Vote for the Worst Adolescent Children on TV

Photo:  Kent Smith/SHOWTIME -

Photo: Kent Smith/SHOWTIME –

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

I usually defend the teenage characters that annoy most people. Maybe it’s something to do with being a mom myself but I tend to be more forgiving.

I root for Dana Brody and love what being a parent brings to Alicia’s character on The Good Wife. But after watching Grace wistfully eye the guns on Sunday night’s episode of The Good Wife, I began to think that maybe, like a lax parent, I’ve been a little too lenient.

Who do you think are the worst adolescent children on TV? I’m not talking about shows like Glee where teens are the main characters but show about adult characters who have teenage children. Talk about it below and vote!

Here are my picks:

Grace and Zach Florrick on The Good Wife

Pros: Zach’s great with computers and all things technical. His taste in girlfriends constantly disrupts his dad’s political life. He introduced us to Eli’s nemesis Becca.

Cons: Grace bounces from one distracting story line to the next. Now she’s going to be into guns?

Karen and Jerry Fitzgerald on Scandal

Pros: They never see their parents.

Cons: They never see their parents.

Dana Lazaro and Chris Brody on Homeland

Pros: Morgan Saylor is a great actress. She hasn’t had the best material to work with and she’s made it work.

Cons: Dana makes truly horrible decisions when it comes to dating. Has Chris had more than three words of dialogue all season?

Morgan and Jake Sanders on Hostages

Pros: Ummmmm . . . .

Cons: Just about everything that’s happened since the pilot.

‘Homeland’ Season Three – What’s Next?

Photo:  Kent Smith/SHOWTIME

Photo: Kent Smith/SHOWTIME

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

Things were pretty bleak when we last left Carrie, Brody and Saul. What lies ahead when Homeland returns for season three on September 29? Yesterday, the show’s producers and stars talked to critics assembled for the semi-annual Television Critics Association Press Tour. Check out my story for Paste Magazine here. But be warned, there are minor spoilers in my story (very minor, I’ve watched the first two episodes of season three and left out the big reveals, I promise.)

Are you excited for season three of Homeland? Or were you too disillusioned by season two? Talk about it below.

My Favorite Shows of 2012


By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

When I first started writing about TV, I could list my ten best shows of the year with confidence. Sure one viewer’s trash is another’s treasure (some think American Horror Story is brilliant, I find it rather laughable). Lists are always subjective and my opinion is just my opinion. But, back then, I had at least watched one episode of every show and felt I had given every series its fair consideration.

That, my friends, is no longer the case. Even if I did nothing else but watch TV, I don’t think I would be able to say I’ve seen everything the medium has to offer. There are way too many shows on the air. For example, I will admit to you that I’ve never seen a single episode of Justified. It’s been on my “I need to watch this show” list for years. There are other shows I liked –The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad among them – that for whatever reason I haven’t kept up with. The second season of Downton Abbey is just sitting on my desk waiting to be watched. Do spa/TV viewing vacations exist? Because that’s what I need.

My other issue is the rise of what I like to calls shows that are rated NFA – Not For Amy. For example, I can appreciate that Lena Dunham is creating something unique with a distinct point of view with Girls. However, from the opening moments, I couldn’t stand the show. I found the characters to be whiny, obnoxious and self-centered. And series such as Game of Thrones are also NFA.  With its gratuitous sex and violence, I didn’t even make it through the series premiere of Game of Thrones.

What I can offer you are my favorite shows of the year. The shows that have been consistently high in quality. Show that each week offered thoughtful, moving performances and strong writing. Shows that make me laugh, cry or both. Shows that are among the best TV has to offer. I have ranked them in terms of what I would choose to watch first on my TiVo.

1.Homeland (Showtime): So we’re all kind of in a fight with Homeland and I totally get that.  The show is cutting corners and sacrificing realism to advance the story and get the characters where they need them to be. I mean we’re going to have to ask Carrie more follow-up questions about how she escaped from Abu Nazir, right? An acceptable answer isn’t “I got lucky” when it comes to freeing yourself from the world’s number one terrorist. But all my quibbles aside, no other show surprises me and keeps me engaged like Homeland does.  Especially in season two, I never knew what the show was going to do next. Every time I lulled myself into believing I knew what was going to happen, the series zigged in a totally different direction.  But what really sets Homeland apart is the incredible acting. Clare Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin are breathtaking every week. They rise above the most inane writing and ridiculous plot twists.  Danes and Lewis have made me believe in TV’s most unlikely and unhealthy romance. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked forward to a show as much as I look forward to Homeland. And that means, despite the ridiculousness of late, the drama is doing a lot of things right.

2.Parenthood (NBC): This is the season Parenthood transitioned from a good drama into a great one.  I wrote about Parenthood being one of the best shows for Paste Magazine. You can read what I had to say here.

3. Southland (TNT): The best cop drama on TV. With gritty realism, Southland pulls the viewer into its world each week.  This past season the drama added Lucy Liu and, as much as I enjoy Liu on Elementary, I am really going to miss her on Southland. Her performance was transformative. I could write paragraphs about the brilliant acting that occurs each week on the show but I want to especially praise Regina King, whose Detective Lydia Adams is one of the strongest female characters on TV. Bonus points to the show for having C. Thomas Howell in its cast. When I was a girl, pictures of Howell adorned my bedroom walls. How wonderful it is to have him on TV. Some things that are gold can stay.

4. The Middle (ABC): This week Frankie (Patricia Heaton) woke up in the middle of the night to fight with Mike (Neil Flynn) and you know what I loved best about that scene? Frankie was in mismatched pajamas. That, my friends, is real life. (My biggest complaint with Homeland this season remains that Jess packed a negligee to go to a safe house). While Modern Family may be the show all the cool kids watch, The Middle is the show that truly captures the humor of family life. The comedy has the best teenage characters of any show. Each week Eden Sher and Charlie McDermott are perfect as the ever enthusiastic Sue and her older, slacker brother Axl. (For real fun, follow these two on Twitter to see how they interact in real life).  When people ask me what’s the one show they are not watching that that they should be watching, I always say The Middle.

5. Scandal (ABC): From her first power-suit strut into the office, I was all about Olivia Pope and her not-so-merry band of Gladiators. The show provides a juicy soap opera and intense mystery while, without making a big deal about it, has built a show around a successful woman of color. Plus nobody enunciates quite like Kerry Washington enunciates. I want to be a client of Pope & Associates just so I can hear Olivia say my name. Most of the time, I have no idea what the Huck the show is going to do next and I love that.

6. Parks and Recreation (NBC):  What other series could make local politics so utterly compelling? I literally love this show. Parks has the best ensemble cast on TV. There are no weak links. I adore every single character on it.

7. The Glee Project (Oxygen): The Glee Project is the only reality competition that is truly rooted in reality.  The audition process is grueling and, in the end, no matter how much the casting director, vocal coach and choreographer may love you, it all comes down to the executive producer’s capricious decision.  I love that this is a tough competition but one where none of the coaches are mean-spirited or nasty. If you’re not performing well, they will tell you but in a way that allows the performers to flourish. Bonus points to the show for 1):  Totally making up words.  We all need a little glee-ality and romanticality in our lives.  2): Giving me my new secret boyfriend Zach Woodlee. His proud papa face when he watches the kids perform makes me tear up every time.  3): Giving Glee Blake Jenner and Alex Newell. They’ve both been great additions to the series.

8. Mad Men (AMC): Not everything worked this season but when the show worked, it worked brilliantly. Joan finally telling her husband to get out. Peggy leaving the agency and coming into her own. Joan becoming a partner in the worst possible way. These are TV moments indelibly inked in my mind. Mad Men continues to create a world that is mesmerizing.

9. Awkward (MTV):  Yes I know I’m way too old to be watching this show. But what I love about Awkward is that although the technology has changed (no one had a blog when I was in high school), the experience of being a teenager hasn’t. Awkward takes me right back to the not-so-glory days of high school. But it’s not just nostalgia that makes me love the show – it is witty, hilarious, poignant and heart-breaking.  While I always rooted for Jake, the Jake/Matty/Jenna love triangle is one of the best ones out there.

10. New Girl (FOX): For a show ostensibly about a girl, it’s the men who have made this comedy flourish. The rapport between Schmidt, Nick and Winston is the stuff of TV magic. If Schmidt is the series breakout character, Nick is the sleeper breakout character. I still laugh every time I think about Jake Johnson’s “I give you cookie” diatribe.

Honorable Mentions:

The Good Wife (CBS): I adore this show. The only reason it isn’t part of my top ten is due to the mandatory “Nick is a bad husband” deduction. May we never have to see a fight involving raw eggs again.

30 Rock (NBC): As always, I want to go to there. In its final season, this smart comedy has enjoyed a greater and more hilarious freedom as it mocks its corporate parent and takes Liz Lemon through some major life changes.

Switched at Birth (ABC): Bunheads may be Gilmore Girls Redux but it’s Switched at Birth that has filled the hole Gilmore Girls left in my viewing schedule.

Go On (NBC): This comedy is doing exactly what a freshman comedy should be doing: It gets better every week as Ryan (Matthew Perry) continues to grieve his wife’s death with an unlikely support group. It can’t be easy to make a comedy about people continuing on with their lives after a great loss, but Go On is doing an excellent job.

Those are my favorite shows of 2012. What are yours? Talk about it below.

Checking in on the Believability Rating of ‘Modern Family,’ ‘New Girl,’ ’30 Rock,’ ‘Homeland’ and ‘Parenthood’


By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

As we have discussed, I don’t require a lot of realism in my TV shows. I’m okay with most of the outrageous TV conventions. Couples can have babies that they often seem to forget they have.  Female detectives can walk around all day in high-heeled shoes.  Characters can go to work at offices that don’t require they do any actual work. Jess can pack a sexy negligee to go to a safe house. Heck Abu Nazir can even Skype with Brody on a smart phone and, in general,  I’m pretty much okay with it.  Let’s take a look at some of the things that happened on TV last week and see where they landed of the believability scale.

Let’s start with pregnant Gloria on Modern Family.  I loathe pregnant Gloria. Loathe her. It’s as if the writers googled “pregnant women stereotypes” and then decided to gift Gloria with all those traits this season. She doesn’t want to wear maternity clothes. She’s forgetful, irrational, emotional, and even unbalanced. I’ve been pregnant and I’ve known a lot of pregnant women and no one I know acts like this. For some reason I am unable to willingly suspend my disbelief on this one. Perhaps it’s because pregnant Gloria is not funny. She’s just gratingly annoying.  Can you imagine how ridiculous she’s going to be a mother of a newborn? Believability Rating: 1 out of a possible 10

Over on New Girl, the comedy tried to send women over 30 into a panic about their ovarian egg reserve. Let’s ignore the fact that the show blatantly disregarded actual medical facts on what constitutes ovarian reserve testing, when it can happen, and how the results are interpreted. I’ll  go ahead and suspend my disbelief on that one because hopefully no one is seeking out medical advice from a television comedy.  What bummed me out about the episode is that there is a larger, more thoughtful conversation to be had here about being a single woman over 30 who knows she wants to have a family but isn’t ready to yet. Instead we got lines like Jess shouting “give my nipples a purpose” and her referring to her uterus as a 1930’s dustbowl.  I’m curious to see if the show brings this topic up again or if it was merely a one-shot plot development. Although I know this is something that mostly affects women, it would be great to see some male characters (other than Ted Mosby, of course), discuss their desire to have a family. Believabilty rating: 0 out of 10 on medical facts, 3 out of 10 on emotional reactions

But thank goodness Liz Lemon had the most perfect wedding on 30 Rock. As I wrote about in my review of last week’s episode for Paste Magazine, Liz was able to confess that getting married was a big deal without losing her sense of self or suddenly becoming a different character entirely. I would have been so angry if suddenly she wanted to wear a princess ball gown and surround herself with women in pastel-colored matching dresses. That’s not the Liz Lemon we know and love. I really hope she and Crises get to have a baby before 30 Rock says its final goodbye in January. Believablity rating: 10 out of 10.

I  also wrote about my beloved Parenthood in Paste Magazine’s Best TV Shows of 2012.  But what I want to talk about today is how much the show is stressing me out. What is Sarah doing? After my initial panic, the series has set up the Hank/Mark/Sarah triangle believably.  Hank and Mark are such completely different people and you can see how they each offer attractive qualities the other doesn’t have. I even believe that Hank kissing Sarah would send her into a full-fledged panic where she would immediately move in with Mark to try to squelch any feelings she might have for Hank. But would she cancel her plans to attend a wedding with Mark to help Hank out? I’m not so sure. I don’t quite know what the show is trying to do here. And I like not knowing. But if Sarah and Mark do break up, we have to figure out a way to keep Mr. Cyr on the show. Believablity rating: 6 out of 10

Okay, now let’s talk about Homeland. At some point this season I decided to give into all the ridiculous Homeland plot twists and just go with the show. It’s absolutely one of those situations where if you think about a show too much you’re not going to be able to enjoy it. And I want to enjoy Homeland.  So I went with the fact that the world’s most renowned terrorist would be able to get into the country, rent a car, buy a big gulp (really he doesn’t have a minion he can send in to the convenience store?) and kidnap Carrie. I’m not saying I preferred this plot twist, I’m saying I  went with it. But the biggest question Homeland faces now is: Can the show continue with Brody or does he need to be killed off? Brody crossed a line he had not crossed before when he killed the Vice President.  His switching from abject horror at what Abu Nazir was asking him to do to smirking as he told the Vice President he was killing him was way too abrupt. And what’s with Carrie going back in to find Abu Nazir? She’s like the teens in some B horror movie that go into the woods alone. My biggest concern with the most recent episode is that Brody has long been a bad guy for whom I’ve had some degree of sympathy for but that’s gone now.  And I’m not sure I’m interested in watching a completely evil Brody. I was hoping for way to keep Damian Lewis on the show next season because I love him so but I don’t see how that’s possible now. I’ve learned, of course, to never doubt Homeland so I can’t wait to see what happens in the final two episodes of the season. Carrie believability rating: 5 out of 10, she  is crazy enough to go after Nazir. Brody believability rating: 4 out of 10, why didn’t he give Nazir a number that was a little bit off?  Abu Nazir believability rating: -1 out of 10, but I didn’t care.

That’s all for today. I would love to hear your thoughts on Modern Family, New Girl, 30 Rock, Parenthood and Homeland below. And if you have seen a familiar face or heard a great quote, definitely let me know about it.

Dysfunction Junction: TV’s Most Unhealthy Romances

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Love is in the air all over TV. A long simmering romance is finally blossoming on Castle. George and Dallas are positively adorable as they discover what it’s like to date after divorce on Suburgatory.  And the great tradition of falling for a former cast member of Friday Night Lights continues on Parenthood.

But while other couples are going out for fancy dinners and canoodling, several unhealthy relationships are getting plenty of screen time. A look at some of the most dysfunctional couples currently on TV:

Angela, The Senator and Oscar on The Office (Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC): This entire storyline is such a dark turn for The Office to take in its final season. Yes Angela isn’t the nicest character. She’s nasty to Kevin and was awful to Andy. She constantly puts down Pam and makes fun of Phyllis. But do I want to see her, as Kevin so aptly put it, discover that her entire life is a lie? Not really. I can’t find the humor in finding out that your husband is cheating on you with a man.  And after nine seasons, I would love to have Oscar find true love. But does that true love have to be at Angela’s expense? Not sure what the writers were thinking when they went down this path. There are not a lot of laughs to be mined here.

Olivia and President Fitzgerald Grant on Scandal:Just a few weeks ago I was wondering where this particular story line could go. There are only so many times a fabulously dressed Olivia can defiantly announce to Fitz that their relationship is over. There are only so many times he can give her his hurt puppy face in response. I liked the knowledge of their affair as a starting point for the series. The idea that they both want something they absolutely cannot have is a great undercurrent to all the action. But the whole thing was beginning to feel a bit redundant. Until, that is, the show hinted that Olivia, the First Lady, and Cyrus had collaborated to fix the election. I couldn’t figure out why the series kept emphasizing that the opposing candidate had lost by 4,359 votes in Ohio.  But now it definitely seems like there was some voter tampering going on and if Olivia wasn’t a part of it, she was aware of it.  And since it appears that the President was not, that should add a new interesting wrinkle to their relationship. While I’m on Scandal, as much as I love the show (it’s second on my must watch on my DVR list after Parenthood), I’m concerned that Olivia is getting duped by her clients too easily. She’s not the ultimate fixer if she discovers after the fact that the Governor did know his wife was having an affair. That kind of last minute bait-and-switch reveal reminds of what The Practice always used to do.

Carrie and Brody on Homeland: This duo is the definition of dysfunction.  Three weeks ago Carrie was triumphantly told Brody that he was under arrest for being a traitor to his country and this week she’s hungriliy making out with him in the woods.  What works about their twisted romance (if one can call it that) is that as a viewer, I never know if Carrie has true feelings for Brody, if she’s playing him or if it’s a little bit of both.  When she told him in the interrogation room that if she were being honest she would tell him she wants him to leave his wife for her, it’s hard to tell if it is some confession ploy or the real deal. And the thing is –  I don’t think Carrie knows her true feelings either. Her work and her life are so enmeshed that how she feels about Brody is part of her work.   There’s a fine line between love and hate but when it comes to Carrie and Brody, there’s a fine line between love and obsession.

Victoria and Conrad on Revenge: Since the dog died last season, there are no functional couples on Revenge. (Jack and the dog were our last hope).Everybody is using everybody. Conrad and Victoria viciously plot to bring each other down. They trade barbs and insults. But when they were both facing death,  they held hands.  It wasn’t sweet exactly but it was something. As the patriarch and matriarch TV’s most outlandish prime time soap, Victoria and Conrad are better together even if they both have a knife in the other’s back.

What couples do you think define dysfunction on TV? Talk about it below. I’m back on Thursday to check in on how some of this season’s new shows are doing (The New Normal, Nashville, Elementary). Remember to sign up to follow my blog (upper right hand corner) if you want to be part of my December TV Swag Giveaway  And if you’ve seen a familiar face or heard a great quote, email me and let me know.

TV’s Best Tertiary Characters

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

How do you know you’re a great character?

There’s a fan outcry when you aren’t around.

Since Homeland began its second season, viewers have been plagued with questions:  Will Carrie realize she was right? Will Brody get caught? But perhaps the biggest question troubling viewers was: Where is Virgil?

The beloved surveillance expert brilliantly played by David Marciano finally returned on Sunday.  I actually clapped when he came on the screen. There is something so wonderful about Virgil and his relationship with Carrie. He’s exasperated when he should be, protective when he needs to be, and funny when the show is in desperate need of comic relief. Plus, he’s kind of the only character besides Carrie that I truly trust at this point.

But the really interesting thing about Virgil is that he’s obviously not a main character (that’s Carrie and Brody). But he’s not a secondary character either (lsuch as David Estes or Mike). He’s a tertiary character. And to make a tertiary character stand out you’ve got to be really good.

Here are some of my other favorite tertiary characters on television:

First Lady Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) on Scandal: I adore Mellie. First of all, she’s a woman in the right. Her husband, the President of the United States, cheated on her and continues to be hung up on a woman he cannot and should not have.  Secondly, would you want to cross her? Young brilliantly pulls off the tricky act of being simultaneously sympathetic and devious. The scene in the limo where she asks her husband to forgive her? Heartbreaking. The scene where she tells her husband that she needs to start making plans for her future.  A little terrifying.  The season Young was promoted to series regular and is rightly getting so much screen time that she’s almost a secondary character.

Grizz (Grizz Chapman) and Dot Com (Kevin Brown) on 30 Rock: As Tracy’s entourage, the pair have provided some of the comedy’s best laughs with their droll commentary on their boss’s ridiculous antics. They’re the voice of reason not just in Tracy’s world but sometimes for the entire series. I would so watch the Grizz and Dot Com Show. Now that 30 Rock is ending, isn’t it about time for a spinoff?

Cora (Barbara Hershey) on Once Upon a Time: How do you make viewers feel sorry for the Evil Queen? Give her a mother who is worse than she is. Hershey is wonderfully evil. I’m so glad she is still around this season causing trouble. Also bonus points for the fact that Hershey actually looks like she could be Lana Parrilla’s mother.

Brad Bottig (Brock Ciarlelli) on The Middle: As Sue’s enthusiastic former boyfriend, Ciarlelli makes me smile every time he comes on the screen.  He also exemplifies what makes The Middle such a fantastic show.  Brad could have been a one note joke – Sue doesn’t realize that her boyfriend is probably gay. But he has become so much more than that. The Middle thrives because it’s a very funny show with humor based in truth and characters we know. I always say there’s a little bit of Sue in anyone who has ever been a teenage girl. And I definitely had friends such as Brad when I was in high school. He’s simply a fantastic character.

Burt Hummel (Mike O’Malley) on Glee: O’Malley provides some of Glee’s best moments. He is my favorite television dad.  Here’s hoping there’s a holiday episode in our future where Kurt goes home to see his dad.

Who are some of your favorite tertiary characters? Talk about it below.

Happy Endings, Don’t Trust the B ____ in Apartment 23 and Nashville

Here’s my three-part TV viewing assignment for the week:

There are times when I truly believe an episode of television was created just for me. It’s like television’s way of saying “thanks Amy. We’re glad you’re here.”  And the premiere of Don’t Trust the B____ in Apartment 23, which returns for its second season tonight at 9:30 p.m. on ABC, is one of those times.  James Van Der Beek, who continues to hilariously spoof himself, reluctantly decides he will do a Dawson’s Creek reunion.  I don’t want to ruin the jokes by telling you any more than that. But any show that can reference The Facts of Life Goes to Paris and stage a fame intervention is my kind of show. You must watch.

I have championed Happy Endings since it premiered. Dave writing thank you notes after being left at the alter is one of the funniest television moments ever (“Darkness reigns. Hope gurgles out its dying breath. Thank you for the beautiful crockpot.”).  As it returns for its third season (tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC), Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Elisha Cuthbert (Elisha Cuthbert) are back together but keeping it casual. They’re this decade’s Ross and Rachel if you didn’t think Ross and Rachel should actually be together. The show has become more Scrubs-like as the seasons have progressed (more totally out there flights of fancy humor) but the writing remains razor sharp. What other show has hilarious lines such as “You two have fun talking like Scott Caan’s groomsmen.”  Again, you must watch.

People, people, people. What is going on? Why oh why is Nashville (Wednesday at 10 p.m. on ABC) on the bubble? Why aren’t you watching the best new show of the season? This is starting to remind me of Lone Star. Talk to me.  Why aren’t you watching?

That’s all for today. Remember to follow my blog so you will know every time I have a new post. And on Thursday I’ll have this week’s best familiar faces and quotes so if you’re heard a great quote or seen a familiar face email me about them through my contact page.

TV is Stressing Me Out

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

These are the television things keeping me awake at night and stressing me out. I’m so going to need to invest in some new anti-wrinkle cream.

  1. That there might be a ninth season of How I Met Your Mother:  At this point I feel about the characters on How I Met Your Mother the way I felt when I saw Sex and the City 2. It wasn’t a good movie but I was happy to see everyone again. HIMYM hasn’t been funny this season (except when Barney recapped the entire show in true Barney style) but I still like spending time with the characters each week. I said this years ago and it’s even truer now – the show should tell us who the mother is and stop dragging it out. It was an inspired and clever gimmick to build a show on. And it was a gimmick that worked for a while. But the series, at its height, was funny enough without the gimmick. Now delaying the inevitable is making viewers cranky.  We all know Victoria isn’t who Ted marries so we are spinning our wheels watching any story lines about Ted and Victoria. Executive producer Craig Thomas told me that there’s an ending sequence that will get activated once the show knows it’s in its final season.  So please the show needs to end this season.  No more yellow umbrellas (what is that umbrella made of that it has lasted for all these years?). No more false hopes. Let us meet the mother and let the show have a glorious series finale in May.
  2. The leaps of logic and plot conveniences on Homeland: Let me be clear: I love Homeland. It is the absolute best drama on TV right now. That scene at the end of Sunday’s episode where Carrie realizes with relief and vindication that she was right?  Brilliant. And Damian Lewis is an amazing actor. Brody snaps a man’s neck and yet I still feel sympathy for him. He lies to his wife without flinching and I understand his plight. Lewis does an astounding job of conveying Brody’s internal struggle. But I have this nagging feeling about the show. There are times when you can totally tell the people behind 24 are behind Homeland.  It was a little too convenient that Brody just happened to be in the White House and was called into the situation room to see the attack on Abu Nazir, And that he was able to text a warning without anyone seeing what he was doing. Really? Isn’t Brody a nationally recognized war hero? Would he really simply don a red baseball cap to go take a terrorist to a safe house? Show his face to the gas station attendant? What I loved about the first season of Homeland is that the show continually surprised me. I never knew what it was going to do or where the plot was going to take viewers.  It makes me nervous when viewers are supposed to just roll with these leaps of logic and the writers take shortcuts to take the story where they need it to go.
  3. The Kalinda Storyline on The Good Wife: I’ve talked about this extensively in the weekly reviews I do of The Good Wife episodes for Paste Magazine but it’s time to sound the alarm. I am in full panic mode. The Kalinda storyline is in a free fall – it’s getting worse at an alarmingly rapid pace.  It’s bringing down the show and ruining one of TV’s best characters.  Make it stop. Now please.
  4. Daphne and Chef on Switched at Birth: I have had it with the whole teenage girl has a relationship with her boss/teacher/fill-in-the-blank authority figure.  Switched at Birth is such a terrific show – I’m bummed it’s taken on this television trope.  I miss Wilkie. Can he please come back from boarding school?

What is stressing you out on TV these days? Talk about it below. Also be sure to follow my blog so you’ll know every time I have a new post.  I’ll have this week’s “where have I seen them before” and quotes on Thursday so please email me your favorite quotes and familiar faces through my contact page.

‘Homeland’ Button Giveaway!

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

In honor of Homeland‘s excellent Emmy wins Sunday night (so, so glad the show didn’t have to play the long game with the Emmy Awards) and Homeland‘s second season premiere this Sunday, I’m giving away two Homeland buttons (pictured above). One features Claire Danes with the caption “Pharmacy’s Closed. We’re Doomed.” The other features Mandy Patinkin with the caption “Knows Everything. Yes, Even That.”

The first person to either email me at amyattvgaldotcom or direct message me on Twitter with how Brody realized that Carrie had been spying on him will win both buttons. You must be very specific.

This contest is closed. Congratulations to Rhonda who was the first to email me that Carrie knew Brody liked Yorkshire Gold tea. Two Homeland buttons are coming  your way Rhonda!

The Emmy Awards I Care About

Photo: Courtesy of SHOWTIME

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

The Emmys are my night of nights. My Super Bowl and World Series. Forget Christmas, this is the most wonderful time of year. I still love everything about the Emmys — the red carpet arrivals, the gushy speeches, the upset wins,the bad outfits and the questionable hairstyles.

But after years of trying to accurately forecast the Emmys and failing rather miserably, I’ve realized that no matter how hard I try, I am pretty bad at Emmy predictions.  Seriously, you so don’t want to take me to Vegas.  Therefore this year, I decided to talk about the six nominees that I would really like to see win.

Outstanding Drama: Homeland

I’m still recovering from the stress that was watching “The Weekend” episode. It was one of the finest hours of television I’ve ever experienced – surprising, nuanced, and brilliantly acted. In its first season, Homeland turned every convention about an one hour drama completely around.  It was impossible to play predict-a-plot with this series. Did you ever think that Brody and Carrie would sleep together? Did you ever think Brody would confront Carrie in the middle of the season? At the end of “The Weekend,” I was convinced (kind of) that Brody was innocent, but I had this lingering thought: “What if Brody is actually playing the long, long game?”   Any show that can make a viewer vacillate convincingly between two equally believable scenarios is pretty amazing and deserves to be recognized.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series: Claire Danes, Homeland

This isn’t just the performance of Danes’ career; it’s the performance of the season. There’s a palpable intensity to Danes’ portrayal of troubled CIA agent Carrie Mathison. You can feel that this woman is precariously teetering between sanity and the pull of her mental illness.  In her performance, Carrie’s mistakes (really should you sleep with your target? I don’t think so.) make perfect sense.  If the role of Carrie had been miscast, Homeland never would have worked as a series. Danes makes the series.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series: Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

For all the reasons I stated yesterday, Poehler deserves this win. Plus it’s really the only way to reward Parks and Recreation which was the year’s best comedy.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series: Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory

I didn’t watch the show every week until Bialik came along. She so wholly owns the character of Amy Farrah Fowler. Everything about Bialik’s performance — from the way she walks to the way she speaks — transform Amy’s funny lines into hilarious ones.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series: Max Greenfield, New Girl

As I talked about earlier this week, this is the right role at the right time for Max Greenfield. But a character like Schmidt is so tricky because if an actor took the role too far, Schmidt would become a joke and a joke that the audience wouldn’t care about.  Greenfield makes Schmidt outrageous while still keeping him believable and vulnerable. One of the most interesting things that happened last season was how New Girl morphed from being about the adorkable Zooey Deschanel to truly being an ensemble comedy that often focused on the friendship of the three male roommates. Deschanel may have gotten most of the attention but Greenfield made the show.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Christina Hendricks, Mad Men

Last season might not have been Mad Men’s best but it was definitely Hendricks’ best. Hendricks has been nominated twice before and this is the year she deserves to win. “The Other Woman,” which found Joan sleeping her way into a partnership was devastating and heartbreaking. Hendricks’ performance haunted me for days.

Those are the six awards I care most about this Sunday. How about you? Which Emmy award categories are you most excited about? Talk about it below.You can get a complete list of Emmy nominations here.

Also I’ll be tweeting during the Emmys so make sure to follow me on Twitter at @amytvgal and let me know what you think about the show.