Email Roundtable #51: TV in Fits and Spurts, or what we watch when we are busy

Kerri and Jane attempt to discuss how they fill their down-time during busy times.

Jane: So, full disclosure, Kerri and I are both fully immersed and crazily busy with the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Obviously, we still have time for TV; meaning we have some things to say this week. We’ve discovered that both of us turn to cooking shows during those hectic, busy days when we have a bit of time to ourselves. Kerri, why are cooking shows so important to your down-time and what are the favourites that you rely on?

Kerri: I feel like pretty much anything that doesn’t require a lick of brain power is what I turn to when I am extremely busy and short on time. I think it’s funny that I don’t fill these short gaps with shows that I really like. No, instead I watch terrible stuff like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Partially, I think this has to do with timing. It happens to be on TV right before I go to bed. It’s also the kind of thing that you can start at any point in the episode and not have to concern yourself with catching up on plot or anything. Plus, when I haven’t been home all day, I can have a conversation with G while half-watching it. I have also done this on occasion with a sublime show like House Hunters International. Interestingly enough, both shows have the added bonus of being either hosted by or involving annoying/truly terrible human beings. I don’t think this is essential to anything, it just happens to be the case. G also recently discovered a BBQ cooking show that airs on PBS called BBQ with Franklin. It is pretty much the most laid-back and casual show ever, even for a PBS cooking show. The host, Aaron Franklin, is great and he actually reminds me a bit of our pal Kevin. It’s so slow and leisurely and, even though it’s mainly about meat, it’s the perfect show for this vegetarian to fall asleep to. What do you watch when you have very little time on your hands?

Jane: I totally agree about timing. These are the shows available that don’t require much (or any) focus. Great shows to fall asleep to! Also, I like to watch cooking competition shows like Chopped or The Next Food Network Star. I think a part of me wants to watch others in times of stress, making my relaxation time feel much more relaxed. Let them sweat it out for an hour. It’s also a nice reminder that when something is important to you, you do what you can to succeed. In this weird way, it makes my stress seem worthwhile. House Hunters International is a great down-time show for the exact opposite reasons. I like to make fun of these “poor souls” searching for multi-million dollar vacation homes which may or may not prove to be good rental properties. Are there any shows you avoid during busy times?

Kerri: I avoid all manner of shows when I’m busy. A good example actually happened last night. G had put on the most recent episode of Hannibal and I went into the kitchen to grab a drink or a snack or something and by the time I got back into the living room, G declared that it was “too late” to watch it. Truth is, I think we just couldn’t hack it mentally.

What’s really amusing to me is that I’m talking like I haven’t watched anything new in the last little while, during our insanely busy month. And this is entirely false. I’ve actually started watching many new shows (or more accurately “new to me” shows) very recently. Sometimes I find that it is actually easier for me to start something fresh in busy times than watch a serialized show that really means something to me. I guess that’s because I don’t feel I owe a new show as much of my attention.

Jane: That makes complete sense. I can’t keep up with a show that I’m invested in at all. I can’t find a spot for it in my brain.  I retreat to old/easy favourites like The Office, Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Happy Endings. I need to be with characters I know fully and enjoy being with. I don’t think I could hack a new show, though. I need my comfort shows as described above or any news program on CTV. Old friends telling you the stories of the day. In the summer they change up their roles and I like to imagine how the missing anchor is spending their summer vacation. Are there any summer specific shows that you look forward to?

Kerri: Comfort shows. I completely understand that, although I don’t seem to need that in the same way that I used to. Want to know something funny? Every year that I was involved in the Fringe Festival for a good number of years I would re-watch, in its entirety, the one and only season of Freaks and Geeks. There was just something about that show that would take me to a happy, grounded place. Plus, it was the perfect amount of episodes to watch in about a week and a half. I don’t do that anymore for whatever reason.

I talked about starting shows that are “new to me” a minute ago. I often use the summer to catch up on shows that I have long put off watching. I once spent a single summer watching almost all of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. This summer I started watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and the animated series Clone High. These shows have very little in common although I suppose they are both sort of fizzy and easily digestible. I’m also rolling through Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries which I’ve talked about before, I’m keeping up with True Detective Season 2, if only because it provides me and G with at least one catchphrase to quote to each other per week, started and kind of halted watching a show called No Offence about female cops, and, for some inexplicable reason, the show Humans which I would recommend to no one. I guess I’m not THAT busy. Have you watched an episode of an older show recently that just “did it” for you?

Jane: I feel like I would be boring and repetitive to announce that I am re-watching Parenthood directly after finishing it. But I am. I like to be comfortable, with complex characters that I love.. I totally admire your forage into new material. When my summer calms down, I would love to delve into Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, in that T2 was my ultimate go-to-comfort-movie of life for quite some time. I can quote any line from any scene and would enjoy doing so (should anyone like to challenge me!). My favourite comfort episode from my favourite comfort TV show is from Parenthood. It’s when Adam and Kristina are painstakingly awaiting to see if Max will be accepted into the school of their choice. The Saintly Braverman clan rallies around the couple and insists they go swimming during the waiting hours. It is the most perfect family remedy and warms my heart. What about you? Any episodes that provide you extra comfort?

Kerri: There is an episode of Freaks and Geeks that I always seem to cling to or at least think about around this time of year. It’s the episode “Chokin’ and Tokin'”, where Lindsay gets stoned. The stand-out scene of the episode is when Lindsay, high as a kite while babysitting, gets help from her straight-arrow friend, Millie. Millie tries to talk Lindsay down from her paranoid ledge. They talk about God and dogs and dreams:

I always feel less stressed knowing that this life isn’t a dog’s dream.

Jane: God, I love TV. God and dogs and dreams seem like the perfect sign off. Any shout-outs?

Kerri: I’d like to give a shoutout to the brilliant mind behind American Ninja Warrior. This summer I have watched probably an hour of it, total, in ten minute segments, right before I go to bed. How about you?

Jane: Shoutout to Kelly Linehan who recently left CTV Morning Live! I miss her cute animal videos!

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