I have never understood the whole “I-don’t-watch-TV-therefore-I-am” Cartesian superiority thing – as if watching television somehow negates every book read, every lecture attended, every run gone on or piece of classical music mastered.
(This list has been shortened just in case you’re into the whole brevity thing, but please feel free to populate it with whichever activities you see fit.)
Anti-television aficionados will normally let you in on their secret in one of two ways. The first usually goes something like this:
Player A (played by yours truly in this scene): “Hey man, do you watch Breaking Bad [or insert some other amazing television show here]? I just started watching it this weekend and it’s amazing!”
Player B: [smarmy, self-congratulatory] “No. I don’t own a TV. Fwuh fwuh fwuuuuuuuh!” [adjusts monocle and top hat]
To which my immediate reaction (as Player A) is: “Shut the front door! No TV eh? Well, ever heard of a little thing called the internet there Einstein? Because I’m pretty sure that’s where the majority of the world is getting their television these days! Totes McGotes dude, not owning a TV is one crap excuse for missing out on quality television programming! [pause] NEXT!”
The second scenario is a little different:
Player A: “Hey man, have you ever seen The Wire [or insert some other amazing television show here]? I just finished the series and I think it changed my life!”
Player B squints their eyes, and curls their lips. Their voice is thick with disdain.
Player B: “No. [Pause] I don’t watch TV.
Now, my first reaction to this situation is, as Player A, to laugh while giving Player B some serious side-eye. Then I am overwhelmed by the urge to scream, “OH YEAH? NO TV EH? What about movies then? DO YOU WATCH MOVIES, ARSEHOLE? Because I’m pretty sure television can be just as beautiful, engaging and life-changing as any film, and I can guarantee you there is as much filth being produced on the big screen as there is on that little box!”
[Pause for dramatic effect and to ensure that I didn’t drop any unplanned double entendres.]
And then I round house kick them in their kidneys. No of course I don’t. (I would never do that.)
I box their ears.
(I kid, I kid).
Now, while I’ve never quite had the guts to respond in this fashion, it has taken some mighty yoga breathing to keep this rage-attack at bay.
I mean, what can I say? Like one Homer J., I’m a rageaholic. I’m addicted to rageahol.
Because honestly, the whole, “all TV is shit TV” excuse is tired, played-out and completely untrue. Now, to clarify, is the majority of current television programming awful, mind-numbing crap? Yes. Undoubtedly and tragically, yes. And unfortunately, there seems to be an insatiable thirst for this glut of shows that are, for lack of a more poetic term, utter garbage. (See: most reality television, anything produced by Chuck Lorre, the current Law and Order series [and all of its spinoffs], anything with “housewives” in its title and of course pretty much everything broadcast on the CBC). This is truly regrettable, because it is this saturation of mindless, unimaginative, monotonous slime that gives an entire medium a bad rap.
In reality, there are a number of truly great shows on television – and (fingers crossed) until the day we see the premier of “Two and a Half Jersey Shore’s Big Bang the Biggest Loser”, this trend will continue. Or at least until the zombie apocalypse comes to town, but by then I’m pretty sure people will have bigger fish to fry than arguing over the merits of television. One thing though – all those schmucks who don’t watch the Walking Dead are going to bite it hard and fast (or should I say, be bit hard and fast), so let that serve as a warning to you all. Netflix that stuff, pronto.
Great television is transcendent. It is a dramatic art form at its finest and should be celebrated. Maintaining a storyline throughout multiple seasons without the writing, directing, acting, cinematography (etc. – the list goes on and ever on) suffering, becoming stale or over the top, or losing its momentum is beyond difficult. It is damn near impossible. And when this feat is achieved, it is magic.
This magic is so rarely achieved nowadays within any artistic channel. And because of this I believe we should be galvanizing our forces in all areas, instead of trying to break down one (or multiple) artistic vehicles for the sake of self-aggrandizement or the propagation of whatever lame notion happens to be au-courant that day or month or year.
This too is tired and overly played out. And it doesn’t make you cultured, it just makes you uniformed. It’s like walking into a drugstore, perusing their book selection and them proclaiming all literature trash. Drivel exists everywhere in all forms. To write off an entire group because of this fact is uninspired and lazy.
So Player B, don’t tell me that you won’t watch TV and somehow think I will admire you. And especially don’t tell me you won’t watch TV and then inform me that you’re heading out for a night at the cinema.
Because I will tell you that the comedy you are going to watch probably won’t be funnier than Arrested Development -or that inner-city drama won’t hold a flame to The Wire. I will tell you to open your mind.
I promise, no one is going to force feed you The Bachelor. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
I will tell you to start with Rome – and do as we Romans do. And always remember, no one likes a chicken: