The Overlooked and Underappreciated TV of 2013

Grantland Illustration The Year in Overlooked TV

The best-of lists for TV in 2013 will be populated with your Breaking Bads, your Game of Throneses, your Orange Is the New Blacks. So our staff put together a list of shows that were overlooked and/or underappreciated to offer you a look at what we were watching when we weren’t watching the things everyone else was watching. These are the shows deeper down the channel guide, or piling up in your DVR, or maybe sitting unseen in your Netflix queue. We have plenty of time to talk about Walter White. Let’s celebrate the littler guys. Not everybody has a cool hat and a meth empire.

Nathan for You

Sean Fennessey: Ostensibly, Nathan for You is pitched as a parody of the sort of business-fixing programming that TLC, the Food Network, and others have used to fill countless hours. Nathan Fielder, a mild-mannered comedian from Vancouver, visits various places of business in the Los Angeles area — a yogurt shop, a pizza parlor, most thrillingly, a gas station — to supply creative solutions to said establishment’s lagging capital. That’s not really what this show is about.

Fielder isn’t just making parodic segments mocking his subjects and their woeful careers. He’s subverting the expectation of everyone who engages with the segments — the participants, the viewers, and often himself. That he enters every situation without a clear sense of where it’s going, and how far it’ll take him, is most of the fun. Comedy is typically about the illusion of anarchy — the fear that anything can happen, even if it’s happening under the auspices of control.

I don’t want to oversell how hard Fielder’s tightly coiled anarchy makes me laugh. Nothing’s worse than someone starting a conversation with, “I’ve got a funny story for you.” But I can’t reel in this sort of joy: I was not happier this year than I was when Nathan for You was really working. The clever-naif persona, the oxford-clad style, and the boyish presentation are an obvious construct for Fielder. Trust him, they say. He’s a nice boy. But don’t trust him. To say more about this show would ruin it. Just watch.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

Andy Greenwald: For over a decade we’ve lauded television for showing us unimaginable new worlds, introducing us to fascinating cultures and uncomfortable points of view, and revealing the humanity hidden within crusty, anti-heroic leads. If we really cared about these things — I mean, really, really cared! — then Tony Bourdain would be as significant as Tony Soprano. Parts Unknown, on CNN of all places, is the third Bourdainian iteration of what has essentially been one uninterrupted global ramble. After just two seasons, it has also become the best.

Thanks to the crack shots at Zero Point Zero Production, Bourdain’s shows have long been the best-looking things on television. This is partly due to the glorious, eye-popping HD — yes, everything is shot in HD now, but tons of people play guitar, too, and not everyone can make it sound like Hendrix — but also due to the committed, artistic point of view of those operating the camera. (Film nerds could have a field day parsing the influence of each episode, from the Coppola homages in Sydney to what looked like Gaspar Noé–y nihilism in Tokyo.) Parts Unknown takes the wide-screen, often-cinematic perspective of Bourdain and his crew and throws open the doors of possibility. Thanks to CNN’s planetary footprint, there’s no place that’s off-limits to them, from the walled-off backstreets of Yangon to the heart of darkness beating inside the Congo. And, thanks to whatever sweetheart deal network president Jeff Zucker offered up to lure Bourdain from Travel Channel, no subject is forbidden either, be it the inner workings of Korean Los Angeles or the extremes of Japanese tentacle porn.

There were 16 episodes of Parts Unknown this calendar year. All of them were worthwhile, and some were extraordinary. Bourdain himself has become such a trustworthy guide — always inquisitive, occasionally hungover, and, despite his undeserved rep, never cynical — that the broadest shows are as effective as the most personal. The hour on Jerusalem was one of the more remarkable and even-handed explorations of that divided city that I’ve ever seen, at once a celebration of food and culture and a mournful kaddish for an impossible situation. Closer to home, the season finale shot in Detroit was a bruised and beautiful ode to one of America’s greatest cities, a place that seems stuck between death and resurrection. Wherever he goes, Bourdain — who came on my podcast recently to discuss his journeys — knows enough to ask questions and never presume he knows the answers.

Yes, Bourdain does still curse a lot and, after hundreds of hours of television, often repeats himself. (At this point, even the most strident vegetarian in the audience knows the proper way to eat a shrimp involves sucking out the brains like a starving zombie.) Parts Unknown is still ostensibly a food show, probably the best ever produced in the way it embraces high and low cuisine with the same respectfully voracious appetite. (Don’t believe me? Watch the hour built around chef René Redzepi, the visionary chef behind Copenhagen’s Noma. There’s food porn and then there’s culinary erotica.) But all the dining out is just a way — the best way, really — to get closer inside the subjects. Plenty of series, scripted and otherwise, presume to investigate the Way We Live Now. To its great credit, Parts Unknown is generally unconcerned with that sort of navel-gazing. Instead, it looks outward. It’s the rare show that’s genuinely passionate about the way others live — and how that inevitably and inextricably loops back to us.

RuPaul’s Drag Race

Emily Yoshida: Is RuPaul’s Drag Race the best competition show left standing? With every passing season the little cult hit that could has grown slowly but surely in popularity and mainstream critical recognition, stealing the wigs right off the shows it parodies (a pinch of Project Runway here, a dash of America’s Next Top Model there) and blenderizing their graying conventions into campy froth. The secret of its flawlessly bronze-airbrushed legs may just be its infectious positivity: RuPaul’s Drag Race takes all the cattiness and vanity we’re used to seeing on every show from The Bachelor to Top Chef and turns it inside out, always slyly needling the very notion of seeking validation from a reality show while still providing plenty of heroines and villainesses to root for and against. The queens may read each other to filth, but by the end of every hour the music plays and everyone dances, as if to spiritually wash away any hard feelings that may have lingered. And as a host and mentor, Ru is by turns hilarious, honest, warm, and inspiring. Was this the best season of RPDR ever? No (that would be last year’s fourth season, which had audiences gagging on an embarrassment of wonderful, memorable characters), but it boasted plenty of moments to write home about, from the absurd pageant-girl beef between Coco Montrese and Alyssa Edwards, to winner Jinkx Monsoon’s show-stealing performance as Little Edie from Grey Gardens in the perennial season highlight Snatch Game. Though this season ended with its first-ever live finale and a heated rivalry between finalists Jinkx and Roxxxy Andrews, it’s never really been about who wins or loses, but how you run the Drag Race. And this season, as always, that has been with unparalleled realness.

Getting On

Alex Pappademas: So what was the elevator pitch on this one, you think? “Like Enlightened, but with less sunshine and more bedpans”? “Charlie Kaufman’s The Golden Girls“? Or maybe — as my podcast partner Wesley Morris put it after the pilot — “the Dogme Orange Is the New Black“? No matter how you describe Getting On, it sounds already-canceled. But on paper, “Doctors kill time between surgeries in a Korean War field hospital” doesn’t seem like a slam-dunk comedic premise either.

I know it’s early to start throwing M*A*S*H comparisons around. But I’ll do what I have to do to convince you to watch this bleakly funny — or, since HBO needs all the pull-quote help it can get, “Funny!” — almost-sitcom about the frazzled, bickering staff of a Long Beach geriatric ward full of dying people. The writing — by Big Love creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, adapting an acclaimed but short-lived British show — is that good. So is the cast, a mix of relative unknowns (led by Alex Borstein from Mad TV and Family Guy, who plays head nurse Dawn as a careworn, thwarted Snow White) and good actors who rarely get great pitches to hit, including Laurie Metcalf and Niecy Nash. It’s only been four episodes, but I’m going to have trouble saying good-bye to these characters if a second season doesn’t happen, so here’s some more hyperbole: This black-humored ensemble piece about cranky but well-meaning individuals struggling to overcome a heartless, broken institution and their own pettiness in order to do right by their fellow humans is like The Wire taking on the health care system. Only better. And with more poop jokes.

Billy on the Street

Mark Lisanti: Is Billy Eichner a genius? Genius is a word we tend to throw around carelessly, but it would not feel at all misapplied if we were to say that Billy Eichner is a genius at harassing people on the street. He and his guerrilla crew roll up on unsuspecting victims on the sidewalks of Manhattan, and before they have any hope of knowing what hit them, a microphone-toting maniac in a blue T-shirt has already engaged them in a man-on-fire fight about Denzel Washington’s résumé, or in a lightning-round demand to name any three white people in the world, or about the relative fuckabilty of Buzz Lightyear and Greta Gerwig. For their vanishingly short time being buffeted by Hurricane Billy, they might receive a single American dollar, or a hastily drawn sketch of Oprah Winfrey. They might have a brief encounter with Debra Messing that begins with the shouted introduction that now contractually precedes Debra Messing into any public space, “It’s Debra Messing, you gays!” They might witness genius. They might watch genius streak past them, leaving behind a microphone cord like a contrail, because no, they didn’t care that was Spock.

What?!: I Think I’m an Animal

Tess Lynch: Logo may have been launched as an LGBT lifestyle station, but in the past year it’s branched out into broader programming (though the appeal of RuPaul’s Drag Race is pretty universal). Logo has been a gold mine of topics for the Girls in Hoodies podcast, in particular its documentary series What?! MTV’s doc-twin True Life has been an old time-suck staple (where did yesterday go? Oh, I know, it was eaten by “My Dad’s a Bro”), but What?! has floated to the top like fine documentary cream with its feature on Bronies and the episode featured above, exploring the world of Otherkin (people who identify as animals).

Like True Life, What?! doesn’t aim to exploit its subjects or skeeve you out for watching. It’s fairly respectful, more like a “What?! Who cares?” than a “What?! … are you doing?” In college, I took a class taught by a woman who was married, in a formal ceremony, to poetry. I silently made fun of her for years, but now — What?! — having watched people explain their animism, I feel like a dick about that. Like the feel-good Drag Race, Logo’s series hooks you with a sensational pitch and then gently introduces you to characters you’d previously thought were just crazy.

Oh, and there are super-tiny horses. You can’t get those on Hello Ladies.

The Goldbergs

Steven Hyden: If you watch the ABC sitcom The Goldbergs — not saying you should, just if you do — you probably have the same complaint that I do. Now, I should preface this by conceding that a regular watcher of The Goldbergs has no right to complain. It’s a thoroughly mediocre TV show that I inexcusably watch every week. But if you’ll indulge me: The Goldbergs is basically The Wonder Years set in the 1980s, only it’s not set during a specific year in the ’80s. It’s just set in “the ’80s” like your stupidest annual workplace party is set in “the ’80s.” The show acts as if Tron were popular at the same time as The Legend of Zelda, which (if you are very, very old) is (at best) highly distracting and (at worst) just plain lazy. In an interview with Vulture, the show’s creator, Adam Goldberg, pulled an explanation for this directly out of his backside: “So the writers started going, ‘Okay, we have an undependable narrator.’ And we played with that: Maybe he’s remembering things wrong, maybe he’s exaggerating. He’s probably mixing up things in the A and B story line. So we decided to set in ‘1980-something.’” Huh, so I’m supposed to believe The Goldbergs is Faulkneresque, eh?

I have a better theory: The Goldbergs isn’t merely set in the ’80s, it is of the ’80s, in the sense that it is precisely the sort of predictable, chintzy, just-watchable-enough sitcom comfort food that formed the foundation of prime-time television 30-ish years ago. I actually mean this as a compliment — Goldberg is like the Todd Haynes of TGIF. He understands that authentically shitty family sitcoms of the ’80s are predicated on one family member offending another, and each episode is resolved only once the offender and the offendee come to a puddle-deep mutual understanding. This was the dynamic between Mike and Carol Seaver, Tony Micelli and Angela Bower, Michelle Tanner and everybody in the Tanner household, and so on. And it’s the basis of every episode of The Goldbergs — conflict is created, feelings are hurt, hugs are dispensed, the end. I’m kind of amazed that a network sitcom like this can still exist in 2013 (and that fascinates me), though maybe I shouldn’t be.

Million Dollar Listing

netw3rk: We New Yorkers have complicated relationship with our apartments. Acquiring one is a multi-level sojourn through various existential tortures and their requisite fees: sketchy brokers, nosy co-op boards, paranoid landlords, and extortionist moving companies. We live with the shadow of that process looming over us day and night, understanding that someday — maybe soon — we will have to move, again. There are successful, white-collar professionals in this city who live in sub-legal drywall hovels carved out of foyers, and they pay handsomely for the privilege. Whenever I’m visiting family in rural Michigan, I pick up a local weekly and groan at the sight of non–New York rents. $800!? FOR A HOUSE!?!? Invariably, upon entering the home of a friend, coworker, or acquaintance for the first time, a New Yorker will wind up asking: “So, if you don’t mind, what do you pay? How did you find this place?” We are always on the lookout for that next landing spot, for any shortcut or quasi-legit technique to streamline that inevitable move.

So, maybe it’s because of that existential New York moving dread that I ended up getting sucked into every episode of Season 2 of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York reality show and the exploits of its three stars: Frederik, the Swedish ex-porn model; Ryan, the onetime daytime soap actor; and Luis, the bouffant-ified Puerto Rican up-and-comer. The show pits Ryan against Frederik as the young lions of the New York real estate scene, with Luis as the scrappy striver trying to make his name. The show’s clashes run the gamut from dick-swinging, que es mas macho displays of male territorial dominance — witness Frederik pouring a matcha tea over Luis’s head at a rooftop cafe after Luis complained about being screwed out of a commission — to petty high school–level cattiness, like when Ryan snuck a clip from Frederik’s porn past into a video shown at an open house attended by a bevy of New York brokers, including Frederik.

All the while, Ryan, Frederik, and Luis stalk the city in immaculate suits that cost more than my rent and sell apartments that my bosses’ bosses probably couldn’t dream about owning. Maybe this show isn’t for you, but I’m a New Yorker, and after I’m done perusing houses for rent in Bennington, Vermont, on Craigslist, I like swinging to the opposite end of the real estate fantasy spectrum to watch yuppies scrap for multimillion-dollar deals while arguing about tile and exposed brick.

Talking Bad

John Lopez: While plenty have eulogized the brilliant end of Breaking Bad, I’d like to pay tribute to another shooting star whose short tenure lit our plasma screens in 2013: Talking Bad. Granted, you could view it as just a manifestation of AMC’s flop sweat as its lease on dramatic originality runs out: a cynical schedule-filler derived from Talking Dead (a far more masochistic ritual of fan worship) whose most transparent purpose was to get us to stick around for Low Winter Sun. But I have to admit I stuck around. Whether intentional or not, it was at least therapeutic and sometimes even fun.

First and most important: Talking Bad was a hell of a lot shorter than Talking Dead. At a brisk 30 minutes, AMC managed to pack in just the right mix of guest stars, fan Q&As, and self-promotion before it got hopelessly tiresome. And, although his enthusiasm can strike me as 10 percent ax murderer, you must concede that Chris Hardwick is a genuine fan. As I failed to process all the gut-wrenching twists and turns, it was a comfort to watch him dangle there with me. And he wasn’t the only one: The celebrity guests were a hoot to watch, from Julie Bowen’s near-cannibalistic embrace of Vince Gilligan to Don Cheadle’s über-intense moral analysis to Sam Jackson’s very presence. That’s right, only on Talking Bad could you see the coolest motherfucker in the room geek out like a Comic-Con groupie. But above all, Talking Bad was the Viking funeral we needed as our beloved Breaking Bad family rode off into the sunset. It helped me honor the loss of ASAC Schrader and my beloved Gomey; and when Anna Gunn got misty onstage after the finale, yep, so did I.

Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell

Zach Dionne: I will miss you forever, Totally Biased. That progressive, intersectional cocktail of real talk about race, gender, and sexuality, those outrageous/educational man-on-the-street segments, the interviews with everyone from Neil deGrasse Tyson to Sarah Silverman to Orange Is the New Black’s Laverne Cox — we needed that. I didn’t even care that W. Kamau Bell was still working out the kinks of hosting and interviewing — part of the fun of tuning in was seeing how this essential endeavor could eventually outgrow the Daily Show comparisons and become its own beloved beast. And then the weekly FX series moved to FXX, got upped to five nights a week, and died after 10 weeks of abysmal ratings. Now I turn to YouTube clips, wait for an unlikely box set, and weep for our future.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Dan Fierman: When I was growing up, back in the Pliocene era — a time of Super Mario Bros. and cassingles, the Noid and glasnost — my generation was the first beneficiary of a glorious money-minting operation called syndication. It was through the magic of syndication that we watched Three’s Company and Taxi, that we first learned the story of a lovely lady and discovered the one place where everyone knows your name. The whole world of older sitcoms was pried open and we were able to mine back catalogues for favorites and forgotten gems.

And for me, and a few lunatics like me, there was no greater show, no funnier sitcom, nothing that better and more sweetly utilized the angry undertones and nutso edges of New York City than Night Court. It’s the secret great sitcom of the era, and we have not seen its likes since.

Until this year.

It’s not just that Brooklyn Nine-Nine shares surface similarities: the public-service setting. The jokers who are secretly good at what they do. The horn dogs, weirdos, and freaks banging together and making the world a better place. No. Cocreators Dan Goor and Mike Schur (an occasional Grantland contributor) have finally crafted a second sitcom that mines the darker realities of New York for WARM comedy instead of the barely sublimated nastiness of Seinfeld, utopian fantasies of Friends, or the ongoing neurotic breakdown of something like Girls. As someone who loves New York and has genuine affection for the people who actually live there, I find this to be the most remarkable achievement of all. Even more remarkable than actually making me enjoy watching Andy Samberg.

Mind of a Chef

Amos Barshad: I didn’t grow up watching food on TV, so I’m not really all that wistful about it. I’m certainly surprised by how what was once a “gentle-mist shower head” kind of entertainment has mutated into some freakish, clomping “stuck-on-the-machine-gun-setting shower head” type of thing. But I have no objections. IMHO, watching the dude from Man vs. Food pummeling a leering nacho mountain into his brain cavities is really quite a great way to spend seven minutes.

But if you are looking for something, um, you know, a bit more refined, or whatever, Mind of a Chef is here for you. The first season was hosted by David Chang, a rougher, scrappier genius chef/TV personality than perhaps we are accustomed to (the show ended up on PBS only after, as Chang explained to the New York Times, “We got turned down by everybody [else]”). But counterintuitively, that’s what made him great onscreen: as goofy, huffing, or drunk as he could be while palling around in Tokyo subway ramen shops or San Sebastian tapas holes-in-the-walls, he always demonstrated, once it got down to the kitchen craft, a love and natural facility that immediately explained his bountiful real-world success.

Season 2 has two new chefs — Sean Brock of Charleston, South Carolina’s Husk and April Bloomfield of New York City’s the Spotted Pig and the Breslin — who trade off episodes. And while Chang is missed, the vibe, thankfully, is in their veins. Take Bloomfield: She’s got two Michelin stars and probably Jay Z’s cell phone number, but she’s not nearly above going the obvious-sexual-innuendo route while handling cased meats. Also: Anthony Bourdain narrates, and his voice is sonorous enough for inclusion on those Sharper Image soothing-nature-sound CD compilations.

Ink Master

Shea Serrano: Here is the first line Wikipedia has for Ink Master, an American reality competition on Spike in which tattoo artists compete in challenges assessing their tattoo and related artistic skills:

Ink Master is an American reality competition on Spike in which tattoo artists compete in challenges assessing their tattoo and related artistic skills.”

That’s it. Really. That’s all it is. It’s entirely linear and almost always predictable. The contestants are all given a particular style of a tattoo that they must put on someone for that episode, they tattoo it onto a human who has willfully agreed to be tattooed, then the judges (Oliver Peck, Chris Nunez, and a vampire pretending to be Dave Navarro) look at them and say what’s wrong. After that, someone goes home. Done. There is rarely any sort of real surprise or twist thrown in. None of the contestants have ever (to the viewing audience’s knowledge, at least) slept with any of the other contestants. Nobody has ever called anybody else on the show a homophobic or racist slur. The most incendiary thing that has happened in the show’s three seasons is the side-part hairstyle that judge Nunez wore last season. And somehow it’s quietly one of the best shows on television.

I don’t know if it’s the permanence of the situation (there is no small amount of entertainment to be leached from watching someone realize that they’ve just received a very unattractive tattoo). I don’t know if it’s the economical nature with which the show is shot (contestants are put to work on some sort of “Flash Challenge,” a quick-hit contest to determine the order of the show’s “Elimination Challenge,” almost immediately after each episode begins). I don’t know if it’s the display of artistic talent (every episode is good for at least one very moving piece of work). And I don’t know if it’s the startling specificity with which the judges pull the legs off what would otherwise appear to be perfectly executed tattoos.

But I know that I can’t stop watching. And that’s really all that matters.

And also that Dave Navarro is so clearly never, ever going to age past 23 years old. He’s, like, fucking Paul Rudd but with more mascara on.

Four Courses With JB Smoove

Hua Hsu: Four Courses With JB Smoove is one of the delightful things that can happen when sports teams — or, in this case, tenants of the WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS ARENA — get their own cable channels. For most of these networks, those dormant daytime hours are spent engaging in soft-lit, hagiographic considerations of Paul O’Neill’s interiority. Four Courses hearkens back to cable TV’s shaggier, low-budget days. In the back room of some Italian restaurant, Smoove breaks bread with a revolving, Four Brothers–like cast of athletes, comedians, Black Thought from the Roots, the guy with the hats on 30 Rock. They order their food and then they argue and crack up and talk about New York back in the day. They forfeit precious nanoseconds actually chewing their food.

The conversations can start slowly, as when Colin Quinn’s late arrival occasioned a long disquisition about shepherd’s pie that nobody had the mercy to kill. But Smoove’s earnest glee at collecting these strange lineups eases the tension, and he’s unabashed about the simplest back-in-the-day questions. Rasheed Wallace talked about “cleanin’ feces up” when he worked at a nursing home while in high school; Smoove nodded along, lapping up his dessert. The anecdotes unfold at a casual, unrushed pace, as when Larry Johnson shared his all-time great story about the origins of the “Grandmama” campaign. Everyone listened intently. Sometimes in life you’re the storyteller; sometimes you’re just listening politely, spearing at your ziti, laughing a bit too deferentially at Stephen A. Smith.

Group chemistry, respecting a diverse configuration of shapes and talents, the free-flowing vibe that is the opposite of top-down dysfunction, a careful, sensitive soul at the head of the table: It feels like there’s a lesson here. Did I mention that Four Courses airs on the MSG network? Up next: New York Knicks basketball.

Pawn Shows

Molly Lambert: Sometime this year, I got addicted to pawn shop and appraisal shows on Netflix. I don’t know if it’s their recession appeal or what, but I could not stop watching, and there are seriously a million of them. They’re all just a less-stuffy Antiques Roadshow, and most of them focus on family-run businesses and the complicated but warm dynamics between people who are related and also work together. Once you watch one show, it’s inevitable that Netflix will recommend you others. So I got into History Channel’s Pawn Stars, which takes place at a Las Vegas pawn shop as the characters dig through glitter and sand for Rat Pack gold. Then there’s Cajun Pawn Stars, which is a spinoff of Pawn Stars centered on Jimmie “Big Daddy” DeRamus and his family in Alexandria, Louisiana, going through treasures like the first Jerry Lee Lewis record ever pressed. I also enjoyed Discovery Channel’s Dirty Money, about a group of New York flea market artists who make really cool furniture out of junk. Starring brothers Jimmy and John DiResta, the real gem is John DiResta’s son, a salvaging expert who expresses himself in a silent Harpo-like mode and goes by the name Ratboy. It’s like touring different American cities in the most banal way, and I love it. There’s also Hardcore Pawn on TruTV, set in Detroit around 8 Mile. Hollywood Treasure, on Syfy, is about Hollywood memorabilia and is actually my least favorite due to the anti-charisma of appraiser Joe Maddalena. Discovery’s Carfellas is exactly what it sounds like, set at Broadway Motors on Long Island, starring guys named Tommie, Mario, and Mikey D. Carfellas is probably my favorite, although I’m also a big fan of Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men, which takes place at his New Jersey comic book store, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, and focuses on four of its employees bullshitting about comics all day, basically replicating what you always liked about Kevin Smith movies, but especially Clerks — the minutiae of pop arguments you have with your friends for fun when you hang out. Once you start, there’s seriously no exiting the black hole of pawn shop shows. See you on the other side!

Fresh Meat

Juliet Litman: If you have Hulu Plus, you should be catching up with The Good Wife. Once you’re done or if you’re current, I have another recommendation. Start watching English import Fresh Meat. Even though it hasn’t gotten bus advertisements like The Wrong Mans, it’s far more addictive. It’s a comedy (more or less) about six college roommates attending the fictional Manchester Medlock University. At the start of uni (you know, as the Brits say), they end up in a dilapidated off-campus house because they are late admits. I think the show accurately depicts the English university experience, but I actually have no idea. I don’t really want to find out. That’s why I’m addicted to this show. Watching it reminds me of what it was like to watch the early seasons of Dawson’s Creek when I was 12 or 13. I can’t personally attest to the veracity of the relationships or situational high jinks, but the show represents a reality that seems plausible enough. I want to believe in these characters; I want to believe in this fictional Manchester. There’s a British take on the OTP meme, a student-professor relationship in which it’s not quite clear who is seducing whom, a fair number of road-trip episodes, and a lot of drinking at the pub. And the TV snobs will be pleased to know that the creators, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, both hail from the school of Armando Iannucci.

Once you barrel through Series 1 and 2, you will want more. Don’t worry, Fresh Meat doesn’t end with that devastating (relatively) missed connection. There is a third series! In fact, it’s currently airing on ITV4 in the U.K. Despite my weekly Google searches, I can’t determine if and when Hulu will air Series 3. But that’s why we have YouTube. There may be a few anonymous users who do a public service by uploading each episode, and I may subscribe to these random channels. You will, too, once you get hooked.

Filed Under: Breaking Bad