Wednesday, June 21st

ATX Television Festival Season 6

It was my sixth year attending the Austin Television Festival—my favorite of Austin’s many festivals—which means I’ve attended every single year. Like the city itself, it evolves from year to year, notably feeling more crowded. It’s not guaranteed to get into every session one wants, which is something new for this spoiled brat, but that’s because founders Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson have preserved the intimacy and close-knit spirit of the event.

I’m sure it could have grown in size ten times over; Austin certainly has the venues and there is no shortage of passionate TV fans. But instead, panels and screenings still take place in places like the tiny Alamo Drafthouse Ritz. So while not everyone gets in, those who do feel like they are part of something truly special.

I was lucky enough to be in cozy sessions with many shows I loved over the years like Archer, Superstore, and Party of Five. Even those sessions that happen in “larger” venues like the Paramount still feel intimate. So if the price of getting these unique experiences is that I don’t get into every single thing I want to, so be it. This year I missed out on This is Us, which might have been the most sought-after session. But I’m feeling the Alaskan glow that you can only get from watching Rob Morrow and Janine Turner talk about Northern Exposure, one of my all-time favorite shows. When Chris and I made the cross-country drive to Austin I only packed a few things in my car, letting the rest arrive in a truck days later. Among my carful of necessities was our TV, DVD player, and Northern Exposure DVDs. We spent our first week here rewatching the series as we unpacked and set up our new life. Over the years, I’ve watched it many times and each time it brings something new to me.

Northern Exposure at ATX TV Festival

So I was over the moon to see my beloved show in the lineup. And it did not disappoint. Listening to the actors and writers talk about the unexpected success of a summer show that was never supposed to make it, it was clear that the magic they created was something that happened with just the right people at just the right time.

We watched the Aurora Borealis episode where Chris builds a sculpture and we are introduced to his half-brother, as well as Adam. Like every episode, it was funny, poignant, mystical, weird, and memorable. It was also the episode where we first met Adam, brilliantly played by Adam Arkin, who was sitting in the theater with us and easily coerced to join the panel. They revealed that they’d love to do some type of reunion special (maybe a whole season?!) and are hoping the show will be available for streaming eventually. Send me a petition. I’ll sign it!

Northern Exposure

Another highlight was the GIRLS panel, with HBO executives, director, casting, and Ebin Moss-Bachrach (Desi) and Jon Glaser (Laird) all of whom shared fond memories from filming one of my favorite shows. Honestly, if they did a GIRLS panel every single year I would go to every one till the end of time. I know it’s a polarizing show, but love or hate Lena Dunham, her storytelling talents are undeniable.

Ebon Moss-Bachrach










The third dream-come-true session was The Comeback. It looked like the brilliant mock reality show was only going to get one season, yet nearly a decade later they came back and wrapped up the story. I’m a huge dork and actually cried when it came back and again at the thoughtful way they ended it. Lisa Kudrow is a brilliant actress and was so lovely and down-to-earth in person. I’m not sure if she even had any makeup on. She reminisced with Michael Patrick King (who I hope returns for a Sex and the City panel one day), Laura Silverman and the ubiquitous Dan Bucatinsky. Sadly, Robert Michael Morris, who played her lovable and devoted hairdresser Mickey passed away just prior to the festival. It made the gathering even more poignant as they devoted much of the panel to sharing the news.

The Comeback

Another fantastic season in the books. I can’t wait till next year.

If you could pick some of the featured shows for the next festival, what would you choose?

One Response

  1. Julie says:

    I’m still so guarded on trying the festival again after my Gilmore Girls heartbreak. But I’d try again for Sex and the City!

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