I talk about being an active and avid fangirl, but I just realized that I don’t much talk about where my fannish devotion lies. I don’t know if it’s because I’m just not comfortable mixing religious and political rants with gushes over the latest episode of Westworld, or if it’s because I can’t stand fandom, in general.
For whatever reason, though, I tend to stay too serious and it sucks the fun out of my blog for people who are die-hard fans and actually know me from fandoms we have in common. I’m hard to talk to, I know this. I’m harder to relate to, I know this, as well. So, what’s there to do about it?
Well, I could ignore it, as is my way. Ignoring things I don’t like often serves me well, actually, lol.
For the sake of my poor, deserted blog I’ve decided to be fannish here. To talk about media I enjoy, if only for this single post before I fly back to raging against all things Fox News.
The reality, though, is that I don’t consume all that much television and I rarely watch films made (or set) beyond the 1940s. My TV watching is usually relegated to the many news outlets. The partisan, ‘for entertainment purposes, only’ talking heads at MSNBC, Fox News, TYT, Real Time with Bill Maher, the idiots over at CNN, and the like who deliver neatly packaged, pre-opinion stuffed sound bites of what’s happened in a day and I find them endlessly entertaining. I wouldn’t get my news from them, though, so there’s that.
Then there are the more solid, reliable outlets like NPR, PBS News Hour, Propublica, BBC News and so on and so forth.
If you know me well, you know that my favorites are the prime time guys. A playground for former Daily Show correspondents like Full Frontal host Samantha Bee, Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver and former ‘political FUNdit’, and host of the wildly anti-Trump Late Show, Stephen Colbert. Also included here the bite the administration’s getting from SNL and, of course, Seth Meyers. These guys are merciless and, better yet, don’t have too be particularly diplomatic when addressing the failings of our current White House the way, say, CBS might feel pressured towards.
See that? I can’t even be a fangirl without slipping into political nonsense! I need a shrink, I really do. I think I’ve worked in politics so long that I can’t turn it off, even though that part of my life is (hopefully) behind me. So, let me now quietly get back to the point… no more politics, I promise.
My Top 6 Political Shows (d’oh!) – Liberal Edition
I lied to you and I’m not sorry.
#6 All In with Chris Hayes
When you’re watching MSNBC you might notice that, while it’s desperately trying to be the liberal counter weight to Fox News, being liberal at all means that the network actually has a fair bit of variety in it’s view points. You’ve got your lefties, sure – Rachel Maddow, who delights in using facts as an excuse to laugh her ass off at the right and Lawrence O’Donnell, who has at least one on-air joygasm a week over how badly Republicans are fucking up. You also have more conservative view points, like hot but sexist Joe Scarborough, yelling badly thought out arguments over people and trying, desperately, to pretend he didn’t waste a lot of time backing Donald Trump.
You also have actual moderate voices, like AM Joy’s horribly overlooked Joy Reid, Hard Ball’s Chris Matthews who can’t stop yelling because that’s how he talks. And, of course, All In’s Chris Hayes.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – Chris seems to be liberal, even provocatively so at times, but hear me out. While Hayes does tow for the left, he also has something over the Chris Matthews and Lawrence O’Donnell’s in that he presents himself as relatively fair minded, moderately balanced.
It’s true that, like Joy Reid (although, nowhere near so over cast aside), Chris Hayes is by no means the darling of MSNBC. His show is often an afterthought for the NBC news viewer and it really is a shame, because he’s thoughtful and seems to genuinely care if what he’s reporting is verifiable and true. He’s hosted pseudo town halls with the likes of Bernie Sanders and been generally fair in his criticisms of the Trump White House. Like all cable news, there’s often more to the story than he’s telling, but such is the problem with the pundit news circus. All in all, I like Chris and I enjoy his show.
#5 AM Joy with Joy Reid
I bet you thought I was done talking about Joy Reid? Well, I’m not, so hah.
Joy Reid is sort of a woman without a country on MSNBC. Her show’s time slot gets shuffled around, she gets most of her exposure during the torch-passing segment between her show and whichever show happens to be following her on a given day, and she can often be seen guest hosting on bigger name shows when someone needs to fill in for a particular talking head.
I’ve often been a little irked by this, and the fact that so many Fox News pundits have made a new home for themselves on MSNBC in the past year or so, in great time slots that could’ve easily gone to this beautiful, damn smart woman of color and yet she’s passed over. Time after time.
AM Joy is insightful, smart and generally on the money. While Joy is, in fact, a liberal pundit she also manages to be level headed and treat the news as though it’s important – which I think some folks on MSNBC have forgotten how to do.
Hats off to you, Joy. May 2017 be your year.
#4 Real Time with Bill Maher
Yes, I make fun of Bill Maher. No, I’m not likely to stop.
Bill is intelligent, often rational and handsome. He’s also arrogant, up his own ass and a little on the self-deluded side. He often makes bad political choices, like throwing his lot in with Milo Yiannopoulos over his ridiculous view of free speech – more on that in a minute. That being said, he does have a head for politics, even if his opinions seem entirely colored by his outlook on religion and on his own profession, comedy. He says what he means and he’s right a good portion of the time.
Real Time, for all that’s wrong with it, does a lot of things right. It’s current, it’s bracingly honest at times and the guests have varied view points, often all over the political spectrum and they generally get a chance to state their opinions and debate. That sort of genuine conversation is something we badly need more of in political television.
Now, on to this ‘free speech’ nonsense. I’m as for free speech as the next guy, maybe moreso, but someone’s got to tell these old guard comedians that bombing at a show full of college students because you’re politically and socially insensitive, or having your opinions protested against because you’re out of touch with the millennials version of political correctness is not taking away your free speech. In fact, it’s that generation exercising their own rights to free speech and freedom of peaceful protest against speech and ideas they feel go against their own morals and beliefs. All it does to you is point out that you’re older than you want to be. A good comedian should be able to read the room and while I don’t really agree with the idea that we should protest any language we don’t like and we need to draw a line in the sand about what constitutes ‘peaceful’ protest, it’s still their right to boo you off the stage if they don’t like what you’re saying. Yep, it’s your right to say whatever you want, within reason (no yelling ‘fire!’ in a movie theater), that’s guaranteed to you by the constitution. It just doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be agreed with and you need to deal with that. I do realize what backlash that’s going to get me, lol.
#3 LastWeek Tonight with John Oliver
If ever there were a weekly TV show that should air daily, it’s LastWeek Tonight. John Oliver, former Daily Show correspondent, is one of the greatest things to happen to HBO in it’s history, and we’re talking about a network that aired Boardwalk Empire.
John’s hilarious and fearless. He’s not afaid to flip off politics on both sides of the divide and he and his team go out of their way to explain policy, clarify detail and get into the guts of everything from gerrymandering to chicken farming so the LastWeek Tonight viewers have a jumping off point for their own research and can make better informed political decisions.
He also gets vocal about bad decisions made by foreign countries, religious leaders. He blew up 2016. What’s not to love?
Striking out on his own wasn’t just good for Oliver, it was sort of a secular blessing for the rest of us. There’s just not enough LastWeek Tonight in my week.
#2 The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
When Trevor Noah took over the daily show, he obviously had no clue what he was doing. He was nervous on camera, and who wouldn’t be? Jon Stewart had just retired from the show, you couldn’t ask for bigger shoes to fill.
The format is basically the same, now. The correspondents, the biting political satire, the honest interviews. Noah fills Jon’s shoes well, he’s funny as hell and his politics seem balanced and not, well. Insane. Sorry, Joe Scarborough.
It took awhile, but Trevor made The Daily Show his own.
I know what you’re thinking – how is The Daily Show number two on the list? Is it because I just prefer Jon Stewart to Trevor Noah? Is it because the show’s not as good as it was? What’s the deal?
Well, the deal is that The Daily show is as funny and on the ball as it ever was. Trevor Noah’s made the show his own and I’m as big a fan as I was two years ago. So, what changed? I think my number one pick will answer that question…
#1 Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Yep, I love me some Daily Show. Jon Stewart took over and it’s been possibly the funniest, most insightful show in the genre of political comedy. Or politics in general, for that matter. Untouchable.
Another former Daily Show correspondent, Samantha Bee, is changing all that. She’s smart, she’s hilarious and she’s absolutely merciless. Sam lights TBS and Youtube up once a week, kicking political stupidity where it hurts and she doesn’t seem to care which side of the political divide needs a whippin’. Democrats routinely get raked over the coals along with Republicans, she reaches out to people she doesn’t agree with, like Glenn Beck. The point of her show seems to be to get at the truth, whatever it may be, and chastise dumb ideas and dumber actions in hopes of getting voters to think for themselves and stop towing party lines.
Full Frontal is easily one of the smartest, most honest political shows I’ve ever seen and, yes, I think Sam Bee’s the best in the business.