— Kenneth Parcell, 30 Rock
You’re either a TV person, or you aren’t.
For years, I didn’t own a television and, like many others, was very vocal about stating that fact. See, TV people get a bad rap because most crap on television is really awful. Who cares about teenage gypsy brides or toddlers in tiaras? Thanks mostly to Netflix, I eventually discovered there are enough quality shows out there to convince me to cross the picket lines, clutch my remote and melt away into the glowing abyss of my boyfriend’s 56-inch flatscreen. Channels like HBO and IFC present edgy programs and films you might not otherwise get exposed to — it’s not all Kardashians (although, I must say, limited exposure to the junk can make it easier to relate to other humans).
The New Year brings with it new shows, long-awaited new seasons (finally, Mad Men!) and cancellations. HBO recently canned Bored to Death, How to Make it in America and Hung. Rest in peace.
So, for all you hip anti-TVers out there, take comfort in knowing there are some smart, funny, interesting shows you might really enjoy. And for all the other junk? Just say you’re watching Real Housewives ironically.
Each week in this space we’ll preview a little of everything — some top-notch shows you should be watching, some more mainstream stuff you should probably be aware of and special TV events and awards shows.
Enjoy these television highlights for the week.
Modern Family, 9 p.m., ABC – Mitch and Cam check out prospective birth moms for kid number two. Drinking game suggestion: Take a shot every time Gloria portrays a Latina stereotype. Spoiler Alert: You gon’ get drunk.
Top Chef, 10 p.m., Bravo – Restaurant wars, Texas style.
THURSDAY JAN. 12
30 Rock, 8 p.m., NBC – The dreamy James Marsden (who is apparently not the guy from Smallville) makes his debut in this season premiere as Liz’s love interest. How will this one pan out? Hopefully Liz can keep her sleep-eating under control.
Parks and Recreation, 8:30 p.m., NBC – Louis C.K. returns?!
Project Runway All Stars, 9 p.m., Lifetime – True PR fans could complain about the selection of designers or the different judges, but I just have one request: more Tim Gunn, less Mondo nip slips.
FRIDAY JAN. 13
Real Time with Bill Maher, 10 p.m., HBO – The panel for season 10’s premiere is still under wraps, but recent weeks’ political happenings will certainly provide them with plenty of material. And maybe Zach Galifianakis will smoke another joint on live TV.
Portlandia, 10 p.m., IFC – Could “We can pickle that” be the new “Put a bird on it?” This week’s hilarious tribute to all things hip touches on Portland’s annual Allergy Pride Parade (Go Celiacs!), the terror of life after finishing Battlestar Galactica and features cameos by Jeff Goldblum and Eddie Vetter.
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, 10:30 p.m., IFC – Because watching a show with David Cross and Will Arnett is sort of like watching Arrested Development Lite.
SUNDAY JAN. 15
Golden Globes, 8 p.m., NBC – Last year’s controversial host Ricky Gervais must have somehow managed to only piss off people who don’t matter, because the funnyman is back again! Join us for our second annual Golden Globes live chat of what is sure to be another hot mess of an awards show. Awards will be given for television and film; works nominated include The Ides of March, Bridesmaids, Boardwalk Empire, American Horror Story, some other great movies/films/actors and a lot of dumb ones. Go to citybeat.com for live chat details.
House of Lies, 10 p.m., Showtime – Still deciding whether or not I like this new series. My decision may be directly related to the amount of Don Cheadle butt cheek shots in this week’s ep.
Shameless, 9 p.m., Showtime – Finally, our voices have been heard — man-on-Frank action in Season 2! The countdown to Steve’s inevitable return begins. Jesus, I hope those two sentences aren’t related.
Angry Boys, 10 p.m., HBO – Putting those reality TV pageant moms to shame, Jen puts Tim on a strict diet and exercise regime (which includes “farting out the fat”) to keep his “Gay Style” skateboarding physique.
CONTACT JAC KERN: firstname.lastname@example.org