale was released, I sat on the couch and cried with my mom. And that’s why I’ll be doing it again.
—Ben Servetah, Daily Arts Writer
Showrunner Ryan Murphy is known for distorting reality to its greatest satirical extent. His creations like “Glee” and “The Politician” dramatize and reimagine the constraints of everyday life in order to turn a simple glee club rehearsal or high school election into an earth-shattering event.
One of Murphy’s most recent productions, a Netflix miniseries aptly titled “Hollywood,” takes his innovative storytelling to a new level of political and social analysis. Centered around the racist, sexist tendencies of 1940s Hollywood, this show reinvents the wheel by essentially rewriting history as it should have been.
In a current world filled with catastrophe, from the COVID-19 pandemic to increased political polarization and systemic racism, “Hollywood” provides the perfect escape to a more idealized and prideful look at the potential of American society. Murphy rewrites the racist history of early Hollywood into a space of increased opportunity and acceptance, forcing audiences to critically question why and how history has taken the course that led us to the complications of today.
“Hollywood” is both perfectly distracting and culturally attention-grabbing. Its idealized yet incessantly complex picture of American society allows viewers to briefly escape the reality of our complications while encouraging historical understanding. The show can be used as an entertaining, glamorous break from a dimly-lit airport or long car ride home, but its beauty is that it doesn’t have to be. It offers the opportunity for deeper analysis, but it is entirely up to the viewer to enjoy its reinventions from any perspective.
—Emily Blumberg, Daily Arts Writer
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown challenges at all of us — including The Michigan Daily — but that hasn’t stopped our staff. We’re committed to reporting on the issues that matter most to the community where we live, learn and work. Your donations keep our journalism free and independent. You can support our work here.
For a weekly roundup of the best stories from The Michigan Daily, sign up for our newsletter here.