Patrick Brothwell is an out and proud tv watcher. Here’s why.
I always laughed at those people who had a TV schedule. You know the type, their Monday nights are consumed with Big Brother at 8 and then Two and Half Men at 9 and then a big dilemma at 10 because they aren’t sure whether to watch Grey’s Anatomy in real time and DVR One Tree Hill or watch One Tree Hill so that the internet doesn’t spoil everything for them and then DVR Grey’s Anatomy (Sidenote: these shows and times are completely inaccurate. I just googled popular shows during the time I was in college).
I had friends who had nights like this and I openly made fun of them, until I found myself becoming one.
I’d never been a big television watcher growing up. My parents were the type that limited our time in front of the tube. We played outside a lot and I developed an early love for reading because of this. The only show I remember watching with any regularity during my high school years was Alias and The Late Show with my mother when we didn’t have school.
I didn’t have a TV viewing schedule which is what kept my superiority complex about the subject in full swing but suddenly found myself with a lot of downtime and little supervision with what to do with that time, so I became a channel flipper. I’d watch terrible reality television on VH1 (although if Rock of Love came back, I’d be so down), Dawson’s Creek reruns on TBS and hour long marathons of That 70’s Show and Law & Order: SVU, just to name a few, and I recall during a conversation with one aforementioned television-junkie friend realizing that I’d spent just as much time staring at the screen as she did. I wasn’t happy and vowed to change, attempting to limit myself to an hour a day max.
I did good for a while, but guess what? I’m back at it and this time, I’m not mad. I used to think of television enthusiasts as unimaginative, sloppy couch potatoes who sat on Lay Z Boys in a dimmed living room flipping between reruns of Cops and Judge Judy in between bites of their Digiorno’s. Now, when other people try and get all holier than thou by announcing that they don’t even own a television (although to be fair, I currently don’t at the moment because mine broke and is pretty low on the things I want to pay for scale) my first response is, why the hell not?
These days being a guy who watches a lot of television doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to a schedule. With so many different mediums to choose from (Hulu, Netflix, OnDemand) not being available to watch a show during primetime isn’t a big deal. You could watch at your leisure and even have the sit down and binge watch seasons that are long past.
The days have also passed when being a movie buff is considered cool while watching a lot of TV is lame. I’ve been, honest to God, to the movies once in the last year and that was only because I felt compelled to see The Great Gatsby because it came out right when I was teaching that. I don’t hate movies, but if I had to pick I’d go with a television show almost every time. There’s just smarter and more interesting things going on today in entertainment in a serialized version. It makes you think, question things you held true, entertains (let’s not fool anyone, first and foremost) and often forces you to pay attention to follow intricate plotlines and nuances.
That’s the biggest reason I’m all for being an avid TV watcher these days. There’s a lot of really good TV. That’s not to say that there’s a lot of crap out there, but there’s also a lot of crap books, music and movies. If I’d hazard a guess, I’d say that a lot of smart/well rounded guys are watching more TV today than they would’ve in the past.
My “big” TV season is in the spring. Sunday nights are devoted to Game of Thrones at 9:00 and Mad Men at 10:00. Game of Thrones, if you’ve been living under a rock, might be the biggest thing going on television right now. Not only are their well-developed characters, unforeseen twists and some sharp social commentary but dragons, beheadings and graphic nudity; it’s the best of both worlds.
Madmen, set in the world of 1960’s Madison Avenue, reads like the best fiction out there with characters so flawed and well, real, that you can’t help but root for and loathe them and sometimes feel genuinely uncomfortable because those terrible things they do or say or think are things that’ve crossed your mind.
I wasn’t crazy about the first season of American Horror Story, but really dug the second with its creepy New England setting and exploration of the very real horrors in the mental health system. And I recently got into The Bridge, FX’s new summer series that’s set amidst the political and cultural tension of the El Paso, Juarez border and get this? It’s actually made me read more (not that I really needed that push, still). I’ve been hungrily devouring anything material I could get my hands on about this area’s border tensions and it’s fascinating, relevant and true information.
That’s been my current tv schedule but I have plans to start Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy whenever I find the time and I haven’t even mentioned comedies (if you’re not watching Parks & Recreation, you’re missing out).
So, I’m an out and proud bonafide TV fan at the moment and the way things are looking, that’s not going to change anytime soon. I think you’re really missing out if you’re not. I’ll get down off my soapbox now.
photo: mikeblogs / flickr