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  • Writer's pictureSusannah Powers Stengel

Ms Couch Potato Head: My 2021 Body of TV


SPOILERS FOR: Why I hate the Sex and the City revival and other mini televisual traumas.

2021. The year of "This will be better, right?"

Only to have our calendar volley us through one hope delayed and violent act ignored after another, pairing the changing tides with continued feelings of isolation, and the nagging acknowledgment (no matter how overlaid with a quick trip or a less depressing Zoom call) that the world we had before has been taken from us, replaced with a space where we all must depend, far more entirely, upon ourselves.

Therapize me all you like--I solve my problems with tv.

Sad? I've got a show for that. Feeling sexually disconnected? I'll conjure up the horny romp to fix your body's dissociative blues. Feeling devoid of dynamic outdoor scenery? Buckle up buttercup. The period piece you've been waiting for will tickle those occipital lobes and make it all temporarily and oh-so-slightly better.

And so I sat on my throne--couch--and I lived halfway this year. Partially as myself. But also through the stories, schemes, and failures of small screen narrative empathy.

Please enjoy my 2021 body of TV.



The sweet and immersive top layer to my brain. A reminder of my tween traumas, and the sanity-inducing joy of understanding I will never let them go. Sensational. Heartbreaking. Hilarious. On Hulu.


Last Week Tonight

When you need to think, understand, and dive deep into the "hole in the world like a great black pit and it's filled with people who are filled with shit" but you don't want it to hurt. Too much. On HBO Max.


And Just Like That...

My eyebrows careen to the top of my dome when I hear folks say they're enjoying this revival. This reboot has killed my childhood darlings (literally) and poked their corpses with uneven writing. The outright character assassination of Samantha will not be tolerated! It will watched. With avid, horrific fascination. On HBO Max.



A feast for the senses. Dripping in macabre beauty, we enter the sensual, sun-dappled, repressed, and yearning world of Emily Dickinson. When I watch this witty, quippy, painful period piece, I ache to understand the beauty of death. It hurts. It looks pretty damned good. On AppleTV+.


Cowboy Bebop

Let's not talk about the revival. Yet. Ugh. I'll get there. This year, for the first time ever, I watched the original Cowboy Bebop anime. The squeal of a sax greeted me for every opening credits. Never skip. Never. The soundscape is the world. And it's bold, deep, and fun. On Netflix.


Game Changer

A gameshow where a bunch of delicious nerds enter not knowing the rules. Because the game changes every time they play. The only one who does--the pretentious, nose-aloft host who dares them to do their worst. Witty, sharp, shrewd. On Dropout TV.



Letting go of Issa and Molly is hard. Their friendship, their battle scars, their growing pains, all of it feels like my own. Even when they disappoint me, I love them harder. On HBO Max.



Arms flapping in the wind, signifying nothing. Going nowhere. A mad gesticulation of desire and rage and impotence. And joy. I engaged in my first time full watch since the age of seven, when I watched, super confused, with my parents. On Netflix.


Big Mouth

I can't get enough of the foul, feral pubescent lexicon of this show. Putrid comedy for those who struggle with the heartfelt self-doubt of youth deep into their adulthood. Don't know what to say? Just start flapping your jaw anyway. On Netflix.


The Great British Baking Show

Absolutely scrummy. We know it's never been better than the original seasons, but we'll watch with glee as the sincerely lovely British folk on our screen create spectacular treats. Kindness and cake. No notes. On Netflix.


Love Island

When I need to know nothing, think about nothing, and step into the horny, tempestuous glamor of couplings and decouplings, I certainly don't make drama in my own life. I embrace the slice of seedy life that is Love Island. Never tried it? Shut your freaking mouth. It's art. Well, it's immersive romance-based performance theatre. On Hulu.

Left Leg:

RuPaul's Drag Race

When I thought I had nothing left, no new heroes, no new victories, I had, in fact, every single international season of RuPaul's Drag Race. You're never alone. You can always put a queen by your side. She'll help you stomp the metaphorical runway in your mind/kitchen. On Hulu, PrimeVideo, Paramount+, also available on iTunes. Wink.

Right Leg:

Ted Lasso

We ignored you for one season, Ted. Ironically, your best season. But, we as a collective, we were never more ready to BELIEVE than in 2021. That kick from Danny Rojas that killed the dog was all of us this year. We won't admit, but we desperately need the show to stay fine and not get worse in 2022, for us to walk out of this season of angst alive. Don't let us down. It's fine. We're fine. Did you know therapy is cool? On AppleTV+.

No matter what you consumed during this half baked year, celebrate your squishy body, nourish and satisfy and tease and play with and stimulate and distract your brain, and most importantly, watch what feels good.

We've got no one to impress besides ourselves. I'm proud of you and me for making another rotation around this forsaken globe.

Happy ho-ho-ho's to the bloom!

What's your 2021 Body of TV? Comment some parts below!

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