CliqueClack TV

When you can’t have sex, watch Dexter

What do you watch when you suddenly have some time to catch up on shows that you missed when they aired?

Since the second week of January, I have primarily been living with my father. He is dying of melanoma, so my brother and I take turns staying with him, though we both live out of state. I’m usually here for a stretch of three weeks and then go home to visit my family for a week or two before I come back. As you can imagine, it’s a depressing time. I don’t get out of the house much, and my dad watches a lot of basketball and a lot of ESPN. My nerves have been shot, so I’ve mostly been seeking refuge, at night after my father goes to sleep, in television. There have been plenty of empty hours to fill catching up on shows I haven’t been able to watch until now.

I’ve watched too much to do individual Virgin Diaries on every show, so I thought maybe I could write about the shows piecemeal either by show or by season. Surprisingly, when I’ve asked my friends if they have seen these shows, not many of them have yet. So, even though what I’m watching is wildly popular, I don’t think the shows have been written about to death yet. So, maybe I can do a series called, “What to watch when your parent is dying slowly of cancer,” or “The best shows you haven’t seen yet.”

It’s been an interesting ride, because I download shows and watch them back-to-back-to-back. I started by watching the first two seasons of Breaking Bad. I got to the third to last episode of season two when, for reasons I don’t recall, I decided to check out Dexter on Netflix streaming. Even though I adored Breaking Bad, Dexter stuck his hooks into me and I didn’t stop watching until I was finished with season five. Then, I went back to Breaking Bad. Now, I’m watching Raising Hope.

A lot of people I know like watching a TV series all at once like I’ve been doing. There is something powerful and compelling about the continuity of watching a show without week-long (or longer) breaks in between the plot lines and character development. I think it really solidifies my love of a show, because I get saturated by an evening of watching and then think about the shows I’ve seen all the next day.

As a writer, I get hung up on the quality of a show’s writing a lot. I adored West Wing until Aaron Sorkin stopped writing for the show. It turns out that I didn’t love CJ Craig, Leo, Josh, Toby, Donna, and President Bartlett. I loved Aaron Sorkin on cocaine. When other writers took over, the characters became flat and stale despite having the same actors in the roles. It was amazing to watch. Until I stopped watching.

I rant about House a lot. I don’t understand how a show can simultaneously be so well written and so awful at times. Unless, of course, there are multiple writing teams and one sucks and the other is great. If that is the case, maybe the great writing team should take over full time.

Big Love was a big exception to my demand for good writing. I don’t know if the writers every really knew how to untangle them from the miasma of plots and subplots they established for themselves in the first few seasons. That caused the fourth season to implode. However, in Big Love’s case, my love for the characters as the actors had created them made me continue watching. As for Lost and Battlestar Galactica, two other shows that receive the Jen Creer award for Outstanding Writing in a television series, I thought both shows stumbled in their third seasons. However, again, I was so invested in the characters and the acting that I persevered. I wasn’t disappointed in either case.

One of the things that has thrilled me about both Dexter and Breaking Bad (and Raising Hope so far) is that the writing hasn’t stumbled at all. And given some of the outlandish plot lines in all three shows, that is an amazing feat. These shows make me want to write for television. Or somehow be able to tap into the imaginations of the writers. I’d love to be a fly on the wall of some of those conversations.

So, maybe I should just call this little series of posts I want to write “Jen’s Quest for Great TV Writing.” I suck at titles. A little help? I’m almost done with the first season of Raising Hope. What should I watch next?

Photo Credit: Showtime

7 Responses to “When you can’t have sex, watch Dexter”

March 28, 2011 at 2:29 PM

If you haven’t watched Justified yet, it is AMAZING!!!!! The writing and acting are both top notch!

Also, Firefly is one that I rewatch constantly. If you haven’t seen it before, that is one amazing show. It took about four eps for me to really fall in love with it, and now when I go back they are some of my favorite eps. Just genius.

March 28, 2011 at 2:56 PM

Thank you, Tracey! I will check them both out! I haven’t heard of Justified before, but I am long overdue for watching Firefly.

March 28, 2011 at 9:52 PM

The Wire is the best thing we’ve ever seen on tv. EVER. We ADORE Dexter and Breaking Bad- but The Wire is in a class by itself.

March 28, 2011 at 10:17 PM


Two things: I saw a commercial today for a lawyer named Sherri Palmer. Sorry.

Also? My dad has the entire series of The Wire on DVD… I’ve never seen it…

March 29, 2011 at 12:19 PM

I’m with tracey8051–Justified may just be the best scripted show on TV right now. Hopefully, FX will keep with it.

March 30, 2011 at 6:34 AM

Hey Jen,
Sorry about your father.
I’m 17 and my mom died of breast cancer 2 years ago. I used the same getaway.
I watched 24, Heroes and Lost to stop thinking about it.
Now I can’t stop watching series!
I live in Iran and I get these shows pretty late. And usually when the whole season is out.
I watched all 5 seasons of Dexter in only one week! I just loved it!
I can’t suggest any series to you because I think my taste is a bit different! I love fiction too much!
I hope your dad gets better.
good luck! ;)

May 19, 2011 at 6:53 PM


Powered By OneLink