orphan blackMy husband and I just spent a riveted month watching Justified, the FX show starring Timothy Olyphant as a modern day U.S. Marshall in rural Tennessee. I am feverishly counting the hours until the fabulous Orphan Black starts its third season. I’m also one of the millions who’s watching to see who dies next in the latest season of Game of Thrones. (I so hope it’s the genuinely creepy Melisandre but I’m sure I’ll be disappointed.) And while I’m not watching Outlander–I don’t get Starz–as soon as it’s available to stream, I’ll be glued to the story of Claire and Jaimie.

All three of these shows–and many of the others I’ve loved in the past few years–share two things: Love and Death.

I like complicated shows that show the intricacies of relationships. What then is more integral to human connection than the promise of love and the fear of death? I suspect one of the reasons I’m such a Buffy fanatic is that characters, people I’d become invested in, did die (and, of course, love) in ways that made me sob. I could never get into The Sopranos because there wasn’t a love story there I cared about and, without passion, all the killing left me cold. At the same time, love without the threat of death, is too easy for me. (I like my television on the intense side.) Unlike ever other member of my family, I didn’t care who the mother was on How I met Your Mother. (A death in the last episode of a nine season show doesn’t count, guys.) Even the smart coupling of Jim and Pam didn’t keep me hooked–once they were a done deal on The Office, I too was done.

Now that we’re done with Justified I am looking for some new shows to watch. My preference would be shows that are already finished (For example, I’m waiting for the show finales of The Americans and Mad Men.)

Here are my criteria:

  • At least two long term relationships (one of the romantic variety) which direct much of the plot and/the story development.
  • There are sexy times that advance the relationships rather than existing just to show skin.
  • Real loss is a part of the story–I’m not demanding the main characters leave this mortal coil, but, I need to have a reason to keep watching the relationships develop. (Six Feet Under did this well, if you’re looking for an example.)
  • At least one of the leads is a strong woman. Additionally, women are not punished for being sexual, cranky, or smart. (Sadly, this writes off the vast majority of TV.)
  • The dialogue crackles. (Think Deadwood or Friday Night Lights.)

Got a show that you think I’d like? Let me know in the comments! Until then, I’m off to watch An Honorable Woman.