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The Best Worst Netflix Shows for Your Summer Slump

By Entertainment

Illustration by Sascha Lusk.

When summer starts, your mind fills with dreams of whimsical road trips, endless beach days, and parties that stretch into the early hours of the morning. You tell yourself that this is the summer you’ll actually get your life together, you’ll get an internship, and stop sleeping until two in the afternoon. 

However, once August hits, the reality of summer dawns upon you: It’s too hot to do anything and sand gets everywhere.

So, give yourself a break and allow yourself to truly indulge in one of life’s greatest pleasures: Horrible television. Summer is the perfect time to catch up on all of the shitty TV that you wouldn’t waste time watching during the school year; TV that doesn’t herald any sort of “golden age” but hovers timidly around the 3-star mark; TV so bad, it’s good. 

Grab a snack and get comfy: It’s time to revel in the glory of the best worst shows on Netflix.

 

“Friday Night Lights”

For a TV show about a high school football team, “Friday Night Lights” is oddly cinematic.  The wide, sweeping shots of vast Texan skies and expertly shot football games make “Friday Night Lights” seem more like a Sundance contender than a teen drama. Connie Britton plays Tami Taylor, a high school guidance counselor whose husband (Kyle Chandler) takes a job as the coach of the school’s football team, the Dillon Panthers. Briton is the perfect combination of tough and understanding when faced with various debacles. 

The true star of the show is Tim Riggins, played by Taylor Kitsch: A soft-spoken bad boy with a penchant for an after practice beer (or six). Riggins is an enigma; a beautiful, sinewy, enigma. He broods, he likes dogs, his hair is lustrous — especially when slightly sweaty after practice. He may or may not be able to read and I love him dearly.

Like any good show, “Friday Night Lights” seeps into other aspects of your life, forcing you to care about the state of Texas, high school football, and a straight guy named Tim more than you ever thought possible.

 

“Ghost Whisperer”

The basic premise of “Ghost Whisperer” is that Jennifer Love Hewitt can see dead people. The “dead” look vaguely holographic thanks to some early 2000s “spirit” filters, and their reasons for remaining earthbound vary from being a scorned bride to an actual serial murderer. The real mystery of the show is how it somehow remained on the air for five seasons. The series makes a great fall/Halloween hate-watch for when you’re in the mood for something vaguely spooky but not as terrifying as a serial killer documentary or “American Horror Story.”

 

“Riverdale”

What if the “Archie” comics were like, edgy? That’s the idea behind “Riverdale,” in which the quiet town of the same name is turned upside down by the death of irs football star, Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines). The wholesome ethos of after-school stops at the soda shop remains intact, but this time Archie Andrews is carrying on extracurriculars with his music teacher; Betty and Veronica make out/queer-bait for the cheerleading team; and Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is a moody loner in a beanie.

The show is kitschy, and the emphasis on diners and murder, coupled with Madchen Amick as Betty’s mom, often make it seem like a shallow imitation of “Twin Peaks.” Still, it has a few solid moments. Josie and the Pussycats reign as Riverdale’s number one musical act, and it’s always great to see a band completely composed of women of color — especially when they triumph over Archie’s pseudo-Elliott Smith attempt at a musical career. Amick is a brilliant actress, and Sprouse makes Jughead the perfect combination of endearing and completely insufferable. Plus, even after all the queer-baiting, I’m still hoping that Betty and Veronica get together as a giant “fuck you” to the heteronormative love triangle dominating the original comics.

 

“Switched at Birth”

My favorite thing about “Switched at Birth” is that the title of the show is mentioned in the dialogue once every thirty seconds, just in case you forgot what you were watching.

Vanessa Marano (a.k.a. April from “Gilmore Girls”) plays Bay Kennish, an artistic high school sophomore who was, in fact, switched at birth. Bay’s real mom lives on the other side of town. Meanwhile, the Kennishes biological daughter, Daphne (Katie Leclerc) is deaf. This show is undeniably cheesy (gentle acoustic music accompanies nearly every dramatic moment, some of the camera angles are horrendous), but the show really does portray the deaf community in a realistic light. Daphne talks to her friends using American Sign Language (ASL), and speaks candidly about the difficulties of speech therapy and being deaf in a hearing world. Unlike so many other portrayals of disabled characters, Daphne’s disability isn’t her token defining characteristic, rather it’s just a small part of who she is. Daphne’s “new” family also does their best to learn how to sign, earnestly bumbling their way through an entirely new language.

There are many parts of this show that are endearingly bad. Bay is supposed to be a street artist, but her art is atrocious. She calls fun times, “a gas,” and makes other conversational gaffes that make it plain the writers have never been around a single teenager. “Switched” makes a conscious decision to incorporate as plot points all the parts of 2011 that we’d rather forget, like hair feather extensions and planking. Lucas Grabeel from “High School Musical” plays Bay’s brother, Toby, and he’s in a band called GuitarFace. When I watch this show, I know it’s horrible — and it delights me, filling me with the warmth of the summer sun.

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