[Due to a lot of commitments I’m a little late getting involved, but there’s still time for everyone to go back and enjoy South Dakota Dark’s Deeply Superficial Blog-a-Thon. I might be jumping in at the end, here, but many others have been busy throughout the week, so check out Todd’s index posts for all the details. In the meantime, here is my own contribution.]
NBC: Television’s Prettiest Network
If there is something to be said about Peacocks, it’s that their beauty is pretty much their only defining quality. It’s not as if a peacock does anything interesting outside of being attractive to look at – they don’t seem to have a personality or a story, but rather a lot of pretty feathers.
Now, I won’t say that this is true of the entirety of NBC’s television lineup, of which there are some shows I greatly enjoy (See: The Office, 30 Rock). However, they also have a bunch of shows where people are ridiculously attractive, beyond any sense of reason even. It makes NBC’s series flashy in a way that is honestly disarming – if people were this attractive in my life, I’d probably want people filming it at all times…although I’d probably detract from the process.
[Note: The following are the Top Five Prettiest Shows on NBC, ranked by a combination of level of superficial attractiveness and the level of guilt I would have if they ranked above #3 on any list I ever create. As a result, the most superficially pretty series might not be #1, because it would destroy my soul.]
It is no coincidence that George Clooney emerged from within the world of NBC’s central medical drama, a rife location where enormously pretty doctors work in order to save the lives of famous guest stars. What I always enjoy in my brief forays into the world of ER is when they try to depict one of their characters in a gritty scenario, hiding their beauty in order to emphasize the dire situation at hand. However, let’s give credit where credit is due: the people on ER look closer to real-life doctors than say the enormously pretty Grey’s Anatomy cast.
When Heroes began, its two biggest heartthrobs were Ali Larter, the duplicitous Niki/Jessica, and Milo Ventimiglia, who portrayed the all-powerful Peter Petrelli. And, while I think that Peter has certainly had his moments, it is no coincidence that the series’ two prettiest individuals have become some of its most redundant and frustrating from a storyline perspective. Mainly Niki. Ugh.
Hayden Panettiere, who portrays the young cheerleader Claire, is perhaps the next down the line, and her storyline has been a frustrating fluctuation between great (See: Company Man) and awful (See: Most of the 2nd Season). I don’t really know how her prettiness relates, exactly, but I’m sure there’d be an equation if I had time to really delve into it. On the whole, Heroes is an attractive series, but attractiveness isn’t exactly a sign of an enjoyable character.
3. Las Vegas
I don’t watch Las Vegas, largely on principle alone. It is a scandalous series that derives all of its content on the concept that what stays in Vegas is now being put on television. I’m all for a little eye candy, but when the entire series boils down to pretty people being pretty, I’m not sure I’m entirely on board.
There’s already an insane amount of pretty to be found in the cast as it stood heading into this season, but adding Tom Selleck to the cast just adds a whole new dimension. Now, not only is there young and attractive people, but also a nostalgic heartthrob for a whole new generation of people who desire to view television series featuring pretty people. It’s a win-win situation, isn’t it?
Well, except for the fact that the series is pretty much awful, and that pretty people aren’t enough to make me stick around after another pretty Friday night series.
2. Deal or No Deal
Okay, so there is no series on television more superficial than Deal or No Deal. There is simple no way anyone could ever resist the bald wonder that is Howie Mandel, what can I say? Oh, and apparently there’s identically clad “models” as well.
I’ve always tried to come to terms with these models, wondering how they compare to say the beauties on the Price is Right. Ultimately, I almost find them more objectionable, if only because they are forced to dress the same and open a case every single night – at least Barker’s Beauties got some variety in their work. One can’t argue that the models are beautiful and all of those things, but at the same time it’s pretty much entirely frustrating.
1. Chuck/Friday Night Lights (Tie)
You might ask why these two shows are tied for number one when I could have easily bumped another series off the list. Well, in short, I simply thought that now would be a good time to note that two of the prettiest shows on television are also really good.
Chuck is the newer of the two series, and to be honest at times its prettiest gets a bit ridiculous. As it is, Sarah (Yvonne Starhonski) is far too pretty to be a CIA agent – while I’d argue Jennifer Garner is perhaps more attractive, there isn’t as much depth behind the beauty for me to buy Sarah in the same role.
What makes the show cross over that line is the amount of other attractive women the show likes to inject into the remainder of the series. When a rival agent shows up, chances are they’re going to be an attractive female, simply so Sarah has someone she can eventually trade mediocre roundhouse kicks with…not that I’m complaining per se. Plus, Rachel Bilson even had a cameo, and no one is complaining about that. Combine with the lovely Sarah Lancaster and, for the ladies, the perpetually shirtless Ryan McPartlin as Captain Awesome, and you’ve got a series that likes pretty people. A lot.
However, Friday Night Lights deserves this crown for another reason, mainly that it actually manages to strike a balance between pretty and gritty. The world of Dillon, Texas is intensely real, even beyond the shakycam and the overall storylines for its characters.
And some of the characters feel intensely real: someone like Landry, or Buddy Garrity, feel like real people as opposed to over-attractive actors. And the rest of the actors are certainly no slouches, as we are talking about one of the most well-acted series on television. However, everyone else is somewhat ludicrously pretty.
Minka Kelly’s Lyla is perhaps the worst offender on this scale, existing mainly due to her prettiness and only on rare occasions rising as an intriguing character. However, many others have pulled off some great stuff: whether it’s Adrianne Palicki in “Mud Bowl,” Aimee Teegarden as the wounded teenage daughter, Taylor Kitsch in pretty much anything, Scott Porter’s fantastic turn as wheelchair-bound Jason Street, Gaius Charles’ great work as Smash – the young actors with relatively little experience have gone beyond their pretty exteriors to put in some fantastic work on this series.
And, this is saying nothing about the rock of the series, the most attractive early middle-age romantic coupling on television in the form of Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler as Tami and Eric Taylor. Combined with the youngsters, it’s kind of hard to beat.