Mainlining Television

August 28, 2011

It’s no secret around here that I watch a lot of television. I always have and probably always will. (And I’m tired of people being condescending about it, so you can save your, “we don’t own a T.V.” and your sanctimonious, “I have no idea who you’re talking about, I don’t really watch television,” for someone else. You’re in the wrong place if you can’t appreciate pop culture and the part that sitcoms play in it.)

When I was laid off, I watched a LOT of television, even for me. Having had a company car, and Spencer having to take his car to work, made me stay close to home most days.* Not to mention the hours of wedding preparation and job applications that I was devoting myself to. I’ve always been one of those people that thrives on the white noise of a T.V. in the background. (Music doesn’t work for me, I get too distracted by it.) More than anything I love listening to the sounds of my childhood while I do something else – work out, dust, make the bed, read a book – all of these things are more enjoyable when they’re accompanied by a laugh track.

I watched so much television this spring that I actually can’t remember all of what I watched. I know I made it through 12 seasons of Murder She Wrote and seven seasons of Wings, but some of the others are a blur (Netflix really needs a historical viewing list); it was like I was binging on T.V. I started rewatching ThirtySomething, borrowed and watched five or six seasons of Supernatural, and caught up on all of the TV on DVD that I had either bought or been gifted and hadn’t had time for (Family Ties, Mr. Belvedere, Alf… the list goes on and on). I started Cheers before we left for the wedding and just finished it up last week, all 275 episodes, all eleven seasons. That’s right, I stuck it out even after Shelley Long left, even after Rebecca’s prepubescent boss tried to con her into marrying him, I finished that series like it was my job.

A number of years ago I decided that I was never going to finish reading The House of Seven Gables. I dislike most early North American writers, and I hate Nathaniel Hawthorne with a fervor I usually reserve for televised team sports. I kept trying, kept plugging away, kept picking it up, because I like to finish what I’ve started. I’m a voracious reader, always have been, often reading entire books in a single sitting. It took me until I was about twenty five to realize that I don’t need to finish a book if I don’t like it and to admit that sometimes I don’t like things that are “classics” or “good” literature. It is not a black eye to my good name to admit that I would rather lick glass shards than read Nathaniel Hawthorne and that I think Emily Dickinson is a whiny, self-indulgent, anti-feminist. That’s okay. **

How does this apply to current day, and moreover my television viewing?

Well, about a week ago I started watching two more series. I have been alternating episodes of Medium and Ghost Whisperer, and I’m enjoying one much more than the other***… but I can’t stop watching either of them. I need to finish the series. I need to know, if anyone ever asks me a question about season 3, episode four, who the guest star was. I roll my eyes, I yell at the T.V. , I mock the characters, but I cannot stop myself from watching, and Spencer cannot understand it.

And neither do I, entirely. Maybe it’s because television viewing is such a passive activity, and maybe it’s because I’m not invested in what I’m watching in the way that some people are. All I really know is that I love the sense of completion, the sense of accomplishment at having watched all of something. We’ll see if this desire is enough to get me through five seasons of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s flowing, smocked outfits. It will if I keep using Patricia Arquette as a reward.

Then again, watching Medium as a woman who frequently has to drive through large expanses of the Arizona desert alone is a bad choice for an entirely different reason.†

*It’s not that I’m opposed to public transportation, it’s that public transportation in Tempe, AZ sucks. The light rail didn’t run anywhere near our apartment, and was cleverly built to not actually go anywhere anyone wants to go, and I’m pretty sure that every fourth person you see waiting for the bus in Arizona is a meth addict. (You can tell by the rapid blinking, head twitching, and the frequent arm scratching.)
**I don’t have any shame associated with the things I like and dislike anymore. There are no finals here, in the real world, and I’m allowed to alternate Laurie Notarro or Margaret Atwood all I want.
***I don’t even think that Jennifer Love Hewitt is necessarily a terrible actress (she’s not great, don’t get me wrong, but there are worse) it’s that the writing is just so, SO bad. SO BAD. Unbelievably BAD. So bad I can recap every episode in 5 sentences. Melinda meets a ghost that is confused and needs her help. Melinda finds the friend/family member the ghost needs to communicate with in order to cross over. The friend/family member doesn’t believe in ghosts! Melinda states some obscure fact that only the ghost would know! They all cry, the ghost crosses over.
†That woman is real, you know. She’s real and she lives here. Or she used to live here. Whatever, all of those stories? They’re from here.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sarah August 31, 2011 at 6:54 pm

The real Allison (and her last name totally escapes me now. I keep wanting to say Winn Scotch, but she’s an author not a Medium) was on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and was kind basically a total bitch, who stirred up drama, insulted everyone and keep puffing on this insane little electric cigarette the whole time. I was really disappointed because I love the Patricia Arquette version of her and I really, really wanted to like the real life version.

And yes, I watch the Real Housewives. All the seasons, all the casts. New Jersey is my favorite and you can’t say anything about it because There are NO FINALS here!

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