Monday, 21 December 2015

TV37: Cable comedy-drama serials worth a look: The United States of Tara, Enlightened, Weeds, Nurse Jackie, Girls

These five quirky half-hour cable comedy-drama (more drama than comedy and the comedy tends to be dark) serials all feature women in the lead roles and all are worth watching if the subject matter is of interest and the shows are not too offensive for you. They all get ***+. In order of how much I like them:

United States of Tara (2009 - 2011)

Toni Collette stars, and is amazing, as Tara, a wife and mother of two in suburban Kansas who suffers from dissociative identity disorder, which means that under stress she can instantly transition to another personality, even one that is male. Scary stuff, and it gets pretty dark. Created by Diablo Cody for Showtime, United States of Tara can be a little over-the-top.

Enlightened (2011 - 2013)

Laura Dern stars as Amy, a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown who leaves her executive position and spends a month in a holistic treatment centre. Upon her return, she tries to put her life back together, though no one wants to believe she has changed. Eventually she decides to bring down the corrupt business she works for. Created by Laura Dern and Mike White for HBO, Enlightened can be uncomfortable to watch and isn’t as enlightening as the title suggests, but this lesser-known show may be the best of the five.

Weeds (2005 - 2012)

Mary-Louise Parker stars, and is wonderful, as Nancy Botwin, a typical single mother of two in a Los Angeles suburb, except that she makes her living selling marijuana and running from the law. This dark satire created by Jenji Kohan for Showtime can get violent, and some of the plot lines are way out there.

Nurse Jackie (2009 - 2015)

In another dark satire from Showtime, Edie Falco stars as Jackie Peyton, an emergency nurse at All Saints Hospital in New York City. Jackie has all kinds of problems, not least of which is her addiction to pain meds to help her through her life. The comedy can get a little depressing in Nurse Jackie. Created by Liz Brixius, Evan Dunsky and Linda Wallem.

Girls (2012 - )

Lena Dunham created Girls for HBO and she stars as Hannah, a young aspiring writer trying to survive in Brooklyn. This very raw and graphic comedy-drama is based partly on Dunham’s life and so has a realistic edge not found in the other series. Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard to relate or feel sympathy for the characters and situations.

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