15 (Trashy-ish) TV Shows for the Brain Foggy Days

TV Shows

There are 2 reasons why I watch unashamedly watch trashy TV:

–       I’m not very good at relaxing. I tend to watch TV in bed and generally watch energy-neutral TV.

–       When I’m particularly brain fogged, I’m so bored and completely trashy TV helps me idle my mind.

TV Shows

I both watch shows as they come out weekly, and I marathon shows over a couple of weeks. The more complex the

plot, the more likely I am to need to marathon it. There’s virtually no hope my remembering what happens week to week!

Below are some of my favourite TV shows, with a brief outline, my waffle about them, the number of seasons and how much concentration they require!

 1.     America’s Next Top Model

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America’s Next Top Model (abbreviated ANTM and Top Model) is an American reality television series and interactive competition that sees several women compete for the title of “America’s Next Top Model”, providing them with an opportunity to begin their career in the modeling industry.

I know, I know. I’ve watched this from the beginning and struggle to justify my love of it, but god do I love it! Each season is increasingly predictable, and there’s a weird sense of comfort and reliability in that. There’s 20 seasons to choose from now, so if you get hooked, you’ve got plenty to keep you going!

Number of seasons: 20 (ongoing)

Concentration needed rating: 2/5

 2.    The Bachelor/The Bachelorette

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The series revolves around a wealthy bachelor courted by 25 women. The bachelor eventually selects one of the group to continue their romance. The show begins with a series of group dates, after which female contestants are eliminated until only a handful remain. At this point the contestants begin to go out on individual dates with the bachelor, which, for contestants not eliminated, culminate in overnight dates and meetings between the bachelor and bachelorettes’ families. The program is a roller coaster ride of emotions for both the Bachelor and the women. The Bachelor gives a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of each person involved in this unique dating process. At the end of the show, the bachelor will have to pick one lady to be his future wife.

This is a relatively recent addition to my TV watching, but I immediately went back and watched a few previous seasons. This one mostly just baffles me. Like… the women/men always fall in love with the central person, and there’s always a proposal at the end… after about 6/7 weeks of knowing each other?? It’s just not how the real world works. This strange expectation that they’ll obviously fall for the person. Watch it. It’s weird. Plus if you’re anything like me, they all seem the same until the last 3/4 left which means even less brain power!

Number of seasons: 27 total (ongoing)

Concentration needed rating: 2/5

3.    Battlestar Galactica

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An interstellar warship protects survivors of a decimated civilization with a race of android predators in hot pursuit in this dark update of the 1978-80 space adventure.

I’m not a sci-fan fan at allll, but this is good, trust me. I love the ethics, morality and philosophy they weave throughout. This is one of the first shows I ever marathoned over a few weeks. Quite a lot of suspense, so it does take more mental/emotional energy.

Number of seasons: 4 (concluded)

Concentration needed rating: 5/5

 4.    Bomb Girls

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 Set in the 1940s, Bomb Girls tells the remarkable stories of the women who risked their lives in a munitions factory building bombs for the Allied forces fighting on the European front. They work in munitions factories, building the arms that keep their overseas husbands, lovers, brothers and sons alive and fighting. When your overseas lover could be shot dead tomorrow, when the materials you work with could explode in your face today, when you’re not sure if the free world will even be standing next month… you play your cards how you want — and you don’t play by the old rules.

I think my hamster is accidentally named after one of the characters (Betty). This is an underappreciated, heavily women-driven story. If you find sociology and male/female gender roles of a different era interesting, definitely give this a try. It’s not too taxing on the brain either.

Number of seasons: 2 (ongoing/concluded)

Concentration needed rating: 3/5

 5.    Breaking Pointe

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Breaking Pointe is an American reality television series that goes behind the scenes at Ballet West, a ballet company based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I’ve always been interested in ‘behind the scenes’ type shows, and this one kept my attention well. There’s probably not much point my saying much about it… you’ll either want to give this a go or not. Takes little brain power to watch, and it keeps telling you their names throughout – always helpful!

Number of seasons: 2 (ongoing)

Concentration needed rating: 2/5

6.    Desperate Housewives

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Welcome to Wisteria Lane. Don’t let the innocent suburban look fool you, there is plenty of action and intrigue in this “quiet” town–as evidenced by the show’s narrator, the late Mary Alice Young (Brenda Strong). The beautiful ladies of Wisteria Lane seem nice enough, but there’s always plenty going on behind closed doors, so watch your back.

I watched the first season of this when it first aired, and then kind of forgot about it. Some of my friends wouldn’t stop raving about it though and I gave it another go. 6 weeks later, and I’d watched all 180 episodes. I felt like these ladies were my friends and I couldn’t believe it was over. Reality was tough. It’s glossy, American and overdramatic but I found it really sucked me in and I couldn’t stop until I was finished. If you’re looking for a concluded, long running, excellent drama, try this. Not for everyone, but good escapism trash.

Number of seasons: 8 (concluded)

Concentration needed rating: 4/5

7.    Friday Night Lights

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The series details events surrounding the Dillon Panthers, a high school football team based in fictional Dillon, Texas. The show uses a small-town backdrop to address many issues facing contemporary Middle America.

Real, gritty and raw are all words I’d used to describe this show, despite it primarily being about a bunch of high school kids. Now obviously I have zero interest in American football, but it’s not about that, every show has to have its setting. The characters are beautifully written and acted, and the plot is heavily ‘real issues’ driven. I was sceptical about this one, and it took me a long time to give it a go, but I promise you won’t be disappointed if you do.

Number of seasons: 5 (concluded)

Concentration needed rating: 4/5

8.    Greek

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This show is about a super social sister and her anti-social brother who are both dealing with living the Greek life in college. The series focuses on a group of college students in and out of the fraternity and sorority system at a campus. Set at the fictitious Cyprus-Rhodes University, which focuses on the social minefield that is the Greek system. We will see the characters through this treacherous terrain as they try to find their place at this University or one of the Greek houses such as “Slacker” Cappie’s house or “It Girl” Casey’s house.

I honestly believe this to be the most underrated teen/early 20s show out there. I fell down a flight of stairs, cracked a rib, and was waiting in A&E for an X-ray. My friend with me at the time mentioned she’d just started watching this and when I got home, in ridiculous amounts of pain and stuck with limited mobility for several weeks, I gave it a try. Oh my gosh it was beautiful. I can’t explain my love for this show and I genuinely wish more people would watch it. Having my own University experience at the time, I was sucked into their world, and they felt like my friends. I wanted to set up a Greek system at my Students’ Union. The characters are so loveable and realistic. The plot can be a tad silly in places, but overall it’s easy, enjoyable watching.

Number of seasons: 4 (concluded)

Concentration needed rating: 3/5

9.    Grey’s Anatomy

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A medical drama that’s heavy on the drama, Grey’s Anatomy follows the personal and professional lives of the doctors of Seattle’s Grace Hospital. Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) is the show’s namesake and narrator, but just one of many in an ensemble cast that includes such memorable characters as McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) and McSteamy (Eric Dane).

If you’ve never watched Grey’s I understand this much be very intimidating to start. It’s currently on its 10th season, with 208 episodes in existence. I’ve always watched this as it airs (week to week), and for the most part have kept up with the plot, but it’s so good that I fully intend to start from the beginning at some point and marathon it. This is probably my favourite TV show. When it’s good, it’s life-changingly good. When it’s not on top form, it’s still pretty damn great. We’ve spent nearly 10 years with these excellent characters now, the highs and the lows. It’s full of superb life quotes and laugh out loud funnies (something I think gets lost in all the ‘serious drama’). The medical side can be interesting, but that’s never really the point and few patient storylines overlap episodes. This is all about the doctors and their lives. There’s a reason it’s won so many awards and is so universally loved.

Number of seasons: 10 (ongoing)

Concentration needed rating: 4/5

10.  Make It or Break It

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Drama that follows a group of teen elite gymnasts.

I think I probably love this so much as it’s an easy watch, and I can relate to a lot of their experiences as I used to be a national level athlete (hammer and shot put). I find the dynamics of friendship group interesting, and I think it subtly deals with issues like jealousy, rivalry and class. Oh, and one of the main gymnasts breaks her back at one point and everything she’s ever worked towards disappears. I find that relatable to from a chronic illness perspective. Never found anyone else who watches this… so maybe it’s literally just me  thinking it’s good, although it did make it to 3 seasons.

Number of seasons: 3 (concluded)

Concentration needed rating: 3/5

11.  Nashville

ROBERT WISDOM, CHARLES ESTEN, CONNIE BRITTON, ERIC CLOSE, HAYDEN PANETTIERE, POWERS BOOTHE, SAM PALLADIO, CLARE BOWEN, JONATHAN JACKSON

Country singer Rayna James, (Connie Britton), was once the queen of Nashville, but now her fame is on the wane. Desperate for a hit, she reluctantly agrees to go on tour with rising teen star Juliette Barnes, (Hayden Panettiere), only to find herself relegated to opening act status. Will the two stars sing beautiful music together? Or will they back stab, bad mouth, and claw their ways to the top?

I think I developed a bit of a crush on Connie Britton in Friday Night Lights, so was quick to watch this when it premiered. One of my favourite new shows. Dramas set in ‘glamorous’ industries (in this case music), always appeal to me, but this has a certain bit of magic I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s all very dramatic and unrealistic, of course, but it’s easily the show I’m most excited for each week. Surprisingly I find myself to be quite enjoying the music too, even though would never have thought I’d like country!

Number of seasons: 2 (ongoing)

Concentration needed rating: 4/5

12.  Orange Is The New Black

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Orange is the New Black is a women’s prison drama with comedy that takes no prisoners. Based on the acclaimed memoir of the same name by Piper Kerman, the series is about engaged Brooklynite Piper Chapman, whose decade-old relationship with drug-runner Alex results in her arrest and year-long detention in a federal penitentiary. To pay her debt to society, Piper must trade her comfortable New York life with fiancé Larry, for an orange prison jumpsuit and a baffling prison culture where she is forced to question everything she believes about herself and the world at large. As she struggles to adjust to her new reality, she finds unexpected laughter, tears, conflict and camaraderie amidst an eccentric and outspoken group of inmates.

Oh my gosh, this show is amazing and if you’ve not yet watched it, you’re missing out! It’s so refreshing to watch a show primarily about women, but they’re not talking about stereotypical women’s stuff. The community spirit of these women is phenomenal, and the beautifully written characters pull on your heart in precisely the right way. This, along with Orphan Black, was my 2013 new TV highlight. I cannot wait for the next season and I recommend this to absolutely everyone I speak to.

Number of seasons: 1 (ongoing)

Concentration needed rating: 4/5

13.  Orphan Black

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[msg]A streetwise hustler witnesses the suicide of a girl who looks just like her and falls headlong into a deadly mystery.[/msg]

Every description of this that I read makes it sound really weird… it’s about clones? And murders? And mystery? But seriously, don’t let that put you off. Just try it. You’ll be hooked by the end of the first episode. Tatiana Maslany is a truly outstanding actress, and I find myself regularly pondering how on earth she’s the same person. (Watch it and you’ll understand what I mean!). Oh, and Felix, Sarah’s brother, is one of the most hilarious gay, camp men characters I’ve seen on TV in ages! This show is almost worth it just for him. But be warned, you gotta concentrate big time on this, so don’t watch it on days when brain fog is thick!

Number of seasons: 1 (ongoing)

Concentration needed rating: 5/5

14.  Private Practice

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[msg]A spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy, the series takes place at Seaside Wellness Center (formerly Oceanside Health & Wellness Group) and chronicles the life of Dr. Addison Montgomeryas she leaves Seattle Grace Hospital in order to join a private practice, in Los Angeles. Private Practice also revolves around Addison’s co-workers at Seaside Wellness, and how they deal with patients, and the practice while still finding time to live their everyday lives. [/msg]

It always surprises me how many Grey’s Anatomy lovers have never given Private Practice a proper chance, but then I guess I didn’t until it was already 3 seasons in.  If you like Grey’s, it’s virtually impossible not to like this, but you might need to push through into the second season to really get hooked. When Private Practice is good, it’s incredibly good. I’d say I warm to the characters a fraction less than Grey’s, but if you’re looking for a longish series to keep you occupied, give this a go!

Number of seasons: 6 (concluded)

Concentration needed rating: 4/5

15.  Torchwood

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[msg] Torchwood follows the Wales branch of a covert agency called the Torchwood Institute which investigate extraterrestrial incidents on Earth and scavenges alien technology for its own use. To paraphrase Torchwood Three’s commander-in-chief, Captain Jack Harkness, the organisation is beyond the government, the police, and the United Nations. Their public perception is as merely a ‘special ops’ group. [/msg]

Exactly like Private Practice, if you like Doctor Who, you really should be watching Torchwood. Hell, even if you don’t like Doctor Who, you should definitely give Torchwood a go. It’s set in the same ‘world’ and there’s a lot of crossover, but the main distinction is the addition of a lot more sex and violence! I like Torchwood in particular for the multitude of moral questions and interesting ‘what if’s that it throws out.

Number of seasons: 4, kinda (ongoing, maybe)

Concentration needed rating: 4/5

 

Honourable Mentions:

Don’t Tell The Bride, Under the Dome, Matchmaker Millionaire, Fresh Meat, Toddlers & Tiaras, Geordie Shore, Reign, Once Upon A Time, The Rachel Zoe Project, The New Normal and The Fosters.

 

Suggestions from the Pillow Fighters Club

A recent discussion in the Pillow Fighters Club about TV threw up these suggestions: The US Office, Parks & Rec, various cartoons, Revenge, Downtown Abbey, How I Met Your Mother, Fringe, Breaking Bad, Community and Wife Swap

What are your favourite trashy-ish TV shows for brain foggy days? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @ThePillowFortUK.