Ask Matt: Is ‘Mom’ Too Sex Crazy? Also: ‘This Is Us,’ ‘Carmichael Show,’ Top Cop Shows, ‘Nashville’ Death Debate, and More
Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic (also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist”) Matt Roush, who’ll address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape. One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won’t be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it’s already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter. Look for upcoming Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.
Question: My husband and I have enjoyed Mom every week since it came on. Lately, though, it has become so sex-obsessed with Bonnie and her boyfriend that we don’t care to watch it. How can we get across to producers of prime-time shows on regular stations that this isn’t necessary and is discouraging viewers from still watching their shows? — Jan
Matt Roush: I suppose you could quit watching, but I don’t recommend it. And while I admit even I’ve gasped at some of the blue material coming out of Bonnie and Adam’s torrid situation, Allison Janney and William Fichtner have terrific chemistry, and I’m buying what they’re selling. Besides, Mom has always had a raunchy, gamy side, which isn’t unusual for Chuck Lorre comedies. It also happens to be extremely funny as it deals with situations that aren’t always humorous. I can put up with even this level of cringe-worthy excess because I care about the characters. If it suddenly reverted to a “TGIF”- level of cautious innuendo and innocuous timidity, it wouldn’t be Mom.
Question: OK, I think someone may be fibbing about what the #1 new show is. CBS says it’s Bull; NBC says it’s This Is Us. Who’s right? — Linda
Matt Roush: I’m too busy watching TV these days to pay much attention to the spin, but in this case, it sounds like CBS is touting total viewer numbers while NBC is bragging about the demographics that is more important to advertisers. Both shows are successful, but to me, what counts is which show is having the greater cultural and critical impact, and it’s not even close. This Is Us is tops in my book.
Question: What happened to The Carmichael Show? There was all this hype and then … nothing. Is it coming back? Did it die and nobody is talking about it? – Pam
Matt Roush: It’s a good question. The show was definitely renewed, but NBC has yet to schedule it in its midseason lineup—and they’ve announced shows airing into April, so it’s possible they’re holding Carmichael to be a centerpiece of the network’s summer strategy. Still, it does feel like they’re putting a lid on one of the network’s few buzz-worthy comedies.
Giving NYPD Blue Its Due
Question: In your list of TV’s Top 5 cop shows, how could you leave out NYPD Blue? Ground-breaking and fabulous! — Larry
Matt Roush: I agree, but I did call out NYPD in my list—within the Hill Street Blues item. My assignment for the magazine was to narrow down the genre to a Top 5 (which is pretty impossible), and since NYPD Blue would not have existed without Hill Street Blues, which redefined the genre and was also produced by Steven Bochco, I led with Hill Street while acknowledging that NYPD pushed the format even further. Giving both shows separate items would have meant leaving out something else just as essential, so in this case, I ask people to read the text as well as the headline, although I understand if many would rank NYPD over Hill Street. Both broke ground, but Hill Street (and St. Elsewhere for medical drama) advanced the medium in the 1980s in a way that I feel we don’t appreciate as much in this age of premium and streaming options.
Is Rayna the New Derek Shepherd?
Question: Because there seems to be a lot of anger directed at the decision to kill off Rayna from Nashville, I would like to say that I don’t fault the producers for having to do that. I agree with their assessment that they couldn’t have her leave her family, so if they were going to proceed without her, killing her off was the only option. However, I think you hit the nail on the head in your most recent column: Why bother resurrecting the show at all if the lead wants to leave? This whole situation reminds me very much of Patrick Dempsey wanting out of Grey’s Anatomy a couple of years ago, where similarly they didn’t feel that Derek walking out on Meredith and kids was really a viable option. That show has rebounded nicely in the couple of years since his exit, and there was a time when we collectively weren’t sure if it would. But I also feel like Grey’s has a deeper ensemble of characters who don’t necessarily have to be connected to Derek—not to mention a more stable procedural engine in the medical cases—than Nashville, in which all storylines seem at least tangentially connected to Rayna. Your thoughts? — Jake
Matt Roush: While Grey’s has stabilized, I’d never argue that it’s as good as it was when Derek was still part of the team—though I can’t remember a prime-time drama staying this strong (and this popular) into its 13th year; I’d bailed on ER long before this point. With Nashville, they’ve removed the show’s emotional and narrative engine with the death of Rayna, so that’s the main difference, but unlike Grey’s, at least they won’t be able to hide the children left behind this time. (Who is looking after Meredith’s rarely seen kids? Just saying.) I’m encouraged that most of the mail I got since the last column has been from fans who profess to remain loyal to the show, despite this latest twist.
Is Rayna the New Will Gardner?
Question: I am not upset with the show. I am unhappy with the star. I have no problem with Connie Britton wanting to leave the show. I wish her good luck. What I don’t like was the “deception,” and yes I feel that is what it was, about her staying on “for the duration,” which she mentioned on Ellen as the season was beginning. When I heard about the new producers, I was elated, having been a huge fan of Once and Again. When I watched the preview of the first episode, I could sense the changes. When I got to episode 8 and Rayna was still around I was, ok cool! Then when I got to the car crash I was like, damn you %*$x! (OK, I got that out of my system.) It seems to me they were trying to go for a Josh Charles/The Good Wife/Will Gardner type of situation. Make it seem like she was in it for the long haul so they could go “BAM” (no pun intended). Unfortunately it had the opposite effect on me. I know this is second-hand quarterbacking, but if they were going to kill her off, wouldn’t dying because of the stalker (even accidentally by the police) have been a better way to go dramatically? It is topical, given Pauley Perrette’s recent disclosures. Either way, I will continue to watch Nashville and hope for the best. One final thought: Can we PLEASE stop now with the way overused car crash-from-the-side surprise? It has become a cliché! — George
Matt Roush: You all know how I feel about spoilers, and when news leaked before the new season started that Connie Britton may have only committed to a certain number of episodes, her attempt at damage control was unfortunate, and it does leave a bitter aftertaste. I will say that giving her and her family a major deathbed farewell was the right way to go for such a classic soap opera—which wouldn’t be the case if she had died during the stalker/hostage melodrama. And 100% yes on a moratorium on sideways car collisions. Alias did it best, and the only thing more tired is seeing someone stand in the street so they can get creamed by a bus.
One final word for now on the subject:
Question: I think people are foolish to say they won’t watch Nashville anymore. I cried like I had lost a family member. Don’t they realize this is because of the great writing and acting? And real life isn’t always a bed of roses. Main characters in our life die. I lost my daughter 11 years ago and I wish there could have been a script to stop it, but real life doesn’t work that way. This show is so real, my friend and I were immediately on the phone in tears just like it was a family member. — Kathleen
Matt Roush: I am sorry for your loss, and totally get where you’re coming from. This wouldn’t even be an issue if fans didn’t care so much about these characters.
A Sign (Language) of the Times
Question: I watch Switched at Birth on Freeform and love the show. However, when the actors use sign language, the words are so quickly on and off the screen that it is hard to keep up with the conversation. I consider myself to be a fast reader, however, I do struggle at times and am unable to read it all. Has anyone else not complained about this? Just wondering. — Janice (PS: I love my TV Guide Magazine and have been a subscriber for many, many years.)
Matt Roush: Thanks, Janice, we love you right back. And no, I don’t remember fielding this particular complaint before. (But seriously, how good was this week’s episode.) I appreciate those scenes played in utter silence, when characters are communicating and conversing only in sign language, and the pacing never bothered me. But then, I’m so accustomed to pausing either my computer or DVR (however I’m watching) if I feel I missed something, I tend to forget not everyone has that option.
To Bleep or Not to Bleep
Question: On Stephen Colbert’s Late Show Monday night, one of the guests was Jon Stewart and he used a curse word and CBS bleeped it. On Seth Meyers’ Late Night an hour later, the host used the same word and it wasn’t bleeped. Was this a result of policy with CBS and NBC, or a difference between an 11:30/ET start time and a 12:30 start time? – Dewey
Matt Roush: Probably a bit of both. The later you go, the looser even network TV seems to be about language, and while Stephen Colbert is having great success with his pithy satire lately, CBS is still the most traditional, and possibly cautious, of the broadcast networks.
That’s all for now. Thanks as always for reading, and remember that I can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below.