What’cha Watchin’?

Screengrabs from the Chronicle staff

Red Oaks

The Sopranos, Deadwood, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Dexter – the immortals serve up scarring violence. And not even particularly bloodthirsty most of the time, just in spots that stain you forever: Stringer Bell, Christopher Moltisanti, Doakes.

Hardcore dramas, all of them. We finally snapped during the second season of Ray Donovan, and season 4 of Homeland proved the last straw. Enough with the murder and mayhem. We drown in it daily. Mind you, as soon as Amazon Prime posts season 4 of The Americans, we're there. And when the third season of Fargo drops on Hulu, bring on Ewan McGregor!

Otherwise, we're done with soul-rending verisimilitude.

When Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin finally soured, then, we settled on Gael García Bernal in Mozart in the Jungle – sweet, funny, short. (The show, too.) From there, cable sitcoms fell like dominoes: trans-Atlantic hookup Catastrophe on Amazon, Dear White People's collegiate race hijinks on Netflix, and tragically euthanized network misfire Downward Dog on Hulu.

Neither my wife nor I were allowed to watch TV growing up. Fleeting windows allowed me The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Upstairs/Downstairs, and The Duchess of Duke Street. She got Dukes of Hazzard and Dallas. We've stopped going out to movies altogether, and not just thanks to the three-foot-high Tumble Leaf (brilliant, beautiful) enthusiast tearing around our house. We communicate through these shows, confab, consider.

Step off.

So the hip-hop dues of Atlanta on Hulu and Italian feast of Master of None on Netflix rule. Season 3 of Red Oaks – every heartfelt Eighties teen comedy rolled into one – dropped last Friday on Amazon. Just don't tell my spouse about my bingeing season 1 of Banshee, also Amazon, a series as violent as Breaking Bad but as righteous as Justified.

After all, a dude's gotta have some bare-knuckle outlet for this reality series gone to hell that we call "civilization."

– Music Editor Raoul Hernandez

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