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.