Pertaining to post below, let’s be honest. This is 2011. How most of us choose to waste our time is by browsing the Internets.
For the last week, however, my boyfriend and I have been without our worldwideweb crutch. As we wait for our new router to arrive, we’ve turned to the old school moving-picture box for post-work, mind-numbing entertainment: the television.
Full disclosure: I like cable—I like cable so much that I don’t want to be tempted to watch crap when I could be reading or exercising, or, lord forbid, writing. So in an attempt to do my part as a holier-than-thou hipster (i.e. broke ass), I stopped paying for cable years ago. I do, however, watch a ton of Bravo, VH1 and MTV reality shows online.
Which brings us back to the present: an Internet-less and cable-free apartment. It didn’t us take more than an hour of empty diddling before we pulled out an old antenna to see what was on regular network television.
This one single move opened my eyes to what I hope is not a reflection of what America likes, but what network execs think Americans like. Network TV is not just bad, it’s utterly, terribly mundane. If it was a color it would be beige. Or cement.
Please don’t tell me that we Americans really are simple schmoes that don’t demand more out of our visual escapism than cliched sitcoms and detective shows. People argue that reality shows are exploitive, sad and degrading, but at least they’re worth debating and get a reaction. I laugh when I watch the “Jersey Shore” and gasp when I watch a Beverly Hills housewife spend $60,000 on her preschool daughter’s birthday party. These fame whores’ fame whoreness is fascinating, whatever their motive, however contrived. What I don’t understand is how anyone at the office water cooler would want to earnestly discuss the genius of:
1. “The Big Bang Theory” - In this show, Blossom’s Mayim Bialik and Darlene’s love interest from “Roseanne” (which, by the way, was a great smartass sitcom) are nerds struggling to maintain their nerdom in this cool, hip, socially perplexing world. To us sardonic teens of the ’90s, this sounds promising, or at least intriguing, right? Wrong. It tries oh-so-very hard to be funny, but like it’s premise, it is awkward and obvious. For example, the female nerd (Blossom)—and how can you tell she’s a nerd? She’s got a middle hair part and a snort!—is turned on by —hold your horses—a hot, muscly guy! Cue the laugh track! Her nerd friend concludes, “This sounds like, mmmm, errr, sexual arousal.” Insert more recycled laughter from Urkel jokes. After 20 minutes of this I imagined Snookie and The Situation storming in, whisking them all away to Karma and showing them how caricatures can still be off-handed, slightly complicated, and most importantly, fucked, not just aroused.
2. Any morning show - How does one, at 7 in the morning, sit down in front of the television with a cup of coffee and listen to all that phony, cheery, utterly fucking boring banter? “It’s national coffee cake day!” “Did you hear, Sue, our producer, made us some coffee cake back there and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!” “Yes, it’s huge! I saw it!” “How huge, Jim?” “Bigger than the zucchini we had for national ‘be a vegetarian for a day’ day!” “Hahahaha.” Mug sips. “Yes, much bigger! “And more tasty!” “Count me in on this holiday, Jim!” “Me too, Steve.” “Hahahahaha.” More mug sips. More mugging. Christ, I’ve heard wittier exchanges over Hostess cupcakes at the corner bodega.
3. “NCISSI Bang Bang Doom-de-Doom Gavel Gavel Forensics” - Okay, I’ve barely watched any of these police detective shows but I can only assume people like them because there are so goddamn many on the air. The only way I can tell them apart is that when one is set some place tropical like Hawaii or Miami, everything is bright and saturated. Ray-Bans are mandatory for viewing. When it’s in a tough metropolitan city, like New York, however, shots are gritty and on the street. People wear coats and walk fast. Perpetrators lurk in alleys or in heroin tenements, unlike in the tropics, where detectives wear short-sleeve collared shirts, usually orange, and catch bad guys on beachwalks and from outdoor cafes where all the tables have matching umbrellas.
In conclusion, this week without choice, without the glorious Internet and all its thousands of videos and bootleg shows, has made me realize that I do have standards. Even when I am a lazy loaf.