Judgment be damned, I am willing to admit it: I love the black plastic and convex glass box in the corner of my living room. I am angry when my cable fails. I am excited when my shows come on. I am on the edge of my seat in the bottom of the ninth. I am saddened when a show calls it quits. And I will be just as joyful as my husband when we buy an HDTV that will hang from the wall in our new basement hideaway (mere weeks away from completion :-)).
This does not make me a bad person. This does not make me a stupid person. This does not make me a person with "too much time on her hands" nor a person "who lacks the intellect for more important forms of entertainment". Pooh on the people who think that way. Despite the intimate parasocial relationships I have developed over the years with television personalities, both fictional and not, watching TV is a hobby, just like any other. Like my other hobbies (reading, knitting, cooking, baking, sketching, etc.), I do it because it's fun. Like reading a book, it allows me to escape the day, the thoughts of my own reality, and the all-too-familiar notion that I am boring. I can spend a funny evening in NY with my "Friends" if I am sad; I can enjoy the spoils of LA and celeb life with Kathy Griffin when I'm bored with myself; I can relish in the joy of serving others on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition when I am in the mood to cry.
Now, I happen to have a couple of favorite shows that I know so intimately, fun is made of me inevitably every time I quote one of them. I find myself quoting them so often, even, that I feel the need to say "Oh, that's not my humor; it's from such and such". These two shows, so near and dear to my heart, are both now off the air, allowing me complete access via DVD whenever I please (like, um, right now, for example). They are, of course, Friends and Sex and the City. Perhaps I harbor a longing for an apartment in New York City, who knows, but I believe these shows appeal to me for the same reasons they appealed to millions of viewers in their collective 16 years (10 for Friends, 6 for SATC): although completely unrealistic (I haven't completely lost touch), the characters are entirely relatable to the average American. As a communications student and teacher, I could wax on for days about the social messages, the idealistic goals, the interpersonal dilemmas (always solved), etc. ad nauseum. I won't, however, because even though these themes run rampant through these shows (I use a couple of episodes of Friends in my classes at school and a friend of mine even wrote a graduate paper on SATC), they are not the reasons I watch them. I watch them because they're fun. They make me laugh. They speak to me personally. They introduce me to ideas and trends and quirks and food. I cried when they went off the air, and I am not ashamed.
So, whether or not you believe the rise in television viewership is in distinct correlation to the decline of American intellect (yes, we are, as a nation, getting dumber every year), dear reader, I am here to tell you that, critics be damned, television serves a purpose in the lives of many. In fact, if you don't watch TV in America, you, my friend, are the exception to the rule. At my lunch table, those that aren't anticipating who will get "voted off the island" next are the ones left out of the conversation.
Live from Minneapolis, it's Thursday evening.
(Although friends of mine who "judge" me for watching too much tv do read this blog, this post isn't directed at anyone. It's just a general message to the masses. And by masses I mean the approximately 15 people who read this blog :-). That, and of course, the running theme of this here blog...memory. I must remember not to torment my own children for watching too much telly. You know, when I actually have kids.)