Turns out that some shows are just not for me. Which is to say that they’re objectively not worth watching, of course.
There’s a lot of crap on TV and Owen and I get bored sometimes when we’re not having sex, so we’ve ended up watching a lot of crap on TV. Because we’re making an effort to have taste and not watch shit we don’t like, we’ve been pretty good about dropping shit after one episode. So here’s a review of four shows we stopped watching after one episode.
This review is going to contain no spoilers for The History of Swear Words, The Expanse, Killing Eve or I Am Not Okay With This, because we never got past the first episode of any of them so we don’t know what happens in them to spoil it for you.
The History of Swear Words: Even though Nicholas Cage is pretty hit or miss as an actor, we kind of assumed that this wouldn’t be a miss, because the premise was inherently interesting and amusing. It’s framed as a comedic documentary show about the history of curse words, with each episode delving into one particular word and telling you about its history with, presumably, jokes. I never personally heard any jokes over the course of the first episode, and I also didn’t learn anything.
We thought this would be cute educational TV to watch with the kids, but all it did was repeat a lot of popular history that pretty much anyone can just learn by hitting Search on Google. It wasn’t particularly funny and it seemed like the show was just hoping that you were going to laugh because people were saying “fuck” on TV. It’s only got twenty-minute-long episodes, but after the first episode we turned it off and watched Star Trek instead.
The Expanse: I heard such good things about The Expanse! It’s got such a good reputation, and a lot of people I know really like it. A near-future sci-fi show that deals with realistic consequences of humans colonizing the solar system that becomes a political drama seems so interesting to me. And it’s got a lot of seasons, so we were prepared to finally sit down and watch something good for a good long while.
And then we watched the trailer. We were both a little worried, since it seemed super generic based on the trailer, and it didn’t seem like the story beats were even being hit particularly well or with any real originality. But hey, maybe it was just a bad trailer. Those happen.
And then we watched the first episode. After being introduced to all the Boring Archetypical Characters In Space, we slogged through the forty minutes of its run time that felt like three hours as the characters tediously told the audience what their relationships with each other were, and tediously made their way through their generic problems as they set up their generic plot lines. The only interesting character in the show was the diplomat lady (unrelatedly, she was also the only female character of any consequence and the only person of colour in the show), who worked for the UN but was also torturing people in a basement. But she had about four cumulative minutes of screen time while the show kept flipping back and forth between the two morally grey White male protagonists with hearts of gold, and neither of them was doing anything worth watching.
The characters and narrative choices were the most egregious issue for me personally, but there were also a lot of problems with the show’s worldbuilding, which felt very surface-level to me, honestly. Aesthetically the show is very coherent (they went really avant-garde and used a “slightly run down, grey and brown metal” aesthetic that I’ve never seen in a sci-fi show before), but it really feels like the creators had some ideas for cool visuals and just did them without really thinking about how they work. The plot according to the intro is just “resource scarcity in space,” which is a particularly uninspired idea, and I just spent the whole episode feeling unmoored from anything because they didn’t explain enough about what was going on for anything to make sense—and not in a good way made me interested to find out more. I left the first episode completely uninterested in the characters, plot and world, and so next time we put the TV on we watched a baking show.
Killing Eve: Everyone says this show is so awesome, so I was really interested to finally watch it. Who doesn’t like a cat-and-mouse thriller about a criminal and some law enforcement person trying to outsmart each other even as they grow inexorably closer together, their obsession for each other growing far beyond just their jobs, until they’re they only thing that matters to each other? But this time it’s with Sandra Oh, which makes it even better.
Sandra Oh was the only compelling thing about this show, and even then she was on thin ice because she was just a shade above the “Generic Quirky Female Character” that you see a lot these days. I don’t mind that character, but I kind of expected there to be a bit more to her than just “she drinks sometimes and is late for meetings because she’s so interested in assassins!” It doesn’t feel super realistic to me that everyone in her workplace would be so down on her for being interested in assassins to be honest, because that’s kind of the attitude that law enforcement is supposed to have? But whatever, she wasn’t the problem in this show.
The problem was the assassin lady, who was so boring to watch. She was just a super generic, kind of quirky lady who doesn’t understand social graces and likes money and decadent things, and who uses her sex appeal to kill men because she has so much sexual agency that nobody made her dress like that, she just chose to! I was slightly wary of her when the first scene was her eating ice cream, but it was in her second or third scene when it opened with her pouring tomatoes on a cracker and eating it sensually with her eyes closed that I gave up on her. As soon as you have a character close their eyes and eat something sensually, that’s how I know you’re a shit writer, because you can’t think of any way to characterize a female character other than “omg she’s so sexy and weird, look at her eat this food.” Fuck you if that’s how you try to give a character personality. You’re a bad writer. Instead of watching the second episode of this, me and Owen just had sex instead.
I Am Not Okay With This: I was wary of this from the beginning because the trailer didn’t super appeal to me and the title immediately set up big red flags that this was probably wasn’t aimed at me. The audience for this show is pretty clearly people younger than I am who can be fit into a certain demographic box—the title uses Tumblr-esque language and the characters are basically the archetypes of depressed teens that so many people on social media try to be.
Honestly, I’m not sure I’d say this show was bad, so much as I think I just wasn’t the target audience. Greg eventually ended up watching the rest of it on his own, so it’s possible that it’s just that people younger than me will be into it. I just found all the characters really tedious and hard to watch for long. I don’t know, if you’re fifteen and you want to see yourself represented in a queer-coded teenager with superpowers, give this one a shot, I guess. It’s only seven episodes long.
This one is cheating just a bit, because we actually watched two of its short episodes. It wasn’t even that I didn’t like it. But the next time we turned on the TV to watch something, we just all forgot that we’d started watching it (even Greg, it was a while before he watched the rest) and put Raised by Wolves on instead. Which tells you a lot about how gripped by it we were.
Owen says I have to apply a legal disclaimer and remind you that I’m not actually the ultimate authority on taste, and so just because I didn’t like something doesn’t mean you won’t. So I guess go ahead and watch all these shows if you’re interested in them. Obviously I only talked about the parts of the shows I didn’t like, and it’s not like none of them had any positive qualities (except The History of Swear Words, that one genuinely just sucked). I know a lot of people liked The Expanse and Killing Eve especially, so I guess go ahead and watch them if they’re your thing. I just won’t be joining you.