Thursday, September 8, 2011

TV is Better than You Think It Is

I am going to give you a little quiz.

Question 1: What do you think of TV?

a) TV is all right, I guess. There are some shows that are pretty good. I watch a few hours a week, if I'm bored.
b) Contemporary television is worse than acid-coated headlice on steroids.
c) Oh, I don't watch much network television. I mean, 30 Rock has its moments, but I mostly stick to HBO and Showtime.
d) One time, I forgot to DVR Jersey Shore, and later that week my dog got the runs. I'm not saying that there's a causation effect here, but I'm not saying there's not, either, and I'm not taking any chances.

Question 2: What is your favourite current TV show?

a) How I Met Your Mother - it is funny, entertaining, and features Neil Patrick Harris wearing lots of suits and saying "WHAT UP" a lot.
b) Current? Like, post-2000? Futurama still a thing?
c) Mad Men. Whoa, you've never seen Mad Men? Wait, seriously? I...I don't know if we can still be friends. Holy fuck, I thought I knew you.
d) Oh man, the Bachelor Pad was so good last night! But America's Next Top Model is featuring Fabio as a guest judge next week...oh, shit, I have to go, Cake Boss is on and I heard a rumor that he's making a cake that's going to look like a different type of cake and...

Question 3: What do you look for in a TV show?

a) Oh, whatever works really - a simple sitcom or police procedural is a classic recipe for success, but there are one or two reality shows I can get behind. I like simple characters and easy-to-follow plotlines, where you can jump in any time and enjoy the fun.
b) 1998.
c) CRIME and SEX and VIOLENCE and SUBVERSIVE STUFF that you would probably never understand.
d) Something that is currently playing on my, or my neighbour's, TV set.

OK, so it was a really short quiz. What am I, fucking Cosmo?


Mostly A's - you are a CASUAL VIEWER

You don't have anything against television, but you aren't really on top of the trends or engaged in the fandoms. You like some shows, you aren't really into others, you'll just flip it on and see what's playing.

Mostly B's - you are a HATER

You firmly believe that nothing good has come out of television since the 1990's and that the advent of reality TV means there is nothing worthwhile out there. You think you're in on some secret the rest of us don't know, and you introduce yourself by saying "Hi, my name is ____, and I don't have cable."

Mostly C's - you are a TV SNOB

You will watch anything that the high-end networks ask you to. You will absorb any and all shows featuring criminal protagonists, graphic controversial sex scenes, or the gratuitous use of the "f-word" just to prove that this isn't fucking NBC.

Mostly D's - you are a TV SLUT

You will watch anything. Goddamn anything. Crappy MTV reality shows, every incarnation of CSI, anything involving viewer voting and a panel of useless but stereotypically balanced judges. Good god, get some air!


Why did I compile this quiz for you, faithful reader? I did it because I have decided it is time to defend TV.

I like TV. I do! I said it! And I have spent a great deal of time trying to pretend I'm something I'm not. I've spent so many years jumping on the "hater" bandwagon, acting like there is nothing good out there, using my own lack of interest as evidence of my superiority. What a sad, sad time that was for me. Because now that I am aware hating things takes a lot more energy than liking things, I've seen the light.

Haters won't know this, and I suspect that TV Sluts won't really get it either, but TV is at an interesting crossroads right now. Bad TV is really fucking bad - oh, is it bad. I have not been able to get on board the reality television train, because I honestly don't know how to give a fuck about the fucking bachelor and his lame-ass roses and parade of interchangeable blonde princesses, except for Token Ethnic Minority Girl Who Will Get Kicked Off After A Short but Appropriately Racially Sensitive Period Of Time.

I've never even seen The Bachelor and I know that's what happens.

But good TV is good, guys. I think good TV is better than it's ever been. The advent of the prime-time HBO drama changed the face of high-brow television forever, with marketable A-list Hollywood stars actually taking on roles in TV shows in lieu of the movies because TV is totally not an actor deathbed anymore. Sitcoms are experiencing a talent revival, as well; for every shitty Two and a Half Men "ha ha women and men are so different AMIRITE??", there is a 30 Rock, and that's promising. Sure, crappy sitcoms abound and show no signs of slowing, but there are also a lot of smart, well-written, and downright fucking hilarious sitcoms that break with the standard formula just enough to be quirky. With 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and the Office, the workplace comedy is becoming a really funny genre again, with only a few exceptions (ahem, OUTSOURCED, ahem) and How I Met Your Mother successly brought the Friends recipe to a 21st century audience. Big Bang Theory has even found its footing in a television world that still doesn't understand that stereotypical nerds are not the only people who like Star Wars and video games. And no matter how hard Seth MacFarlane is trying, he hasn't yet completely murdered the adult-oriented cartoon. (He's trying really fucking hard, though. The Cleveland Show? Really?)

Anyhow, like I've said before, I don't like being looked down on. When I say I like something, and other people stick their nose up at it, I feel ashamed and I want to crawl in my little shame-hole and die. But I am tired of having to defend myself for enjoying TV. I am coming out of the TV closet, people.

But I'm still worried about the shame this will bring upon myself and my loved ones, so I'd like to try to win you all over. That's why I'm not just going to come out of the TV closet, I am going to try and convince you all that you should join my side, too - I will do for TV what the moronic Tea Party politicians think that gay people are doing for the "gay agenda."

Introducing the second incarnation of Them Juicy Leaves!

This month, we're tackling high-brow TV. I present to you a list of all the smart, sophisticated TV shows that I am keeping up with these days, and I hope that you might consider giving them a shot before you write TV off as something completely not worth your time. I am not going to pretend I don't also watch some low-brow silliness; I am not a TV Snob as outlined above. Maybe one day I'll compile a list of all my fave Low-Class-but-Who-Gives-A-Shit, Go-Write-Your-Own-Blog-If-You-Don't-Like-It television shows. But today, I'm trying to prove to you all that I can occasionally be artsy and intelligent and I do appreciate more things in life than Harry Potter. So read on, friends! And feel free to tell me what your favourite high-brow shows are in the comments; I am a notorious bandwagon hopper who will start watching pretty much anything if enough people tell me that I should.

Except Survivor, because fuck that.

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