First off, we have to say we mostly loved the Grammys on CBS last week. Despite the hateration on our Facebook feed, it was a woman-driven delight. Our biggest complaint, as always, had to do with the “In Memoriam” portion, which ignored both The Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley and Pantera's Vinnie Paul (we knew The Germs' Lorna Doom wouldn't get a mention, but the other two were truly surprising considering their cultural impact and actual Grammy wins).
Mainstream music shows will probably always suck, even — or especially — when they try to be edgy (remember Mark Burnett's Rockstar?); they just miss the mark. So we dipped slowly into Fox's The Masked Singer. But after episode one, we just dove in and binged, not unlike when you guiltily sip a way-too-sweet cocktail, and then keep going for more. Your palate gets used to it. Whoever came up with the idea for this over-the-top singing show either had too many or smoked some very strong weed, which means you probably should do one or the other if you want to have fun with it. The singing here is just OK and obviously extremely auto-tuned, so the reason to tune in is the incredible costumes (seriously, they should win Emmys) and, of course, the mystery of it all.
Guessing who is under the masks is actually fun, especially since the guesses by the “judges” are hilarious and/or terrible. In any case, this is a silly, family-friendly show that, unlike most of this kind, you actually want to interact with and about. Plus, two of the unmasked singers so far happen to be extremely cool: Tommy Chong (the Pineapple) and Margaret Cho (the Poodle). Sadly, the Peacock, the Lion and the Unicorn probably won't be revealed until the end since they are obvious ringers, aka actually good singers.
Speaking of Fox, Proven Innocent, which premieres tonight at 9, marks the return on one of our very favorite actors, Kelsey Grammer. The show follows a well-meaning criminal defense attorney (played by Rachelle Lefevre) who was wrongly convicted of a crime herself as a teen, as she fights for justice in the courtroom, defending innocents and hopefully winning against the A-hole who sent her to prison years before (Grammer). The show is getting lukewarm reviews but we all know Grammer can play a great pompous jerk (not on Frasier but as himself on Real Housewives!) so this might actually be good in a hate-watch kinda way. Also intrigued to see Russell Hornsby (Grimm) and Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men) on the screen again, and we miss watching Law & Order before it started rehashing cases and situations.
Hate-watching became a bona fide thing with Girls' reign on HBO, and some might say cringe-watching did as well (thanks to Lena Dunham's nonstop nudity). But cringe TV has actually been around since the days of black-and-white (think I Love Lucy and the ridiculous situations the wacky redhead got herself into). There are really two different kinds of cringe TV, though: the kind where you cringe at the characters and the kind where you cringe for them. Sometimes it is hard distinguish between the two, but when it comes adolescent-themed comedies and dramas, it's almost always the latter. Hulu's PEN15 might be the cringiest TV show ever made. The 10-episode show, co-produced by and starring The Lonely Island and AwesomenessTV's Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, features the ladies playing themselves at 13 years old. Yes, they are full-grown women playing tweens in the year 2000 with a cast of actual seventh graders. From the way they talk to the things they wear to the stuff they care about (crushes, popularity, first kisses, discovering masturbation, and the thing the show's title not so subtly references), the actresses are all in, to the point that you actually forget they are not kids. PEN15 is like The Wonder Years on acid, so while we recommend it, we also warn that, for some, it could be a bad trip or, rather, flashback.
One more from Hulu this week: Unbanned: The Legend of AJ1, which debuted on Valentine's Day, is a must-see for sneaker heads and sports fans alike. With commentary by Spike Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Mark Wahlberg, DJ Khaled and, of course, Michael Jordan, the doc explores the history of the latter's Air Jordan 1 sneakers, chronicling how they became a global phenomenon and changed the culture in the process.
The debut of Umbrella Academy on Netflix and, in case you missed them, Russian Doll and Smart Mouth (read about both here).