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Tuned In: Flirting with new TV

I admit it, I’m a slut.

A TV slut, actually. Or, more accurately, a new TV show slut.

I can’t help it. Every autumn when the networks premiere their new television seasons, I am compelled to check out as many new shows as possible. It’s like all these new and different chocolates are sitting in front of me and I have to try each and every one! Will I find the rich and subtle one that keeps me coming back for more? The one that continues to delight me years later? Will there be one that’s too sweet with too many ingredients, but which I still can’t resist? Of course, much of the time the new chocolates don’t excite my taste buds. But I still keep tasting.

(And yes, I do love chocolate! What tipped you off?)

So how is this year’s batch faring? I’m sorry to have to give it a B- so far. Or in chocolate speak, more generic same old, same old. Do we need more Kit Kats? Sure, they’re yummy, but the original is good enough.

Here’s a rundown of the shows you should hit or miss:

Skippable

Pan Am New Girl

Pan Am (CityTV, Sundays, 10pm): I know, I know, critics seem to love this show. I don’t know why. By the second episode my roommates and I were practically in a boredom coma. Nothing is really happening. I wish there was more interesting intrigue. If they amp up the spying and make it more like Alias, I’d consider sticking around.

New Girl (CityTV, Tuesdays, 9pm): This seems to be a polarizing show. People either love it or hate it. I fall in the “hate it” camp because of the stereotypical gender roles that much of the comedy is reliant on. I don’t mind Zooey Deschanel’s quirkiness, per se, but this show isn’t working for me.

There’s also nothing that sparks or interesting queer content on the new CW witch show The Secret Circle (Thursdays, 9pm).

Could Get Better

2 Broke Girls Terra Nova

2 Broke Girls (CityTV, Mondays, 9:30pm): I always love a good female friendship story, and this show looks like it will deliver. If only it could find some new jokes and not recycle every vaguely funny joke from the last 10 years. Bonus: In the second episode the girls (platonically) share a bed, so I see fun potential here.

Terra Nova (CityTV, Mondays, 8pm): EW writer Jeff Jensen described it as “Terra Nova 90210” and that’s apt. Of course, it’s like the new 90210, but without any gayness plus dinosaurs and more danger. The danger aspect is fun, but I wish that a show with people from the future (living in the past) actually had gay characters. Because really? In the future no one is gay? I find that hard to believe!

There are a bunch of female-led new shows that aren’t horrible but aren’t amazing: Charlie’s Angels, Whitney, Prime Suspect and Ringer. Also Person of Interest has some potential, especially if they can figure out how to better utilize the awesome Taraji P Henson.

The Good Ones

Up All Night

Up All Night (CTV2, Wednesdays, 8pm): This is actually funny and has made me laugh – out loud! It has a talented cast: Christina Applegate, Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph with the executive-producing guidance of Lorne Michaels. It reminds me of 30 Rock, with its strong funny women, and of SNL, with its funny parody songs and silly situations. Sadly, there is no queer content yet, but this fun show about a couple (played by Applegate and Arnett) who have a baby later in life and try to balance their family with Applegate’s job as Rudolph’s producer (Rudolph plays an Oprah-like talk-show host) is worth checking out anyway.

suburgatory

Suburgatory (CityTV, Wednesdays, 8:30pm): I’m really enjoying this very satirical take on the suburbs. No queer content yet, but if there’s any show that might have queer characters, it’s this one.

Revenge

Revenge (CityTV, Wednesdays, 10pm): I wasn’t expecting to enjoy a show about rich people in the Hamptons getting revenge on each other, but this show surprised me. It’s obviously ridiculous and shallow, but it’s also intriguing and just plain fun. Plus, the lead Emily VanCamp is gorgeous (and Canadian) and she plays off the also-gorgeous Madeleine Stowe so well.

Special Mention

Playboy Club

The Playboy Club: This was the shining light for me this TV season . . . until NBC cancelled it, that is. But I can’t let it die without a quick obituary to the most interesting and queer-positive new show.

So what was good? First of all, the show was way more fun than I thought it would be because of its intrigue. Secondly, it was created and executive produced by the out Chad Hodge and starred out actors Amber Heard and Sean Maher (incidentally, it was being on this show that inspired Maher to come out ), and Maher’s decision to come out highlighted the challenges facing queer actors. A third reason the show was good is that it actually had queer content and two – yes, two! – queer main characters: a lesbian (bunny Alice) and her gay husband (played by Maher), who were married to hide their gayness. Plus, their storyline was about the Mattachine Society, a secret real-life gay group that existed in the 1950s and ’60s. It was so exciting to learn about that part of LGBT history and to see queer history represented on mainstream TV!

A final thing to love about the show was that it explored the ways that marginalized people come together in marginal spaces and often find community. Along with the lesbian bunny, there was an African-American bunny who was saving money to own her own land. It was neat to see the exploration of race, sexuality and women’s roles in the workplace on a fun and engaging show.

The news is, fortunately, not all bad, unlike the cancellations for H8R, How to Be a Gentleman and Free Agents. The Playboy Club may find new life on Bravo.

What are your favourite and least favourite new shows so far? What premieres are you still looking forward to? I’m excited for Once Upon a Time.

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  1. Titus Androgynous on Thursday 20, 2011

    The only new show I’ve decided to DVR is Prime Suspect. I really like Maria Bello and although I’m pretty tired of police procedurals, I’m a sucker for her cute hat. Too many guys though. I hope they add some more female leads. So far it does not pass the Bechdel test.

  2. [...] TV blogger Rebecca Saxon is looking forward to this one, are [...]

  3. Rebecca Saxon on Thursday 20, 2011

    Titus: Since writing this article, I’ve watched more of Prime Suspect and totally agree with you about it. I am enjoying her character more and more (and I like the cute hat too!), but, like you, I wish that every other character wasn’t male. I’d love to see her develop a close female friend, that would be a great character development arc for her. This show is staying on my DVR “to record” list!

  4. [...] cancellation of the best new female-centric shows: The Playboy Club, which I talked about at length here , and Prime Suspect (I had finally gotten into it and now I hear it’s basically cancelled). The [...]