Shows to Argue About Over Christmas Leftovers


The New Normal (NBC)

Love him or hate him, nobody has ever accused Glee and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy of being shy about his politics. That's why this year's first sure-fire family dinner fight starter is his NBC dramedy about the adorable gay couple who hire a down-on-her-luck woman with an angry conservative mom to carry their kid. Sure, there are straw men aplenty, but Ellen Barkin (as said right-leaning grandma-to-be) manages to get her licks in, too.


The Newsroom (HBO)

What is it, exactly, that makes The Newsroom so infuriating? Is it the across-the-board incompetence of the female characters? Is it that brilliant jerk and Sorkin-surrogate Will McAvoy claims to be a committed liberal but seems to think that everything was better in the good old days? Or is it that the performances of Jeff Daniels as McAvoy, Emily Mortimer as his producer MacKenzie and Thomas Sadoski as staffer Don are just so damn good that you can't stop hate-watching the thing? Argue about it, please.


Homeland (Showtime)

Homeland: it's about politics, it's about Islam, it's about baiting your viewers into swearing up and down that one thing is going on when it turns out to be an entirely different thing. This delighted some viewers, and it made others want to yell at the dog. The dog can't argue back. Argue with your family, silly.


The Daily Show (Comedy Central)


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For a large number of twenty- and thirtysomethings, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, ostensibly a daily comedy series, is the new 11 o'clock news. Stewart's sometimes angry, sometimes sad, always funny take on the national news has been pilloried in conservative quarters from The Daily Caller to The American Spectator, and despite a pugnacious friendship with Bill O'Reilly, he manages to annoy the right even as he tries to find common ground with guests from Rick Perry to Rachel Maddow.


Here Comes Honey Boo Boo (TLC)

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo: the straw that breaks the camel's back, or a hilarious window into the unexpectedly sad lives of an adorably porcine little pageant queen and her unself-conscious mom? Why can't it be both? Because you still remember when your sister stole your boyfriend in the ninth grade, that's why not.


Teen Mom (MTV)

Everyone knows or has known somebody who could have been on Teen Mom. And everybody has an opinion about her. And if you bring up that person over turkey, stuffing and resentment this Christmas season, you will hear that opinion, loudly and with rancor, but not without eventual regret.


Girls (HBO)

Ah, Lena Dunham's Girls. Never have so many mean, catty, insulting articles been written about a single television show. Dunham's HBO program, produced by Judd Apatow, is filled with infuriatingly immature young women and the infuriatingly immature young men attracted to them (and to whom they are attracted); it's as honest an assessment of youth in New York as you can find on TV at the moment, but that's part of what makes people so angry about it—plenty of folks know girls just like Dunham's perfectly realized characters. And hate them.


Sherlock (BBC America) and Elementary (CBS)

Which are you—a broadcast-loving American TV buff, or a taste-conscious Europhile? If you don't know, ask yourself which one you like better—Sherlock on BBC America or Elementary on CBS. Both shows have their merits, and both have their problems, but it all comes down to this: either you can't stand the idea of an American version of your beloved Sherlock Holmes, or you can't stand the idea of three episodes a season. Besides, everyone knows the best version of Sherlock Holmes was Hugh Laurie as House.


Community (NBC)

Troy and Abed in the moooooorning … eventually. NBC's too-odd-for-its-own-good sitcom Community is coming back, the network promises, but it doesn't know when. Its supporters are torn between desperately wanting to see more of the stellar cast and mourning the loss of their beloved showrunner, Dan Harmon, who lost his job on the series earlier this year. Will it still be good? Was it ever good? Get drunk on eggnog, and discuss.