Three Shows to Get Your Binge On

Seriously, where does the time fly? I feel like just yesterday it was the Fourth of July, you know the day Target decides summer is officially over and it’s time for backpacks and trapper keepers and boots. Summer does not spring instantly to mind when one thinks about binge watching but I think it is the perfect time to find a couple of shows to fall for and spend some quality time cuddling with your remote and a cold brew.

OJ: Made in America: This mesmerizing five-part documentary series directed by Ezra Edelman originally aired on ESPN in June. (A channel I mostly pretend does not exist, even with my limited internet cable connection options.) Not to be confused with the F/X series that gave Ross from Friends his first job in years (kinda like Chachi at the RNC). OJ: Made in America gives context to how and why Mr. Simpson walked and why the verdict was so divisive at the time.

Anyone who grew up in the 70s and 80s could not escape the cult of OJ Simpson. He hawked orange juice (naturally, because advertising types are so creative) and ran through airports trying to convince your dad and all the other dads to rent a car from Hertz. He was in movies (Towering Inferno), television series (Roots) and charmed the pants off your grandma on talk shows. He was golden.

But beneath the smile and the athletic prowess was a grade-A narcissistic, controlling asshole. A wife-beating privileged football star who got away with murder, two of them to be exact. A man who skated through life on his ability to run with a football who hobnobbed with the elites, mostly ignored his own community, and only remembered the fact that he was African American man when he was down and out and it suited him.

I really, really, encourage you to watch this documentary. It is as compelling as Making a Murderer and in my opinion a better overall series. Blasphemy, I know but it’s true. The not guilty verdict is explained in way that most (white) people probably NEVER would have understood before this horrible summer of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and all the others who came before them. Consider this Must-See TV without Central Perk or Smelly Cat. (Coming to Netflix in August, streamable on

Once you finished OJ, you will for sure need a palate cleanser. Luckily these next two shows will not leave you with a terminal case of the sads, quite the opposite in fact. Yay!

Lady Dynamite: Maria Bamford, where have you been all my life? I liked this series so much that I watched it twice and may even go for a third viewing if Hillary does not increase her poll numbers greatly after the DNC. Seriously, what is wrong with America? Lady Dynamite is weird in a good way like tater tot hotdish or just about any food on a stick. It takes place in the past, in the present, in Los Angeles and in Duluth (actually Roseville, apparently Duluth was too expensive for the producer’s budget). No glorious shots of America’s greatest lake, Superior, which is a shame because Duluth is such a beautiful city, maybe spring for some stock footage at least for season two, okay?

Maria plays Maria, her pugs play her pugs and everyone and everything else are stand ins for the many facets of her life as a stand-up comedienne/actress in Hollywood who struggles with mental illness. Lots of people will probably recognize Bamford from her stint as the crazy Target shopper lady from a few years back. She does not do those commercials anymore and most definitely never will again after the way she mercilessly skewers her former employer’s union-busting ways. Interestingly there has been nary a peep from the fine folks at Checklist about their portrayal on the show. Wise move, Bullseye, wise move.

Every time I think Mo Collins’ Susan character veers too far into Fargo territory Minnesota bad accent-wise I watch the local news, they interview a local and I am reminded that unfortunately sometimes stereotypes do exist for a reason. From the worst manager ever to her pug out Babe-ing Babe in a fierce sheep herding competition, Lady Dynamite is the perfect show for your summer fun binge. (Netflix)

The Strange Calls: Constable Tony Banks is having a bit of a shit life. His girlfriend won’t return his calls, he lost his shoes (along with his dignity) and his father (the chief constable) has re-assigned him to a small town working the night shift in the hopes that he will quit, like all the others before him. Toby’s job is to live and work out of a crappy trailer answering the phone calls of the town’s lonely and loony populace. He is assisted in his endeavors by the town’s self-appointed night security officer, a man named Gregor who says he is decades younger than his appearance would suggest and thinks the town is a hot bed of paranormal activity because of a local volcano.

If Lady Dynamite as weird with its juxtaposition of past/present, Los Angeles/fake Duluth, talking dogs and a commercial for a product called Pussy Noodles than fasten your seat belts because The Strange Calls is an even wackier ride. I could not even explain it if I tried other than to think of it as sort of a mash up of Hot Fuzz, The Vicar of Dibley and just about any show on the SyFy channel.

There are only six episodes at less than a half an hour each so you can easily binge this one quickly and then get yourself outside to the nearest PokéStop.

More questions I want the answers to

Where did Rene Zellweger’s old face go? Because apparently she lost it. Yes there is a lot of stuff going on in the world right now, Ebola, Isis (the terrorist group, not the cute lab from Downton Abbey), the mid-term elections and the unfathomable fact that Paul Rudd is still not my husband, yet the biggest media story a couple of weeks ago was the appearance of Renee Zellweger at a Hollywood event that put the media’s knickers in a twist. Honestly the more surprising story would have been about someone in Hollywood around her age NOT messing with their face because if you are a woman over thirty, let alone forty, you have pretty much entered the Mrs. Roper/Valerie Cherish* zone of only being cast as someone’s mother or a mentally challenged landlady with a stock phrase and a track suit.

Is this the new female Doctor?

Is this the new female Doctor?

There are lots of Hollywood stars who now look more like they could be related to someone famous rather than actually being that person. Getting older is hard enough for us plebes let alone famous people who are being scrutinized like never before thanks to the internet where everyone is a critic from the safety of their own couch, most likely located in their parent’s basement. Renee Zellweger, like Meg Ryan before her, has every right to do whatever she wants to do to her appearance, no matter what the consequences. What I do have a problem with however, was her response to the all the hullabaloo in which she credits her Doctor Who-like regeneration into practically another person down to being happier and healthier.

Umm, liar, liar pants on fire. Anyone equipped with two eyes and at least one of them working knows that something other than eating a bunch of kale and thinking happy thoughts was involved in her transformation. I have to admit I have a bit of a dog in this fight as Ms. Happy Healthy Face is one of the celebs random strangers in elevators or in airports seem to think I look like (the other being Ellen Pompeo from Grey’s Anatomy but we are not talking about her today). Whether or not looking like the actress formerly known as Squinty Zellweger can be taken as a compliment depends entirely upon if that person thinks she is cute so I am going to say yes, it WAS a compliment. One I probably won’t have to worry about anymore since I am apparently not that happy or healthy and still have her old face.


What is the name of the cat in Gone Girl? Obviously I did not read the book or I would know the answer to this very simple question. And I could probably Google it but where is the fun in that? So I am just going to assume it was a boy kitty, and it was a ginger so I am going to call him Little Ed Sheeran in honor of Taylor Swifty’s best friend. I mean come on, have you seen what Ed Sheeran looked like as a child? He was totally adorable.

So much ginger cuteness!

So much ginger cuteness!

Anyway, whatever that cat is called in real life he is a major star in the making. Every scene Little Ed was in he stole. Forget about the missing (spoilers!) Amazing Amy, or her lousy husband Nick Dunne, or Ben Affleck showing the world his baby maker (I missed it, not a good sign Ben) and Rosamund Pike’s precise bob she supposedly cut HERSELF while hiding out at Doogie Howser’s lake house. No, what kept me on the edge of my seat nervously eating my popcorn was worrying about the safety of that poor ginger kitty who had to live with those two psychos.

Put that adorable ginger man down right now!

Run away Little Ed, run!!!


Why is Target always out of half the crap I need? I grew up on Target, it’s practically in my DNA to shop there. As a kid my mom went every Saturday, it’s how my Barbie got to be so very well dressed and where I blew my weekly allowance. Target is also responsible for how I found out Santa (spoilers!) was not real. We had a cedar closet in the house I grew up in and one day I went there to look for something and found a Thingmaker**. Obviously I was not supposed to find it so I did my best to forget about it until Christmas when it was one of my presents allegedly from Santa yet it still had the Target price tag on it. Hmm, I was like, what the hell? My mom saw what a BIG mistake she had made and started backtracking and telling me some lame-ass story about how the elves sometimes got really busy so Santa had to get toys from Target to make up the difference. She was essentially telling me that Santa was outsourcing way before it became fashionable for car makers and every other manufacturer in the US to do so but I wasn’t buying it. If Santa was a lie, what else were they not telling me the truth about? I had seen my birth certificate so I knew I wasn’t adopted but what about the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, were none of them real?


As an adult this tradition of going to Target weekly (at a minimum) has continued only now I spend all my allowance on paper goods (you can never have too much IMO), pet supplies (some dogs expect Pupperoni every time they go outside to pee), and cleaning supplies (some cats are furry bulimics that don’t even try to hide their disorder). So it is really galling to me that they seem to be out of basic items on a regular basis and the problem only seems to be getting worse. I don’t know if it is a secret plot to get us all to buy their brand of products but there are somethings you can’t swap Up & Up out for. 2014 was not a particularly good year for Target, so I will cut them a little slack, but they better step up their game for 2015 or our long-term relationship may be in big trouble.


Why can’t you buy an actual book in a book store? Believe me, I have tried. I admit I was not looking for Gone Girl, or anything by Dan Brown (nope, not ever) but the last three books I have wanted to read were nowhere to be found at a brick and mortar store. The last one I tried to find was a recent release, it had been reviewed in all the usual places and yet it was as elusive finding shorts in Minnesota in July, which is impossible because of all the coats and sweaters everywhere. I tried again yesterday to find a YA novel for a teen in my family thinking she would like it and despite its high praise from the New York Times and being turned into a movie by Dreamworks next year, nada. And telling me you can order it for me is not helpful since I can do that all by myself thank you very much. It is almost like Bernard Black owns all the bookstores in town and we all know Bernard does not really want to sell anyone a book, ever.


How can anyone not vote?: As someone who has been politically active since age eight, I can’t quite understand the apathy people have towards voting. Every vote does count, and every election does matter no matter how many times the man (aka the 1%) try to tell you otherwise. Whether it is your local school board election or the next president, they all matter, as the recent situation in Jefferson County Colorado proves all too well. Leave it to one looney tunes character on the school board to pass a resolution that only history based on patriotism and the benefits of free-enterprise could be taught in an AP class and all hell breaks loose. Nothing like taking a college level class and skipping over all the messy-but-true bits in order to spend more time learning how great Walmart is.

Mid-term elections have notoriously low turn-out, and it is very easy for just about anyone to be turned off because of the barrage of negative ads we are subjected to for what seems like a year in advance. I can’t even watch my local news to find out the weather or if anyone has been murdered or sexually assaulted in my work neighborhood again without keeping the mute button on for half of it and I kind of need to know these things.

In college I was an exit poller for NBC News and I was an election judge until my early retirement a couple of years back. It actually hurts both my head and my heart to tell you how ill-informed the average Joe and Jane Q Public are about government and voting and how the whole process works. It’s like nobody paid attention in school and slept in late on Saturdays so they missed every episode of Schoolhouse Rock which explained it all to you in three minutes with a catchy tune to boot.



 * You have seen The Comeback right? the first season is available on Amazon Prime for no extra monies and the second season will air soon on HBO. Check it out, you won’t regret it

** Back in the 70s dangerous toys were all the rage. Thingmakers had metal plates that heated up to like a billion degrees; Clackers were two glass balls on a string that sometimes chipped shards of glass into people’s faces or eyes; Jarts, sharp metal lawn darts that were not only dangerous but lethal as well. Why even something as simple as a kid’s chemistry set back then could blow someone’s hand off and no I am not exaggerating as it happened to a kid in my neighborhood when I was ten. Of course I was at summer camp when it occurred but believe me I heard all the gory details when I came home and there were loads of them.

If you have fond memories of glass shards in your face or being impaled by a Jart, or perhaps even losing a limb to a child’s chemistry set, then you would probably enjoy this toy exhibit at the Minnesota History Center where you could relive all the pain and the glory as well as see some of the non-lethal but more boring toys like Pokey & Gumby and Cootie.