diners-drive-ins-and-dives-15Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (2006–present, Food Network)
This is an awesome cooking/travel show in which Guy Fieri drives around America visiting the best cheapie restaurants the country has to offer and indulging in their most decadent dishes. It’s a job anyone would envy, but there’s something about Fieri’s every-dude-ness that engenders trust. He’s Guy Fieri! He is a chef! He has a funny spiked hairdo and tattoos! He commandeers a red vintage convertible! But the best thing about Guy is that, in today’s sanctimonious food culture, which vilifies anything flour-based and hawks juice fasts, he is flagrant about not giving a hoot: He loves carbs, fat, and sugar, and he understands that sometimes it’s OK to indulge in them. The restaurants he visits cook delectable comfort dishes like cobbler made with fresh peaches, mac-and-cheese muffins (MUFFINS MADE OF MAC AND CHEESE, Y’ALL), and something called “the Hot Mess,” which is a giant sweet potato stuffed with brisket, cheese, and bacon. Aside from making you HAWNGRAY, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives showcases a lot of micro-cultures in cities around America through their restaurants, which means that if your parents try to get you to turn it off, you can just explain to them you’re studying SOCIOLOGY. —Julianne

josie_and_the_pussycatsJosie and the Pussycats (2001)
Josie and the Pussycats is technically a movie based on the Archie comic of the same name, but in my opinion, it is cinema’s foremost satire of American capitalism. It follows a band of three nonconformist best friends who are struggling to make it in a world where conformity reigns supreme—all while wearing an impressive array of vinyl pants and leopard-print cat ears. Everyone around them cares only about major pop bands like DuJour, who are strikingly similar to ’N Sync but turn out to be a tool used by a secret government program. Subliminal messages are planted in DuJour songs to convince the youth of America to buy into the latest fads and and boost the economy! When DuJour figures out they’re puppets in this vast conspiracy to brainwash the nation’s teens, they quit, and the government is desperate for a new band to dupe. They recruit the Pussycats, and what follows is a beautiful exploration of consumerism, pop music, and female friendship. A lot of critics hated Josie and the Pussycats when it came out because they thought it was hypocritical to critique consumerism while having extreme product placements in almost EVERY SCENE (my favorite example is a hotel room with a McDonald’s–themed bathroom), but those guys totally missed the joke! None of those placements were even paid for by companies. They’re just part of a running gag that the movie itself is brainwashing the very teens who paid to see it! Or maybe I was brainwashed? I still listen to its amazing soundtrack of original songs on the regular. —Gabby

broadchurchBroadchurch (2013–present, ITV/BBC America)
All my friends seem to constantly inhale entire seasons of TV shows in one sitting, like the Battlestar Galactica freaks in this Portlandia sketch. For some reason, I can’t do that—maybe because I’m a workaholic with a guilt complex, or maybe because, given the choice, I’d rather take a nap. But recently, I got really sick for two weeks, and I realized it was my chance to devour some TV. And because I love British crime series, I decided to start with Broadchurch. The series begins with the disappearance of a young boy in a fictional English village. Everyone becomes a suspect, and turns the town’s relationships—and secrets—are turned inside out. In one day, I watched all eight episodes of the first season. I was grumpy when I had to stop for lunch or to pee. And now I’m a TV addict like everyone else! (Watch for an American version called Gracepoint, which is supposed to come out around the end of this year.) —Estelle

spring-breakers-posterSpring Breakers (2013)
Spring Breakers, a film by Harmony Korine, is about four college girls (played by Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, and Vanessa Hudgens) who steal money to go on spring break in Florida, where they get in a fuck-ton of trouble and commit hella crimes (including murder), and there’s a lot of boobs, money, guns, and drugs. The movie was criticized for being too porn-y and really dark and also for not portraying America in a way that people felt comfortable with. Personally, I think it’s a masterpiece. I mean, yes, the movie is porn-y. But that was part of the point! I think Korine accurately and sensitively encapsulated the (current) American Dream. There are soundbites of phone calls from the girls to their families overlaid with shots of beer running down naked boobs and people hitting bongs and bathing in money and dancing around with guns. There’s all this stuff that some people find ugly and gritty and gross, but that so much of America loves. The girls are constantly talking about how life-changing their spring break was, how beautiful it was, how they wished it was forever. People criticize the movie for being anti-feminist, too, but the girls owned it, and there were so many moments that I thought were totally feminist. For example, there’s a scene where two of the girls force Alien (a dude played by James Franco and based kinda on Riff Raff who bails them out of jail after they’re busted for having drugs at this insane party) to suck a gun like it’s a dick that totally shifted the power from this male “savior” character to the girls themselves, who become raging powerhouses. Power shifts back and forth between Alien and the girls throughout the movie (especially at the end, which I will not ruin for you), which felt really real to me. And some measure of thrill and suspense comes from the fact that while those characters all love one another, they can never really trust each other 100 percent. Spring Breakers has a lot to say about thrills and why we seek them. Also: The cinematography and candy-colored set design are pretty damn delicious. —Olivia

hannibal1Hannibal (2013–, NBC)
I still can’t believe Hannibal is on network television. It is about the Silence of the Lambs character Hannibal Lecter—before anyone figures out he is a cannibalistic serial killer—and it is the darkest, creepiest TV show I have ever seen. Lecter, played by the scary but charming Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, is a sophisticated, impeccably dressed psychotherapist tasked with monitoring the mental stability of Will Graham, a brilliant FBI profiler who solves serial homicides by diving a little too deep into the minds of killers. As Graham solves murder after grisly murder, Lecter’s own psychopathic deeds are intercut with shots of him sipping fine wine, listening to opera, and cooking beautiful gourmet feasts. (Everything is meat-based—maybe you see where this is going.) Hannibal is not for the faint-hearted at ALL—it’s pretty gory for any channel, much less NBC, and it is often legitimately frightening. But the writing and the acting are phenomenal, and its main focus is on relationships, psychology, and the meaning of life. It’s shot like a surrealist nightmare, with loads of symbolism and low-light montages in the forest wilds. (Bonus: Gillian Anderson from The X-Files plays Hannibal’s own psychotherapist.) For real, I think the last show even close to this disturbing was Twin Peaks. Watch it if that’s your bag, but be forewarned: I had to sleep with the lights on after the most recent episode. —Julianne

army-of-darknessArmy of Darkness (1992)
I didn’t think this movie was going to be my “thing” when I saw it in eighth grade. For one thing, I am not that into fight scenes, and this movie has TONS of those. Oh, great, I thought, a dude somehow time-travels to ye olde and vaguely European medieval days, where he has to fight off a legion of undead assailants. Um, can you please put on some moody joint about French people falling out of love or something instead? I quickly changed my mind after the first of countless times I watched Army of Darkness, and it’s now among my top-three favorite films of all eternity. It follows Ash, played by the iconoclastic and aggressively cleft-chinned B-movie star Bruce Campbell at his fine-ass-lookin’ peak, as he is transported from his job at a Target-esque store called S-Mart to hundreds of years in the past. (Mutter “Shop smart. Shop S-Mart” at me, and you’ll have an instant friend.) Since Army of Darkness is really all about sick one-liners, terrible/perfect fight sequences, and the fact that Ash begins this tale with a CHAINSAW INSTEAD OF AN ARM (barely explained), the rest of the plot isn’t important, but if you must know: He’s battling his way toward finding the Necronomicon, an ancient, magical text that he learns is the only way he can return to his own time. There’s a war he has to be in, during which he brawls with skeletons. But whatever, seriously—I’m here for the camp and the chin. Although I’ve never seen the other installments in the Evil Dead canon, the series of classic low-budget horror films in which this one comes third, I know it’s the best one of them all. The proof is in the numbers, you guys:

Cheesy tight close-ups on Ash’s mechanical arm: 17
• Occasions on which I’ve appropriated Ash’s penchant for suave lines like “Give me some sugar, baby” in my own romantic travails: 2,149
• The year in which this movie is supposedly set: 1300
• Believability of any/all of its violent or gory vignettes: –52 (The “blood” in this movie would look more at home atop a cheeseburger.)
• Totally dreamy cleft-chinned bohunks starring in this movie: one, which is all you need.

So give yourself some sugar, baby. You’ll love this. —Amy Rose

RichKidsOfBeverlyHills#Richkids of Beverly Hills (2014–present, E!)
The latest gem from E!, the network that brought us Pretty Wild and Keeping Up With the Kardashians, is about as deep as what you’d expect from a show based entirely on a an Instagram meme. The characters are concerned mostly with #selfies and #shopping, but also exclusive clubs and fancy apartments. They say things like “I feel very Sex and the City right now” with no hint of irony, but that could be because the stars, Morgan Stewart and Dorothy Wang, just seem to get reality TV. Everything they say and do is optimized for maximum amusement and meant to be seen by a voyeuristic, judgmental public. But it doesn’t feel exploitative, because everyone is in on the exchange: The subjects revel in their grotesque wealth and the stage it buys them while we get to enjoy the head-trip their performances provide. The show is a sparkly collage of consumerism, and the fun is that it’s a little bit scary. —Joe

storage-warsStorage Wars (2010–present, A&E)
One night I couldn’t find anything to watch on TV, so I decided to tune in to A&E’s Storage Wars. The concept, which I was vaguely aware of, intrigued me: Rent on storage units occasionally goes unpaid, and the unclaimed contents are offered up for auction. People come out and bid top dollar for what’s inside, but there’s a catch. They’re only allowed a glimpse into each unit. They cannot enter it or touch or move anything inside. They bid for the thrill of it, and sometimes it really pays off. Bidders have accidentally won valuable works of art, one-of-a-kind antiques, and incredibly expensive memorabilia. I love Storage Wars for combining the Who knew it was worth so much! aspect of another favorite of mine, Antiques Roadshow, with the drama and trash-talking of modern-day reality TV. It’s always fun to see the super-valuable treasures as well as silly junk hidden in the units, and, because I’ve seen pretty much every episode at least three times, I was REALLY happy when the latest season premiered earlier this week. —Hannah

mad_miss_mantonThe Mad Miss Manton (1938)
Melsa Manton, a wealthy socialite, is taking her dogs for a walk when she notices someone running out of a house VERY SUSPICIOUSLY. Melsa (who, in this opening scene, wears the very best dog-walking outfit I have ever seen) ties her dogs to a post and creeps into the house to investigate. To her horror, she finds a dead body, and a diamond brooch lying next to it. She runs off to report the murder to the police, but when they return to the scene the body is gone—and police write her off as a prankster with nothing better to do than make up stories. Little do they know that Melsa Manton will become consumed with solving this crime! The Mad Miss Manton is a giggly, silly riot. (I know the use of the word mad in this movie’s title is gross, but it was made in the 1930s.) Barbara Stanwyck, who plays Melsa, is the single best thing about this movie, but her incredible clothes come in a close second. In her marvelous furs, silk dresses, and cloaks, she’s the best-dressed detective in town. —Estelle

blackfishBlackfish (2013)
I practically grew up at SeaWorld. My family had a season pass every year when I was growing up, and I’ve spent hours tossing dead fish to dolphins and stroking starfish in the touch pool. But after watching this documentary, my SeaWorld nostalgia has been tinged with more than a little guilt for what those captive animals go through for my and other humans’ entertainment. Blackfish follows the lives of SeaWorld’s orcas (commonly called killer whales), particularly Tilikum, the whale that killed a trainer four years ago. The images are heartbreaking—a mother orca wails after being separated from her baby, whales bleed into the water after fighting with tank mates, and Tilikum listlessly bobs alone in his tank. While there are some legitimate arguments for keeping animals in captivity, I have a hard time stomaching the idea of keeping an animal that evolved to swim hundreds of miles a day in a tank, and only for our amusement. —Rachael

Behind_the_music_logoBehind the Music (1997–present, VH1)
I don’t read TMZ or Perez Hilton on the regs; my relationship with celebrity gossip is pretty much restricted to leafing through an US Weekly or a People while I’m in a waiting room rather than read the newspaper or TIME or something more “important” or “intellectual.” Maybe it’s just me, but when I’m waiting to get a cavity filled, I’d rather look at people’s outfits than ponder geopolitical events. Same thing when I’m home sick or exhausted—except then I don’t even want to flip through a magazine. This is when Behind the Music is PERFECT. It’s like a super-special edition of People focused solely on one pop star. You don’t just get to check out their clothes, houses, and cars like on Cribs, you get their WHOLE story. You get to hear about the Gallagher brothers’ dysfunctional childhood in Manchester before they became Oasis, how the drummer from Def Leppard lost his arm, and how Metallica was nearly destroyed by too much Jägermeister. Half the time I watch BTM, I don’t even care about the artists, but it’s still as enjoyable as the stories of one-hit wonders from my childhood like Vanilla Ice or bands I love like Heart—well, almost. There’s always excess and sometimes it grosses me out (e.g., the Mötley Crüe episode) and sometimes the stories are just plain heartbreaking (the Aaliyah one made me cry). But if you’re even the tiniest bit interested in celebrity stories, Behind the Music is utterly engrossing, and because it’s been on for almost 20 years, there’s a backlog that will entertain you for almost ever. —Stephanie ♦