Between the pandemic and the election, it’s been hard not to spend every free minute of 2020 doom-scrolling Twitter for the latest outrages and atrocities. The noise of the news has wreaked havoc on my attention span so settling in to read a book seems a near impossibility. But television carries a lower barrier to entry and man I am ever thankful for the escape of The Tube this year.
The last episode of “The Sopranos” aired right before Elliott was born and that buttoned up any TV fandom Kristen and I enjoyed for years. We rarely made it past “Sid the Science Kid” or “Dragon Tales” or the slew of programs that were educational for the kids yet lobotomizing for us. But now with extra quarantine time at home, we’ve tossed the mothballs aside and unpacked our right to sit on our butts and be entertained.
My favorites have been “Succession,” “Goliath,” “Broadchurch,” and “Love.” When did TV get sooo freakin’ good? The writing, the dialogue, the character development is all so fantastic. I never had the chance to watch the great shows of the past decade like “Game of Thrones” or “Breaking Bad” which to some was tantamount to living off the grid. Now I know why.
For PG-13 family togetherness we’ve recycled seasons of “The Office” and “Arrested Development.” I’m tickled that we all can laugh at the same humor nowadays. The characters of “Brooklyn 99” are basically our new best friends. For drama we started with “Outer Banks” which served up “90210”-esque cheesy fare on a beach. Two of the characters stowed away on a tugboat from the OBX to Chapel Hill in perhaps the most implausible plot line since David Silver’s career as a rap artist. Or the invention of maps. But the kids enjoyed it and it clipped off some days on the quarantine calendar so bring on Season 2!
“Ted Lasso” is about an American football coach hired to helm an English soccer team. The premise is actually pretty stupid but the writers and actors refused to let the show be sub-par. Played by Jason Sudeikis, the character of Ted is exactly what we all needed in 2020. You don’t have to be a soccer fan to enjoy the show (they barely simulate actual soccer or strategy) but Ted makes his boss biscuits every morning and if this show doesn’t warm your heart, you have officially turned to stone.
Now we’re all wrapped up in “Cobra Kai,” the TV series sequel to the “Karate Kid” movies. I was skeptical because a continuation of a favorite childhood movie certainly sounds like a recipe for small-screen failure. It opens with Danny as a successful auto-dealership owner while Johnny groans on the floor after too many Coors Banquet beers so the cliché machine was quickly set on high. But if you make it to the REO Speedwagon singalong scene, I guarantee you’ll be hooked.
The story arc has been more nuanced and fun than I expected. William Zabka as Johnny steals the show. Maybe he purposely didn’t act in anything since Karate Kid in order to make the theme of a squandered lifetime really ring true to viewers? And Ralph Macchio is solid as Danny – the successful, yet oblivious 50-year-old dad who is 58 in real life but looks like he’s 32 and sounds like he’s 14 anytime he says “Miyagi-Do”. Rumor has it that Elisabeth Shue as Ali will appear in Season 3 and I. Am. Here. For. It!
So we’ve watched about a decade’s worth of television in eight months which I’m not super proud of, OK? But so be it. As far as passive entertainment goes, this stuff has been high quality. Maybe the news cycle will calm down. Maybe 2021 will be the Year of the Book? If not, maybe that British actor David Tennant will put out another series. I’m going to have some time to kill.
Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.