Everyone has New Year’s Resolutions. Everyone sees those New Year’s Resolutions fail. It’s basically a requirement of modern life that we try at the beginning of every year to make big changes to our lives, we give a valiant effort for 1-2 weeks and then we give up and go back to eating nachos and watching Wheel of Fortune (how are Pat Sajak and Vanna White still on tv?) Most of the reason for Resolution failure however can be found in the expanse of the goals. People too often want to introduce revolutionary change in their life, when what might make them happier and more successful is a gradual change to their everyday existence. So while I probably should exercise more (and will try), volunteer to help others more often (a noble goal) or find a wife (a high mountain indeed), my goals this year will be much more attainable in my working life. Two Resolutions for this year…get the “Matt Jones Podcast” started and write more. That’s it…easy, doable and I am committed to making both successful.
With that in mind, the idea of a daily journal seems the most fruitful. I tried this once before and I quickly lost interest, but that was because my mind was on other things. Not now…it is time to write again, in part on UK sports but also in part on whatever strikes my fancy. I am committed to doing it every weekday and some weekends, come hell or high water (the latter of which could be fixed by calling 1-800-SERV-PRO). You will be able to see all of the past ones by clicking on the section of the KSR app (which you should have if you don’t) and by the “Matt’s Blog” button on the top of the page (which you should be using to filter posts if you aren’t). Some will appear on the front page of the site and some won’t. If people like it, I will be happy. But if they don’t, I am determined to not let it change my resolve. This journal will be used like the radio show and podcast…to document what is on my mind, while also giving any fact checkers for future political runs substantial amounts of background material to use in commercials against me. See, we all win! And if you are about to say “STICK TO SPORTS!!!!!” save your breath. I am not going to…sorry. Although I will try to limit my anti-Trump comments to one a week.
With that in mind, it is New Year’s Eve and I am at home watching football alone. That may sound sad to you, but it is a decision I do not regret. I hate New Year’s Eve for a variety of reasons that could be their own journal but I will pass on for now. Suffice to say that the buildup is nearly always a letdown and a disproportionate amount of my least favorite nights of my life have been when the ball dropped (that’s what she said). While I will use future journals to talk about the state of the UK Football program and some basketball scuttlebutt, tonight’s is going to be much more joyful. With 2015 coming to an end, I am going to put on my inner pop culture critic hat and give my list of MY FAVORITE TV SHOWS of 2015.
Now the list comes with a bit of a caveat. We are currently in the best time for television in the history of the medium. Simply put, there is more good television on now than at any time ever. I haven’t watched all of it, or even close to all of it (I do have the semblance of a life). However late at night before I go to sleep, I usually watch some shows and this represents a change for me from recent years. From 2005-2010, I probably watched five shows total: Sopranos, Wire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office and 30 Rock. Most everything else on tv sucked. Not now…below are my 10 favorite comedies (I will do the Dramas tomorrow), but know that there are great shows that I simply haven’t watched. I hear wonderful things about Manhattan, The Affair, The Knick, Silicon Valley, Transparent and others, but I haven’t gotten to them yet. This is what I have seen and specifically what worked for me in 2015. Who knows…it might work for you too:
10. The Last Man on Earth: There hasn’t been a comedy with a better premise in a decade. Will Forte is the last man left on earth and his job is to survive and entertain himself in solitude. The audacity of the idea is amazing and for it to be able to keep a person’s interest in such a confined world is impressive. When the show debuted last year, I loved it and thought the first few episodes were inspired greatness. Since then, it has added characters (which to be fair, I guess it had to) and I think has lost a bit of quality. Still the writing is good, Kristen Schaal as the annoying wife is hilarious and Will Forte is consistently funny. I still will DVR every episode, so its a win.
9. Married/You’re The Worst: I put these two together because both are on FX, usually on the same night and they share a self-loathing brand of humor that I love. “You’re the Worst” is probably the better show and few sitcoms can deal with depression in a way that is so consistently funny. But the characters on “Married” make me laugh and the idea behind it (that being married in your 30s is kind of a bummer, especially when you think deep down that you are still young and potentially cool…and you are neither) hits close to home as my potential future. Both might not be your cup of tea, but they are mine.
8. Louie: Here’s the thing about “Louie.” It is only barely a comedy. Most of the show isn’t funny and it is actually more of a profile of real life for a certain segment of people in New York than a knee-slapping good time. However the raw realness of the show and the way that is showcases Louie’s personal emotions in its individual episodes is something that I find fascinating. The last season was not his best and I wonder just how much more he really has to give. But before “Louie” I had never seen a show quite like this and I usually find something I like from every episode.
7. Grinder: At times I feel like I am the only person watching this show, but I don’t care. Rob Lowe and Fred Savage’s spoof of an actor who plays a lawyer on TV, only to believe he can be a lawyer in real life is so absurd and ridiculous that I can’t help but praise each episode. The writing is witty, Lowe is hilarious and the supporting cast is one of the best on any comedy. I thought when 30 Rock went off the air that the idea of a Network comedy ever being absurd and successful was over and it would be up to cable/HBO/Netflix to produce such shows. Grinder reaffirms my faith and seems to be only getting better.
6. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Being smart is hard. Being smart and funny is harder. Being smart and funny while trying to tackle really difficult subject matter is damn near impossible. John Oliver’s show does it as well as any I have ever seen and may be the smartest, non-boring television I ever seen. The format works for Oliver in a way that is different than what Jon Stewart did so well. He takes long-form topics, explains them in detail and with humor and in so doing, makes them like funny medicine that you feel good ingesting. His piece on the Kentucky Governor’s election was brutally hilarious (and clearly had no effect), but was just one of a weekly selection of home runs from our British friend. If you want to laugh and feel smart, watch John Oliver on Sunday night…but then get on Facebook and read your distant relatives’ political opinions. We don’t want you getting to high and mighty.
5. BoJack Horseman: I just picked up this show this week during my vacation and I love it. Cartoons are hit or miss with me as their ability to not be hampered by reality can turn them into either unique, witty commentary (Simpsons, South Park, etc) or have them hit into absurd realms of comedy that are simply outside my taste. BoJack walks the line perfectly and is one of the best blends of goofy double-entendre, joke-a-second word play (think a faster paced Naked Gun) with deep story lines that actually can be quite thoughtful. An alcoholic washed-up sitcom star horse would not seem like the best vessel for comedy based on loneliness and depression, but it actually works and when combined with some of the best pop culture references of any show I have seen, the whole combination really works. This is one of the few shows (Andy Griffith, 30 Rock, Curb) that I actually think I might like better on repeat viewings and may easily rank higher on my list next year.
4. Master of None: I watched the first episode of Asiz Ansari’s new show and kind of hated it. The pilot episode tried a little too hard to be cute and while my initial reaction may have been due to my past dislike of Asiz’s comedy (I dated a girl once who loved him and I never understood why), I do think the the show changed for the better after their first shot. However from Episode 2 on (which brilliantly contrasted the lives of new immigrants to their Americanized kids), the show was a bullseye. Like a millenial version of “Louie”, Asiz sets in comedy in the real world (or at least the real world of New York) and what makes the show funny is less a string of jokes than revelations about life. I found his dating relationship the second half of the show to strike very close to home (don’t make me analyze why) and the “Nashville” episode is one of my favorites of any show (in part because it had Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Tom T Hall on the soundtrack). It is always nice to be wrong and I thought Asiz’s show would be mediocre at best…instead I can’t wait for Season 2.
3. Catastrophe: Probably almost no one reading this has watched this Amazon show and if you haven’t I understand. When it comes to TV, Amazon is Netflix’s redheaded stepchild (although I hear good things about “Man in the High Castle” and critics love “Transparent”). But “Catastrophe” is worth your time and was one of my favorite surprises of the year. The show builds around a relationship of two people who become pregnant after a one night stand and then try to create a life together for the best interests of the child. The interaction between the new couple is awkward, funny and contains some of the most realistic dialogue of those newly dating speak to each other that I have ever seen on television. It made me laugh quite a bit, but I also was really invested in the two characters, an odd thing for me even on a show I like (I never cared whether Jim and Pam would get together). Watch it since no one else you know likely has and then you can hold it over your friends’ head…with the added bonus that it is also really good.
2. The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt: I loved “30 Rock.” I still think it might be the smartest network comedy of all-time and (along with Seinfeld and Andy Griffith) my most quotable show ever. So when I say that Kimmie Schmidt is in the same league as “30 Rock”, that is high praise indeed from me. I love Tina Fey’s sense of humor and in Kimmie Schmidt, she has found another perfect vehicle. The storyline (a woman was kidnapped for years and is released knowing little about the world in New York) is ridiculous but the acting and comedy is not. I love everything about the show…the writing is crisp, the characters are hilarious and the stupidity is at just the right level. Netflix allows Fey to push the envelope a little bit more than on “30 Rock” and the season only got better as it went along. I recommend this show to almost everyone I know. Most shows on this list require a certain sense of humor…to me if you have ANY sense of humor at all, you like Kimmie Schmidt. Watch it and thank me later.
1. VEEP: For me, “Veep” is perfect. It is smart, clever, well-acted and about politics. I couldn’t ask for much more. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss may be the best female comedy actress of our generation as I can’t think of another who has been so good on two shows. This season saw her run for President, allowing the ridiculousness of a campaign to infest a show that was already terrific political satire. What is amazing is just how much our current campaign has veered off the rails to make some of the scenes from Veep actually look like predictors of the 2016 race. I would nominate the “Testimony” episode scene where they read Jonah’s nicknames as perhaps my favorite comedy scene of the year. Everything about this show is great and this was probably its best season of its four year run. For me it was the comedy of the year, and thinking about it has me laughing so much, I may just watch it again.
So there you go…I will do dramas later this weekend, after we hopefully take out Stefan Moody and Ole Miss on Saturday. I hope you have a Happy New Year and enjoy the day of consistent football. Your winners today will be Tennessee, Michigan, Ohio State, Stanford and Ole Miss. Invest accordingly. Hope we have a fun year together in 2016 and let’s start it off by finding this panda in the picture below (it really isn’t all that hard)