Light TV shows for midterm study breaks: Remembering and revealing excellent series

By ALEXA WILLIAMS ’14, KAT MALLARY ’17 and GALEN CHUANG ’17

Arts Editors

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The Crazy Ones (CBS)

What’s not to love about a self-aware sitcom featuring Robin Williams as a genius goofball and Sarah Michelle Gellar as his lovably neurotic daughter? This show, which premiered in October, documents the ridiculous stunts of a gifted creative team at a top advertising agency in Chicago. Like most excellent sitcoms, “Crazy Ones” prioritizes its characters’ relationships over one-liner humor, and the result is a vibrant ensemble cast that viewers can both love and laugh at. You can catch episodes on the CBS website.

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Fawlty Towers (Netflix)

“Fawlty Towers” is a British sitcom from the 1970s that follows innkeeper Basil Fawlty, his wife Sybil and their hilarious collection of guests and employees. Nearly every episode finds Basil with another “crisis” on his hands, which he proceeds to mismanage into comic, disastrous perfection. The show features John Cleese, of “Monty Python” fame, and is fast-paced, irreverent British wit at its best. It’s a sitcom for the “Monty Python” audience but it’s less weird and more funny. The show knows its caricatures and plays them beautifully: Sybil Fawlty is the nagging wife, Manuel is the incompetent waiter and Basil is the overworked, snarky innkeeper. The best part? The episodes are only around twenty minutes long, so they’re perfect for a quick homework break, or for a Netflix Marathon. The bad news? There’s only one season. “Fawlty Towers” is available to stream on Netflix Instant.

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The Thick of It (Hulu)

“The Thick of It” is a hilarious satire on the inner workings of British politics. The sitcom centers on the spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, sassily played by the Scottish actor Peter Capaldi, and his dealings with the idiocies of the Department of Social Affairs and Culture. The extremely explicit script consists not of cheap swearing, but rather finely crafted wit—seasoned with surely a record amount of f-bombs—guaranteed to leave you crying with laughter. The fourth and last season of the show ended in 2012, but the director, Armando Iannucci, has been working on HBO’s slightly less profane “Veep.” All episodes of “The Thick of It” are available for free on Hulu.

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Xena: Warrior Princess (Netflix)

C-c-c-combo breaker! Rather than being a sitcom, “Xena: Warrior Princess” is a cult classic from the late 1990s starring Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor. The show follows Xena, a reformed marauder hopeing to right her wrongs, and Gabrielle, a traveling bard taken under Xena’s wing, as they travel throughout a mythological ancient Greece. Xena Con is held to this day, and the fandom for this show is still extremely strong, especially considering the show was popular when Internet communities were only starting. Most of “Xena’s” episodes are of the extremely campy “Monster of the Week” variety, previously popularized by similar  works in the  Sword and Sandal genre. In addition, the show often parodies itself with alternate universe and musical episodes, making it the perfect homework companion, especially when you can you can easily stream all six seasons from Netflix Instant.

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