What We're Watching, Vol. 5
At The Attic on Eighth, we are obviously a multimedia bunch, with our regular reading discussions and film lists. In fact, some of our very first interactions as friends were excitedly messaging scene for scene reactions to some of our favorite shows across oceans and time zones. In this monthly series we paraphrase group chats surrounding our most recent views. Nothing keeps us together like binge-watching together, even if we’re not in the same room.
With summer ending, September can feel like the start of a new year for many reasons; for those attending it brings the start of school, but for everyone else there is no less to enjoy – the start of dramatically different weather, the aesthetic arrival of our favorite seasons, the freedom (finally!) of sludging our way through whatever misery summer brought. The months of summer always feel like waiting, and September is when the action finally begins. With it, September also brings new things to watch, as beloved shows return for new seasons, or new programs entirely arrive to pique our interest. Here’s what we’re watching this month:
While much of summer was about watching shows to help cope with the heat and oppression of the season, this month has been about the pure joy of television. Like Raquel and I mentioned last month, I started watching Four Weddings and a Funeral (the miniseries) the week it aired and will admit that I now love it and look forward to a new episode every week. I can’t always say that it’s the best thing and I spent a lot of time wondering if it was “so bad it’s good,” but I don’t think that matters. What matters is that it brings me actual joy and I find myself looking forward to new episodes in a way I haven’t with any show in a long time. (I can’t honestly remember the last time I watched something as it aired week to week, without a mass episode release!) Following the lives of a group of American friends who find themselves looking for love and life in London, the show isn’t a straightforward adaptation or remake of the 1994 film we all love, and looking at it that way is a mistake. The characters aren’t the same. The dynamics aren’t the same. It’s a similar premise, but very much its own show. It is quite honestly everything my romantic-comedy-loving, dark-gore-hating soul wanted on her screen every week. I look forward to seeing where it goes!
Otherwise, pushed over the edge by Nicole Cliffe’s recent live tweet, I’ve been rewatching Derry Girls over the past couple of days. I binge watched the show in the spring, loved it, and have been fighting the urge to rewatch it ever since. It’s a joyful, hilarious, human show, and I love it to pieces. It’s one of the first times I’ve felt that I could watch a show over and over again without having it lose any of its humor or poignancy. (Maybe more effectively, the same can be said for my “never ever rewatch anything” husband who jumped on the rewatch wagon even faster than I did.) I am in any case very grateful that this year is bringing us more joyful television after what feels like a decade of tragedy and havoc.
Zoë G. Burnett
Where did August go? I know that my grandmother and I spent at least one week of evenings watching Miss Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, and the rest of the month is a blur. Much like the original Miss Fisher series, the 1960s continuation has sparkling dialogue, brilliant outfits, and a handsome, unproblematic policeman. The tone and color palette resembles I Dream of Jeannie, in which the intelligent, lovely female lead is told to do one thing and she then does exactly the opposite. Supported by a cast of equally talented and strong adventuresses, each case is solved with utmost satisfaction in proving all the bad guys wrong. Both series are highly recommended as they are nothing less than, in Olivia’s words, joyful television.
My month has also been about enjoying the small wonder that is the Four Weddings and a Funeral mini-series. I fell quickly in love with this series for it’s sappy rom-com plot and “found family” ensemble cast. However, after a few episodes, I got annoyed with it for it’s corniness and all the character’s awkward communication skills — so I stopped watching it. It must have endeared itself to me because after a week break I went back to try it again and realized I actually did LOVE the show. Now I am eagerly awaiting each episode and rooting for Kash and Maya with all my heart. The London setting has also been the perfect transition from my summer in England back to the States.
Right now my husband and I are deep into Succession, HBO’s satirical dramedy loosely based on the Murdoch media empire. It has a House of Cards feel to it, with an abundance of eye-widening drama, but it’s also ridiculously funny. Focused on the Roy family - Logan, the ageing oligarch at the head of one of the world’s biggest media conglomerates, and his four children — it’s a wild, wild ride from start to finish. My favourite character is social-climbing Tom, partner to Logan’s only daughter Siobhan, whose lack of self-awareness is portrayed excellently by none other than Matthew McFadyen. Somehow you manage to feel sympathetic to every character despite their horribleness; it doesn’t plant drama bombs at every turn but instead burns and churns slowly and painfully. It’s the very definition of “edge-of-your-seat” thrilling mixed with “I can’t even watch this because I’m so secondhand-embarrassed for everyone but I need to know what happens.”
Continuing the theme of rewatches I began last month, a few favorites have made their way in and out of my rotation quite frequently, namely Happy Endings, a sitcom from the early 2010s I rewatch at least once a year. I like to see it as everything Friends probably wanted to be but wasn’t clever enough to accomplish, with its quirkiness, romance, and completely unattainable real estate. While sadly many seasons shorter, however, it doesn’t take very long to watch and fall in love with this perfectly timed six-some (?) and their outlandish yet endearingly funny Chicago adventures.
I’ve also rewatched the odd episode or two of Four Weddings and a Funeral, after we all began watching it last month, while waiting for new episodes to air each week. I’ve had a lot of feelings about this one, and to that effect have discussed it endlessly with at least three people. It’s a ridiculous show! But it’s also completely addicting! It’s too much! It’s so good! I hate Maya! And Kash for pursuing her! I love everyone else! In all honesty, it was a disappointment at the start, considering the resumés of the minds behind it, but if you can remove those expectations, it is definitely the rom-com/sitcom of the summer. I described it to a friend as a satire of romantic comedy, and I think that’s the best explanation I can give of it. I don’t mean this in a negative way, in fact I think its appeal lies in the way it takes traditional elements of the genre and blows them entirely out of proportion. I mean, the Love Chalet plot was a stroke of genius.
My dislike of Maya stems from my general intolerance of people who cheat in relationships, and while I was willing to consider forgiving her for the affair she carried on at the beginning, her entire plot surrounding, and eventual relationship with Kash, her best friend’s ex-fiancé, was the final nail in the coffin for me. (I won’t even get into the Duffy thing.) She’s just not a good friend, and to see everyone worry over her while she ignores them all in pursuit of her own interests feels like a waste. But the series seems to be mounting her and Kash as the OTP, as it were, at the end of all this, so I suppose I’ll have to begrudgingly endure their scenes while appreciating the perfection of the entire rest of the ensemble. With the finale slated for next week, I await tentatively which of our current pairings will celebrate the as yet announced titular fourth wedding. (Given the show’s failings at representation, I’ve got my fingers crossed for an Andrew/Tony redemption.) Something tells me I won’t be happy, but I can always hope.
In the final rewatch of the month, I yet again found my way back to Fleabag. I don’t think more even needs to be said about this show, so while I hadn’t planned to rewatch it this recently, I couldn’t resist after a series of discussions with Rachel surrounding her most recent piece and its exquisite interpretation. Searching, in a post-Fleabag world for something, some place to put all of those feelings about it, I came across the recently released This Way Up. A somewhat similar setup, the lost thirty-something woman on her own in the world, This Way Up has drawn many a comparison, and proclaimed by some as the perfect follow up. Its creator, actress and writer Aisling Bea, is even a good friend of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, if it all sounds like too much of a coincidence. But where Fleabag is a loud, crashing orchestra of self destruction and acute pain, This Way Up is a sonnet, played tenderly on a single instrument, following our lead Aine as she carefully puts herself back together following an emotional (off-camera) breakdown. With six short episodes, I have already rewatched it multiple times with Fleabag-like fervor, and can safely say it has been the highlight of my season.