Two thoughtfully provocative pieces from two great TV critics today. At Slate, Willa Paskin makes a case for the reviled Here Comes Honey Boo Boo that involves reading the show against its creators' intent:
There is no show on television that plumbs the extremely real and loaded connections between food and class in America like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, a series that regularly sneers at the lower-class family it films because of what and how they eat and how what they eat makes them look. But there are worse things than never eating your vegetables, and more important ones too.... Despite their love of all things fried, the Henderson-Thompson-Shannons are living life the exact right way. Their priorities are: love, enjoy, and hang with your family.
Every scene and line in Suits shimmers with the coiled tension that comes when strong, smart people test each other. Loyal viewers know to eagerly anticipate certain recurring face-offs, because they never disappoint. I have a couple of favorites. ... I learn as much about the American drive toward riches and power from watching Suits as I do from watching dramas that are branded "art."
What's great about both pieces is the way they reframe the TV-watching habits we unconsciously fall into, whether it's taking a show at face value or writing off an entire network's output as high-gloss fluff. (USA, the network that airs Suits, also airs the show that was the subject of the Saturday Night Live game show "What Is Burn Notice?", the gag being that it's a successful show that no one -- meaning "No one I know" -- watches.) Lord knows there's already more canonical "quality TV" than anyone can keep up with, but it's great when critics remind us to think outside the prestige-show box.