Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What Sarah Rayner watched on TiVo...plus a book giveaway

Ugly Betty, Arrested Development, Firefly, Desperate Housewives, and The Office. What do these titles have in common? The answer to this question is that they were just some of the TV shows I watched sometime between 2000 and 2010 (and sometimes beyond, although I didn't start watching How I Met Your Mother until 2011...even at that time, 2005 felt like ages ago). 

Today, Sarah Rayner is here to tell us some of her favorite TV shows from the first decade of the 21st century. (Just a fair warning that there may be some spoilers for shows that have spilled over into the current decade.)

Sarah lives in Brighton with her husband and teenage stepson, but she was born in London. She spent her childhood in Richmond, Surrey, went to Leeds University to study English, and then returned to London in the late ’80s. After working in fashion PR for a bit, her boss told her she was better at writing than schmoozing clients, and suggested she become an advertising copywriter. From there, she worked for 10 years in various London agencies before writing freelance and having some short stories published by Woman's Own. Getting Even (reviewed here) is actually her sophomore novel and was published in 2002, but then updated in 2013 and now available in the US. Thanks to St. Martin's Press, we have one copy for a lucky reader in the US or Canada!

Visit Sarah at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

I’ve been asked by Chick Lit Central to pick my top ten TV shows from the decade of my choice – which is perfect, as I love television. As the main reason I enjoy TV so much is that these days it’s the go-to medium for bold, brilliant drama, I’ve opted for the ten-year period when the genre truly transformed itself – 2000-2010. Prior to this, shows as good as ThirtySomething and Twin Peaks were a rarity, and looking back at the picture quality, it seems rather blurry. But in the noughties, Hollywood production values and novelistic storytelling became the norm, and with box sets and catch-up TV, we can now devour an entire series in a weekend, just as you would a great book. Boy, are we lucky.

10. Sex and the City. Prior to SATC, no drama had had leads like Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda: sexually frank, witty and independent. Moreover, for all the talk of shoes and shopping, the show also tackled modern social issues such as promiscuity, infertility and cancer, and underlined that whilst romantic relationships come and go, friends can be forever.

9. Arguably without Ally McBeal to blaze a trail there would have been no SATC, and without SATC there’d be no Girls today. Ally showed us that working women could be funny and bright, not to say a tiny bit bonkers. She even managed to pull ‘Larry’ and thus revive the career of Robert Downey Junior, for which I – and the world – should be eternally grateful.

8. My latest novel, Getting Even, is about revenge, and whilst it’s a dark comedy focused on female friendship and not a crime thriller, it does reveal my passion for stories about the shadier side of human nature. Hence The Killing at number 8 – and I’d recommend the Danish original over the US remake, as it’s richer and S1 has a more satisfying ending.

7. Staying with the global theme, it’s the BBC’s Planet Earth at number 7. Even if you usually give nature programs a wide berth, Google the scene of a mother polar bear with her cubs and your heart will melt, I promise.

6. So much more than a vehicle for George Clooney, it’s ER at number 6. The show started in 1994 (wow, that makes me feel old) and finished 15 years later, and I watched every episode. When the credits rolled for the 331st time, I felt I’d lost a limb.

5. Here in Britain we call it Strictly Come Dancing, in the US it’s Dancing with the Stars. Launched in 2004, the show has been exported to 40 countries, making it the world’s top reality TV format. Costumes and celebrities are part of its appeal, but for me the magic is in the journey.

4. Perhaps it’s little surprise I loved Absolutely Fabulous – my first job was in fashion PR and I recognized my old boss in the cringe-making antics of publicist Edina Monsoon. But it was her best friend Patsy – whose alcohol consumption, drug taking and promiscuity eclipsed Edina's – who had the best lines.

3. Six Feet Under: a haunting soundtrack set the tone for this beautifully written, finely acted drama series focusing on a dysfunctional family running an independent funeral home in L.A. Black humor, sex and death – what’s not to love?

2. With its season-long narrative arcs offset by a procedural story that gets resolved in each episode, The Good Wife rewards the dedicated viewer who also seeks instant gratification – that’ll be me then. When Will Gardner came to a sticky end I was convinced the show would falter, but instead the creators took the chance to give their characters added depth, and S5 was the best yet.

1. In spite of the series’ title, Mad Men is as much about women too. Cleverly scripted, brilliantly acted and stunning to look at, having worked in advertising for 20 years, I can vouch for the show’s authenticity. If readers of Getting Even enjoy my novel a tenth as much as I love Mad Men (and, I confess, Donald Draper), my work on this planet is done.

Synopsis of Getting Even:
Revenge has never been such fun...

How would you feel if your best friend at work betrayed you? Was secretly having an affair with an influential colleague? Did you out of a coveted promotion, then teamed you up with a mere junior, leaving you feeling completely demoted? What would you do?

For Ivy there's no choice.

The only person she has ever trusted, Orianna, has blown it big time. So there's only one way forward: revenge. Ivy's campaign is brilliant, if horribly destructive, and she's determined to get even with the woman has dared to cross her. But is Ivy really the innocent party? Or is she hiding secrets of her own?

Set in the heart of Soho's adland, where emotions run even higher than the salaries, Getting Even is an unputdownable tale of jealousy packed with bonking, bonding and backstabbing.
(Courtesy of Sarah Rayner's website.)

Thanks to Sarah for reminiscing with us and to St. Martin's Press for sharing her book with our readers.

~Introduction by Melissa Amster

How to win:  Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

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US/Canada only. Giveaway ends September 28th at midnight EST.


Janine said...

Desperate Housewives would have been my favorite from that era

Unknown said...

Friends was my favorite show, hands down.

Sharon said...

No doubt, Friends.

jpetroroy said...

Friends, for sure.

Rosemary said...


pascale said...

VERY hard to answer.
I think Sex in the City. Nothing has ever been like since.

Then, perhaps Greys Anatomy, Good Wife and Parenthood.

This book sounds great and it seems to be on many lists!

Bridget said...

Grey's Anatomy.

Dcimo2 said...

Desperate Housewives :)

Connie said...

I loved BBC's "Midsomer Murders" but it was a close favorite with "Deadwood." I wish they had done another season of "Deadwood." Wow! What a show!

Melanie Backus said...

I loved Third Watch, Providence, Men In Trees, and Army Wives.

mauback55 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

There were/are so many from that time that I loved/love. I'd have to say House might have been my favorite.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Anita Yancey said...

My favorite show was and is Criminal Minds. Thanks for having this giveaway.

Carl Scott said...

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Anonymous said...

Definitely LOST. I still miss it.


Melissa Seng said...

Friends, hands down!

bn100 said...


Unknown said...

I don't know if many people know about this show, since it was only on for 2 seasons, but Pushing Daisies is my all-time favorite show! It was so creative and fun!!

Patricia said...

There are a lot of candidates, but I still love Frasier.

Anonymous said...

Friends, no question.


Nova said...

Sex and the City!!! all time favorite!

rubynreba said...

It would have to be Sex and the City.

Angel Wells said...

I loved desperate housewives!! And friends!