Welcome back to Stay Tuned, Vulture’s TV advice column. Each Wednesday, Margaret Lyons will answer your questions about what to watch, when to watch it, whom to watch it with, and how to feel about the whole thing. To submit your own questions, you can email email@example.com, leave a comment, or tweet @margeincharge with the hashtag #staytuned.
Last year, I loved FOX’s Almost Human — really obsessive, will-never-be-over-it kind of loved it. And now that’s it’s been canceled, I’ve really soured on FOX’s other shows. For instance, I liked Sleepy Hollow last year, but now I get angry whenever I see it mentioned, because feels like a favored sibling who got all the network parent’s love while Almost Human was the redheaded stepchild. Is this crazy? Is it possible to get over this? —Kristen
If you’re a sci-fi or genre fan in general, I’m surprised this is your first encounter with Fox hatred. I’m pretty sure there are some Firefly devotees out there who are still upset. So no, I don’t think you’re nuts. I mean, I think you’re nuts for loving Almost Human because I … did not care for that show. Did that robot cop learn to love? I hope he did.
I feel you on the holding a grudge, though. I love holding grudges. It’s how I know I’m winning! Sadly, the problem with holding a grudge against a TV network is that you’re only hurting yourself. This is also true about holding grudges against real people, but at least real people sometimes wear unflattering clothes to widely photographed events and you can sit back and be like, “haha, have fun untagging yourself in everything, you vain monster.” But a network — a cable station too, really — is just a pile of money with no feelings; all the pile wants is more pile, and that’s it. If that means giving Almost Human 100 seasons, the pile will do it. If that means canceling it after one episode, the pile will happily do that too. Piles gotta pile. Souring on Sleepy Hollow just means you miss out on some fun.
I’ve been making my way through Gilmore Girls for the first time, and after six seasons of perfection, I’m now struggling my way through the abysmal final season. I know showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino was absent for that last season, but what’s the best way to handle that situation as someone going back to an older series? Do I stick with it for the sake of having seen it all, or just skip to the finale and be done with it? I can imagine running into similar problems with other shows that underwent major creative shifts (looking at you, West Wing). —Max
Congratulations on joining the Gilmore Girls family; we welcome you with coffee and pop-culture references. While I agree that the final season of the show absolutely lacked the zip and heart of the “real” seasons, in the interest of fairness, it’s worth remembering that lovable genius Amy Sherman-Palladino introduced April Nardini, who was the worst; it was AS-P who had Rory fall for smarmy dipshit Logan and drop out of Yale; and it was AS-P who had Lane get married at age 20. So … part of loving Gilmore Girls is loving it through its flaws. I mean, I loved GG even when Rory’s story lines were about the professor of herbology at Chilton, you know?
For Gilmore Girls, my strong recommendation is to suffer through. Wouldn’t you feel sad if there were episodes of Gilmore Girls out there that you hadn’t seen? If someone told me, “Margaret, I’ve got some good news and bad news: The good news is that there’s an episode of Gilmore Girls that you’ve never seen. The bad news is that it is far and away the worst episode of the series.” I would still be so happy! I would be weeping with joy. I would jump on a plane so I could watch this episode just as I watched the previous episodes: Sitting next to my BFF, eating tacos, and drinking gin and tonics. (We called this “Gilmore Girls gin and tonic taco Tuesdays.” We did this for many wonderful years.) Make yourself some tacos and a tasty beverage and see if that helps you appreciate the endgame.
For West Wing, though, just skip all of season five — it’s horrible, sorry — and watch the first few minutes of any episode of season six until you find one you like, at which point, settle in. Then watch all of season seven, except for the live-debate episode, which is garbage. Season seven is pretty good, but it’s a totally different show. It’s not West Wing anymore; it’s a decent political show, but try not to think of it as the same as the early seasons. People kiss and stuff, though, and I always like that.
I didn’t watch Switched at Birth last season (or half-season, whatever ABC Family calls the last run of episodes), but I fully intended to catch up at a later time. Now, though, with everything I’ve read about the currently airing episodes, I’m not sure I should even bother. Is it worth my time to catch up? Is it still a worthwhile show? —Jean
I still really like it. I like on teen shows when the good kid has a meltdown — like on Everwood, when Amy was super depressed for a season; or on Gilmore Girls, when Paris doesn’t get in to Harvard. This season has some good, old-fashioned melting down! (That said, some of the hokiness is in full effect, and a recent “teen girl does cocaine” episode was just this side of Reefer Madness.) My much bigger worry is how SAB will handle its characters graduating from high school, which is always a danger zone for teen shows.
I am not likely to watch the same show from different countries (there are too many shows to watch already), but I hear that some of the foreign versions of American favorites are much better than the American versions. What are your thoughts if I’m choosing between two different countries’ versions? Am I better off watching Homeland or the Israeli Hatufim (I’ve never seen either)? —Joanna
Homeland and Hatufim are completely different shows. Hatufim follows two former POWs, not just one, and it’s much sadder than Homeland, less action-oriented and more about how suffering affects people. I loved Hatufim, but it scratches a totally different itch for me. For your purposes, then, I suggest watching the first season of Homeland; seasons two and three aren’t really worth it if you are working with a limited TV-time budget. If you’re really into it, break your “no doubling up” policy and go ahead and watch Hatufim for a different take on a similar premise.
There’s no one absolute rule for American Version versus Original Overseas Version; I preferred the American version of The Office because I found it less sad. (Most of the time.) I liked both the British and the American Being Humans. American Skins was awful, but British Skins is great. The American version of The Bridge is good, but I watched the Scandinavian version first; the shows are too similar for the mystery to still feel fresh the second time through. In terms of sheer entertainment value, originals and adaptations are both viable, and originals might have a slight edge.
My suggestion, though, is to watch the American versions. If you like a show and want to read recaps or reaction pieces, your needs are better served by watching the American remake. American TV shows tend to have longer seasons, so there’s more show to enjoy. And people at cocktail parties (in America) want to talk about the American versions of the show they watch — telling them all about the bleak Danish original is not going to win you any new pals. Ask me how I know.