With the dawn of a new semester here at the University of Tampa, it’s time to get back into the normal routine—class, eat, sleep and watch Netflix (in varying order). Here are a few suggestions to get you back into the swing of things.
This week’s picks focus on one of most beloved decades (by most college students and the internet)—the 1990s. What is it about the 90s that get us all wishy-washy and nostalgic? Even when some of us were technically too young to watch some of these shows during their initial run and/or failed to grasp their brilliance. Now that we’re older, however, we can enjoy them in all their glory as Netflix intended: one episode after another.
What is it? Simply put, Friends is a comedy about six friends, Rachel (Jennifer Aniston), Ross (David Schwimmer), Monica (Courteney Cox), Joey (Matt LeBlanc), Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), and Chandler (Matthew Perry). These characters’ lives are all somewhat complexly intertwined with each other, be it relationships, jobs, or other various subjects, and these escapades are often met with zany, sweet, or detrimental outcomes. However, more than that, this sitcom has a certain heart to it that connects viewers with these characters.
Why you should be watching: While this is probably a no-brainer for many of you out there, and indeed, many of you may already be re-watching your favorite episodes or discovering it for the first time, this show is one of the defining comedies of the 1990s and, in a way, encapsulates the essence of a generation. Aside from the amazing and endearing main characters, one of the best things about this sitcom was the famous guest stars that frequently appeared during Friends’ 238 episode run. Truly, this show had a lot of big names from film and television as guest stars. For instance, movie stars such as Brad Pitt, Elliot Gould, Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie, George Clooney, Paul Rudd, Julia Roberts, Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon and Bruce Willis, just to name a few, livened up the screen with their large status presence. Likewise, all-stars of the television world weren’t in short supply either, such as John Stamos, Jason Alexander, Tom Selleck, Christina Applegate, Aisha Tyler, Eddie Cahill, Anna Faris and Alec Baldwin.
The West Wing (1999-2006)
What is it? For those of you waiting anxiously for season three of House of Cards (out Feb. 27), binging on The West Wing, should help to fill the void. The West Wing is snippy, snarky yet serious, with well-written, fast-paced banter and deftly crafted characters. The West Wing follows the lives of the fictional President Jed Bartlet (played by Martin Sheen) and his senior White House staff as they try to navigate through the mess of politics. While this show has quite serious overtones, the characters themselves are, while very complex, warm, witty, funny, and sometimes petty, but still are overall good people.
Why you should be watching: Aside from an antidote to House of Cards withdraw, The West Wing is brilliant in its own right. In addition to its all-star cast, this show was a defining drama of the late ‘90s and early 2000s, and one of the first of its kind in terms of content and presentation. Not only did the show feature witty dialogue at lightning speed, the fact that The West Wing presented drama in this way was special. Speaking of all-star cast, Rob Lowe, Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Dulé Hill, Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda, just to name a few, round out this cast and give The West Wing its heart.
What is it? A spin-off of the classic 1980s sitcom, Cheers, Frasier documents the life of Dr. Frasier Crane, a snobby psychiatrist who hosts a successful radio talk show. Throughout this series, Frasier, who is much better at doling out advice than giving it, must contend with his relatively wacky, dysfunctional yet loving family and his various relationships with friends and potential lovers.
Why you should be watching: In a word—Frasier’s hilarious. True, the jokes do tend to venture to a slightly more sophisticated tastes in terms of its references (a lot of opera, classical music, history, art, psychology, etc.), but still has a touch of physical comedy and classic social bumblings that allows anyone to enjoy the series. The characters certainly make the show. The main character, Frasier Crane, played brilliantly by Kelsey Grammer, combines enough egotism with heart to make him endearing. David Hyde Pierce, who plays Frasier’s ninny brother, Niles Crane, brings an additional ego to the show which creates a lot of bickering and banter between the two brothers, which is quite enjoyable to relish in and laugh at. Adding to the family dynamic and disfunction is Martin Crane, played by John Mahoney, the patriarch of the Crane family, and very much a typical man’s man, very down to earth, and is a former cop wounded in the line of duty. The very opposite of both his sons. Jane Leeves plays Daphne Moon, a somewhat hippy, ditzy physical therapist and psychic that Niles literally moons after. Roz Doyle, played by Peri Gilpin, is Frasier’s radio producer, and a free spirit and independent woman not afraid of engaging in racy one night stands. Not to mention, there’s Eddie, Martin’s Jack Russell Terrier, who adds an adorable dimension to the show. Overall, a cast that instills warm regards for these crazy characters.
Claire Farrow can be reached at Claire.Farrow@spartans.ut.edu.