BY Jeremy Kinser
January 06 2012 2:00 AM ET
7. TV: Downton Abbey
Dame Maggie Smith’s witty portrayal of a withering-tongued dowager is but one element that helps make BBC’s miniseries about the upstairs-downstairs residents of an English manor completely riveting entertainment. Forget any notions you have of Masterpiece Theatre as stodgy drama. As written by Gosford Park’s Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey is that rarity — a sumptuous, soapy, and often comical period romp. As a bonus, watch for the dashing and secretly gay footman Thomas, played by Rob James-Collier. Watch the season 2 premiere in the U.S. on PBS January 8.
6. TV: For & Against
No punches are pulled in this new half-hour political analysis series hosted by progressive commentator Jim Morrison. Viewers can explore headlines through a uniquely queer lens as the liberal-leaning Morrison digs deeper into topical issues affecting LGBT people with outspoken guests like drag icon Jackie Beat in the first episode. Fun fact: Morrison was the first openly gay man to land on People magazine’s Most Eligible Bachelor list. Watch For & Against on Premium.heretv.com
5. DVD: Mildred Pierce
The noir classic is in good gay hands with executive producer Christine Vachon and director Todd Haynes, who proved his melodramatic mettle with Far From Heaven. Kate Winslet ably fills Joan Crawford’s shoes as Mildred, a strong divorcée sacrificing for a spoiled daughter played by True Blood’s Evan Rachel Wood, but don’t call it a remake; this HBO miniseries, which is now available on DVD, adheres much more closely to James M. Cain’s 1941 novel.