Adventures in TV Binge-Watching and 1990s Nostalgia

11 Jun

I don’t watch much TV beyond the news and sports because I often forget when shows are on. Also, shows I like always seem to get prematurely canceled. (See: Pushing Daisies, Veronica Mars, Happy Endings.) When I’m in the mood for TV, I like to borrow complete seasons of TV shows and documentary series from the library to binge-watch. Following are three of my recent favorites, all of which I realized tap into my nostalgia for the 1990s.

Devious Maids

devious-maids

Devious Maids is an addicting drama about five maids–Rosie, Carmen, Marisol, Zoila, and Valentina–and their rich and powerful employers in Beverly Hills whose messes they clean and secrets they keep. The Maids are at times devious, as the show’s title implies. The first season starts with the murder of a fellow maid named Flora, a mystery that drives the action.

My favorite maid is Carmen, an aspiring singer who works for superstar recording artist Alejandro Rubio in hopes that he’ll discover her talent and help her start a music career. Her efforts are usually thwarted by Odessa, Alejandro’s unyielding assistant, which brings comic relief to the otherwise soapy show.

Susan Lucci from All My Children and Grant Show from Melrose Place (two 1990s icons!) have supporting roles in the show, which further lend soap cred. Marc Cherry, creator of Desperate Housewives, is one of the creators of the show. Eva Longoria, who played Gabrielle Solis on DH, is an executive producer. If you were a fan of Desperate Housewives, definitely check out Devious Maids.

ESPN Films Nine for IX

espn-nine-for-ix

The title of this collection from ESPN Films refers to Title IX, a series of educational amendments passed in 1972 that prohibited discrimination by gender in programs and activities that receive federal funding. Title IX helped open the door for womens’ athletics in schools. ESPN commissioned a series of documentaries about women in sports made by female filmmakers to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of Title IX.

The documentaries about tennis player Venus Williams (Venus VS); basketball player Sheryl Swoopes and establishment of the WNBA (Swoopes); and the 1999 World Cup championship American women’s soccer team (The 99ers) resonated the most with me because I remembered those women and events.

All the documentaries were engrossing to watch even if I wasn’t familiar with the subject. Figure skater Katarina Witt’s documentary (The Diplomat) reminds viewers that Germany was split into two politically different nations. Let Them Wear Towels, about the struggles women journalists faced trying to file sports stories while denied access to the men’s locker rooms, and the subsequent harassment when they were finally allowed inside, is tough to watch at times.

Orange Is the New Black

orange-is-the-new-black

Everyone has been talking about this show since it first launched on Netflix last summer. Orange is about Piper, who was sent to prison ten years after committing a crime with her drug dealer girlfriend Alex, as she navigates prison life and interacts with her fellow inmates. And it just so happens that Alex is serving time in the same prison.

Flashbacks tell the stories of Piper and the other inmates, which reminded me of Lost. I think the other prisoners’ stories are more interesting than Piper’s. One example is Janae’s story–she had a promising track career but was incarcerated after helping a boyfriend commit robbery. This show definitely has dark moments–see Piper’s time in solitary confinement, aka “the SHU”–but there are lighter, funnier moments as well.

What’s the 1990s connection here? The cast. Jason Biggs and Natasha Lyonne, from American Pie, play Piper’s fiancé Larry and inmate Nicky, respectively. Laura Prepon (Alex) was on That 70s Show. Constance Shulman (Yoga Jones) voiced Patti Mayonnaise on the cartoon Doug. It’s cool to see actors I grew up watching in (in some cases extremely) different roles.

What shows have you binge-watched lately?

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

One Response to “Adventures in TV Binge-Watching and 1990s Nostalgia”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Women of Mad Men and Call the Midwife | Hoboken Library Staff Picks - May 13, 2015

    […] has long been appointment television for me. (This is rare for me, which I’ve previously written about on this blog!) I enjoy discussing Mad Men with my dad, who graduated high school in 1968 […]

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