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Erin Watches: Scandal, Jericho, Survivors, Sons of Tucson, Scrubs July 12, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches, Fandom.
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I caved. The fourth season of Scandal is on Netflix, and I’m marathoning it. The show is a lot more watchable — a lot less hair-tearingly frustrating — once you go in expecting everyone to be an irrational, murderous, election-fixing, torture-happy, generally terrible person.

All the main characters, at least. I’ve gone and gotten attached to a couple new members of the beta cast — the not!Obama community organizer in DC, the sweet newbie politician who insists on reading an entire 1200-page bill before voting on it. Are they going to end up terrible by season 5? No, don’t tell me, leave me to my…not hope, exactly, but peaceful ignorance.

(Plus, season 4 brings us Portia de Rossi, who it turns out is a joy to watch no matter what kind of role she’s playing. I’ve gone and added a bunch more of her TV filmography to my to-watch list.)

I’ve watched a bunch of apocalyptic shows lately, too. Jericho, where half a dozen US cities get nuked, and a small town tries to keep itself together through the aftermath. There’s a lot of great stuff about people creatively repurposing what they have — the first episode has panicky DIY tracheation, and later there’s a sequence where they’re all trying to work out the logistics of getting as much of the town as possible into bomb shelters before a storm with radioactive fallout blows through.

And Survivors, where the Plague kills 99% of the population. Watching the frantic medical response while the crisis was happening was probably the most interesting part of this one.

Both shows have this issue where they can’t just focus on the complicated struggle of survival, and the human moments that come out of it. No, they have to add extra drama. This guy has a nuke in his basement. That ragtag group of everyperson refugees we’re rooting for has been infiltrated by a psychopathic murderer/rapist. The big-pharma company that accidentally unleashed the Plague is looking for one of our heroes…and instead of just telling her “hey, we think you have antibodies we can use to make a vaccine, want to help us out?”, they have to drug and kidnap her. Because realistic efforts to tackle overwhelming medical problems aren’t interesting on their own, the doctors also have to be Evil.

Both got canceled on cliffhanger endings, too. Sigh.

Much more heartwarming, and canceled at a nicer stopping point: Sons of Tucson. The sons of an arrested white-collar criminal decide to hire a guy to pretend to be their father so they won’t get shunted into foster care. The kids are well-written, not cloyingly sweet or miniature adults, and it helps that they’re played by actual child actors of the age the characters are supposed to be. Their dad-for-hire is one of those schlubs who starts out as a slacker opportunist, but not evil or dangerous, just entertainingly self-serving.

And then they bond! Our protagonist grows and matures into a passable non-fake guardian figure! They tackle social situations and issues with the house together, end up caring about each other, and turn into a bizarre-yet-functional family of choice! Good times.

Also sweet and funny: Scrubs. Did not disappoint. Sharp comedy, lovable characters, sometimes hilariously OTT and other times openly emotional about the stress of working in a hospital — it moves between those two really well, really smoothly and naturally. (I’ve heard IRL professionals say it’s more realistic about the emotional stuff than a lot of serious medical dramas, and I believe it. People cope with traumatic work long-term by having a sense of humor about morbid things, not by being soap-opera solemn all the time.)

I mean, there’s some weirdness. The occasional sexist and/or transphobic joke. Seriously contrived “accidental pregnancy with someone I don’t like” arc in the later seasons. Instead of getting canceled early and on a cliffhanger, this one had an extra season tacked on after the planned finale, and it’s exactly as weak as you’d expect.

And, look…early on there’s this arc where J.D., Turk, and Carla (hero, hero’s BFF, BFF’s wife) are all rooming together in one apartment, right? They’re considering having J.D. move out, so he decides to spend a couple of weeks away. And it turns out Turk and Carla miss the regular time they’d been spending with him, and are more awkward with each other in his absence. So the lesson everyone learns from this is…”J.D. needs to move out for good, and Turk and Carla need to go into couples therapy.” Why?? You had a perfectly good partly-platonic triad dynamic going on, here! Why throw that away to contort yourselves into a cookie-cutter template for what Adult Romances and Adult Living Arrangements are “supposed to” look like?

There’s only one J.D./Turk/Carla fic on the entire AO3. I cannot understand. There should be thousands of words about them being wonderful and adorable together.

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