TV Land network officially launched in April 1996. I had no idea it was owned by Viacom Media Networks. Other sister networks include MTV, Spike, Nickelodeon, and TeenNick to name a few. TV Land shows serve up a huge platter of nostalgia to its audience. The intended audience for their shows is the 30-50 age group. Throughout the day, TV Land airs syndicated classic television shows. Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Andy Griffin Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Golden Girls, The Nanny, The King of Queens, Reba, and George Lopez. The network decided to re-brand TV Land in 2015 along with changing their logo. There was a major overhaul of TV Land’s brand. The new intended target audience for their original programming is Gen X age group.
I have never watched any TV Land programming…but that all changed last summer. All my prime-time shows had gone on summer hiatus. This left a huge gaping hole in my TV show schedule. At this point, HBO’s Game of Thrones and The CW’s Beauty and the Beast were my only summer television shows. I randomly stumbled across two new TV Land comedy-dramas thanks to bias actors I knew well from previous TV show projects.
Darren Star’s comedy-drama, Younger, initiated the rebranded TV Land network. Many people might not recognize Darren Star’s name, but you’ll instantly recognized many of his well-known television shows. Sex and the City. Melrose Place. Plus, he was one of the co-creators of Beverly Hills, 90210. Younger revolves Liza Miller, a recently divorced 40 year old, who must afresh in her career at the bottom by posing as a 26 year old assistant at publishing firm, Empirical Press. Liza has relocated from New Jersey suburbs to her best friend’s Brooklyn loft in New York. Maggie is the only person who knows about her double life.
I’m not gunna lie…at first I thought this sounded like a very cliché show. Then, I found out Hilary Duff, my favorite former Disney Channel actress and singer, was returning back to the small screen…lo and behold in a TV show called Younger. She hadn’t played a lead role in a TV show since Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire. Lizzie McGuire ran from 2001-2004. Plus, I’ve seen majority of her films between 1998 and 2006. Disney Channel TV shows, movies, and music shaped my pre-teen and early teenage years. This wound up being my reason to check out Younger. So I was willing to keep an open-mind about this new TV show.
It wasn’t until last summer I actually started to watch Younger. The pilot episode really took me by surprise. I haven’t laughed so hard watching a comedy-drama sitcom since Friends. Being a night owl, I often watched Sex and the City or Friends episodes. I was 11 or 12 around this time. Younger is essentially the modern-day Sex and the City. Darren Star TV shows always emphasize the significance of female friendships with unconventional quirks. Plus, there are dynamic personalities among the major and minor characters. The comedy is unconventionally fresh and simultaneously relevant with present-day pop culture. The entire Younger cast ensemble has an incredible on-screen and off-screen chemistry. This is an important element for any TV show. Chemistry among the cast member makes their characters’ interactions way more convincing. Overall, Younger is a vivacious show full of heart and soul.
Christopher Vane’s dark comedy sitcom, Impastor, is further proof of TV Land’s re-branding strategy. Impastor is about Buddy Dobbs who is a hardcore gambling addict who is deep in debt with loan sharks. He comes up with a solution of getting rid of his financial predicament. Suicide by jumping off a bridge. Jonathan Barlow, a gay Lutheran pastor, driving on the same bridge Buddy plans to jump off. The pastor convinces Buddy suicide is not the answer to his problems. Unfortunately, Pastor Barlow falls off the bridge to his untimely death when pulling Buddy from over the bridge’s railings. Suddenly another solution to this predicament appears right in front of him. Escaping to the small town of Ladner and stealing the identity of deceased Jonathan Barlow. This is a chance at a new life away from his troubled past. Initially, Buddy only plans on impersonating Pastor Barlow long enough to get enough money to pay off his gambling debt and find a new town to settle down. Obviously his plans drastically change the longer he resides in Ladner. The people of this small-town community genuinely care for Buddy as a person. Ladner no longer becomes a means to an end. He really enjoys living in Ladner even though it’s under the false identity of Jonathan Barlow. But Buddy can’t let his guard down as his false identity must still be convincing to Ladner townspeople.
The CW’s Smallville has a very special place in my heart. Michael Rosenbaum played the notorious Lex Luthor. He was hands-down one of the best villains in this science-fiction show. He was part of Smallville’s main cast ensemble from Season 1 to Season 7. As a special guest, Michael reprised his role of Lex Luthor for Smallville’s two-hour series finale in May 2011. Basically, Michael hadn’t been played a main role in Smallville since 2008. I was happy when I Michael’s tweets hinted at his return back to TV. So this was my main reason to check out TV Land’s Impastor. I honestly had no idea what to expect but was willing to give it a chance.
This was my first time seeing Michael Rosenbaum in a comedic role. Also, he is one of the executive producers. He is full of surprises. (The only thing that took some time getting used to was seeing Michael Rosenbaum with full head of hair. Still to this day, I associate him as Lex Luthor from Smallville. He completely shaved his head for this particular role.)
On random whim, I decided to check out Impastor last summer. All my angsty prime-time shows were on summer hiatus leaving a huge gap in my TV schedule. I try to fill the gap with some comedy genre TV shows. So far I’d only discovered CW’s Significant Mother and TV Land’s Younger. Impastor’s fascinating show concept piqued my curiosity for this dark comedy. I was officially hooked within the first two episodes.
Impastor is an irreverently hilarious show! The quirky main cast ensemble has incredible chemistry which makes their characters’ interactions more convincing. Also, each character has a unique unconventional quirk. Each of these quirky main characters adds depth to the plot. Dora. Aldean. Alexa. Russell. Buddy forms friendships with each of them. Of course the nature of the each relationship greatly varies and evolves. Over time, Buddy Dobbs grows to love the small town. The townspeople genuinely welcome Pastor Buddy into their small community. He finds a new family. Ladner no longer becomes a means to an end. Obviously, the sentimentality makes it even more difficult for Buddy to conceal his false identity. Overall, Impastor is an addictive dark comedy.
Unfortunately, TV Land network decided to not renew Impastor for a third season. I’m very sad about this news. This show completely took me by surprise. I really grew to love this unconventional comedy. The worst part is season 2 finale left off on a big-ass cliffhanger. It leaves even more unanswered questions! It’s very unlikely Impastor will ever get decent closure at a future date. I hate when this happens to one of my bias TV shows.
There is some good news at least. TV Land network renewed Younger for a fourth season. I’ll take whatever good news wherever I can get it. I’m glad at least one out of the two shows are still ongoing.
I get extremely nervous when it comes time for television networks to determine whether shows get renewed or get axed. My bias TV shows are usually considered “bubble shows”. In general, very few of “bubble” TV shows get early renewals by the network.