It’s summer and there’s a massive heat wave and chances are when you’re not at work, you’re going to be somewhere else with air conditioning. And perhaps also a television set and more importantly, a DVD player.
See, having cable is all well and good, but who wants to wait up to seven full days to see the next show in their favorite television series? Who has that kind of time and patience? We prefer dedicating one solid sleepless weekend to watching the whole run on DVD — even the ones we’ve already seen before. At the end of the weekend you usually feel like the cast of Bones knows you better than you know yourself and it can be a bit of an effort to integrate yourself back into society. But it’s well worth it.
Here are some of Team Autostraddle’s favorite TV series to watch on DVD!
Golden Girls has been a part of my life since before I was old enough to understand the jokes. I have early memories of watching the Season 4 episode where Blanche considers breast implants at my grandmother’s house when it originally aired in 1989…I would have been five. Obviously it took a little while for the show to catch on, and I didn’t REALLY get into it until I was a freshman in college. My friends and I would have what we called “ladies’ nights,” where about nine of us would regularly cease homework at about 10:45, head up to the dorm room of our one friend with a working television, watch an hour of uproarious Golden Girls reruns, then immediately return to our studies.
Golden Girls has always resonated with me because it isn’t just a show about senior citizens – it’s a show about four close friends who experience personal tragedies, relationship drama, insecurities, political issues and other things that affect women of any age. Although the first few seasons have their after school special moments, the show later managed to touch on a variety of topics including Alzheimer’s, HIV, assisted suicide, teen pregnancy, nuclear war, sexual harassment, homosexuality, artificial insemination, drug addiction and aliens – all while maintaining a sharp sense of humor and an earnestness that never felt overly cheesy. Also, I have NEVER seen women this age speak so frankly about sex; I have a barely-realized dream of one day having a Dorothy and Sophia-style uncensored relationship with my own mother some day. A sexually confident character like Blanche was revolutionary and important for women of the 80s – I mean, let’s be real; without Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia, there would have been no Sex and the City and THEN WHAT?!?! I’ve always loved how sometimes they’ll use an actor in a few different roles and hope nobody will notice, and the way Dorothy’s ex-husband Stan Zbornak always introduced himself by saying “Hi, it’s me, Stan!” as though they needed reminding. Begin a story with either “Back in St Olaf…” or “Picture it! Sicily, 1934…” and I promise, I will listen.
For what it’s worth, here is a Sophia quote from the episode where Dorothy’s friend Jean develops a crush on Rose: “Jean likes girls instead of boys – some people prefer cats instead of dogs. I’d rather live with a lesbian than a cat.” I would also like to point out that the 25th Anniversary Special Edition DVD comes IN SOPHIA’S PURSE.
Recently I was trying to list the things in my life that have had a profound impact on me creatively. Most are from my childhood (Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes, Jim Henson’s Muppets, the films of Christopher Guest, Charles Schulz’s Peanuts and Joss Whedon’s Buffy series spring to mind immediately) but the most recent addition to this list is Tina Fey and her brilliant series 30 Rock. I know it’s not particularly unique or interesting to even claim this as an influence anymore – I’m a muppet-esque 29-year-old female after all – but when I think about recent pop culture affecting me nothing stands out as much as 30 Rock.
I have been watching 30 Rock on NBC since it began airing in 2006, but the show didn’t become the giant force it is for me until repeat viewings on Hulu and eventually on DVD. For the better part of 2011, I’ve fallen asleep to 30 Rock DVDs every single night, and while I don’t think it’s necessarily bringing me any closer to Tina Fey brilliance in my professional life, it’s making me a far happier person in my personal life. There is something so madcap, ridiculous, absurdist and somehow still human about the series, and now that I have the DVDs I’ve begun studying the show; the nuances of the characters, the commentary from the cast and crew, the outtakes. I’m a huge tv nerd and repeated DVD viewing is very commonplace for my favorite series, it’s like a companion to viewing the show week-to-week.
Another show that I adore is Summer Heights High, but unlike 30 Rock, I didn’t discover this one until years after it aired in the US on HBO. My roommate at the time had the DVD and after watching it with her I ordered myself a copy as well. Much like 30 Rock (and Newsradio, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Parks and Rec, and seasons 2-4 of the US Office) I can watch SHH over and over again and it never gets old. If you haven’t seen it do yourself a favor and get a copy of the DVDs immediately. There are only 8 episodes so it’s a quick viewing.
FAMILY GUY & SQUIDBILLIES
JULIE AND BRANDY, THE TALENT
What do you do when living in LA has made you hate actors, acting, and the television industry?
You watch CARTOONS! Subversive, hilarious, inappropriate, adorable cartoons. And you watch them over and over. On DVD. The best thing about cartoons is that they can go on forever and no one ever changes! The kids never grow up, the parents never get old, and the old people never die. Imagine a world where the Olsen twins stayed babies (with red hair!) forever and Kimmy Gibler was always your annoying neighbor.
FAMILY GUY is on it’s 9th season and still going strong. It’s getting funnier with each passing year and creator Seth MacFarlane shows no signs of slowing down. Family Guy is genius to watch on DVD because the shows (and the jokes) are independent of each other and do not need to be watched in sequential order (unlike shows like Arrested Development where much of the comedy is built on inside jokes from previous episodes and if you miss one you feel like you’re out of the loop). And after you get hooked on Family Guy, you’re gonna want to revisit your favorite episodes again and again and again and again. (We have watched the episode where Peter turns gay at least 67 times. Literally.) Your obsession will start with Stewie, the snarky, gay baby with a pseudo-british accent, but it won’t take you long to fall in love with Peter, the dumb-butt father, and all the other characters. Even the 97 year old, pedophile neighbor who always tries to lure boys into his house will become one of your favorites. HE’S SO FREAKIN’ CUTE!
The good news is- you can get 8 of the 9 seasons in a dvd set that comes in an ultra-adorable Stewie head!
SQUIDBILLIES is not for the faint of heart. This is a late-night, adults-only cartoon that airs in 15 minute episodes on the Adult Swim portion of the Cartoon Network. The show revolves around a family of hillbilly squids. They are the ABSOLUTE CUTEST, crystal-meth making, boonie-living, redneck trash that you’ll ever meet! They squish around their junk yard in the Appalachian mountains on their long, tentacley legs, and their sound effects and thick (nearly unintelligible) accents are intoxicating.
This show is good for people who LIVE to be shocked and aren’t afraid of being appalled. Like, for example- Riese wouldn’t care for it because she doesn’t like violence (which is a quality we love about her, btw), and actually- most people won’t care for it because it can be somewhat racist, misogynistic, sexist, homophobic, violent, gory, crude, stupid, ignorant, and gross (a lot like The Real L Word). Squidbillies is proudly defiant and offensive to EVERYONE. No one is safe and that is exactly what we love about it.
If you enjoy shows like Jackass, Tosh.0, South Park or Strangers with Candy- then you should absolutely get these dvds. (They’d also be a great gift for your unemployed, druggie brother or guy friends).
If you’ve ever read any of my articles you know that I have a rich fantasy life where I think I’m rich and can buy all the cute clothes I want. This is why I love Gossip Girl. Actually, I only started watching because I heard Hilary Duff kisses a girl in it. This is true and highly relevant to my interests, but Gossip Girl is so much more than that. In care you don’t know, Gossip Girl is about mega rich high school (and later college) students living on the upper west side of Manhattan. Thus, it’s basically the best show for anyone who wants to escape their life without running in to Doctor Who territory. It’s one of those shows where the plot line makes insane jumps and characters have complete personality changes over the course of an episode. Luckily you’re too distracted by how Unbelievably Good-looking everyone is to notice. Seriously, between Blake Lively and Leighton Meester you basically have all your basis covered. Chuck Bass (played by Ed Westwick) basically makes the best male-identified attempt at a hot butch lesbian that I’ve ever seen.
Gossip Girl is particularly good to watch on DVD because the plot lines are so entangled, that unless you watch it all in a row you’ll be all mixed up by the end of the season. Best of all, Gossip Girl is one of those shows you can watch with anyone. It might take some coercing, but as soon as anyone watches a few episodes they’re hooked. Your mom will love this show. You sister will love this show. Your dog will love this show. By the end of last summer my friends and I had two Australian golfer dudes more glued than us. They wanted to go as the cast for Halloween. Obviously it’s a winner.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a show I was way too cool for in the late 90s. I’d repeatedly watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer THE MOVIE as a 12 year-old, and frankly, this television remake felt childish and unnecessary, so I didn’t even give it a chance. I was a very smug teenager.
After getting involved with the queer girl community on this magical internet, it became clear pretty quickly that I’d missed something. Not only was I not kissing girls in high school — like I should’ve been — but I had also missed out on this apparently amazing tv show. So I put aside my teenage snobbery and plowed through Season 1 over the course of a weekend (via Hulu, god of the Internet TV Show-Watching K-Hole). When that was over, I promptly purchased the entire set (and Angel! What?) on Amazon and never looked back. BTVS is witty, hilarious, campy as hell, empowering, GAY, feelingsy and I love love love it all so freaking much.
I’ve made peace with the fact that I didn’t watch it when it first aired. And I no longer lose sleep at night wondering if I would’ve realized my queerness sooner if I’d only been into Buffy instead of… whatever I was into then. Who has time to dwell on the past when you can ponder a world without shrimp?
People always assume I know a ton about Sci-Fi because I can tell them what iPod to buy and I have a comprehensive genealogical knowledge of the Marvel universe. Confession: I’ve never seen a single episode of Star Trek and when people talk about Star Wars, I just play along so I don’t lose friends. I may be an infidel in those respects, but boy howdy did I get hooked on Battlestar Galactica.
I haven’t had cable or watched much TV over the years, so like every other show, I didn’t know about Battlestar Galactica (the new one, not the kitschy old one) until it had already ended. Before I watched the pilot, I was skeptical — I’m not into campy sci-fi stuff or horror so I went in pretty closed-minded, like a total asshole, really. As it turns out, BSG is just a really fucking mind-blowingly good drama that happens to be set in space in a future world where the human race is not quite so on top. To me, Battlestar Galactica seems like science fiction at its purest: rather than using futuristic technology, alien races, and interstellar travel as the focus, these aspects become the backdrop of brilliantly layered ethical dilemmas that would be otherwise impossible to conjure in say, Friday Night Lights.
This show is smart as all-get-out, incredibly hot (have you seen Starbuck?), respectably queer, and completely, utterly compelling. Of course, you’re not going to have much interest in our own mundane not-so-interstellar universe once you dip your toes into Battlestar’s tense, sexy, politically-charged spaceworld — so plan to your sick days accordingly.
Get the complete series on Amazon.