thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Fall TV Upfronts: The Cliff’s Notes

In Television, Uncategorized on May 21, 2012 at 8:50 am

Upfront season has come and gone, like a mysterious stranger who really wants to talk to you about dystopias and dating in the big city. Below, Phoebe and Sarah chat about a few notable shows heading to a television/Hulu near you this fall. What’s your take?

The Mindy Project, Fox

Sarah T: I am torn here. Mindy Kaling is really funny — I liked Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) — and I dig the idea of her as a single, fun-loving OB/GYN in the big city. But the trailer makes the show look as if it’s going to embrace a pretty mainstream rom-com idea about What Women Want, you know what I mean? Like there’s going to be a lot of jokes about buying shoes and the impossibility of having it all. And that is fine, I guess, but I have higher hopes for Kaling. (Although her comedic persona is kind of about doing a twist on those tropes, so maybe this is actually what I should have expected.) Anyway, I’ll definitely give at least the pilot a shot, if only to see how many sparkly dresses she can wear in one episode.

Phoebe: I am intrigued by Kaling’s show and actually thought the trailer was quite funny. I do see the potential pitfalls of embracing the mainstream romantic comedy situation, but at least the preview felt like it was super self-conscious about its genre and will play with it, which could be quite fun and intriguing. And dating when you work a lot, in a city and in general, is hilarious and weird and hard and I think this show might be a fun take on it. Plus, Kaling is running her own show!

Mistresses, ABC

Sarah T: As with The Mindy Project (but more so) I feel like this might be pretty generic. If last fall was the season of the indie girl (Zooey D, Kat Denning et al) is this fall a return to Sex and the City-style womanhood? Or is this just a generalization one somewhat cranky recapper is drawing from two examples? Whooo’s to say? In principle, the show looks like it’ll have several things going for it: I’m excited that Yunjin Kim (the actress who played Sun on Lost) is back rocking the small screen, the cast looks pretty diverse, and the show seems like it’s going to a) celebrate women who enjoy and want sex rather than judge them and b) focus on their friendships with each other. Props for all of that. I just hope it is not boring! (It seems like it might be a little boring.)

Phoebe: I am intrigued by this show for the reasons that Sarah mentions: the diversity of the cast, the sex, and the friendships between women. Also, I’m pleased to see Phoebe Haliwell (from Charmed) back on TV again. This show feels delightfully ABC with all its beautiful people, shiny surfaces, bright colors, and wealthy people in nice houses. This will add to ABC’s women driven line-up that already includes GCB, Revenge, Scandal, and formerly Desperate Housewives. But, I do agree with Sarah that it looks like it could get a little boring. But here’s hoping it doesn’t!

Nashville, ABC

Sarah T: One January day a year and a half ago, Phoebe, Chelsea B. and I gathered to see a magical little film called Country Strong. We drank wine and laughed and cried and found it more moving than we were expecting. I’m also pretty sure that was the night that Phoebe and I decided to start a blog together — the very one you are reading at this moment! (Is that right Phoebes?) Now comes a show that looks like Country Strong BUT BETTER because it stars Connie Britton, aka Tami Taylor, aka All-Time Winner of the Best Mom/Wife/Principal/Counselor/Mentor/Actress On the Planet award. I am so excited. Britton will be a superhero as always, Hayden Panettiere looks like she knows how to play a brat, political intrigue is always fun, and oh, there will be singing.

Phoebe: Two words: Tami Taylor (or those could be Connie Britton). I will watch ANYTHING with her. I tried American Horror Story and was too scared/creeped out by it, so now I’m pumped for her return to network primetime. Also, I do sort of love country music and shows about music and with singing. And this show even has political intrigue and scandal built into it, another thing I love so much.

666 Park Avenue, ABC

Sarah T: I’m pretty sure this show is just an elaborate joke about Manhattan real estate, right? “You think Hades is bad? Try getting a decent rental without a broker!” “I’d sell my soul for a view of the park.” Etc.

Phoebe: I could not agree more! This looks a) terrible and b) like the Keanu Reeve’s movie from the 1990s, The Devil’s Advocate but about real estate.  I think I will have to pass on this one.

Revolution, NBC

Sarah: AHH WHAT HAPPENED WHERE DID  THE POWER GO? I’m such a sucker for these high-concept dramas a la Lost. This totally might not work — Terra Firma didn’t work, Flash Forward didn’t work — but if it does work, I am so in. The environmental lit side of me is pumped to see how the show envisions a world without electricity; I love those stunning shots of the skyscrapers overgrown with greenery. The dystopia-loving side of me can’t wait to see how mankind has dealt with the disaster. And the crossbow-loving part of me is happy to see some crossbows. Let’s do this!

Phoebe: So, unlike Sarah I am not often into this brand of futuristic high-concept drama … BUT the preview looks pretty fun. And, what I am into are dystopias and environmentally conscious TV and film texts (and of course things with a mystery, which this certainly has). I too love the shots of urban spaces covered in greenery, or the car with plants where the engine used to be. And, I love the notion of this female (perhaps Katniss-lyke) heroine guiding the revolution. I am definitely curious about where the energy went! Also, what is that pendant? And why can it turn on lights? Lastly, I  will be interested to see what the show does in terms of race in this dystopic future, given that in the preview the only people of color I see are in the militias (the bad guys), rather than the resistance (the show’s heroes).

Infamous, NBC

Phoebe: I am not sure how to feel about this show, mostly because this preview is not that great. But, I will most likely watch the show since this is totally the kind of show I like with its sense of mystery and scandal. In fact, it feels like NBC’s stab at ABC’s hit from last season, Revenge. But, I am also intrigued since it appears from the preview that the show stars two people of color as leads (either married or police partners or neither but I couldn’t really tell their relationship from the preview).

Sarah: Yeah, I think this looks like Revenge with more attention to race and class — which is totally up my alley! Particularly since the undercover detective (Meagan Good) has ties to the socialite family at the center of the murder. Her mother was a maid for the family, and the victim is her childhood friend. I’ll tune in to check it out for sure.

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