By Jeremy Kinser
Originally published on Advocate.com January 06 2012 1:00 AM ET
10. DVD: Shameless
Based on a popular British series of the same name, this show stars William H. Macy as the alcoholic patriarch of a poor Chicago clan that includes 17-year-old actor Cameron Monaghan as Ian, a gay, pot-smoking high school sophomore having secret affairs with a former bully and with his 35-year-old boss, a closeted Muslim shopkeeper. Season 1 of this raunchy dysfunctional family dramedy is now on DVD, while season 2 premieres on Showtime January 8.
9. TV: It’s A Brad Brad World
Brad Goreski, the Clark Kent–ish former assistant to fashionista Rachel Zoe, has escaped her Gollum-like clutches to become a boy wonder super-stylist in his own right. The bespectacled Bravolebrity will put his personal life on display, including his boyfriend, Gary Janetti, and their families. The series airs Monday nights on Bravo.
8. MUSIC: We Bought A Zoo soundtrack
Jon Thor Birgisson, better known as Icelandic alternative quartet Sigur Rós’s out front man Jónsi, delivers the expected otherworldly score for the Cameron Crowe–directed family film starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson. The music here is grandiose, hypnotic, and plaintive, and it manages to be simultaneously remote and accessible. This is an ideal introduction for newcomers to the beloved band.
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.
3. TV: Tabatha Takes Over
No-nonsense Aussie powerhouse Tabatha Coffey is back and ready to deliver more tough talk to help get floundering business owners on the road to success. In the season premiere Coffey visits the Jungle Red salon in Minneapolis to share her entrepreneurial expertise with, presumably, some fans of 1939’s The Women, and in the second episode she ruffles feathers at Long Beach, Calif., gay bar Ripples when she sets the owners straight over their penny-pinching practices and crazy club rules. Season 4 premieres January 10.
3. THEATER: Fruitfly
Leslie Jordan, the award-winning actor (Will & Grace, The Help) and unbridled raconteur, has written and will perform in what promises to be an uproarious autobiographical one-man show that raises the question: Do gay men eventually become their mothers? The world premiere engagement runs at Los Angeles’s LGBT-operated Celebration Theatre through February 18. CelebrationTheatre.com
2. BOOK: Inside Pee-wee’s Playhouse
It’s difficult to overestimate the impact of the long-running ’80s series Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which taught a generation of children that being different isn’t only OK, it’s also fun. Like many of us, award-winning writer Caseen Gaines was a fan of the surreal Saturday morning show when it premiered more than a quarter-century ago and has writtenInside Pee-wee's Playhouse, which meticulously chronicles every aspect — from the show’s genesis to behind-the-scenes insider gossip — of Paul Reubens’s giddy, whimsical creation.
1. TV: Absolutely Fabulous
As you’ve undoubtedly heard, Eddie and Patsy are back and behaving as badly as ever. In “Identity,” Saffy (Julia Sawalha) is released from prison (!), Bubble (brilliant Jane Horrocks) offers a side-splitting reenactment of the royal wedding, and — I hope you're sitting — Patsy finds out she is definitely older than 39. Even if you’ve caught the episodes when they leaked online recently, you’ll want to watch again when the first of three new 20th anniversary specials airs on Logo and BBC America January 8.