Welcome back to Stay Tuned, Vulture’s TV advice column. Each Wednesday, Margaret Lyons answers your questions about your various TV triumphs and woes. Need help? Have a theory? Want a recommendation? Submit a question! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment, or tweet @margeincharge with the hashtag #staytuned.
I’ve tried Kimmy Schmidt, Parks and Rec, Arrested Development, Modern Family — and I just can’t! I can’t watch SNL, online skits leave me bored … should I be worried that comedies just don’t do it for me? Now, what I do love with all my heart are shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Top of the Lake, all of Joss Whedon’s stuff (which is funny/drama!), even OITNB. But when I tell my friends I can’t get into Parks and Rec, they look at me like I’m crazy. What does it mean if I don’t like comedies? —Christina
You like laughing in general, though, right? You’re able to find humor in life and art and society and stuff? Then you’re fine.
Not liking comedies means you’re unusual, if only because most of us like some comedies at least sometimes. But if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. The end. This is me waving the Stay Tuned magic wand and absolving you of the need to keep trying to like comedies, and more important, the need to keep trying to explain yourself. We’re all comfortable with people saying there are music genres they don’t like. I’m allowed to not like jazz, or EDM, or bro-country. There’s plenty of stuff to like, and anyone who’d hassle you about this kind of thing is dealing with severe insecurity. Treat him or her with compassion.
I’m a huge fan of Parks and Recreation, and I’m hoping to get someone else addicted to the show by way of their love of all things Chris Pratt. Which episode(s) of Parks and Recreation would you recommend for someone who only knows Chris Pratt as Hollywood’s latest action star? —MLR
I’d recommend Everwood.
Okay, but for P&R, you can’t go wrong with season-four Andy. He and April are settled in to their marriage at that point, so his stories feel very gentle and particularly lovable. Behold:
“Campaign Ad,” in which Andy and April go to the doctor, is a highlight, and “Meet ‘n’ Greet,” featuring Andy and April at a Halloween party, is also terrific. I’m slightly leaning towards “Meet ‘n’ Greet” because it also gives a solid overview of the other characters, which could help newbies, but Andy’s riffs at the doctor’s office might be enough. Try the bloopers, too:
I’m a guy in my mid-20s who has tattoos and plays punk music, so when I talk to people about TV and my love for The O.C. comes up, they tend to laugh in my face. Is the show actually laughable, and my nostalgia is keeping me from realizing it? It seems that its legacy among the common man is indistinguishable from that of something like One Tree Hill or Gossip Girl, but I feel like it’s clearly a cut above the rest. —Kilian
The O.C. is amazing, and the judge-y, underinformed people who laughed at you can suck it. It’s the ideal summer show, for starters, and it’s also sharp and funny and loving in ways most other shows never bother with. Yogalates for life. You can pry Chrismukkah out of my cold, born-to-an-interfaith-marriage hands. Someday, I’m gonna live in a house that magically has bagels all the time. How could anyone not want to be Sandy and Kirsten (when they’re at their best, not when the dumb rehab story hits)? The O.C. is so good, even Mischa Barton’s tremendously bad acting choices could not bring it down.
I rewatched a bunch of episodes of The O.C. recently (for that article linked above), and it made me more sure than ever that that show was genuinely terrific, particularly in its first season. It is definitely better than One Tree Hill, though those shows are fighting different fights; OTH was attempting earnestness at its beginning and then full-on telenovela madness at the end. The O.C. was a stylized teen soap for its whole run. Finally, if you’ve never watched Gossip Girl, I’d encourage you to give that a go: GG shares a lot of creative DNA with The O.C., and if you like one, I bet you’ll like the other. Again, at its best early on.
How can I get my friends to watch UnREAL even though it’s on Lifetime? —Lauren
Begging? Insisting? Bartering? Reminding them that being weird about the channel a show airs on is a very odd, limiting form of snobbery that winds up validating marketing campaigns far more than it validates any kind of creative vision?
UnREAL is a snappy, dark drama in a lot of enjoyable ways, but there’s also a thread of serious — interesting — commentary about how we package ourselves, how the story of who we are can somehow be more important than who we actually are. I like the romantic-tension story lines on the show (if I ran a network, my note for every show would be “needs more kissing”), and I like how curious the series is about the ways that we project our identities and signal to the the rest of the herd what role we’re trying to fill. Your friends are missing out.