Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cold Days, Warm Cable Box: What to Watch This Winter

Meredeth Barzen makes her Puddles of Myself debut by giving lazy people a fantastic guide to the upcoming television season.

Hello, my Puddlers, I hope you are enjoying your week and not letting too much football talk and or Republican Presidential Candidate talk get you down. And if you are, well, hell, then listen to this.

Today we welcome Meredeth Barzen to the blog. Meredeth is going to be writing about television and anything else that comes to her fantastic mind. As always, a Puddle of Yourself starts off somewhere and then tends to overflow and stream passionately off into someplace else. Does that make sense? If you follow this blog, I think it does.

Now without further ado, here is Meredeth.

Cold Days, Warm Cable Box: What to Watch This Winter

By Meredeth Barzen

Hey folks. I’m Meredeth, and I’m pleased as punch to be upping the estrogen level here on Puddles of Myself. I’m from Minnesota—for those of you on the coasts, that’s the one with the pointy things on the right side and the little hump on the top, next to the big lake—but let’s save regional myopia for another post; TV’s back!

That’s right—now that the dark, cold days of the holiday TV hiatus are over, we are free once again to bask in the warm glow of our lovable boob tubes. As a point of interest, the Mister and I have a habit of naming inanimate objects; our Dutch oven is Pierre, our bonsai is Willie, and our brand-new flat-screen cheapo-level-but-still-leagues-ahead-of-the-old-2-ton-tube-set TV is called Phil.

Here’s what playing on Phil these days, in order from classy to trashy:

Downton Abbey

The second season of this BBC costume drama about fancy Brits and the people who serve them premiered last weekend. This year, there’s a war on, both the fancies and the poors are fighting in said war, and everyone constantly mentions the fact that “there’s a war on.”

Parks and Recreation

The funniest, sweetest TV show currently on the air is already back up and running, and true to form, Rob Lowe is still amazing. Can’t wait for Louis C.K. to return as Leslie Knope’s adorable and bumbling ex.


A pitch-perfect skewering of indie/hipster/emo/granola/fixie-bike-riding/bird-art-buying/locavore/siphoned-coffee-drinking subculture if ever there was one. Last Friday’s premier included spoofs of at-home pickling, craft mixology and canvassing for the environment. Side note: Did you know Minneapolis has a heated rivalry with Portland? It’s true—our mayors trash-talk each other. When Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak cut the ribbon on a new section of bike trails downtown, he closed his speech with, “In Minneapolis, Portland is just an avenue.” Put that in your thrifted, briarwood pipe and smoke it, Portland. Our bikers are more annoying than your bikers. The point is: Portlandia could easily be Minneapolita, or Bozmania, or Williamsburgia, or any other hipster enclave with its heart in the right place and its head in the clouds.


A show that, on paper, looks like it’s made for 15-year-olds and the moms who love them. But the writing’s sharp, it’s got great one-liners and for anyone who’s ever had a love/hate relationship with growing up in a holier-than-thou suburb, it hits close to home in the best way possible.

The Vampire Diaries

Yes, yes, I know, it’s that whole vampires/werewolves thing that the kids are into these days. On paper, everything about this show points to the 13-17 female demographic, but give it a chance. They created a really solid, fascinating mythology that just keeps delving deeper and populated it with really pretty people doing some passable acting. I know I lose some credibility recommending this because of my double-X chromosome, and everyone knows girls are just such suckers for those sparkly vampires, but if you don’t believe me, read “10 Reasons You Should Be Watching The Vampire Diaries,” by The A.V. Club’s Carrie Raisler.


Ugh. I just…I can’t. Why am I still watching this? Every character is totally insufferable. This one I say we leave to the teenyboppers—let them dig their sticky, sparkly claws into it and devour the corpse. As of today, I officially quit watching, but that doesn’t mean I can make a prediction anyway: In the second half of Season 3, there’s going to be some totally ridiculous hazard to the glee club that threatens to disband them even though William McKinley high school totally depends on the club’s  iTunes sales to fund its caviar station in the teachers’ lounge and they would be crazy to shut that moneymaker down. The threat will be solved and explained away by some throwaway comment, the kids will learn something about themselves, Mr. Schue will say something like, “I know you guys are horribly unpopular freaks, but if you believe in yourself and follow your heart, you can achieve your dreams!” And then you’ll throw your decorative glass paperweight through your fancy new flat-screen TV and swear off TV forever.

The End.

(But not really. C’mon…it's TV!)

Meredeth also writes for, an online resource for everything dog-related in the Twin Cities. 

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