Why is TV so darned hard? Sometimes our brains need a break for Pete Campbell’s sake! In this edition of the Email Roundtable we attempt to discuss our TV guilty pleasures.
Kerri: I think many people think of TV as a bit of a guilty pleasure in and of itself, don’t you think? I don’t subscribe to this notion personally (obviously!). These are usually the same people who claim that there is never anything good on TV, which is an evil lie.
Jane: Anyone who says that there is nothing good on TV needs to get cable. Or rent The Wire.
Katie: Those are the people who don’t realize how much TV they watch… it’s probably always on in the background, luring them in with it’s delicious rays.
Kerri: Indeed. That being said, not all of the TV that I watch can be classified as “good”. I’ve spent many an hour watching House Hunters (and its brethren).
How about you two?
Jane: I have two MAJOR guilty pleasures. The first is reality cooking shows. I will watch any show that involves cooking and elimination. My second is Criminal Minds. I have seen every episode. Which is kind of strange because I hate violence. I close my eyes during all the gory parts. I just love the characters. Those crazy FBI agents are like a family. An incredibly attractive family.
Katie: I’ve been watching a lot of Pawn Stars. Me and the rest of America, actually. Did you know that Pawn Stars is the second highest watched reality show, only behind Jersey Shore?
Kerri: Are you serious? Wait, is Jersey Shore still a thing?
What I look for in this type of show is usually something I can multitask to. If I’m folding the laundry or (more commonly) checking my iPad at the same time as watching the show, it helps if I don’t miss anything. How about you?
Jane: I just learned the other day that Jersey Shore was still a thing! Can’t really judge. I used to watch Laguna Beach. I think you are right, Kerri, watching these shows is usually coupled with some other activity. I always have the TV on.
Kerri: That’s interesting, Jane. I’d certainly say reality cooking shows and cooking shows in general are guilty pleasures of mine (I would definitely exclude Top Chef though because it is genuinely good). I’d say that the cooking show fits my criteria of a multitasking show. I would have a harder time focusing on Criminal Minds AND something else.
Katie: 1. Jersey Shore is still a thing. They are on their last season because Snooki got preggers and she can’t drink – therefore the show has lost its heart.
To answer your question, I actually feel guilty watching guilty pleasure shows without doing something else too. I like Bejeweled Blitz or falling asleep on the couch as my secondary activities though.
Kerri: I can’t judge either. I still have and always will watch Survivor. There is no giving that up for me. I’m WAY too committed. (And, by the way, this season is looking pretty promising!)
Jane: Yes. Cooking shows are for multitasking. Or for when you get up early on a Saturday and need something to ease you in to the weekend. Criminal Minds is on every day when I get home from work. It’s my relaxing into the evening show.
Kerri: Thanks for the reminder about Jersey Shore, Katie!
I’m actually pretty bad with most television (I usually have my iPad next to me at all times) but when I’m watching a guilty pleasure type show I am much, much worse.
Katie: What is the most embarrassing show you ever watched for an extended period of time? Mine was Train 48. I watched it with my family every night.
Kerri: That’s a great question.
I think it would be The Lofters, the Canadian version of The Real World. It starred a young Jennifer Hedger who is now a host on TSN’s SportsCenter. It was terrible
How’s that for a nice double dose of Canadiana, Katie?
Katie: Both of our shows were Canadian shows!
Jane: Although I never tuned in to Train 48 I certainly remember the ads. Did the whole show really take place on a train?
Katie: Yes, the whole show took place on a train. They filmed the day of, so the quality was TERRIBLE, but the content was topical. Some of it was improvised, so it was all like, “Did you hear what Jean Chretien did today?” Or whoever was Prime Minister then.
Jane: My very worst guilty pleasure show was Young and the Restless. My stepmom got me hooked on it when I was 9. I still check in to see what the folks in Genoa City are up to from time to time. I have 20 years invested in the show after all.
I totally watched The Lofters, I think. Did their theme show go “world in a box” something, something?
Kerri: I can’t remember the theme but I really hope it went like that, Jane.
Jane: I’m singing it to myself, RIGHT NOW! I seem to remember they hated one girl because when the camera was on her, she drank her coke too sexy.
Kerri: Yes, that sounds right, Jane!
Oh, of course, soap operas! I watched Days of Our Lives for many, many years. Also, Passions. Anyone remember Passions? There was a character who was a doll that came to life and was played by a little person.
Jane: YES! The doll was owned by a witch, right?
Kerri: Yes. His name was Timmy. Now THAT was an awful show. In junior high and high school you have time for a lot of truly awful television.
Katie: Do you think there is a reason why we tolerate such bad shows? Are the few nuggets of pleasure worth the entire hour of our time?
Kerri: I’m not actually sure, Katie. Maybe we can’t be without silence for extended periods of time.
But that actually brings me to my favorite of guilty pleasure shows: The Soup. They just save all of the truly amazing, horrible, hilarious things up for you! It is perfect for a TV junkie like me. You don’t have to necessarily watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo to know she exists and does crazy things that are important for you and the rest of humanity to see.
So all of those little nuggets that you are talking about, Katie, have been compiled in a neat and tidy half an hour show!
Katie: OH YES! The Soup is wonderful. I wouldn’t consider that a guilty pleasure show. It’s like a famous friend curating television for you and selecting all the hilarious bits
That is my plug for today: Watch The Soup!
Kerri: Yeah, do yourself a favour. Watch The Soup!
Jane: I think Kerri was on to something when she talked of TV and multitasking. Growing up the TV was always on in my house. I constantly have it on in my own home. If I make the decision to actually sit down and watch a show, I’m super picky, but if I turn on the TV while I’m doing something else, I am much more tolerant.
That being said, I think that in the case of Criminal Minds, there are some truly great performances in that show.
Kerri: I think my most recent version of Criminal Minds would have been Magic City. I actually felt extremely guilty watching that show on numerous occasions. It’s very soapy, very pulpy, and you get to see Danny Huston’s penis! (You never can un-see that). But it was terribly addictive. And the acting was…fine?
Katie: That’s interesting, Jane. I’m sure how we watched TV while growing up had a lot to do with how we watch TV now. My mom made us shut off the TV when it was dinnertime, so now when I have people over, I can’t stand the sound of TV while we are eating. It makes no logical sense but in my brain eating with a group = no TV noises.
Jane: Oh wow. It was the opposite in my house. Dinnertime meant Family Ties. I always have TV on when we are eating.
Kerri: I grew up watching TV ALL OF THE TIME. But, we usually ate at the table without the TV on. Still, my all-time greatest fantasy is to have a TV in the bathtub.
Jane: If you could rig up safe electrical, that would be amazing!
Katie: When I went on a summer-exchange, my host family had a little TV in the kitchen right by the table. We’d watch the news together at breakfast. It was lovely!
Kerri: That sounds like perfection…without the news part.
Jane: I love morning news programs. They are usually hilariously awkward and somewhat informative.
Kerri: Especially when they star Jay Onrait!
Any final shout outs?
I want to briefly mention the great Adult Swim shows Children’s Hospital and NTSF:SD:SUV::. They aren’t guilty pleasure shows but, instead, very skillfully, are parodies of guilty pleasure shows (namely, Grey’s Anatomy and CSI). Also, everyone should watch this (it recalls one of my weirdest childhood TV memories, when David Copperfield escaped a building being blown up on “live” television)
Katie: Say Yes to the Dress.
Jane: I’d like to give a shout out to Queer as Folk for sure!
Kerri: Good ones!
Jane: Oh ya, Say Yes to the Dress! Also Four Weddings!
Kerri: I don’t know that one, Jane. I will check my local listings.