1. Chains Are the New Bracelets: Produced by Jenji Kohan and Sheriff Joe Arpaio, this comedy-drama follows the lives and hook-ups of America’s only female chain gang. Being shackled two-by-two at gunpoint doesn’t stop the gals at the Maricopa County Prison from getting into all sorts of steamy scrapes, including tricking their goofball gang boss into knocking up Big Leslie while the others steal sips of toilet Pinot from the water ladle. This wacky take on human misery proves that chain gangs really are just slavery by another name: Comedy!
2. Body Politic: D.C. is a cesspool of corruption, pay-offs, and lobbying … And that’s kind of all there is to this show. Truth is, it’s just a feed of actual security cams in the Capital building. But it’s enthralling. And it’s scored by Alexadre Desplat and directed by Stephen Soderberg, though we don’t know what he did since, once again, it’s just a feed of security cams. The second to last episode features a clearly drunk John Boehner trying to hit on a potted plant and Orin Hatch throwing a snow cone at Ted Cruz’s back and then pretending he didn’t do it when Cruz turns around.
3. The Plan: Before there is a killing, before there is a wire, before you can break bad … there must be a plan. The Plan is the story of Paul Dent and his team of mid-tier criminals in the famed “Palgros” section of LaGuna Beach who are planning the biggest job of the their lives. They’re also planning some smaller jobs and some remodeling of their homes and a vacation. Most of the show is them doing “pros” and “cons” lists and planning. It’s an aggressively talky show that somehow manages to keep you not exactly on the edge of your seat but the part right before the edge, I guess that’s the “middle” of your seat.
4. Beffington: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was one of the great war-time leaders of the 20th century. But he didn’t do it alone. He had a butler: Beffington. Beffington is played by one of the old guys from the Lord of the Rings movies (I didn’t feel like checking the credits). Whether it’s making sure Churchill’s thighs don’t chafe (a recurring story line) or putting his jammed jelly crisp in the polly (I didn’t ever figure out what this means), Beffington is the indispensable man behind the great man. A hit show on the BBC, seasons 1 through 4 are amazing but seasons 4 thru 15 are not good.
5. The Second Timers: A former judge and an ex-cop hook up with a former hit man for the mob and his ex-protstitute girlfriend to take down the retired head of the Galumbo Crime family and his recovering drug addict son and his ex-Scientologist wife in the industrial town of Galvry (formerly known as West Galvry).
6. Trish and Duncan: A show about a white upper middle class couple in a white upper middle class town in a white upper middle class neighborhood. Trish, a stay-at-home mom with a masters in literature and Duncan, an investment banker who’d rather be playing rock guitar, deal with their youngest kid’s ADHD and their oldest son’s battle to get into a feeder school for Yale and Harvard. In one very dramatic episode Trish and Duncan realize their sex life isn’t exactly as electric as the first time they had sex and they listen to Jack Johnson and drink Pinot noir while dealing with their own mortality. If you are even 1% ethnic you will want to shoot your TV with buck shot. If you’re not, you’ll love this heartwarming and touching look at a white upper middle class family and their “problems.”
7. 4Sight: A probably sort of interesting sci-fi type show you keep scrolling past and feel like you’ve heard good things about but just can’t bring yourself to watch right now. You’re pretty sure it’s made by the same guys who did those movies you remember liking, but honestly it just doesn’t feel like it’s in the cards for you to get to this one. Maybe if you break your leg skiing or something and you’re laid up for six weeks with nothing to do — but even then you’d probably wanna take that time to catch up on old episodes of Coach so you’re all up to speed for the reboot. That’s still happening, right?
8. Chaps: This western isn’t your Father’s western. Because you Father probably grew up watching Unforgiven, Outlaw Josse Wales, and The Long Riders. This show goes back to the 1950s western where their clothes were way too clean and they sang songs and their hair was cut to the decade the movie was shot. Episode one shows our hero, The Lolipop Kid, having a shootout with Black Tom and then singing to his horse. It’s gripping, meta, and your 100-year-old great grandfather will love it. As a bonus, each episode starts with film of the week’s top news stories and a call to invest in war bonds.