I gave this series so. Much. Shit. when it first came out, because it was unnecessary. Why do we need to see him as a little kid? Norman Bates wasn’t that old in Psycho, was he? And he was still pretty childlike as an adult. Basically, Bates Motel would be Norman With Bangs: The Series.
If you based your judgment of Bates Motel off of the first season, I completely understand if you think it’s a turd. It’s kind of like Gotham, where they realized in the middle of the pilot that they had made the central “We know what he’s like when he’s older!” character a little too young to ever get anywhere meaningful when you start thinking realistically think about how many seasons you’ll run. So they pad it out with SEX TRAFFICKING storylines and DRUG storylines which, and I don’t mean to downplay dressing as your mom and killing people because that’s pretty monumental in its own right, really kind of puts Psycho in perspective. “Yeah, I know that he killed that girl, but do you remember when some guy was transporting sex slaves through town? THAT was nuts.”
Luckily, the second and third seasons get everything on track by eliminating anything that doesn’t fall in the “Makes Even The Tiniest Bit If Sense” category. And Vera Farmiga is a treasure. I don’t always know why she makes the acting decisions that she does in this show, but she’s unfailingly fantastic to watch.
Jason’s Counter Pick: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
You’re wrong, Daniel, you’re so wrong I don’t know where to begin. You’re so wrong that the human mind, in all its infinite and unknowable complexities, could not even begin to conceive of a world in which you are right.
While you’re trying desperately to convince yourself that you like a show that makes Psycho IV: The Beginning seem like essential viewing, the people who live in the real world are watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a musical comedy series that seems designed to repel potential viewers, from the off-putting name (which is fully deconstructed in the show’s own theme song) to the historically unsuccessful genre it belongs to (raise your hand if you’ve ever seen an episode of Nashville – in fact, raise your hands if you even knew that show was still on the air).
While it might sound like the kind of show that only obnoxious musical-theater types would like, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is actually a psychologically incisive show full of original songs that are not only not terrible, they’re actually quite good. Rachel Bloom, the show’s star and co-creator, has a knack for walking the line between darkly humorous and just really dark – a recent episode featured a Bette Midler-style ballad called “You Stupid Bitch” that captures the trajectory of a self-loathing spiral better than any piece of media I’ve ever seen.
Eva Green’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is better than it has any right to be. Eva Green is a better actress than a human has any right to be. We are made of flesh and bone, but Eva Green is constructed of pure charisma. The plotlines often require the rest of the cast to look at her like “What is happening to you?”, but I’d like to think that they’re also wondering what they can do to even provide comparatively adequate performances. “I’ll frown!” Josh Hartnett thinks to himself again.
Jason’s Counter Pick: Master Of None
Hey, you. Yes, you, the person reading this article right now. I want you do to something for me. I want you to picture yourself coming home after a long day of doing whatever it is you do for work. You’re tired, you’re stressed out, and you’ve only got a few hours before you have to get to sleep. You want to make the most of your limited free time, and more than that, you want to make the most of your very limited time on this planet as a living person, so what do you do? Do you sit down and watch an episode of Penny Dreadful on Showtime? Of course you don’t. But try for a second to imagine what kind of life you would have to lead in order for that to seem like a good idea. That, my friend, is the kind of life that Daniel Dockery is living.
For God’s sake, Daniel, haven’t you seen Master Of None? Don’t you know we could be talking about what a wonderfully progressive show it is, both in terms of representation and in its willingness to experiment with form, so that even when it treads the same ground as hundreds of romantic comedy/coming-of-age stories, it does so in a surprising and hilarious manner? Don’t you see how much better things could be for both of us?
Better Call Saul
All three of these shows are shows that should be terrible. I love Saul Goodman as a side character, but the idea of watching him be the backbone of a series didn’t initially appeal to me. I didn’t want him to get Boba Fett syndrome, where he’s great in his initial role, but then creators start to find out that fans love him and put him everywhere. “You know Saul! That goofy, conniving guy! Well, he escaped the Sarlacc and we’re gonna make you sick of him!”
Thankfully, I was so, so wrong. Better Call Saul isn’t as effortlessly watchable as Breaking Bad and not as visually powerful, but its lack of middle-aged dude wish fulfillment fantasy does make it a great companion piece. Saul is a fun leading presence, even without the many “Stay out of my territory” moments that formerly filled Albuquerque. And he doesn’t need them. He’s a guy that is constantly on the run from his own inadequacies, and he rarely gets to face them with a new goatee. In some ways, that makes him far more interesting than Walter White.
Jason’s Counter Pick: The 100
Daniel, does your villainy know no bounds? You are now forcing me to argue against a show that I legitimately love. Very well. I see now this victory must be a pyrrhic one.
Last week, I tried to tell a friend that The 100 on the CW was better than The Walking Dead and Game Of Thrones, and he told me that he didn’t watch the CW because he had already gone through puberty. It was about the reaction that I expected, but I wasn’t trying to provoke him. The truth is, The 100 provides me with all the moral ambiguity and survivor’s guilt that I would get from The Walking Dead and all the pseudo-medieval politicking and clashing of armies that I would get from Game Of Thrones – except that on The 100, things that would run for at least half a season on either of those shows get dealt with in a single episode. Hell, I’ll even throw Lost in there, why not! Lost is one of my favorite shows of all time and any show that gives me even a little bit of those classic Lost vibes gets a lifetime pass.
There. Are you happy? Are you happy now that I have publically degraded myself, providing anyone with an internet connection all the fodder they need to thoroughly dispute my tastes from now until the end of my life?
Hey, I’ve got an idea for a new name for this series: Fuck You, Daniel.