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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Four professors give their TV show recommendations

Recommendations to procrastinate studying for midterms

With so many new television series coming out, four professors shared their TV recommendations with The California Aggie. 

Environmental Science and Policy Professor Mark Lubell 

Favorite TV show: “Game of Thrones”

“Game of Thrones” is based on George R.R. Martin’s book series, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” 

“I’m a big fan of fantasy and science fiction literature, including George R.R. Martin’s Game of Throne series,” Lubell said in an email interview. “I read those books before the television show. I also read lots of other similar series.”

Like many students, Lubell finds that television is a nice break from academia. 

 “When I’m not reading stuff about environmental policy and science, I’m usually reading sci-fi and fantasy,” Lubell said. “Good escapism for the mind, when you’re in a job that requires a lot of critical thinking.”

His favorite “good guy” character is Jon Snow, but Arya Stark is a close second. As for the villain, his favorite is Lord Varys the spymaster.

“Overall one of my favorite things about GoT are all the different characters with different personalities, and really none of them unambiguously ‘good’ or ‘evil,’” Lubell said. “Lots of complicated motivations,” Lubell said. 

He recommends the show to all students, but gives the teacherly advice to do your homework first. 

“Game of Thrones” is available on Hulu, HBO and Amazon Prime. 

Animal Science Professor Michael Mienaltowski

All-time favorite TV show: “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”

Other favorite TV shows: “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and “The Man in the High Castle”

I am always pretty busy, so if I can sit down and take a moment to escape from work, the pandemic news lately, and the stresses of life otherwise, then I just like to sit down and appreciatively soak in the experience,” Mienaltowski said in an email interview.

Mienaltowski said “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” which first aired on Oct. 3, 2008, is his “favorite ‘favorite show.’” The show continued for seven years and has over 100 episodes available to stream. 

“I have been a fan of Star Wars since I was a child, and this particular animated series has done a good job of adhering to the brand of Star Wars I remember fondly, all while more fully developing the prequel characters,” Mienaltowski said. “Perhaps the biggest reason I love the show is because it is something that I can watch with my seven-year-old son, and when I look over at him, I see the same excitement over Star Wars that I experienced when I was his age. It’s nice to share this with him.”

  Mienaltowski’s other favorite shows are “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” a late-night talk show that takes on a satirical view of current news and politics, and The Man in the High Castle,” an American history show that tells the story of an alternate universe where the Axis powers (Japan and Nazi Germany) won World War II. 

“Last Week Tonight has been one of my favorites because John Oliver’s style harkens back to the silliness of vintage Daily Show bits back when Jon Stewart ran the show on Comedy Central,” Mienaltowski said via email. “His research and arguments are well-delivered and the silliness he reaches sometimes makes difficult topics both easier to understand and easier to stomach.”

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is available on Disney Plus, “The Man in the High Castle” can be watched through Amazon Prime and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” is available on Hulu, HBO Now and Amazon Prime. 

History Professor Susan Gilson Miller

Favorite TV Show: The Nightly News Report on PBS 

“It is an informative, unbiased source for news, much better than Facebook, Twitter, or other apps on social media,” Miller said of her favorite show via email. 

Miller said she finds the news anchors make the show. 

“Judy Woodruff, the anchor, is superb,” Miller said. “Also Yamiche Alcindor, the White House correspondent, is a star. As well as Amna Nawas, co-anchor — all women, all excellent.”

The local station for this news is KVIE. 

German and Russian, Cinema and Digital Media Professor Jaimey Fisher

Recommended TV Shows: “Better Call Saul” for a multi-season show; “The People vs. OJ Simpson” for limited series and, for old-style comedy, “The Office (US)” and “Treme”

Because Fisher is planning on asking his students what they think his favorite TV show is at the end of the quarter, he couldn’t give us an exact answer. He did, however, give something even better: multiple good TV recommendations. 

“Better Call Saul” is a crime drama series and a prequel for the beloved show “Breaking Bad.”

“‘Better Call Saul’ hits a sweet spot of funny but also moving and heartbreaking, all while offering indispensable observations about post-2000 America,” Fisher said via email. “Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill is engaging: hilarious but also heartbreaking, also very revealing of the places that American economy can lead people.”

“The People vs OJ Simpson: American Crime” is a 10-episode true-crime anthology that tells the story of the infamous OJ Simpson murder trial. The show has three seasons, with the first focusing on this case. 

“‘People vs. OJ Simpson’ perfectly captures its mid-1990s moment as well as the complexity of race relations in the US,” Fisher said via email. 

“Treme” is a drama series set in 2005 New Orleans that focuses on how residents are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. 

“I’ve lived in New Orleans and am also partial to David Simon’s brilliant but category-defying Treme,” Fisher said via email. “‘Treme’ is another David Simon’s piercing analysis of the way the US mistreats its great cities.”

“The Office (US)” likely needs no introduction. The show, a sitcom based on the British TV show of the same name, stars Steve Carell and depicts, in documentary-style, the employees of a paper company located in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

“‘The Office’ is one of the most humanistic shows I’ve seen, for its consistent fashioning of art out of the mundane,” Fisher said. “I think that Dwight Schrute on ‘The Office’ is one of the greatest characters created for television. I grew up in the rural northeast and can tell you that they hit a very particular and peculiar nail on the head with Dwight.” 

“Better Call Saul” is available on AMC for free and on Netflix, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is available on Netflix, “Treme” can be watched on Hulu, HBO Now and Amazon Prime and “The Office” is on Netflix.

Written By: Itzelth Gamboa — arts@theaggie.org


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