I’m not sure TV lovers are technically the right word anymore. We hardly watch our daily/weekly fix of shows on TV anymore.
But the idea remains the same. TV lovers watch a lot of shows. They discuss these shows with other TV lovers. And just maybe, want to buy stuff that illustrates this love.
Hence, the idea of perfect gifts for TV lovers. Because there is a perfect gift for a Breaking Bad fan. Fake blue meth.
I thought I’d take a few shows that are popular or were popular in the last 20 years or so. Then check out what goodies inspired by these shows are on offer.
Then provide a totally objective assessment based on build quality, price, rarity. Yeah, no. Whatever catches my eye and would like to have on my shelf. That’s the list.
I like a gag gift as much as the next guy. But if you’re like me, the best gifts are a Blu-ray set or behind the scenes stuff and not a branded tote bag.
But first, 5 of the best merch I found, for the shows I’ll be covering:
Perfect gifts for TV lovers (top 5)
Let’s start with something that makes me look very seasoned in the art of watching a lot of good shows. The Sopranos.
The harbinger of the golden age of HBO shows. Some might say that would be Oz. I’m inclined to agree with the Oz crowd. But The Sopranos is the real deal.
The one that would redefine what is expected of an elite-level show. Story beats that would be the focus of entire seasons on other shows, would sometimes be done within the first 3 minutes of an episode.
And then we watch in awe as David Chase and his team of writers find a way to show the pay-off much later.
The Sopranos is a show about a New Jersey crime family, headed after a slight tussle, by Tony Soprano. Tony Soprano, played by the late James Gandolfini, is one of the all-time greats.
The very definition of a great anti-hero. Sure Walter White did his thing a few years later and got me hooked to TV (I was a movie-only guy pre-Breaking Bad), but Tony is the gold standard still.
How does a show make a cruel, delusional, cheating, violent man the centerpiece of a show that millions came to adore?
And he is supported by an amazing supporting cast that includes his wife, lieutenants, nephew, therapist, rival mob bosses, uncle, sister and so on.
Each character would’ve gotten at least a season-long spinoff in the modern streaming era.
It is getting a prequel though. A movie about Tony’s dad doesn’t seem all that attractive. But David Chase is writing it, so the worst case is still a good watch.
You can always get the shirt made famous by Tony. The worst of 2000s fashion. It still counts as a souvenir, right?
But when it comes to getting that requires a little less explanation, you can get a funky painting of the gang. Spoiler: Some of them may or may not bite the dust by the end.
Or you can have the painting commissioned by a mob boss, who may be losing perspective.
I would even suggest a companion book of sorts to the show. The Sopranos team released this book a bit before the end, for the true Sopranos aficionado.
It gave a neat look behind the scenes of the legendary show. Including tidbits from cast and crew members, that shed a little light on the workings that led to great TV.
The one that I wanted to talk about anyway. But a more inclusive list seemed a bit too fun an opportunity to pass up.
It may have been must-watch TV for much of its 5-year run. But I will always love it for the fact that it introduced me to binge-watching. I had the pleasure of having to catch up 3 seasons before I was caught up with the rest of you early-adopting scum.
There was shame, yes. At being oblivious to such great stories and characters. But then came 33 episodes of the finest quality.
And the pleasure of watching one of the all-time great fictional characters’ journeys in less than a week.
Breaking Bad is the story of a chemistry professor who is diagnosed with cancer. And somehow his response to this was to become the most feared meth dealer in New Mexico and beyond.
Sure, the logic doesn’t compute. Except it does. Because that’s what good writing does. It shows us this meek, gentle high-school professor short-of-confidence evolve into a murdering, calculating psychopath.
Or high-functioning sociopath or whatever he is. We are on this magical journey that includes his first outdoor cook, first body disposal, the first bomb in a clear plastic bag, a first run-in with a drug dealer (or at least what passed for a drug dealer in those days), first meeting with a shady lawyer and many more fun firsts.
It gave us one great baddie after another. All the while watching who we were told was our hero, becoming the worst among them.
The shady lawyer even got his own show. And that turned out to be great and is going strong.
There’s a movie coming soon that will cover one of the few questions that we had after the series finale. But personally, I’d have left it unanswered, as I’m sure the showrunner Vince Gilligan wanted it to be.
But suffice to say, the show is the dog’s bollocks. The show you want to be smushed onto your face.
The first thing a fan would get is the box set. Complete with a sketch of the mysterious Heisenberg.
Then if you’re a Gus Fring fan, get yourself a practical gift, the Los Pollos Hermanos apron. There is a smarter line involving cooking and meth and special ingredient for fried chicken, but I can’t quite craft it.
And if you’ve neatly transitioned from your Breaking Bad withdrawal into watching Better Call Saul as consolation, there is the Jimmy Gill bobblehead.
I’m still conflicted as to whether I wanted to know more about Slippin’ Jimmy. But it’s a great show, so what the heck.
The show’s official store also has a sick (it’s not that great) snow-globe that immortalizes (for almost a year after which you’ll chuck it in a box) the RV from the show.
Though Breaking Bad may have been the show that introduced the world of bingeing, The Office (US) was one of the shows that I watched consistently.
It’s not really what I consider binge-worthy, on account of not having an overarching plot and all that, but you could sit through quite a few episodes in one go.
Plus, who doesn’t love Dwight Schrute?
I would watch the UK version much later. I admit it is the better show. It is superior in quality. The US version is altogether more innocent and there’s a lot more of it.
Quantity is sometimes better than quality. At least, it is in the case of The Office, for me personally.
But major props must be given to Ricky Gervais (he does that himself) and Stephen Merchant (the tall weird mutant from Logan) for perfecting the mockumentary format.
Where the US version took us someplace weird and uncomfortable and cut away quickly, the UK version stayed there for another couple of minutes and redefined uncomfortable.
It is the braver show. But I love me some Michael Scott.
You can always gift yourself a Dundie award. For excellent salesmanship, or you can send me one. How am I doing?
Bobbleheads-wise, Dwight is the only one that looks distinctive. The other 2 are a bit plain. It comes fitted with a Schrute-special mobile pouch.
Talking about Schrute farms (terrible segue), you can always remember one of TV’s best honeymoon destinations with a hoodie. So off-brand for the farm though. Bears eat beets. Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.
But if you’re a Brent-man (Ricky certainly is) a set of Birthday cards will let your friends know of your allegiances.
I don’t like NBC shows. I’ve watched a lot of NBC shows and loved them. But I don’t like the idea of NBC shows.
Something about SNL and how the cast members keep popping up in each others’ shows pisses me off. That’s stupid I know.
Seinfeld, Friends, The Office, Scrubs, 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, Community (before it went to Yahoo and became crap) are all wonderful shows.
30 Rock is my favorite. Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Jack McBrayer and Tracy Morgan (most of the time) are some of the favorite comic characters.
Ron Swanson from Parks is bae. But Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy are close.
The show is about the showrunner of a variety show on NBC who has to deal with egos, writers with arrested development, less than stellar assistants, an ego-maniacal boss, an ego-maniacal star, another ego-maniacal star and multiple corporate takeovers.
All this while managing to date Matt Damon and Jon Hamm. That’s the show synopsis right there. I really feel that’s where my strength lies. Howsabout a blog of just plot synopses?
But until then I find 30 Rock collectibles. You can start with a dive into the philosophy of the show’s characters. Yep. Philosophy of 30 Rock characters.
It’s more a compilation of 16 essays written by fans of the show. About the characters of the show and society at large. Yeesh.
And if you’re committed to the act of reading, why not get yourself the must-read (hear) for a Tina Fey fan. Tina Fey wrote Bossypants, detailing her journey from a kid with a dream of hosting the weekend update on SNL to having her own show on NBC.
You can get The Girlie Show tee, inspired by the show Liz Lemon is constantly saving from disaster.
Or just a simple sticker, with the show’s most iconic line. Well, commonly considered the most iconic line.
I’d call this a show the one for any occasion or crowd, among the 5 listed in the post.
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
From the somewhat older favorites to my new craze. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Ah, perfection. It’s not. But it’s great.
At the time of writing, I’m waiting on season 3 of the hit Amazon Prime show.
But so far it has covered the journey of a young newly-dumped Jewish woman in the 1960s who has to go from worrying about getting the priest to facing indecency charges for testing out her craft, realize that it is her craft, cross paths with real-life comedic legend Lenny Bruce, bail him out, pick up kids (not enough of this though), convince her traditional parents, go to France, find love, throw away found love for a global tour and some plot with Jane Lynch.
All this in 18 gorgeous episodes, and trust me I never use the word gorgeous for shows and movies. It is set in 1960s New York and a bit in France. Definitely a show you should watch in hi res.
Like any other good show, the writing is strong and the side characters memorable. The husband, the parents, the agent, the in-laws, the Lenny Bruce, the Jane Lynch comedienne.
Everyone except the doctor played by Zachary Levi. Hated that guy. But the rest, gold. Oh and also not enough about kids and Midge taking care of them.
That is the major complaint. In a show with zingy one-liners and silly plots, there wasn’t enough mothering.
If you haven’t already, treat yourself. Or just watch them again to prepare for season 3.
Display your love of the show with this Midge Maisel lapel pin. Because, again, I can’t stress enough, this is a souvenir, right?
There’s a coffee mug with the show’s iconic line. Oh and Alex Borstein should have her own show. I know she’s big in Family Guy and Maisel. But she needs her own show.
Then there’s fashion stuff like gloves, hats, and lipstick? I’ll let you search for those.
Rick & Morty
I’m a new addition to the legion of Rick & Morty fans. Hence, the last section.
If you’re a fan, I can’t say anything much. You’re in.
If you’re not, treat yo’self.
That should do the list for now. I can definitely see myself adding to the list every now and then. Or so I tell myself, knowing full well I’ll never follow through.
Chances are you have seen most of these and could tell me a thing or two about them.
But if that’s not the case, I hope I’ve introduced you to hours and hours of entertainment you were unfamiliar with.
And the gifts are a way to relive or remember these shows. But they’re not the point, You may or may not be the type to buy companion stuff.
Irrespective of all that, let me know what you think about these shows. And if you have a top 3, put that in the comments too.
Maybe I’ve already watched them and I’ll feel like adding to the list.