Crochet telly
July 22, 2013 6:39 AM   Subscribe

I've just finished Desperate Housewives, which was the perfect show for lunchtime crocheting. Looking for a replacement which has the same qualities I enjoyed in that show - and bonus points if it's something 80s or 90s that I was too young/British to see first time out!

So, I ended up watching all eight seasons because:
- it's fairly light - light enough for me not to miss stitches or plotlines - but still had dramatic moments - the mixture of drama and comedy was great.
- it was ridiculous at times but, crucially, knew it was over the top, and played it campy rather than dumb
- strong female characters, who were in some way relatable (which puts me off SATC) even when the plot was far-fetched
- it was an ensemble piece - my favourite sitcoms are ensemble, and I enjoyed the various plotlines
- not too gory/sexy to make me feel embarrassed to watch it at work
- 40- 1hr long episodes, which is a good lunchtime length
- I really enjoyed the murder mystery element to the show, where each season had

Shows I've liked recently: Party Down, Northern Exposure, Mad Men (I absolutely love period dramas/films set in the recent past, particularly the cold war or periods of social change), Cheers, Frasier, Drop Dead Diva (though this is too light and silly at times), Just Shoot Me (mainly for Wendie Malick), Being Erica, Murphy Brown (I really love series set in newsrooms or TV channels, and recently loved Network), Popular (love teen films and shows from the 80s/90s), The Golden Girls, and many 90s sitcoms. I have enjoyed watchign things like Spiral and The Shield, but these are too gory and require more attention than I can give when doing something at the same time, as much as I like the procedural element mixed with character personal lives. I'm not averse to documentaries either - I usually enjoy anything on the Storyville/Wonderland strands on the BBC,Louis Theroux's Weird Weekeds, or ones about social history, the business side of industries (I really enjoyed the BBC's series on the production and development of perfume and particular fashion labels, and Mary Queen of Shops), or human interest.

Shows which don't or won't do it for me: Skins (will make me feel old and fat), Call The Midwife/Downton Abbey (doesn't interest me), The West Wing/Six Feet Under (plan to watch these with my SO), House (annoying prick), Psych (reminds me too much of my rubbish ex-landlord who communicated only in jokes), nothing about post-nuclear or disease dystopias or zombies. I've heard good things about Buffy but the level of hype around it at the time really got on my nerves.

At the moment, I'm really loving 80s and 90s shows, so recommendations for these would be great.
posted by mippy to Media & Arts (40 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Sorry, forgot to add - I also absolutely love King of the Hill, and don't care much for Dr Who.
posted by mippy at 6:42 AM on July 22, 2013

Have you watched My So-Called Life yet? If you're into 90s and teen shows, you need to watch My So-Called Life. The only drawback is that there's just one season, but don't let that stop you.

Ooh, and Daria. Daria is great.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:44 AM on July 22, 2013

What way of watching do you have? Hulu Plus? HBO Go? Netflix? Other?

Fraiser is a bit floofy but interesting in a time-capsule sort of way. if you liked Northern Exposure, try Due South.

Once Upon a Time isn't bad - Hulu Plus; also has Revenge which is okay.
posted by tilde at 6:44 AM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm in the UK, so no Hulu, no HBO, and Netfilx isn't great here. I'd have to look into that, but suggestions are a good place to start.

I actually love Frasier - that and the first season of I'm Alan Partridge are probably my all-time favourite sitcoms.
posted by mippy at 6:46 AM on July 22, 2013

Pretty Little Liars sometimes gets stuck in ruts and the boys are all lame, but it's generally a pretty excellent teen girl murder mystery soap.
posted by yellowbinder at 6:48 AM on July 22, 2013

How about Ugly Betty? I think it has a lot of what you liked about Desperate Housewives. It's pretty silly, but sweet as well.

Bunheads, totally fun. What's that going to be on again? From the folks who brought you The Gilmore Girls.

I also enjoyed Jane By Design.

I'm really enjoying The Carrie Diaries, which is a prequel to Sex and The City.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:50 AM on July 22, 2013

On the list of "I don't know if it's playing anywhere":

Homefront (ABC drama about life at home WWII in the US)
Early Edition (CBS drama about a man who gets tomorrow's newspaper and tries to fix it)
Quantum Leap (NBC Drama Sci-fi-ish show about a man leaping through time fixing history)
Probe (Short lived ABC smart/rich/but not Batman guy drama)
Moonlighting (Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepard as detectives)
Life Goes On (ABC drama about a suburban family and life in the US, with a son who has Down Syndrome)
posted by tilde at 6:51 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

The Gilmore Girls!
posted by belladonna at 6:55 AM on July 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

Half hour (which can mean 20 to 26 minutes)

Malcolm in the Middle
Designing Women
Fresh Prince
The Nanny
That 70s show
posted by tilde at 7:00 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you might enjoy Mistresses (the UK version). It's somewhat similar to Desperate Housewives, but less campy. I'd avoid the recent US remake.

If you haven't seen it already, Grey's Anatomy.

Veronica Mars was created by Rob Thomas, the fellow who created Party Down, and features some of the same cast. Watch all three seasons and you'll be ready for the movie in 2014.

I also want to recommend Friday Night Lights, even though it's not particularly akin to the shows you mentioned. But it's wonderful.

Ugly Betty and Gilmore Girls / Bunheads are great suggestions, too.
posted by Georgina at 7:02 AM on July 22, 2013

Veronica Mars
posted by crocomancer at 7:03 AM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

'Absolutely Fabulous'.

Farcical, bitchy, drunk insanity.

A comedy, but a vicious one.
posted by exparrot at 7:05 AM on July 22, 2013

Response by poster: Fresh Prince was massively popular in the UK in the 90s, so I've probably seen all the episodes 3 times each. I'm not sure why they gave that prime-time airplay and not Seinfeld...but I enjoued it.

I've also seen Ab Fab - let's assume I've seen most UK shows just to narrow it down!

I LOVED Cybill but it's near impossible to get here. Dammit. I loved Maryann. Same with Designing Women, which I wanted to watch after being hooked on 30 Rock.

I missed Mistresses, so I may look into that one.
posted by mippy at 7:08 AM on July 22, 2013

China Beach?
posted by rmd1023 at 7:08 AM on July 22, 2013

Covert Affairs.
posted by emkelley at 7:09 AM on July 22, 2013

I know you think "urgh, scifi" but I promise you Battlestar Galactica (the new one) fits here.
posted by liquidindian at 7:11 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Gilmore Girls, definitely. Also, if you haven't done Freaks and Geeks, now's the time, although you'll be sad that there are only about 16 episodes.

I love the new Battlestar Galactica but I can't really see that as crocheting TV. You have to pay way too much attention just to learn the characters' names, let alone figure out everything they're doing.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:13 AM on July 22, 2013

I knitted to the entirety of Star Trek: The Next Generation recently. While it may not seem like the kind of genre you're seeking, objectively it meets all the criteria you're looking for, with the exception of consistently well-written female characters. You could skip season 1 and not miss much, and you'd still have 6 seasons left!

I do think the various Star Trek series in general make good background for knitting/crocheting. I tried it with Battlestar Galactica, but the show drew me in too much. (Not a fault of the show, obviously.) To me, with Star Trek shows, the key is that there isn't really much going on most of the time that you can't glean from what you're hearing. Also, if you're only sort of listening sometimes it's straightforward enough overall that you'll still usually get the point.
posted by wondermouse at 7:18 AM on July 22, 2013

Oh, btw, if you love King of the Hill (as I do), you might enjoy Parks and Recreation. KOTH's co-creator Greg Daniels is also the co-creator of P&R, and you can definitely see some of the same sensibility.

(on preview: wondermouse is exactly right about listening vs. visual TV, and that's one of the reasons to recommend Gilmore Girls, in particular; that one runs almost totally on dialogue, although you don't necessarily want to miss the cute clothes.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:21 AM on July 22, 2013

posted by crazycanuck at 7:21 AM on July 22, 2013

Response by poster: I know you think "urgh, scifi" but I promise you Battlestar Galactica (the new one) fits here.


posted by mippy at 7:22 AM on July 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

If you like a show that is over the top and knows it I'd suggest Picket Fences or Nip/Tuck, though Nip/Tuck can be pretty gory -- it's about cosmetic surgeons.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:47 AM on July 22, 2013

Seconding Gilmore Girls, you can mostly follow by ear and barely even look at the screen since most of the "action" is all dialogue. Very light and enjoyable.

Also seconding Veronica Mars, you might want to look at the screen a little more, but also relies on good dialogue. Features a big mystery every season plus a small case each episode.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 7:59 AM on July 22, 2013

If you are unsure about the validity of my Star Trek: TNG recommendation, try one of these episodes: "Remember Me" (season 4, episode 5), "Data's Day" (season 4, episode 11).

You will definitely want to avoid "Sub Rosa."

I would not recommend Buffy: The Vampire Slayer for this, and I like that show.
posted by wondermouse at 8:00 AM on July 22, 2013

Oh Picket Fences! I forgot about that show. How about Monk? The Sharona years are better than the Natalie.

Originally I was going to suggest thirtysomething but those characters can get annoying real quick.
posted by lyssabee at 8:04 AM on July 22, 2013

Because you mention it... well-meaning people oversold Buffy to me so very very strongly that I resisted watching it for years. (I mean, one person wrote out a chart listing the characters and their relationships in silver pen on multiple sheets of black paper and aaaaargh I ran far away.) So I fully understand your reluctance.

But when I did finally watch it I felt even more irritated at its being oversold, because I would have watched it so much sooner. Give it a chance sometime, is all I'm saying, and let it speak for itself.
posted by tomboko at 8:06 AM on July 22, 2013

I'll nth the suggestion of "Gilmore Girls". It basically satisfies all of the points in your list of criteria above except for the last one.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:14 AM on July 22, 2013

I deeply love Six Feet Under, but it's not for the squeamish.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:28 AM on July 22, 2013

Others not sure about your availability:

The Glades (I'm a stream watcher, didn't know until just now this is an A&E show)
Burn Notice (I watch it for the character Chuck Finley)
White Collar (focuses on the guys, but the gals are no wimps)

I've heard Alias is good, never seen it, strong female characters. I remember sort of watching La Femme Nikita and liking it.

Of course Burn Notice points my brain to Cagney and Lacey as well as Kate and Allie which zips straight to the zany of Third Rock from the Sun.
posted by tilde at 8:33 AM on July 22, 2013

90210 (the original)
posted by Sassyfras at 8:54 AM on July 22, 2013

Sports Night
posted by pised at 9:49 AM on July 22, 2013

Seconding Moonlighting if you can get it -- sounds like everything you're looking for.
posted by Mchelly at 10:59 AM on July 22, 2013

I loved House for crocheting to. I would look at my work during the gross parts. The story was always engaging and the characters are very likable. It's a medical mystery kind of show.
posted by myselfasme at 11:03 AM on July 22, 2013

Pushing Daisies?
posted by BrianJ at 11:13 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, so many shows! I love a soapy teen drama, so I would recommend Dawson's Creek in addition to the original Beverly Hills, 90210. And if you like 90210, then Melrose Place. Oh, Felicity is another good one although the last part of the last season is odd, for sure.

I kind of hate myself for saying this, but if you like Designing Women, you might like the Nanny. If you're at all like me, anyway.

Hospital shows I think are sort of perfect for this sort of thing, because I can really only pay attention to the drama and not the gross medical stuff. So that leads one to ER and Grey's Anatomy (and that leads to Private Practice).

I felt the exact same way about Buffy, and I did enjoy it when I finally watched it, but it's not good for crocheting to, as you kind of want to pay attention a little too much.
posted by freezer cake at 1:48 PM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Other ideas:

LA Law
Murder One
posted by liquidindian at 2:54 PM on July 22, 2013

If you like Wendie Malick, you could try Hot in Cleveland.

Currently I'm knitting while watching past seasons of Castle, after knitting my way through Brothers and Sisters, Leverage, and The Good Wife.
posted by bCat at 5:55 PM on July 22, 2013

Melrose Place! So trashy and good.
posted by triggerfinger at 8:46 PM on July 22, 2013

Ally McBeal?
posted by misozaki at 11:26 PM on July 22, 2013

Strong female casts: seconding Veronica Mars, Ally McBeal (90s) and The Good Wife.

80s + news + comedy = Press Gang?

Not 1 hour but you could watch them in chunks, documentaries I've really enjoyed recently:

Rich Hall's Inventing the Indian and You can go to Hell, I'm Going to Texas. He's got a couple more that I've not seen but if they're anything like the other two, they're quite brilliant. Think Theroux but way more sarcastic but at the same time demonstrating a real love for the subject. Inventing the Indian is on youtube by the looks.

The United States of Television: America in Primetime (4 episodes).
posted by Ness at 3:06 AM on July 23, 2013

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