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This story first appeared in the Feb. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
This much we know: there’s too much television. It’s impossible to keep up. (If it makes you feel better, I have the same problem — and I’m getting paid to watch.) So loyalty to returning shows is an important question; people want to experience the new, but also hold fast to their favorites. In that spirit, here’s my take on how a handful of series I love are faring with their recently kicked-off seasons.
Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m. (Comedy Central)
It may seem odd to call a comedy created by and about two women “ballsy.” But what Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson have done with this show, now in its second season, transcends any kind of gendered description. Episode to episode, they craft a lovingly crass and thoroughly hilarious depiction of two best friends getting just about everything wrong as they try to survive day to day in New York.
Sundays at 9 p.m. (HBO)
Can we forget about the people who don’t like this show? We’ve heard their complaints. Let’s move on. With a strong fourth season underway as Lena Dunham‘s Hannah Horvath makes a big move to Iowa, Dunham continues to deliver the most maddeningly spot-on show ever made about overeducated, underemployed, entitled 20-somethings, mixing in an impressive amount of humanity and compassion along the way.
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA
Wednesdays at 10 p.m. (FXX)
Among all the shows listed here, this is the longest-running, the most daring and the most frequently snubbed by awards shows. The series, now in its 10th season, has fearlessly delivered ridiculous laughs, blossoming before our very eyes into the most quintessentially American of TV comedies.
Tuesdays at 10 p.m. (FX)
Early in its sixth and final season, this Kentucky-set series already has given viewers a sense of impending closure. The trouble with creating compelling figures such as tough U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) and antihero Boyd Crowder (the wonderful Walton Goggins) is that they may have to die in the end. Justified has been fueled by their clashing perspectives since the start; it will be hard to say goodbye to this show and to either of those characters.
Sundays at 10 p.m. (HBO)
How hard is it for a supremely well-written and well-acted series to get noticed these days? It was a bit of a surprise that Looking didn’t generate more buzz in its inaugural season, but the HBO show — about a group of gay men living and loving in San Francisco — may break out more in its excellent second season. Andrew Haigh and Michael Lannan have crafted an emotionally honest, funny and touching world, and stars Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez and Murray Bartlett act the hell out of the storylines.
Sundays at 9 p.m. (Showtime)
It’s hard to turn away from this Showtime gem about a poor but resourceful Chicago clan. Season five keeps piling on the cringeworthy circumstances while also exploring complicated familial and romantic relationship dynamics. It’s not always easy to watch (William H. Macy‘s paterfamilias acting like a supreme screwup can be tough to take), but Shameless has hung in there as the network’s best, most ambitious drama. It also has given us Emmy Rossum, Jeremy Allen White and Cameron Monaghan, three of TV’s standout (and most underappreciated) actors.
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