September speeds up a lot of people's workdays. We shift into gear after the slower months of summer end, and get back to our usual pace. Sometimes it's a quickened pace -- thanks to the annual Toronto International Film Festival! For those of us who work with TIFF, or are affected by it (and there's so many businesses that are!), the looming excitement makes us want to come home at night and relax in front of the TV -- while we still can!
Did you know Canadians watch on average 30 hours of television per week? Too much of anything is not good but escaping daily pressures with a bit of TV gives me the break I need, and can even make me think about things differently! I see familiar situations on the shows and, through characters I can identify with, I often get a fresh perspective on my own life.
Here are four shows I'm watching now:
It's Not Just the Story
Aaron Sorkin gets it. Remember The West Wing? He created it. Sorkin's latest HBO drama, The Newsroom, is all about what goes on behind the scenes at a cable news program. Each episode is built around a real-life news event, blurring the line between fiction and reality.
Sorkin does an amazing job with the characters and although it's been argued that he dumbs down his women, he has written some of the most memorable lines on screen (i.e. "You can't handle the truth!"). In addition to A Few Good Men, Sorkin wrote the screenplays for Charlie Wilson's War, The Social Network and Moneyball. He knows how to create and build strong characters and he makes sure we connect with them by writing in lots of tense relationship issues. We start to care about characters like Sloan and Don and their relationship. And the romantic tension between Will, the newscaster, and his executive producer, MacKenzie, is palpable. He loved her, she cheated on him, but she can't get over it and he can't get over it either.
How many of us can connect with just that? We still love someone who hurt us but it's too difficult to forgive them.
It's a Little Bit of Magic
Magic City is like candy for me: the setting, the glamour, the seedy underbelly of a place I love, in a time I would have loved to live. I'm such a retro fan; I just can't get enough! It recreates late 1950s Miami Beach, revolving around the owner of a glamorous hotel and how he's forced to make a deal with the mob.
Unfortunately, it was just announced in August that the show has been cancelled, but I'm hoping it will find a new home on Netflix! What makes it great? The actors are impeccable. They nail the characters and make them believable. My favourite is Meg, who is played by Kelly Lynch. With Meg, what you see is not what you will get; she has so many layers, and that makes it impossible not to watch her. Even though she wasn't a main character, Meg had a lot of impact and I wish she received more airtime! It's nice to see such a strong female character portrayed in that era.
She made me wonder what kind of woman I would be if I had lived in that world and that time.
Seeing the Good in the Bad
Get ready. The final episodes of Breaking Bad have begun! It's a crazy series. It started with the original premise of a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with lung cancer, so he starts up a meth lab to secure money for his family after he dies.
Unbelievable and scandalous, yes. And yet the actors and the series have won all kinds of awards. It pushes the boundaries of right and wrong, and makes us consider what it takes to for a seemingly "good man" to turn the corner.
What was once described as the worst idea on TV has gone on to be one of the most popular shows worldwide. In the U.K.,the Guardian recently interviewed Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan on why viewers still identify with Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston.
The show focuses on the dark side, and I'm hooked because it makes me question if we all have it in us to be bad. And once we cross over, can we ever go back?
Life Lessons from Reality TV
While our bad habits may not be as bad as Walt White's, I'm sure we've all been guilty of not behaving at our best. I know I have! I recently saw one of my bad habits reflected on an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap. True story, I admit it! I'm not sure I'd watch it again, but one thing I know: if the universe puts something on a big screen right in front of your face, you shouldn't mess with that. Just watch the show.
On this particular episode, Nia Peeples (best known for her roles on the TV series Fame and Pretty Little Liars) trades places with '80s pop star Tiffany. For Nia, life is all about spending time with her husband and two kids; for Tiffany, life is busy both for her and her husband with their careers. In one scene, Nia has big problems with Tiffany's son when his mobile phone keeps going off during dinner. She has a valid point: when you're all together but texting on your phones, you're not communicating with each other. It's definitely not polite and I admit I'm guilty of this one! It's one of the things I need to be more mindful of.
I'd much rather spend a quick but genuine 15-minute coffee and chat with someone than three hours of bits and pieces of their attention. And I'm sure they'd prefer the same from me.
Who knew I'd get this lesson from an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap?!
What Are You Watching?
I'd love to know what you're watching now! Has it changed your perspective? Widened your view? Surprised you? Sure, there's a lot of distraction on television these days, but you never know -- you just might discover something new!