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 firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment, or tweet @margeincharge with the hashtag #staytuned.
I watched Buffy for the first time (crazy!!!) last year and absolutely fell in love with it. It will forever be a go-to show when I need comfort TV. I’m usually trusted when it comes to TV recommendations, but I’m having a hard time getting people onboard with Buffy. I’m not sure if it’s the length (seven seasons is big, but I insist it’s great), the inherent silliness in the name, or whether it’s the whole vampire thing that makes people distrustful (and I try to swear to them it’s more superheroes than Twilight). Help me help others discover and love this fantastic show. —Jordan
People don’t want to watch Buffy because they think it’s for teenage girls. Which, by the way, it is. It’s certainly not only for them, as your enthusiasm demonstrates, but it is at least in part for them. Teen-girl taste is unfairly vilified in the rest of culture (teen girls themselves, also vilified), and there’s also the pervasive perception that stories about women are mostly for women, whereas stories about men are for everyone. I’m not at all suggesting that grown men can’t, don’t, or won’t like Buffy, but they can be tough to convince. Women are also taught to dismiss stories about themselves, to derisively call things “chick lit,” to treat male as neutral and female as special-case.
But we could talk about the culturally ingrained invisibility of women forever. So the short answer here is: Tell your friends that Buffy is like The Avengers. People liked The Avengers, right? And then once you have won everyone over and all your friends have watched all of it, you should all watch The Middleman.
Should I invest time in The Wire? I don’t fully trust the people recommending it. —Huma
Yeah, you should watch The Wire.
But Huma and Jordan (and other people who’ve been so wonderful writing in to Stay Tuned), why are you hanging out with people whose taste you don’t trust, who don’t trust your taste? What?! I get not trusting the General Masses or wondering if something is widely overrated or whatever, but if your friends don’t believe you when you say something is great and you don’t believe them when they tell you the same, how do you stay friends? I don’t have the same taste as everyone I’m pals with, but when they recommend something for me, I take it seriously, and vice-versa. Learn to trust your friends, or maybe find new friends who trust you? I don’t know, I am really at a loss.
I need a new comedy palate-cleanser to get me through to fall TV. I’ve made it through The Office and 30 Rock several times, plus The Mindy Project, New Girl, Community, and Parks and Rec. On HBO I’ve seen Enlightened, The Comeback, Bored to Death, Silicon Valley, Veep … and on Netflix, Freaks and Geeks, Arrested Development, and Always Sunny. Seen all the Comedy Central wonderfulness this year — Broad City, Nathan for You, Inside Amy Schumer, Drunk History. And Bob’s Burgers. What’s left that’s not asinine? Can’t abide Big Bang Theory or The League. —Amanda
First off, let’s all congratulate Amanda on how many shows she has watched. Way to be, Amanda! I am proud of you.
The show you seek is called Going Deep With David Rees, and it airs on National Geographic Channel but also is available on Hulu. Rees — creator of “Get Your War On,” king of pencil sharpening — investigates different topics each week, from how to tie your shoes to how keys work. It’s as informative as the golden episodes of Good Eats; the humor comes from Rees’s sly deadpan. I find the show joyous and educational in addition to being hilarious.
If you’re looking for a more traditional comedy, I love Playing House. If you’re looking for oddball, maybe Eagleheart? (Real oddball, but great.) I’ll also recommend Brooklyn Nine-Nine, though I hope its second season is better than its first, and Alpha House (on Amazon Prime), even though I think I am the only person who watched all of it.
Outlander. I hate the books. My girlfriends love them. How do I keep my rage in check when they talk about the show? —@HumbugJones
By treating the show as its own thing. (Time magazine critic James Poniewozik just wrote about this same idea.) Adaptations are adaptations, and it’s possible to dislike an original and like a different swing at the same idea, and vice-versa. I love the Harry Potter books very, very much, but I can’t stand the movies. I find original Battlestar Galactica kind of campy and unenthralling, but I’ve watched the Ron Moore version four or five times. Depending on what exactly you disliked about the books, it’s still totally possible that you’d like the TV version of Outlander. Give it an honest half-hour try.
But if you still hate it, or if what you hated in the first place was time travel and Scottish vista porn, then you can do what I do when people talk about Boardwalk Empire: Drink.