It’s December, which means it’s time to curl up in front of the TV in a fetal position and pray for 2017. Since this year has been Satan’s masturbatory fantasy, we deserve to glue our eyelids open and soak in the sweet, sweet escapism. And on January 1st, fortified by the goodness of first-rate television, we can have a collective panic attack over glasses of champagne/tears and welcome the Dawn of the Orange Apocalypse together. (Then, on January 2nd, we can resume spending all of our time yelling at Paul Krugman articles, working second jobs to donate more money to charities threatened by the Trump regime and fine-tuning our middle-grade dystopian novels. But until then: TV!!!)
1. Taraji’s White Hot Holidays, Fox (December 9, 8 p.m.)
If it’s anything like last year’s, this variety show is queen Taraji P. Henson, aka Cookie from Empire, singing, dancing and doing sketches with her impressive and fancy list of friends — and I’m here for it. Last year, John Legend sang the most joyful, beautiful version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” and there was a skit about a stressed-out worker at Patti LaBelle’s pie factory. Basically, it was perfection. This year, Taraji’s got Jussie Smollett (Jamal!), Snoop Dogg, Taye Diggs, Pharrell Williams, Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys, Terry Crews, Darryl McDaniels (Run-DMC) and TLC(!!!). This will be straight-up ~*~CHRISTMAS MAGIC~*~ and if you miss it, you’ll miss the one highlight of this entire bullshit year. Happy Holidays!
2. Shut Eye, Hulu (All 10 episodes available December 7)
According to the teaser, a shut eye is a magician who starts believing his own tricks. According to my eyes, this show is about a scam-artist tarot-card reader/psychic in Los Angeles who hits his head and starts having visions. Is he psychic now? Or does he just have brain damage? Only time and a 10-episode binge will tell. I’m in, if only because it stars the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, Isabella Rossellini, and both Dodd and Bear Gerhardt from Fargo. Love those confused sociopaths! And perhaps most importantly, it’s the latest offering from genius executive producer Melissa Bernstein, who has worked on an impressive variety of stressful-but-satisfying-to-watch shows — including Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Rectify and Halt and Catch Fire. If it bombs, it’ll basically be her first flop. I’m betting on Bernstein. Don’t fuck this one up, 2016.
3. Soundbreaking, PBS (Episodes available online)
This docuseries about the history of recorded music debuted last month (and all episodes are available for streaming on PBS). If a docuseries about recording music sounds so boring you want to sleep until this nightmare year is over, let me stop you because it’s actually fascinating! As someone whose musical interests run the gamut from shitty pop to shittier pop, I was still on the edge of my seat waiting to see exactly what would happen next with 1970s synthesizer technology. The only song on my iPhone is “Toot and Boot It” and I just signed up for guitar lessons. That’s how much I am newly into music via Soundbreaking. I would marry it if I could, but that’s definitely not legal in Trump’s America. Ugh!!!
4. The Great British Baking Show: Masterclass marathon, PBS (Dec 17, 12-6 p.m.)
It’s time for a mid-month curl up with Mary Berry! Could there be anything better?! The correct answer is: No, and there never will be. She is one of few good things about 2016, and we should cryogenically freeze her until 2017 just to make sure she’s good and ready to usher us through the apocalypse with recipes for figgy berry jam jams, jiggly bottoms’ surprises and souped-up fruit cakes that look delicious even though you KNOW they taste awful. Bless her heart.
5. Captive, Netflix (December 9)
This new documentary series from Doug Liman, director of Edge of Tomorrow (yay!) and Swingers (yay?), focuses on hostage-related true-crime stories. I’m a little worried this might be Too Real for 2016 — the year that’s holding us all hostage and refuses to let go no matter how much money we collectively donate to recount efforts. Anyway! The trailer is cut like an action movie, except these are real people, so I’m a little worried about the exploitation factor, but if Liman pulls it off, I predict I’ll start watching and then not stop until the credits roll on the last episode. Ack! I’m already excited-scared-terrified-aroused!
6. White Rabbit Project, Netflix (December 9)
This is the new project from Mythbusters alumni Kari Byron, Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara. They’re gonna “go down the rabbit hole” — not, like, in the “doing a lot of great drugs and digging an actual hole to burrow after an imaginary bunny” way; no, this show will be way less interesting than all that. I don’t know; I never got into Mythbusters, but if you did: Here’s this! Now they’re investigating heists and jousting events and riding in hot-air balloons for some reason! If you’re interested, you should probably watch it soon because Melania’s husband is mos def gonna have it removed from all American homes because of its pesky obsession with the “truth.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 6, 2016