Now what do we watch?
February 12, 2011 11:19 AM   Subscribe

What (non-SFF show) should a friend and I watch together? Long story arcs and funny, not murder-of-the-week shows.

We both liked: Veronica Mars, 6 Feet Under, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls.
Only I liked: Buffy, other Whedon stuff, the Wire.
Only she liked: Sex in the City, Being Erica.
Neither of us liked: Big Love.
We both got bored with: How I Met Your Mother, Pushing Daisies, Party Down.

She is somewhat uninterested in British shows but is willing to give them a chance. She is not willing to watch SFF, so no recommendations for Farscape/Babylon 5/Being Human (I have seen all the newWho/Torchwood/BSG stuff, and I got bored with Eureka). I am reasonably open to any genre. Not anything particularly heavy or that take a few episodes to hook you (sorry, Parks & Recreation, I hear you are better now but I can't be bothered).

A big plus for clever dialogue. Probably most primetime US shows one of us already watches or has given up on. I'd like something where there are already a few seasons, ideally.
posted by jeather to Media & Arts (42 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Freaks & Geeks and Arrested Development come to mind, though the story arcs aren't wildly long (that seems uncommon for shows that are funny).
posted by drpynchon at 11:23 AM on February 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

ER? Sopranos is missing from the list, although I'm not entirely sure how female-friendly the show is.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:29 AM on February 12, 2011

How about Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development, and 30 Rock?

If you guys can handle intense violence, I also recommend Deadwood. It's not a comedy but has hilarious moments.

Also, seriously Parks & Rec has gotten HILARIOUS. Also, The Office is a great show! Just go straight to the American version since your friend isn't into the Brits. I will say, though... it IS funny and engaging from the beginning, but it doesn't become amazing until a bit into it.
posted by hansbrough at 11:30 AM on February 12, 2011

Sorry to repeat your suggestions, drpynchon. That's what I get for not previewing :(
posted by hansbrough at 11:31 AM on February 12, 2011

Have you watched Community? Because I think the dialog on that is the smartest and funniest stuff on TV right now. I'm making my boyfriend watch it and he thinks it is too smart for tv and I've never heard him laugh this much.

Slings & Arrows is Canadian and fantastic and really really funny, especially if you like the more sarcastic/dry humor of VM and Wonderfalls without going to the British.
posted by magnetsphere at 11:33 AM on February 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

The state within
posted by mulligan at 11:35 AM on February 12, 2011

posted by synecdoche at 11:36 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

For clever dialogue it's hard to beat Gilmore Girls.
posted by libraryhead at 11:46 AM on February 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

I get the impression that you like contemporary shows that have story arcs and character development, rather then more stand-alone episodes a la Law & Order, CSI, sitcoms, but also prefer shows that are not too hardcore or gritty. Is that a good assessment?

I would try Friday Night Lights and Weeds (up to about season 4).

Since you listed Being Erica, I'm going to guess you are Canadian and also recomment The Border. Intelligence was another really amazing Canadian show, but it had some of the flavor of The Wire, so she might not like it.

Burn Notice is a mix of arc and episodic stories, but it's not strong on character development. It is fun, though.

I haven't watched it in a long time, but it seems like you might also like Northern Exposure.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:46 AM on February 12, 2011

If you're looking for clever dialogue, you want The West Wing. (And the pilot is fantastic, so no worries about taking a while to get into it!)
posted by cider at 11:48 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We both liked Freaks & Geeks and Arrested Development (forgot to mention them), I've seen Sopranos, Slings & Arrows (yes! I want exactly like this show again!), she's seen Community, and I tried both The Office and 30 Rock to no interest. We've both watched ER and Gilmore Girls in the past, too. Season 1 of Damages was excellent, but I got bored afterwards. Same with In Treatment.

We'll consider Parks & Recreation, but a show with more episodes already out would be better.

I'm thinking British mostly because it is likeliest that there will be an interesting or funny show that neither of us has seen. Spooks?
posted by jeather at 11:50 AM on February 12, 2011

Better Off Ted - although it was canceled after 2 seasons.
posted by Sassyfras at 11:52 AM on February 12, 2011 [5 favorites]

  • Justified (FX) is great, and just started its second season. It's not a comedy, but definitely has its funny moments.

  • Chuck (NBC) is a comedic show with both "mission of the week" and season-long story arcs.

    You mention dialogue; you should look into Aaron Sorkin's comedies. Sportsnight and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip were both relatively short-lived, but you might like them. The latter used to be available on Hulu but seems to have disappeared.

  • posted by axiom at 11:53 AM on February 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

    I was just coming to plug The West Wing myself. My boyfriend and I have watched all of Buffy, Angel, BSG, he loved Dead Like Me (I haven't seen it). I love Six Feet Under (he hasn't seen it) and we both got bored with Pushing Daisies also.

    Now we're going through The West Wing. Bonus points for the politically philosophical discussions it almost inevitably sparks. Weeds is good but the characters are terrible people and get worse as the show goes on - so if you didn't like Big Love I don't know if you'll like that either. I think you're both looking for beloved characters you'll really root for, from the shows you both like. You won't get that with Weeds.
    posted by pazazygeek at 11:54 AM on February 12, 2011

    Oh! And you both might like Spaced!
    posted by pazazygeek at 11:55 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

    Currently on: Community, Chuck, Castle, Modern Family. And Cougartown has a shitty title but some of the best comedic dialog out there.

    DVD: Better off Ted, Arrested Development, The OC (yes, really, especially the first season, third season notsomuch), Freaks & Geeks/Undeclared.
    posted by zombieflanders at 11:57 AM on February 12, 2011

    Another vote for "Friday Night Lights". Don't dismiss it because it appears to be about football. I neither like or understand the game and I think FNL is one of the best TV dramas I've ever watched.
    posted by AmbroseChapel at 11:57 AM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

    Oh, and for British shows: Coupling, The Office UK, The IT Crowd, Green Wing
    posted by zombieflanders at 11:58 AM on February 12, 2011

    "Life, Unexpected" might suit you, although sadly it's been cancelled.
    posted by AmbroseChapel at 11:59 AM on February 12, 2011

    I would try Friday Night Lights and Weeds (up to about Season 4)

    Agree on both shows, but with Weeds I would watch seasons one and two and skip to the latest one. It had some real problems in seasons three and four.
    posted by rtimmel at 12:01 PM on February 12, 2011

    If you like spy shows, Alias is very good, although the later seasons get a bit muddled, mythology-wise.
    posted by colfax at 12:13 PM on February 12, 2011

    Coupling for the win on British shows.
    posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:15 PM on February 12, 2011

    Eastbound and Down.
    posted by jeffamaphone at 12:39 PM on February 12, 2011

    Modern Family?
    posted by raccoon409 at 12:57 PM on February 12, 2011

    I loved This Life about a hundred million years ago on BBC - don't know if you'll be able to track it down, tho.

    Also on BBC, I thought Life On Mars was effing fantastic!

    Also, previously.
    posted by jbenben at 1:43 PM on February 12, 2011

    I'm currently re-watching DeadWood, which I can not not not say enough good things about.
    posted by jbenben at 1:44 PM on February 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

    Justified needs another vote (Timothy Olyphant from Deadwood, which was also suggested). If you can get past the Zombie violence - we loved The Walking Dead and share a similar interest in Six Feet Under and Breaking Bad.

    Dexter has wonderful, deep and twisted character development.

    If you can vote for a British show - suggest Cold Feet. It's an older series that seems similar to Six Feet Under as I'm remembering.
    posted by Mrs_Eep at 1:45 PM on February 12, 2011

    I don't see any particular rhyme or reason to the shows you guys like/dislike/semi-like/can't be bothered with. So it's hard to predict what you'd like.

    Maybe just... go on Netflix, Hulu, and the usual suspects and watch shows till you figure it out?

    If I had to make stabs in the dark, I'd suggest Community, Archer, the British Office, Downton Abbey, and Prime Suspect if you can get it (not available streaming anywhere, as far as I know). Maybe Californication?
    posted by Sara C. at 1:51 PM on February 12, 2011

    Nurse Jackie, too, if you're open to things you have to get the DVD's for.
    posted by Sara C. at 1:55 PM on February 12, 2011

    A bit older, but incredibly good: Sports Night. I hate sports, but this show is actually not about sports-- it's about the production of a TV show about sports, and it was written by Aaron Sorkin, who writes better dialogue than pretty much anyone else in the world. Also, one of the main characters is played by the actor who plays Nate on 6 Feet Under.
    posted by dizziest at 2:24 PM on February 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

    Yeah, Sports Night is the missing link between The West Wing (also a Sorkin show) and Six Feet Under (Peter Krause's real break-out).
    posted by Sara C. at 2:46 PM on February 12, 2011

    Nthing the West Wing. It had clever dialogue masterfully delivered, and could turn on a dime between hilarity and sentiment like few shows since. What's more, it's amazing refreshing to watch a show with such adult themes (adult as in grown up, not naked.)

    One of those shows since? Terriers. One of the best things on TV in years, I'm still pissed it only lasted for one season. Don't let that dissuade you, though -- the show doesn't end feeling unfinished. It ends satisfyingly, as if it intended on being a 13-episode mini-series.
    posted by patnasty at 2:58 PM on February 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

    I was coming in here to recommend Sports Night. It was brilliant.
    posted by biscotti at 4:13 PM on February 12, 2011

    Trailer Park Boys is a funny show with some longer story arcs. It's Canadian. I loved it.
    posted by frecklefaerie at 4:40 PM on February 12, 2011

    posted by willnot at 4:52 PM on February 12, 2011

    Glee! It has it's moments of suck, but I love it.
    posted by spinifex23 at 5:05 PM on February 12, 2011

    I'm backing up willnot's suggestion of Terriers. Yes there are crimes of the week, including a murders, but they're all in service of the full season/series story arc. Plus, even more than plot, the series is about characters and how they grow and change and deal with the circumstances of life. I'm really sorry that the show never got a second season.

    Also, as a fellow Canadian, I really, really, really strongly have to recommend The Republic of Doyle. It takes about half of the first season to really warm up and find its feet, but after that it's all a rollicking joyride. The creator, Allan Hawco, said he wanted to create a Rockford Files vibe. It's another show where the crime is less important than the way the main charcters relate to each other.
    posted by sardonyx at 6:33 PM on February 12, 2011

    the new BBC modern Sherlock Holmes!!!
    posted by raw sugar at 9:59 PM on February 12, 2011

    Sort of outside the request, but going by what you have seen/liked, you should seek out the miniseries/pilot "Virtuality"- It is a Ron Moore (BSG) project, a pilot, he did for fox, didn't get picked up (could fox keep a winner if they tried?), intriguing nonetheless, and stands alone also. Regenesis (Canadian made, medical/scienc-y). House. Survivors from the BBC?
    Life on Mars a little time travel setup, mixed with crime investigation (there is a US version as well as the previously mentioned BBC). Californication? The (loved by many) Duchovney (his character has a tragicomic tone to it... but he plays a fairly obnoxious guy, if you can handle that, Entourage may be funny). Yeah, West Wing. Dexter.

    Hundredthing Modern Family. Community. Big Bang Theory. Also, Fringe, sciencfictiony, but approachable characters.

    You haven't seen funny British TV till you see The Mighty Boosh. Seeing your followup comment, definitely check out the mighty boosh.
    posted by infinite intimation at 10:21 PM on February 12, 2011

    Other british shows (hard to find here so you might have to buy the dvds):
    Teachers (interesting and funny drama about teachers and students at a public high school)
    The Inbetweeners (hilarious often dirty humor about an endearing group of schoolboys)
    posted by rmless at 6:24 AM on February 13, 2011

    Sports Night
    Gilmore Girls, and then Parenthood if you like Lauren Graham
    The Big Bang Theory
    Joan of Arcadia
    posted by JoannaC at 7:19 AM on February 13, 2011

    If you liked Slings and Arrows, you should also check out Made in Canada.
    posted by jacquilynne at 7:00 AM on February 15, 2011

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