5 Brilliant TV Series For The Discerning Middle-Aged Couple

jeshoots-com-606648-unsplashThe old man and I watch a lot of detective series together. It’s the only genre that hits the sweet spot for both of us. For him, there are car chases, guns, and psychopaths  – although, sadly no dragons – and for me, there is typically a decent representation of female characters – albeit, few of them survive to the end. 

I’m not great at suspending belief for the sake of entertainment or indeed following the plot of any storyline with more than a handful of characters, so while I enjoyed Game of Thrones, my decaying brain found the magnitude of the cast and locations very confusing.

Unlike Unforgiven, which is another outstanding British series and almost on a par with the quality of Line Of Duty and Luther – although, I’m not sure that anything can come really close to Idris chasing baddies through the streets of London – which offers some gruesomely believable plotlines, a mesmerizing cast, and seriously pretty, chocolate box locations.

In fact, I only found one very minor flaw with the series. Because, is it just me, or is anyone else seriously amazed by the way that characters ‘called in to help with police inquiries,’ can remember EXACTLY where they were and what they were doing between the hours of 9pm and 12pm on February 3, sixteen years ago?

I mean…I struggle to remember what I was doing last night, and when friends reminisce about some great night we spent together three years ago, I can’t remember a damn thing about it.

Of course, I suppose that if I was a killer, I might remember burying the body of some poor woman in the middle of roadworks on the North Circular. But if not, I’m a little sceptical about being able to remember who was a guest at my party on New Year’s Eve, 2009. On the rare occasions that I feel nostalgic and drag out the family photo albums, sometimes I struggle to remember when the photos were taken, their location, or even which child I’m looking at!

Anyway, for those of you mid-lifers that are struggling to find a tv series that keeps you together and awake beyond 8pm,  Unforgiven is one of the best series we’ve watched over the past few months, and I’ve added a few other suggestions below:

Band Of Brothers – Understandably, there was only one woman in the entire series, (who is taken out by a bomb), but WOW! this is a truly amazing series, on a par with the standard of Saving Private Ryan. Starring a young Damian Lewis, this series will make you seriously think about the true meaning of ‘dark times.’

Unforgiven – Great cast, gritty storylines, and typically in-your-face realism which is what I love about good British detective series. You won’t find any perfectly-manicured cops on this show – they’re all damaged and saddled with personal baggage – but I love the way the characters’ personal relationships are woven into the storylines.

Jack Irish – We’re late to the party on this one, but what’s not to love about the self-deprecating wit and charisma of Guy Pearce? Great twists and turns in this awesome Aussie series.

Killing Eve – I’m a tad reluctant to add this to my list, but I can’t deny that this series was highly entertaining with some strong female characters that keep you on your toes all the way through. Personally, it got a wee bit silly for me towards the end, but that might be my issue with artistic license.

Better Call Saul – I haven’t finished this series yet, but the old man swears by it.

What To Watch Next? The Viewing Dilemma Faced By Every Middle-Aged Couple

bear-3145874_1920As the final episode of series 3 of The Wire reached its conclusion last night (and if I’m honest, we were no clearer about what the fuck happened during its twelve episodes), the old man and I reached another crisis of epic proportions in our marriage. What to watch next? Because what to watch on tv when you’re middle-aged, intolerant and with almost twenty-five years of marriage under your belt, is an ongoing dilemma.

 

Our parents had it so much easier back in the day. With the choice of Crossroads or Corrie in the UK, and (I imagine) Skippy or The Young Doctors here in Australia, they can’t have experienced the United Nations-style negotiations that we have to go through each time a series ends. Because, somehow, with a gazillion tv shows at our disposal, we still struggle to agree on one.

 

Perhaps, the problem is linked to gender, that is if you accept the premise that our differences are inherently linked to our sexuality, which I don’t. Because, (and without wishing to paint the old man as the Neanderthal male stereotype of Generation X that he is), he does like guns, cars and testosterone-fuelled panting from male protagonists running from creatures, villains, and epidemics, whereas I prefer something more real, more cerebral…and the rare sighting of a penis is a bonus. 

 

Have you noticed that men on tv and in movies are always running? Must be that action gene that we were diddled out of. Or perhaps they never read The Hare and the Tortoise?

 

Anyway…that means that there are few series we can watch together where one of us isn’t checking our phone every few minutes or yawning. Police series seem to be the only genre where there is some vague correlation in our tastes, although there is only so much Wallander or Hinterland I can watch before suicide becomes a more interesting alternative. 

 

We have a list now – yes, the old man has become that fucking anal about this ‘we might as well kill ourselves stage of our lives’ (his words) if they ever stop making Peaky Blinders, Homeland or Billions.  And The Wire sat on our list for a while, mainly because it is set in the eighties and nineties and I don’t like anything old, but also, as the only female protagonist is a lesbian, that dashed all my hopes of seeing a penis. Fortunately, however, one of the lead character’s, Jimmy McNulty, is a bit of a player – because he’s a panting, running MAN – so there is some bare-bum action. Ladies – sadly, we have to take what we can get.

 

Anyway, we couldn’t ignore the reviews of the series, especially as the old man is a real IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes man, and he refuses to turn the tv on for anything less than an 8.5. So, if you’re looking for a polished, gritty police drama that focuses on the drug world in Baltimore, look no further. You will, however, require an interpreter to follow the slang of the young black Americans around which the stories revolve, although we have achieved a level of fluency as we head into series 4 and ight and ya feel me have become commonly-used words/phrases in our household; sadly, to the confusion of the dog, whose sparse vocabulary of twenty words was reached with the word dickhead.

 

So, as you can imagine, neither of us said anything at the closing music last night, but we were both thinking it. What the fuck do we watch now?

 

Any suggestions that meet the above criteria will be gratefully received. There will be bonus points for any penis sightings.

 

 

Netflix, Vikings and Middle-Aged Memory Loss

As I’m sure most of you would agree, the invasion of Netflix into our lives has been a godsend to our age group; up there with Botox, Tena pads and Viagra for some of us, I would imagine. screen-310714_1280

 

Unfortunately, however, the old man and I have a few issues to resolve around our nightly sessions of back-to-back viewing of episodes of our favourite series – which can sometimes comprise of months and months of entertainment…thank fucking Christ!

 

I’ll give you an example:

 

We began to watch Vikings a few months back. His choice not mine, even though the wonderful Mumabulous had droned on and on about the series for what seemed like eons, due to its infusion of Norse history and intimate study of the Viking culture, I believe… so I was intrigued.

 

Imagine my surprise when the visual feast of the series wasn’t all gratuitous blood and guts and men being …well, men, and it contained some genuine storylines, that are actually based on history. The series is headed by two lead characters, the brothers Ragnar Lothbrok and Rollo. Interestingly Ragnar, played by Australian actor, Travis Fimmel, used to be a Calvin Klein model before he took up his shield and learned how to plait his hair and I think that the depth of that experience truly aided him to nail the authenticity of his character, who, part crazed butcher and part sensitive new man with his children’s safety as his priority, is most women’s dream man.

 

But inevitably it can be kind of heavy to watch, night after night, particularly for us sensitive types, and in spite of the rather distracting amount of very toned male flesh on display – obviously the Vikings were the forerunners of the six pack. So after surviving the edge-of-your-seat mass brutality of the first two series, the old man and I decided we needed a breather from the mass destruction of England and decided to revert back to another series last night, that we had watched over Christmas – The Killing, an American cop series that is set in Seattle.

 

We’d had a hiatus of about a month and needless to say, neither of us could remember a fucking thing that happened at the end of the last series.

 

The conversation went something like this:

 

‘Did they find the body of the boy in the boot?’

 

‘No, he was at his father’s grave stone.’

 

‘When did his father die?’

 

‘He was hung, remember? The whole of the last series was about them trying to prevent his hanging.’

 

‘Oh…was this the one where she slept with the killer?’

 

‘Yes, that’s why she’s so consumed with guilt.’

 

‘How did he kill them again? Was that the Blood Eagle scene.’

 

‘No, that was in Vikings.’

 

If torture scenes where a sexy, bloody man cuts along the flesh of a man’s spine, pulls apart his rib cage, pulls out his lungs and places one on each of his victims shoulders, put you off your dinner, Vikings may not be your cup of tea. I close my eyes during those scenes because gore apart, the series can be magnetising light entertainment in which both men and women are convincing warriors, with the women equally as powerful and there’s barely a gratuitous breast or Brazilian in sight. So, more progressive than GOT, although not as thought-provoking.

 

I have seen a penis, although not Ragnar’s, unfortunately.

 

There’s no equivalent eye candy in The Killing, but if like me, you get a thrill out of watching shows that are set in rainy, cold locations while you check your tan lines, it is also worth a watch.

 

How’s your memory faring? Thankfully, I’ve got the heat to blame at the moment as we melt in a heatwave, but I’m also considering making the switch to red wine for all its well-documented health advantages that I hope include improvement of one’s ability to remember where you car is parked.

 

Dysfunctional Versus Flat-line Relationships

I’ve just completed the whirlwind first season of ‘Love’ on Netflix, written by Judd Apatow who produces ‘Girls’ with Lena Durham. love-netflix-tv-series-trailer

 

I am drawn to the modern genre of television shows that depict the full range of dysfunctional relationships experienced by ‘normal’, flawed characters that we can all identify with. Unlike reality television contestants, whose embarrassing two-dimensionalism (I realise that’s not a word, but it works so well) is so painfully exposed on shows such as ‘Married At First Sight’, where ‘real’ (?) people have their personalities assessed by relationship experts and then become pawns in their own marriage to someone they’ve never met before.

 

And how do you know this is reality tv? Because these people have about as much spark as watching Russell Brand without sound, in spite of the producers assuring us that each couple has been matched perfectly.

 

Of course characters such as crazy Mickey in ‘Love’ or Hannah Horvath in Girls are not real in the true sense of ‘real.’ They are sensationalised personalities who reflect how we’d all like to behave and talk in people-to-people situations and dysfunctional relationships if we had a sassy, clever writer behind us pulling our strings.

 

In real life, (as depicted by the *yawn couples on shows such as The Bachelor and MAFS), most people genuinely struggle to find anything clever to say in the heat of a domestic or in an emotional situation. Rules pertaining to social etiquette and being taught to be mindful of people’s feelings are inherent or have been ingrained from an early age – unlike in people on the Spectrum, for instance – and so real people are more likely to walk away from sensitive situations when they get too hard. Unlike for fictional tv characters, there are real consequences to impulsive, explosively emotional melt-downs, because in real life we don’t know how the storyline ends and most of us aren’t prepared to take that risk.

 

I like to insinuate on this blog that the old man and I share a quirky, exciting, semi- dysfunctional relationship, because that makes for more interesting writing. We still have our moments of unbridled laughter and jollity, but for much of the time our relationship is controlled by exterior influences, that may contribute to a shared strength, but can also sap at our marital energy. When the old man and I argue, nine times out of ten he will walk away rather than confront me and follow it up with the best make up sex EVER afterwards.

 

As aggravating as this is, I imagine it is the atypical reaction of many men and I assume it heralds back to the cavemen days when men had to learn to avoid physical conflict with other humans. As we’re well aware, many modern men still find it hard to control their natural urge to ‘fight’ rather than ‘flight’ when cornered.

 

In the finale of ‘Love’, Mickey – who we witness fight battles with addiction throughout the series, enabling the writer to depict her as a refreshingly and convincingly mean-mouthed, miserable cow much of the time – fesses up about her feelings for Gus in a wonderfully honest and ballsy tirade, and ultimately lands her man.

 

But her journey to that point is an insightful one where the seemingly more confident, physically more attractive and exciting half of the couple has to truly fight hard to earn the love and respect of her dorky, more ‘normal’ counterpart. Mickey is a ‘crazy’, judgmental, flawed character and too often that type of personality type is depicted on screen as dangerously attractive, rather than destructive, which it can be. Whereas Gus, the object of her infatuation, lives an unassuming, relatively mundane existence as an undiscovered script writer waiting for success, sheltered by a close band of equally bland but supportive friends.

 

For Mickey, who has barely survived a range of dysfunctional, abusive relationships, Gus’ natural wisdom, loyalty, wit and the simplicity of his recipe for happiness make him charmingly inoffensive and offers her the security she needs.

 

All relationships inevitably end up in flat-line periods at some point, when those early flames of passion die down and poking the embers back into life in the context of real life is so much more challenging. The relationships that survive – and I’m not just talking about romantic relationships – are the ones that adapt best to the intrinsic causes of flat-line periods, such as responsibility, compromise, balancing work and family, and kids.

 

For the lucky ones that survive, those pressures can strengthen a relationship, for others it can cause those initially strong mooring ropes to fray.