I’m still in a superlatives list sort of mood from my New Year’s book post, but I talk about books too much. It’s time to talk about something else. So let’s talk about television.
Aside from Sesame Street, I didn’t watch TV as a kid. Like, EVER. I didn’t have time to watch TV as a teenager. Then I went to college, and I didn’t own a TV. So when I moved to New York with my television-obsessed friend Elizabeth in 2004, we had the following conversation:
Elizabeth: Which cable package should we get?
Me: Whatever, I don’t care. I don’t watch TV.
Elizabeth: I’m sorry, you WHAT?
Me: Um. Is that bad?
Elizabeth: (stares at me in abject horror)
Me: I take it that’s bad.
Elizabeth: (shoves Buffy the Vampire Slayer box set into my hands) I can no longer be friends with you until you watch this.
So I watched it. It took from November to May to get through all 144 episodes of Buffy, but it didn’t take very long at all for me to have an epiphany: TELEVISION WAS AMAZING. It was like a movie, but WAY LONGER! If I got attached to the characters, I could hang onto them for YEARS instead of just two hours! Then I discovered Alias and The Amazing Race and Project Runway and Six Feet Under and The West Wing and Mad Men and Community and Parks and Recreation, and it was all over for me.
Thank you, Elizabeth. You changed my life forever.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, some television superlatives.
1) My So-Called Life. I will never get over that scene where Jordan asks Angela, “Why are you LIKE this?” and she says, “Like what?” and he says, “Like… how you ARE.”
2) Freaks and Geeks. You know that scene where Jason Segel sings “Lady” by Styx to Linda Cardellini? That actually happened to me when I was in high school. Same song, even. Fortunately, the guy who was singing to me had a MUCH better voice, so it was less embarrassing.
3) Firefly. Enough said.
4) Make It or Break It. Yes, I am well aware that I should not be pining for an ABC Family show about gymnastics. It wasn’t even GOOD—it was clumsy and didactic and the dialogue was atrocious. But oh man, did I look forward to it every week. Judge me if you must, but I wanted to see those girls go to the Olympics.
1) Veronica Mars. Season one: SPECTACULAR. Season two: meh. Season three: abysmal. Not to mention that the ending wasn’t an ending. I put in disc six thinking I’d get an episode that actually wrapped things up somewhat… and it was the special features disc. I had watched the finale WITHOUT KNOWING IT WAS THE FINALE.
2) Glee. I actually really liked season 1—it was clever and funny and absurd, and all the songs were great. And then season 2 started, and it was like the producers had suddenly gone, “Oh, high schoolers have ISSUES—we should talk about those. This is now an ISSUES SHOW! With SONGS!” *forehead smack*
3) Buffy. It makes me sad to say it, but aside from the musical episode and maybe two or three others, I am NOT on board with seasons six and seven. The story arc ended at the end of season 5. No need to beat a dead horse. Or, you know, a dead Buffy.
Show with the most perfect ending: Six Feet Under. I still haven’t been able to work up the courage to watch those last five minutes again. They’re just so wonderful and so devastating. I watched them for the first time in 2006, and my heart still gets all twisty every time I hear that Sia song.
Show I would probably like but will never be able to watch: Friday Night Lights. I went to high school with Zach Gilford, who plays Matt, and he was pretty unpleasant. It’s very possible he’s changed a lot since then, but I can’t see his face on my screen without going, “EEW, GET THAT SMUG SMILE AWAY FROM ME.” I feel I’ve been robbed of hours of enjoyment. DAMN YOU, GILFORD.
Show that took the most wheedling to get me to watch it: The Vampire Diaries. TONS of people tried to pull me over to the dark side around the time this show went into its third season, and I resisted. It took a command from my agent for me to jump in, and even then I was reluctant. I AM RELUCTANT NO MORE.
Show I can’t believe I haven’t watched until now: Gilmore Girls. I’m just getting into it, and I am in love. And I am also getting poorer by the second, because I cannot stop buying episodes on iTunes. HELP.
Shows nobody can believe I’ve never seen a single episode of: Friends. Cheers. Saved by the Bell. Frasier. Law and Order. 90210. ER. The X Files. I could go on. And on. And on.
Character I most wish were related to me: CJ Cregg, The West Wing. She is my spirit animal.
Shows everyone else seems to love and I just… DON’T: Lost and Game of Thrones. A few weeks ago, I finally had to tell one of my best friends that I didn’t like Game of Thrones after he’d patiently re-watched the first season with me. he looked at me with such disappointment in his eyes, and then he sighed sadly and said, “You’re perfect in every OTHER way…”
What should I be watching? Tell me in comments.
Jen Malone says
Does this mean I can call you The Jackal?
I feel like I need to defend Veronica Mars here. The wretched season 3 structure was imposed by the network (CW), which felt that viewers didn't want to watch a mystery that spanned an entire season; thus, we got all those ridiculous mystery-of-the-week episodes at the end (and the rape mini-plot at the beginning). I did love the Dean O'Dell mystery, though. Anyway, a lot of the bad storytelling decisions of that season can be pinned on the network–but I think the writers are entirely to blame for season 2's coma baby.
Alison Cherry says
Oh GOD. I FORGOT about coma-baby, the worst subplot ever to happen. I totally concede that season 3 was the network's fault, but speaking as someone who DOES want to watch a full-season mystery, I was still displeased. It's fine, I'll just watch season 1 over and over…
Brandy Colbert says
I think you have to suck up the ZG hatred and watch FNL. I know. I KNOW. I was super late to the game, too, but it's really that amazing. The writing and acting is some of the most phenomenal I've ever seen on television. And you know I've been a TV junkie since birth. Also, ZG is spectacular in the episode "The Son." As soon as I finished watching, I looked to see if it had been nominated for an Emmy and YUP. He was totally robbed for not being nominated himself.
I will not even start on SBTB because we have talked about this at length and I CANNOT EVEN.