I, like a lot of people, loathe Sundays. The day is usually spent mourning Saturday and coming to terms with Monday being indeed the following day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had great times on Sunday, they’re just few and far between and inevitably lead to a rough Monday at work. Alas, April has finally arrived and saved us all from the dread of Sunday. For the next several months Sunday nights will be the pinnacle of modern television. With the season premiere’s of HBO’s critically acclaimed triumvirate of Veep, Silicon Valley and the crown jewel Game of Thrones. Not only are these my favorite shows on television but they also happened to return on my birthday weekend. HBO didn’t have to do that for me but they’re good people and they knew their fan would appreciate the gesture, thank you HBO, you’re more than TV to me.
Since the beginning, Game of Thrones took the public by storm. Of course I was late to the phenomenon because when everyone is telling me something is great, I am skeptical. It was the summer of 2012 right before my senior year of College when my eyes were opened to the glorious truth. A friend of mine was jumping on the bandwagon and extended an arm to ensure I was all aboard. It rapidly became clear to me that Game of Thrones is the best TV show in the history of TV. After just three days, we were caught up with the public in the final episodes of Season 2. When the season finale passed I needed more, I read the first four books in a few months. I was hooked to say the least but I savored the fifth book and read it slowly as I knew the sixth one would not be released until George R. R. Martin finished writing (still waiting, bud….) The show has been a safe haven for any fan of great television because this show puts morals in a guillotine.
The cast is the greatest character ensemble ever formed, minus Isaac Hempstead-Wright who plays Bran Stark. You can just give Peter Dinklage the Emmy until he retires from acting because that man is Tyrion Lannister! I could ramble on about the many fascinating elements of this show but I’ll digress and save for that for future posts (trust me, they’re coming.) Until then it’s just pure excitement that Game of Thrones is finally back. I’ll have a longer analysis of the upcoming season after the first three episodes, expect many Kit Harrington jabs and joy that Bran is not in this season. Before I move on shout out to Rickon Stark, the forgotten one. He’s barely addressed in the book and show but I’m holding on to hope that he can be an Arya Jr. in 9 years when the sixth book finally comes out. What makes this upcoming season so exciting is even readers are out of the loop. The timeline of the show is different than the books and the writers have already said there would be spoilers on the show from the not yet released sixth book. My favorite aspect of the Game of Thrones plot is that terrible decisions actually yield terrible consequences. If your favorite character is making mistakes well then it might just mean they’re about to be offed.
Politics as always is a divisive topic in our nation and finally a bipartisan effort has succeeded. Veep is that success and it’s gift of comedy to the nation that is the best thing to come out of Washington D.C in years. Veep is a case study of incompetence in politics and the cast is superb in portraying that to the audience. I caught on to Veep in the middle of season 2 and it became my favorite comedy on TV. Julia Louis Dreyfus is at the forefront in her role as Selina Meyers and she plays the role of Vice President to comedic perfection. The supporting ensemble is talented and play their roles flawlessly. My favorite character besides Meyers has to be Mike McLintoch played by Matt Walsh. As Head of Communications, McLintoch is the least competent in the staff but his likeability makes him an asset. His response to a looming controversy “We don’t know how bad it is yet.” Or “What if Tom Hanks dies?” Anna Chlumsky, also known for her role in My Girl, plays my favorite nostalgic character. Her role as Amy Brookheimer, aide to the VP is integral to the series and Chlumsky’s comedic talent is on full display since the Pilot episode. I’d highly recommend the political comedy In the Loop (on Netflix) released in 2009. The satire film features Chlumsky as Liza Weld and seems to be the foundation of her Amy Brookheimer character. What’s most exciting about this season is Meyers is no longer the Veep. At the end of season 3 she became President and I can’t wait to see how the characters handle the newfound power.
In the juggernaut trifecta that is the HBO Sunday lineup, Silicon Valley is the up and coming prospect. The trajectory of the show matches its plot with the fictional tech startup Pied Piper being prodded and valued in the season 2 premiere. I thought the first season was great and had one of the most hilarious scenes I’ve ever seen on television, involving the disciplining of a child. However Season 1 did have weak episodes and Martin Starr as Gilfoyle just irks me at times. He’s a funny actor, his character’s dialogue just feels unnecessary in certain episodes. My favorite character is Erlich played by T.J Miller who seemed to be the comedic anchor in every episode. His character constantly shifts from bumbling moron to savvy entrepreneur. Without him the show would be lackluster at best. I’m excited to see if the show can maintain the momentum from Season 1 and deliver a successful second season. While everyone praises the honest depiction of tech culture in the series, I enjoy the contrast of up and coming startup and new television series. Pied Piper represents what many new television shows go through, excitement in concept and successful first season. The follow up is the exhilarating part, can Silicon Valley appease its audience? We don’t know that quite yet, there have been plenty of shows on HBO with stellar first seasons. Silicon Valley’s time slot will keep the ratings up but since it’s in line with other established hits, people will be critical if the show becomes stale. I’m optimistic the new comedy will deliver and I’ll definitely do a singular post on the show at the midway point of this season.
Is there a better night on television than Sunday night? There certainly is not and this lineup destroys the other networks. Sorry Last Man on Earth and the final season of Mad Men, this is HBO’s night. Do I feel like a snob because of my love for HBO shows and apprehension toward typical network drama? No, not even a little bit because I don’t even have an HBO subscription. I get HBO much like the rest of under age 25 America, through a roommates parents HBO Go account. Do I like every HBO show? Of course not, The Newsroom was the biggest piece of garbage I’ve ever witnessed. Keep Aaron Sorkin on network TV, the use of the F word does not make your news drama edgy, neither does your irritating art of revisionist hindsight. Hate for Aaron Sorkin aside, I love HBO and have been entertained by them since I was a kid watching Entourage on DVD (that’s how I rolled.) For the next few months we will all be spoiled with fantastic acting, storytelling, intrigue, violence, comedy, optimism and nuanced drama. The return of the triumvirate will conquer the malaise of Sundays and bring about newfound peace at least for two hours Sunday night.