Mary Katharine Ham

So, it’s fall again, and you find yourself, remote in hand, convinced that the television landscape is nothing but one giant View couch populated by Sally Fields, Rosie O’Donnells, Joy Behars and Alicia Silverstones. Hollywood’s most delightful elite crammed together, bony-starlet elbow to gastric-bypassed booty, happy to serve up daily entertainment with a side of condescension, smut, and a cheap political jab for every plot line!

It can get discouraging out there for a red-blooded conservative searching for good original programming without any sermons from our betters in Blue America. Walking into the fall line-up without a guide, you’re more vulnerable than a Democratic staffer at a NASCAR race. So, here’s a way to get good and inoculated.

I search the good, the bad, and the ugly to bring you a report of what is acceptable and even—dare I say it?—enjoyable for conservative consumption.

Friday Night Lights (NBC Fridays 9/8c): In this case “critically acclaimed” is not a stand-in for “soul-crushingly boring and produced by an approved left-of-center team with left-of-center axes to grind, thereby making it worthy of statuettes, but not actual breathing audiences in search of entertainment.”

No, “Friday Night Lights” is critically acclaimed with good reason. It’s one of the most well-acted, sensitive, authentic dramas I’ve ever seen on TV. I shied away from the show at first because the title implied a tour de force of small-town stereotypes—characters dripping in overdone accents, a town that’s grid-iron gripped but with a looser hold on fidelity, morality and the finer things in life. Let’s face it. The stage was set for some serious Hollywood belittling.

But Hollywood got this one right. I covered high-school football in a town much like the fictional Dillon, Texas. Every episode I watch is such an accurate portrayal of the people I knew and loved there—their struggles, their driving forces, their triumphs and their shortcomings—that it feels like an eerie trip back home.

Dancing With the Stars (ABC Mondays 8/7c): Tune in to this show for some wholesome Fred-and-Ginger-style entertainment. There are glitzy stars and glitzier ballroom professionals, paired to bring foxtrots and quicksteps to a new generation. There’s also a live band and singers, making this the triple threat of network offerings. Truly old-school.

As a bonus, this season features Jennie Garth. Judging from her performances so far, Kelly Taylor has recovered quite nicely from her date rape, eating disorder, brief cult membership, drug addiction, gunshot wound, and the scars from that house fire, in order to come back a-waltzing.

Small warning on the skimpy outfits.

Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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