Watching ‘bad’ TV


gossip girl

You know you love it. (Photo credit: joanneteh_32(On Instagram as Austenland))

Here is a list of my ten favorite television shows:

  1. Mad Men
  2. The Sopranos
  3. Arrested Development
  4. Battlestar Galactica
  5. Breaking Bad
  6. 30 Rock
  7. Freaks and Geeks
  8. Frasier
  9. The Wire
  10. Six Feet Under

Now, here is a much more realistic list of television shows I watch regularly/frequently/repeatedly:

  1. Mad Men
  2. Teen Wolf
  3. Gossip Girl
  4. Awkward.
  5. Pretty Little Liars
  6. Gossip Girl
  7. Arrested Development
  8. The Food Network (Yes, this is a show.)
  9. The Sopranos
  10. Gossip Girl

I no longer have a Facebook, but when I did, I constantly found myself censoring my favorite movies and television shows so they were really impressive, like the first list. And I’m so ashamed that I was one of those people, because supposedly bad and embarrassing television is actually the best kind. 

Did you know that watching extremely intense and intellectual, thought-provoking television all the time actually causes your brain to ooze out of your cranial orifices? I’m pretty sure that’s true. In the cases of “The Sopranos”, “Six Feet Under”, and “The Wire”, I realized it was necessary to my mental and emotional health to take deliberate breaks. In all of those shows, death was far more than commonplace, and not in the fascinating “Teen Wolf” way. Just in the normal, depressing, soul-crushing way.

So while these shows are great for stimulating intellectual thought, they may lead to a condition known as “being bummed out.” My mother refers to “Gossip Girl” as brain candy, which makes all those intellectual shows vegetable loaves, which are really good for you but kind of crush your soul. Candy, on the other hand, is specifically designed to boost you up, albeit for a short period of time. But since we’re talking about TV, the boost doesn’t actually include any come-down, so it’s almost better.

As a person who keeps a strict diet of avoiding the word “diet,” I generally just eat mostly healthy foods with a decent amount of candy/fun food to keep me from losing all hope. I apply the same exact philosophy to television programming. And since I have removed myself from the Facebook chokehold and any subsequent self-consciousness, I have begun to embrace a (clearly) public airing of my television show preferences.

I love “Gossip Girl.” I love it so very much. In fact, here is another list of my favorite shows:

  1. Gossip Girl
  2. Gossip Girl
  3. Gossip Girl
  4. Gossip Girl
  5. Gossip Girl
  6. Gossip Girl
  7. Gossip Girl
  8. Gossip Girl
  9. Gossip Girl
  10. Gossip Girl

I was so sad when everyone I knew stopped watching it and it turned into me watching it alone in my dorm room. Why would you stop watching the program New York Magazine accurately deemed “The Greatest Show of our Time?” Why would you want to miss out on something as monumental as that? Chuck and Blair? Blake Lively being terrible? Penn Badgley being terrible? Chace Crawford being a terrible actor/wonderful? A freakish but tasteful amount of Manhattan skyline shots?

I’m serious. One of my friends attributes her decision to move to New York to “Gossip Girl,” and I don’t blame her.

But since this glorious masterpiece has concluded and I can only watch it so many times, I have had to entertain myself otherwise, and boy are there plenty of other candy offerings! I won’t go into great detail on each one. Instead, here are the most important points:

  1. Teen Wolf: Tyler Hoechlin
  2. Awkward.: This betch, specifically when she convinces her oblivious friend that anal sex means maintained virginity.
  3. Pretty Little Liars: All of the necessary, intense, completely age-appropriate drama, like this. This show is better than “Gossip Girl” is at attempting to normalize overly mature behavior in high school students. At least GG realizes that a student-teacher relationship may be a legitimate problem. Also, the characters wear five-inch stilletoes to school. To high school. 
  4. The Food Network: Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C.There is an endless world of exhibits.
  5. Teen Wolf: In case you were confused, Tyler Hoechlin.

Brain candy is good. It tastes good. It feels good. And it has zero calories. And you can continue to watch all those other shows that’ll go well with brie and crackers at your next cocktail party. My mother actually took the thought and energy once to tell me how impressive she found it that I could watch so much “bad” TV and still be intelligent.

But I don’t think it’s really that impressive. I think “bad” television is sort of the best television. Real life is pretty dramatic, and when the dramatics on whatever I’m watching start to weigh me down, I know that I can just watch some “Gossip Girl” and snap back to a normal, emotionally-stable, non-existential state.

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