7 Truths About TV

I think now that I have reached my 23rd year of life, it’s safe to say that I’m a bonafide television connoisseur. I’ve always been a huge fan of television and everything that goes with the magic black box of moving pictures. Pajamas, junk food, wine, general laziness, maybe cuddling with a cute animal (or person), and the overall art of storytelling — all are some of the greatest things in the world. Few people would argue. To those people I say, go away. Spending time with characters and developing genuine care for where the story goes and what happens to them — all the while riveted by some truly ridiculous storylines — is something you can’t get from anything else in life. Now that I’ve spent my life perfecting television viewing, I’ve come to the realization that I’m somewhat jaded, and a total professional. I should probably be a network executive. The following list are the things that I now know about television, things that in a world of teen moms and marrying strangers are sometimes forgotten.

1. Friends is still better than most things in the world. It doesn’t matter if you read this and think, “30 Rock is my jam, How I Met Your Mother 4eva!” or “Seinfeld is the shit, and I will choose it over almost everything. Everyone is watching Friends. The networks all seem to have it on all the time because it’s the show we all want to see. I went to France and it was on. Iceland, on. Peru, on. IT IS ALWAYS ON, because it’s the best. The debate ends with Friends — it makes you laugh, it makes you smile, it makes you happy, it entertains. It is the best. Important: skip Season 8 and part of 9. You know what I’m talking about.

2. If you only watch procedurals, you haven’t even started watching television yet. Procedurals aren’t television, they’re entertainment. They aren’t the same. They aren’t storytelling. To me, television should be a long movie — drawn out with a predetermined ending point. If not an exact moment known to be the final scene by day one, at least a goal. No, Friends is not a procedural, it has an overarching plot. I know so many people love Law & Order: SVU, and shows like these aren’t bad — they just aren’t the real stuff. Procedurals are Kraft American Cheese; super delicious, but just not the same as the smelly amazing Brie that is on the dessert menu at XYZ fancy restaurant, you know? Procedurals should be reserved for the same purpose as reality shows and soap operas and treated as such.

3. What you felt when Lost ended was very real. If you watched Lost, then you know. If you didn’t, don’t. This is a heartbreak too horrible to bear and you are better off with the ability to trust. There are shows I won’t watch until they end and I find out the ending from friends just so I don’t feel the stinging pain of watching something you love betray you. Trust me. If you are considering a new weird and cool show, don’t go heart-in first. Be wary, ask questions. Guard your loins because this is no laughing matter. A disastrous ending to your favorite show will screw up your television viewing abilities forever. This is far worse than a show you love suddenly being cancelled. This is a bad breakup destroying your ability to trust the way you could when you were young. Sigh.

4. You should stop watching after freshman year of college. This isn’t about your freshman year; I mean Blair and Serena’s, Buffy’s, Dawson’s, Rory Girlmore’s. After your adorable misguided high school psycho goes off to college and stumbles through that thoroughly enjoyable transition, nothing good happens. Turn it off. It’s hard to walk away because you’ve spent three to four years loving these weirdoes, but the hard truth is that it just won’t be as good, leaving you wondering why you ever watched. Suddenly you’re embarrassed to admit you watch it. The worst is the “freshman-year-of-college-is-over-and-that-story-is-done-so-lets-pretend-everyone-is-30” plot development. Blair is marrying a prince? What? Why is everyone married? When did everyone become stockbrokers? The worst culprit is Dawson’s Creek. The main character completely becomes Joey Potter and that’s when it’s time to turn the TV off.

5. True Blood is the show of shows. If you have a violent prejudice of vampires, then Game of Thrones is the show of shows. I can’t say this enough, both of these shows — and how lucky for us that they are both in their prime — are the best shows on television. Shocking! What a bold statement, how can I mean that? Well of course, it depends how they end (re: Lost) but generally, yep, absolutely. Even if you don’t like fantasy or whatever, one of these shows will please you beyond belief. Personally, I like True Blood.

When I watch television, I want ultimate entertainment. I want to be stimulated — I want to see things I’ve never seen before. At the beginning of the article I mentioned that I’d become jaded. I’d seen it all and all but gave up on TV until I saw True Blood. It wasn’t what I thought it was at all, not Twilight or Vampire Diaries (which is actually pretty good), and I didn’t want anything to compete with Buffy, the holy water of vampire television. But it was so much more than a vampire show. The sex, the violence, the story lines, the one-liners — it is the show of shows. A show for kings.

Speaking of kings, Game of Thrones is just as good. It offers the same shock and awe coupled with amazing storylines. A lot can be said for unnecessary sex and too much violence on both these shows, but the writing, acting, scenery, and — if we are talking about True Blood — the one-liners, make it all worth it. I have no problem with gratuitous sex and violence. Lay it on me baby. I’ve seen it before. Better than another detective solving a crime, more doctors having G-rated sex, and another fantasy high school student going to Convenient Ivy League College! I think the need to see something you’ve never seen is a growing concern amongst television viewers. What we’ll do after True Blood remains a mystery, but for now, this is the answer to your couch-potato prayers.

6. In general, stick with HBO or Showtime. The hit to your wallet or the assault on your morals when you pirate them are worth it.

Not much more needs to be said. Dexter, Homeland, The Tudors, Girls, Sex and The City, The Sopranos, Entourage, what have you. These are the best there are. If the budget is higher, the talent is better, and the viewer is happier. That’s just the way our world works. Also, serious question: why has an HBO/Showtime show about the Greek gods not been made yet?

7. You don’t need cable.

I really don’t think this is groundbreaking, but it needs to be said — CANCEL your subscription. Comcast, Timewarner, AT&T. Turn. It. Off. You don’t need it. I like to assume most early 20-somethings have figured this out, but the rest of society needs to wake-up and get on board. Sports? Go to the neighborhood bar — it’s more fun that way anyway! And the more of us who cancel, the more likely the holy grail of television will actually be offered to us. What is that, you wonder? Good question. The Holy Grail of Television — as it should be formally known — is the menu-selection style of cable television offerings. With this magical feature, one would be able to pay for only the channels they want (need?). HBO? ESPN Tennis? Nickelodeon? Done and done, you got it! Lifetime? Food Network? ABC Family? Showtime? ESPN something else? Fox News? Yours! And nothing else! The crux of the problem with cable is how much you’re paying for nothing. Think about the channels you watch and how many you have and what you pay. Vomit a little, and then cancel that subscription right now. Use that money for better internet.

Now you all may have read this and determined that, you know, how stupid, this is all clearly a question of taste. Of course it is, but it is not a question of taste. Everything I just wrote is true. If your taste differs — say, procedurals are the crème de la crème of your world — then that’s awesome. Go SVU! But you have bad taste and you have yet to cultivate your palette. I once loved procedurals, too, until I was slapped across the face and realized every episode was the same. Really, I admire your innocence. If you can watch hours of Queer Eye reruns and be happy, that’s great. I’m on the brink of television overload, close to the edge of nothing being good or satisfying. Enjoy your path, is all I can say. Just make sure you stop at Doug on the way. TC mark

image – Ark

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  • Idiom Police

    #4: you probably mean “gird your loins.”

    • Idiom Police

      Actually, it was in #3

  • http://lifeisnotamovie.net Robin

    First of all, are you my other personality because a lot of that is stuff already in my brain. Did I write this while unconscious or something? Do I sleep blog? Although I do have some things to add to this:

    Watch Breaking Bad, it will change your life, forever. No other show will compare. I thought no other show would compare to Six Feet Under but then I saw Breaking Bad and everything I knew before about tv was wrong. Breaking Bad has both made tv and ruined it because I don’t know how anything will live up to it.

    Watching British television, much of it blows our television shows out of the water. Skins, Misfits, Outnumbered, The Inbetweeners, Sugar Rush, Black Books, Fresh Meat…I could go on for a lifetime. A lot of these shows are being remade into American versions, they will suck, period. You can find many of these on either hulu or Netflix Instant. You haven’t truly watched television until you’ve jumped into the pool of British television.

    That’s it, carry on.

    • lizelly@gmail.com

      mifits, yes. series 1&2. but dont watch past that…its the betral that was spoken of above. i couldnt make it past episode 3 in series 3 and i considered myself a HUGE misfits fan

      • http://lifeisnotamovie.net Robin

        I do love Rudy but you are right, the show isn’t quite the same. That’s the frustrating thing about British tv, the actors up and leave the show all the time because they don’t have contracts.

  • maybeemily

    I see a distinct lack of mad men mentioned. Game of thrones, mad men, community. Just download all the wire and make your way through. WE LIVE IN A GOLDEN AGE OF ENTERTAINMENT

  • Gabriela

    I was agreeing with everything until it ended and there was no mention whatesoever of Breaking Bad. THAT is the best thing on television, not Game of Thrones and True Blood (altough they are very good and make it to the top 5). The fact that Breaking Bad’s not there to be considered kind of annuls the whole point.

    • http://lifeisnotamovie.net Robin

      Agreed, I commented about Breaking Bad so consider my comment as the addition needed on that.

  • le withit

    I have to contradict. for those of for whom AMC is an option, Breaking Bad and Mad Men cut the deal. And, personally, I left the dragons and vampire phase of my life around the age of 15

  • http://soonerandthecity.wordpress.com brittanyraeann

    Yes. Friends. Always.

  • Sadaf

    AMAZING. I agree with every point SO hard. Especially #2. So #2. This is taste. But one thing: True Blood was fabulous Season 1, but it’s gone steadily downhill since then, :( You need Mad Men on that list. And Breaking Bad. These shows rival Six Feet Under. Soooo good.

  • d

    Oh come on, pregnant Rachel is pretty funny. So are newlyweds Monica and Chandler. Season 8 wasn’t all bad! :)

  • Paul

    ”To me, television should be a long movie — drawn out with a predetermined ending point.”

    So something like The Twilight Zone isn’t television?

  • hrfe

    Ahhh, the L O S T finale. Much like cilantro, it is very much, love-it-or-hate-it. You clearly hated it. I absolutely loved it. People who have yet to see the show should still watch it. Yes, they risk feeling betrayed, but they could also feel elated, satisfied, and they would have watched one of the best series of all time.

  • Kat

    Such truth. Although, fourth season of Gilmore Girls is good. I wasn’t a fan when it aired but watching it later was a great improvement. After that though… :(

  • Marcin

    Californication is another great show.

    As for not premium channels, Supernatural, Fringe, Archer, Battlestar Galactica, and Mad Men are all great shows that should be on the list as well.

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