Favorites · Television

My Favorite Things: 15 Television Shows

I’ve watched a lot of television in my (almost) 23 years of life. Anyone who knows me is well aware of that fact. And while I’ve always been quick to say “That’s one of my favorites” to a variety of different shows, I’ve never actually made a list. When I sat down to write this, I intended for it to be a Top 10. However, there were some that I just really needed to include. So, without further ado, here is the list nobody really asked for…My Top 15 Television Shows!


1. Friends

I have been watching Friends my entire life. I was only two years old when it started so I truly can’t remember a time when it wasn’t on TV. I didn’t read Harry Potter as a child like a lot of people in my generation (I have since read it, don’t worry). I always say that Friends was my Harry Potter. These six people have been there for me in literally every stage of life. When it ended in 2004, I cried myself to sleep and thought I would never love again. From this list, you can see I was clearly wrong about that. But I’m thankful that Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross will always be there when I most need them.

Favorite Character: Chandler Bing

Favorite Episode: The One Where Everybody Finds Out

Friends is available to stream on Netflix.


West Wing

2. The West Wing

I can’t lie…I probably do love The West Wing more than Friends. However, I have to give it the number 2 spot because it’s been in my life for significantly less time. I watched this show mainly because my best friend asked me to. I knew I would enjoy it, but I had no idea I would fall deeply in love with it. This show combines everything I love into one: politics, smart writing, walk-and-talks, and the most perfect television ensemble of all-time. But most importantly, this show is about a family of people–Jed, Abbey, Leo, Josh, Donna, CJ, Toby, Charlie, and Sam–trying to make the world a better place. It gives me hope that maybe one day we’ll actually have some politicians like them in office.

Favorite Character: Donnatella Moss

Favorite Episode: 20 Hours in America

The West Wing is available to stream on Netflix.

Previous blog posts about The West Wing can be found here and here.


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3. The Office

I recently rewatched all nine seasons of The Office and was immediately taken back to the days when I was deep in the fandom on message boards and OfficeTally. The Office was the first show I can remember binge-watching. It was back in 2007 so I had to do it the old-fashioned way—I purchased the DVDs for seasons 1 through 3. It was a complete obsession that I left behind when Steve Carell exited the show. But as I rewatched it, I really missed those glory days. It’s such an intelligent and hilarious show with the most wonderful cast. I also didn’t hate seasons 8 and 9 nearly as much as I thought I did. I won’t ever forgive them for what they did to Andy Bernard, but everything else about it is pretty perfect. If you can find me a better season of pure comedy than season 2 of The Office, please let me know.

Favorite Character: Pam Beesly

Favorite Episode: The Dundies and The Injury (tie)

The Office is available to stream on Netflix.

A previous blog post about The Office can be found here. (This list has changed a bit since then.)


4. Breaking Bad

Is there a show quite as flawless as Breaking Bad? I have yet to find one. It’s clear from the beginning that Vince Gilligan meticulously planned every facet of this show, and it definitely pays off. Each season builds wonderfully on each other, which made the show better as time went on. That’s rare in television, and I’m glad Gilligan and AMC had the sense to end the show when they did rather than keep it on the air for ratings. It’s the only show in the top fifteen that I continued watching despite the hatred I felt towards the main character and the weekly anxiety I had for Jesse Pinkman and Skyler White. The show is so perfect that it makes all of those things so worth it.

Favorite Character: Jesse Pinkman

Favorite Episode: Ozymandias

Breaking Bad is available to stream on Netflix.


5. Parks and Recreation

The Parks and Recreation that just ended is incredibly different from the Parks and Rec that premiered in 2009, and I could not be more grateful. The first two seasons of this show are a bit rocky. Originally slated as a spinoff of The Office, Parks and Rec truly became its own show by the end of season two. And once the characters were firmly established, Parks and Recreation was an incredible treat about a group of misfits with big dreams to make their crazy town better. Throughout its seven seasons, the show remained optimistic, lighthearted, and genuinely hysterical, culminating with a finale that for any other show, I would have loathed. For Parks and Rec, though, it felt just right.

Favorite Character: April Ludgate

Favorite Episode: Flu Season

Parks and Recreation is available to stream on Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime.

Continue reading “My Favorite Things: 15 Television Shows”

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Television · Travel

Spring Break 2014: Walking and Talking in Washington DC

This is a bit delayed, but my best friend and I finally had a chance to go through our pictures from our spring break trip to Washington DC and I wanted to post a little bit about it.

The first step to overcoming a problem is admitting you have one. So here goes: I am obsessed with The West Wing. My best friend, Allison, and I talk about the show constantly, and I recently started rewatching it (after just finishing it) as I work on my thesis. Allison and I reached the height of obsession, though, when we decided to spend our spring break on a West Wing-inspired trip to DC. People seemed confused when we said we were going there instead of Florida, but trust me, this was an excellent decision. We made a list of places we wanted to go because they were mentioned on TWW (and the DC episode in season five of Parks and Recreation), and we had the best time. In fact, we both immediately started looking at graduate schools and potential jobs there because we loved it so much.

If you’re planning a trip to DC in the future, which I recommend whether you love The West Wing and American politics or not, here are some things you cannot miss! (And yes, almost everything on this list does have significance to The West Wing. I would apologize, but I’m not sorry.)

  • The White House: Of course, this was the first thing on our “To Visit” list. We visited the grounds almost every day, saw Marine One taking off from the White House, and even got to take a tour of The East Wing one morning. We may or may not have cried. (We totally did. The experience was just too much.) We even took a selfie with a Secret Service agent outside of the White House, but he threatened my life if it ever showed up on social media. I think he was joking, but I don’t want to take any chances.
  • The Newseum: I’ve been to the British Museum, the Louvre, the Met, the Museum of Modern Art, and a slew of other museums in Europe and New York City. However, the Newseum is by far my favorite. In fact, we spent two days in there because one just wasn’t enough. We were able to touch the Berlin Wall; explore an exhibit called “Creating Camelot” about John and Jacqueline Kennedy; see artifacts from the Anchorman movies at a special exhibit that actually made the films educational; see Tim Russert’s office and the Unibomber’s cabin; pull out newspapers with headlines about Lincoln’s assassination and women getting the right to vote; learn how journalists risked their lives on 9/11; understand how technology has changed the news over the years; pretend to be White House correspondents; and so many other things. It’s one of the few museums in DC that charges admission, but it’s well worth it. (The Newseum does have significance within The West Wing world as well—prior to its move to the heart of DC, it resided in Rosslyn and was the location of the heartbreaking shooting in the season one finale.)
  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: I’ve been to the concentration camp Dachau, and nothing will ever be as haunting to me as that. However, this museum is still horrifying and intense. We quietly walked through the museum for about three hours, and it’s not something I really want to blog about. It’s just something that everyone should experience for themselves at some point.
  • Arlington National Cemetery: Once again, this is significant on The West Wing since it is the burial site of three major characters. However, we really wanted to go for the experience. Arlington is beautiful, as you would imagine, and it’s also massive. We barely covered even a fourth of it. We were able to see the burial sites of the Kennedys and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall as well as the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Once we left Arlington Cemetery, we made our way to the Arlington Bridge, a beautiful bridge that connects Arlington, Virginia, to Washington DC with a great view of the Lincoln Memorial. This was a particularly important site to us, as it is featured at the end of one of our favorite episodes of The West Wing: “20 Hours in America (Part 2).”
  • The National Cathedral: This was a must see for us (spoiler alert!) since it is where those on The West Wing said goodbye to the beloved Mrs. Landingham in season two’s finale “Two Cathedrals.” The cathedral is stunning, and I was immediately taken back to my time in Europe, when I went to dozens of old cathedrals. While the National Cathedral, like everything else in the US, is not as old as the churches of England, France, and Italy, the National Cathedral lives up to the beauty. It was wonderful and peaceful to explore. (We even watched “Two Cathedrals” prior to our trip here to see where each character sat. See our super cool pictures below.)
  • The Capitol: We took a tour of the Capitol Building on International Women’s Day, and while the tour is a bit short, it’s a lot of fun. They force you to watch some serious Congress propaganda before the tour, and then take you through the Crypt, the original Supreme Court chambers, the original House of Representatives chamber, and of course, the Rotunda. Allison and I even got to talk a bit about Kentucky to the group since Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln are frequently referenced throughout the historical building.
  • The Supreme Court: We had no idea you could go inside the Supreme Court, but you can and it’s super cool! It wasn’t in session while we were there, but if it had been, we even could have gone to watch some hearings with the Supreme Court justices. That’s been added to my bucket list!
  • The Library of Congress: I didn’t give the Library of Congress enough credit before going because it really was a lot of fun. I didn’t realize it was like a museum until we got there, but they had a number of wonderful exhibits throughout the building. We saw the George & Ira Gershwin exhibit as well as a fascinating exhibit about politics and popular culture, an area of research I have always been interested in. I would love to go back and spend more time exploring in there.
  • The American History Museum: This museum features a lot from our nation’s short history in both politics and popular culture. Kermit lives here as do some inaugural dresses of the First Ladies (Grace Coolidge is our favorite). There was a lot of ground to cover, but we made our way through every room and loved it. We even stood in the spot where Ben and Leslie are reunited in “Ms. Knope Goes to Washington” on Parks and Recreation. We were also a little bit famous in this museum—a guy took our picture because he liked our sweatshirts (I had on Bartlet for America while Allison wore her Lyman/Seaborn 2016) and then a group of people ran up to us as we were leaving to compliment them and discuss The West Wing. We were instant friends.
  • The Memorials: There are beautiful memorials throughout DC, and the Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial are all pretty close together, which makes for an easy and beautiful walk. (Just be aware that they’re far away from any metro station. The walk back was a bit torturous.) It’s definitely worth a visit, and you can even stand where Martin Luther King Jr. did when he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. As a lover of all things history, that’s a pretty cool and powerful thing to do.
  • A meeting on the Hill: During our second day in the Newseum, we got a phone call from someone at Congressman Massie’s office, who had arranged our White House tour for us, telling us to stop by his office so that we could pick up the pass we needed for the White House tour. Being West Wing fans, we immediately started calling it our “Meeting on the Hill.” We headed to the Cannon House Office Building, went to Congressman Massie’s office, and then explored the building for a bit. We made the most of the experience, that’s for sure.
  • The Mall at night: This is when DC is truly beautiful. It’s just so peaceful. If you stand in between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument at the reflecting pool, you’ll get some stunning pictures.

We went to a ton of other places (including a Target with a cart escalator!), and I know there are still quite a few things on our list that we missed (18th & Potomac, for instance). However, we both plan on returning to DC as soon as possible! Below are just a few of the pictures we took!

And one final thing: A HUGE thanks to Allison’s cousin and her roommates for being so hospitable so we didn’t have to pay for a hotel!

Marine One...WHAT
Marine One lands at the White House.
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Happy International Women’s Day to my favorite fictional ladies, Donna Moss and CJ Cregg!
George and Ira Gershwin's piano
George and Ira Gershwin’s piano
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Taken right before a mother yelled at her son for sitting on the Republicans bench. My kind of parenting!
Allison enjoys the Washington Monument on a beautiful DC night (before getting "attacked" by some ducks.)
Allison enjoys the Washington Monument on a beautiful DC night (before getting “attacked” by some ducks).
THIS IS THE ONE
We weren’t originally going to wear these on the same day, but it was International Women’s Day so WE HAD TO. Also, this is one of my favorite pictures of all-time.
congress shall make no law
The best amendment on the entrance of the best museum.
wait is that..
While looking at artifacts in the First Amendment exhibit, we heard a familiar voice reading the First Amendment over the speakers. We turned the corner and saw our beloved President Bartlet. We then proceeded to freak out.
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Channeling my inner Veronica Corningstone at the Anchorman exhibit.
you serve at the pleasure of the president
White House Correspondent Allison Cole.
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The Unibomber’s cabin
Spring Break 2014- Washington DC
Some of the many important headlines at the Newseum. (From L to R): the end of World War I, Hitler dead (from The Louisville Times!), women get the right to vote, Hawaii becomes the 50th state, Lincoln assassinated, and Kennedy assassinated.
BEN AND LESLIE STOOD HERE
I’m terrible at taking selfies. That is something I learned on this trip. However, Ben and Leslie stood here so this was necessary.
what kind of day has it been
What kind of day has it been? (Season 1, episode 22 of The West Wing)
what's he doing in fwoggy bowtew
Josh: “Sam went to Foggy Bottom.” CJ: “What’s he doing in fwoggy bowtew?” (Season 1, episode 15 of The West Wing)
THANKS FOR SAVING JOSHUA
Thank you for saving Josh Lyman!
hanging with linc
Hanging out with our pal, Lincoln. Leslie: “‘In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.’ Andy, what are you doing?” Andy: “Have you ever seen any of the National Treasure movies? Everything in this city is a clue.” (season 5, episode 1 of Parks and Recreation)
one time tobias was here
The Korean War Memorial (featured in season 1, episode 10 of The West Wing)
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World War II Memorial
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The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
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The burial site for President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at Arlington National Cemetery
kaitlynn and allison at arlington bridge
The Arlington Bridge (featured in The West Wing’s season 1 finale “What Kind of Day Has It Been?” and season 4 premiere “20 Hours in America (Part 2)”)
so happy to be at our meeting on the hill
Allison was super excited for our meeting on the Hill!
the best
Outside of the White House after our wonderful tour!

 

allison is jack kennedy
Of course we had to take this picture!
Just call us both CJ Cregg!
Just call us both CJ Cregg!
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Allison poses for her presidential portrait in President Bartlet’s chair at the National Cathedral while I happily sit where my girl Donna Moss did. (We both have pictures in each person’s chair but I decided to post these based on the super scientific results of the “Which West Wing character are you?” Buzzfeed quiz.)
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The Supreme Court of the United States
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An exhibit honoring Sandra Day O’Connor at the Supreme Court! Yay ladies!
Barlet for America
Our last visit to the White House wouldn’t be complete without one final Bartlet for America picture!
Television

Golden Globe Nominations: Television!

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It’s early. I just finished my last final of the semester, which is a good reason to be excited. But I’m happy and excited today because of something that actually affects me in no way, shape, or form. The Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning, and as I was putting on make-up and fixing my hair, I kept refreshing my Twitter feed to see the nominations. As always, the Golden Globes are shocking this year. However, they’re surprising in a few really good ways this time! They are shaking things up!

Even though I still love Homeland a lot, I was not at all surprised to see it missing from the nomination list. If anything, I was mostly surprised to not see Claire Danes in the Best Actress category. I take comfort in the fact, though, that she has four Globes and three Emmys sitting in her home right now. (Plus, she was still nominated for the SAG Awards which means we’ll get the Claire Danes/Jared Leto reunion everyone wanted this year.) I was surprised, but slightly happy, to see Mad Men missing. I have a lot of thoughts about that show, and I feel slightly validated now that it has been snubbed by both the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. I do enjoy Mad Men, but season six was exhausting to watch.

I was extremely excited to see Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation, Michael Sheen, and Masters of Sex get some much deserved love. Since the Globes gave Steve Carell his award for Michael Scott, I’m hoping they’ll do the same with Poehler. It’s not fair that she keeps getting ignored. And with Masters of Sex, I hope this just a sign of many good things in the future. A nomination for Lizzy Caplan is the only thing really missing here.

However, the happiest moment for me came when I saw the nominees for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series. I immediately texted both my best friend and my mother to celebrate, and I may or may not have started crying. (Spoiler alert: I did.)

So, here are my thoughts and picks on each category of television, including what made me so damn happy about that Supporting Actress category.

Happy Awards Season!

Best Drama Series:

  • Breaking Bad
  • Downton Abbey
  • The Good Wife
  • House of Cards
  • Masters of Sex

My Pick: It’s not even a contest in my mind. I don’t watch The Good Wife, though I really want to after the buzz about this season. I tried both Downton Abbey and House of Cards and didn’t love either (though my preference goes to DA). I do love Masters of Sex. It’s been a surprising and high-quality show since the pilot premiered on September 29. However, the award has to go to Breaking Bad, right? I don’t think there has ever been a more flawless or stressful show on television. With its intricate plot, amazing cinematography, brilliant performances, and smart directing, nothing on this list comes close to Breaking Bad. I hope that Masters of Sex will continue to get better and better. In due time, it can get its awards. However, let’s just all agree to give Breaking Bad everything for its final season.

Best Actor- Drama Series:

  • Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
  • Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
  • Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
  • James Spader, The Blacklist

My Pick: Okay, I know I just said we should give Breaking Bad everything. However, Bryan Cranston has won three Emmys before. He’s never won a Globe, but he’s been recognized a lot for his performance of Walter White. So, in this category, I’m torn between Cranston and Michael Sheen. Cranston has gotten better and better with the show, and he made me feel absolute rage that I didn’t know I was quite capable of. Sheen, on the other hand, gives a very subtle but heartbreaking performance as Dr. William Masters. It might be interesting if he wins here. It will change things up a bit, but I will also completely agree with the HFPA if Cranston takes it home.

Best Actress- Drama Series:

  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
  • Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black
  • Kerry Washington, Scandal
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards

My Pick: WOAH. What a weird category. First, I love Claire. And Vera Farmiga of Bates Motel. Neither one is on this list, which makes me sad. Second, my roommate and I tried Orphan Black and were bored. We stopped after two episodes. Third, I love Taylor Shilling and Orange is the New Black. It was my favorite new show of the year, but I still think it should be in the comedy categories. So, I’m going to go with Kerry Washington for Scandal. Olivia Pope is simply the best, and in a category like this, she has to be the winner for her phenomenal performance. The show could easily be seen as a primetime soap opera, but it never feels that way largely because of Washington and the supporting cast, who are sadly always forgotten.

Best Comedy Series:

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Girls
  • Modern Family
  • Parks and Recreation

My Pick: Parks and Recreation! Parks and Recreation! Parks and Recreation! No contest. No further comment.

Best Actor- Comedy Series:

  • Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Michael J. Fox, The Michael J. Fox Show
  • Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
  • Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

My Pick: I honestly do not know. I don’t watch House of Lies, The Michael J. Fox Show, or The Big Bang Theory. Arrested Development was disappointing this year, and as much as I love Bateman, I’m not feeling the nomination here. So, I guess I’ll go with Andy Samberg. He’s goofy, hilarious, and heartwarming on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and I think it would be kind of fun if he won. I’m disappointed Matt LeBlanc is missing. Even though I don’t watch Episodes (yet), I cried when he won a few years ago. It would have been nice to see it happen again.

Best Actress- Comedy Series:

  • Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
  • Lena Dunham, Girls
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

My Pick: Amy Poehler. Again, this is no question for me. As I said above, she deserves it.

Best Supporting Actor- Television Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie:

  • Josh Charles, The Good Wife
  • Rob Lowe, Behind the Candelabra
  • Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
  • Corey Stoll, House of Cards
  • Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

My Pick: Aaron Paul. I think it’s weird and unfair that the Globes combine Supporting Actor for all of television. It puts unequal and very different programs against each other and leaves a number of people out of the running. Paul, though, is definitely my favorite on this list. My love for Jesse Pinkman knows no bounds. When I talk about Breaking Bad, 90% of my time is spent talking about how much I want to take care of Jesse. He breaks my heart. Aaron Paul deserves it.

Best Supporting Actress- Television Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie:

  • Jacqueline Bisset, Dancing on the Edge
  • Janet McTeer, The White Queen
  • Hayden Panettiere, Nashville
  • Monica Potter, Parenthood
  • Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

My Pick: THIS IS THE ONE. This category actually made me tear up this morning. It was the happiest surprise to see Monica Potter’s name on that list. I don’t know how many times I can say “I love Parenthood!” but I’m going to say it again. I LOVE PARENTHOODParenthood has been overlooked by every major awards show since the beginning. (It’s most surprising to me that the SAG Awards forget about it every year, since it is the most ensemble-y of all the ensemble shows, but I digress.) This is a much-deserved nomination for Potter, who took a character that could have been so one-dimensional and made her incredibly human. I would absolutely burst into tears if Potter wins, and I really hope she does. I don’t know anything about Bisset’s and McTeer’s performances in those miniseries, but Potter seems to be the strongest on the list.