Is TV Better than the Movies? A Confession.

Lately I’ve not been going to the movies because TV is free, already in my house, and full of great stuff.

For example, I’ve started watching a few new shows this fall:

Ugly Betty
Six Degrees
Brothers & Sisters

All three of them are pretty stellar in their own ways:

Ugly Betty is the most interesting of the new shows. Think The Devil Wears Prada meets The Princess Diaries (without the makeover). What’s astonishing to me about this show ends up being a huge list:
1. Betty’s nephew, who’s probably about 12, is obviously gay, and nobody in the family cares.
2. There are also gay people all over the fashion magazine’s office, and *gasp* they aren’t thin and beautiful!
3. The chick from Extras is on it!
4. Eric Mabius is interesting to watch even while clothed, although he isn’t always (thankyoujesus)
5. The show succeeds in being campy without being dumb.

The campiness is what I like best: camp is hard to pull off. It’s easy to do it poorly—and that generally occurs when the cast and director pretend to play along, or, in other words, make camp the priority of the show. Ugly Betty is REAL camp because everyone is committed to keeping their characters human—they don’t turn them into the charicatures they’re begging to be.

Six Degrees is compelling in that for an hour, you watch these six people orbit each other, sometimes colliding, sometimes just missing each other. The cast is amazing (last week’s Dreamboat of the Week, in fact) and the writing is the best of these three shows. J. J. Abrams is the executive producer, and nobody sells New York like he does (think Felicity and its oddly omnipresent ambient city noise instead of music). It’s soap opera, but relevant soap opera, it seems.

Brothers & Sisters also features a great cast (Sally Field!) and some medium writing. Good production values and interesting storylines. It’s tough to introduce an entire family in one episode because they have 30 years of baggage to explain and reveal…but it’s going well so far. The characters are fairly well-rounded and interesting, although you can see how each one fits into family stereotypes: “The Bitch,” “The Hero,” “The Screw-up,” etc. Oh, and guess what: somebody’s gay on this show, too.

Despite all this good TV, one film that’s going to get my out of my house sometime soon is Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. I would wade through buffalo manure to get myself to a Sofia Coppola film.

I won’t tell you what I’d do to get myself to a Kirsten Dunst film. I’ll let you marinate in that for a while.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s