First, the good news. The A&E channel recently cancelled its swinger-lifestyle reality series Neighbors With Benefits after just two episodes.
The series followed multiple married couples in an "average suburban neighbourhood" in Ohio as they canvassed the possibility of sexual interactions while simultaneously being regular folks with kids, jobs and hobbies. It was kinda disgusting, that show. Amazingly, A&E has said it has no plans to show the unaired episodes in the future, on the channel or online. A rare victory for good taste.
There is a lot of terrific TV airing right now. Sundays are a nightmare of scheduling conflicts if you try to keep up with the best. Almost every weeknight has a fine drama or comedy. The Americans (Wednesday, FX, 10 p.m.) has had an excellent season, continually a grim, searching examination of what people will do for causes they believe in, from the personal to the political.
There is what appears to be an excellent summer season on the horizon. Season two of True Detective will arrive on June 21, along with HBO's sharp NFL-centric comedy Ballers and the bizarre political satire The Brink starring Jack Black, Tim Robbins and Aasif Mandvi. In just a couple of weeks, Showtime's lividly caustic Happyish, starring Steve Coogan and Kathryn Hahn, arrives here on CraveTV.
Meanwhile, look around and you'll see a lot of dreck we could do without. Shows that should be put out of their misery, and ours. A lot of them air tonight. Herewith, a short, tip-of-the-iceberg list.
CSI: Cyber (Wednesday, CBS, CTV, 10 p.m.) is mere brand extension. And it looked exhausted on arrival. Yes, there are horrible people using technology to stalk, terrify and even kill. But the show is abysmal in its adherence to the horrible formula of manipulating female viewers with fear.
Patricia Arquette is going through the motions as Special Agent Avery Ryan who, of course, enlists a former hacker to join her team. He's a renegade. There's tension with the by-the-book detectives. Blah blah. Ironically, Arquette's character is based on the real Mary Aiken, an Irish professor of cyber analytics, and her story – and how Dublin came to be at the leading edge of cyberspace studies – is far more interesting than anything on CSI: Cyber. This week: "A murder victim's electronic devices suggest that she was alive three days after her official time of death." Oh, please.
Storage Wars (Wednesday, A&E, 8 p.m.) takes up three hours. Six consecutive episodes. It's over. The novelty has evaporated. There is nothing interesting inside those storage lockers. All the cool stuff is long gone. Face facts, people.
Duck Dynasty (also on A&E and in endless repeats) is so over. Part of the wave of redneck reality shows that came in an avalanche a few years back, it is long past its best-before date. Sure, the Robertson clan was cute for a while. Then Phil Robertson began mouthing off, calling homosexuality "illogical" and comparing it to bestiality, and claiming that racial segregation had not been bad for black Americans.
The other day, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who might make a run for president as a Republican candidate, said he'd consider picking another Duck Dynasty star, Willie Robertson, as his running mate. Life's too short for this weirdness. Make Duck Dynasty go away.
19 Kids and Counting (Wednesday, TLC, 8 p.m.) is on six times in one night. The show, previously called 17 Kids and Counting and 18 Kids and Counting, is about the Duggar family – parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 19 children, all of whose names begin with the letter "J". It is, essentially, a celebration of the lifestyle of Baptists who believe in the Christian patriarchy movement. The word "wholesome" is wielded a great deal to describe what is a bizarre, small-minded way of life. There is a lot of drama involved in "courtship," which inevitably leads to an 18-year-old boy marrying a 17-year-old girl. The novelty, of course, is the separation of the family from most of the contemporary culture. The reality is a strange kind of freak show. And one that has gone on too long.
Odd that Neighbors with Benefits is cancelled and 19 Kids and Counting is going strong. Well, I find it odd. This list could be much longer. I haven't even started on a list of reno and DIY shows. More later.