Choosing Not To Watch TV Doesn’t Make You Superior, But It Does Make You Kind Of A Dick
I met a guy last week at a bar who told me he hadn’t watched TV in several years. On purpose. He had the same look on his face that a toddler does after going to bathroom for the first time on his own. A mixture of pride and self-satisfaction. Considering this remark came after what I told him what I do for a living, I found it to be especially off-putting. It’s in poor taste to insult someone’s career so quickly after learning what it is. At least wait a few minutes, and then slip in your disgust, disguised as a backhanded compliment. That’s passive aggressive conversation techniques 101.
However his poor conversation skills aren’t what I wanted to discuss today. Instead I wanted to talk about people who think they’re too good for TV. People who are so intellectually superior to the rest of America that they derive no satisfaction from pop culture. People who truly believe that caring about a show will cause their brain to shrivel up and their art museum membership card to cut itself in half and their fair trade coffee beans to grow legs and march out of the house.
While I could spend hours writing about all the smart television shows — scripted and unscripted — that are on the air right now, that seems besides the point. Yes, there are tons of quality programs that do take brains to watch. But I feel like that’s playing defense. Because as much as I Iike those kinds of shows, I also like the other kinds of shows. The guilty pleasures, if you will. I optionally watch 19 Kids and Counting and cheesy Lifetime movies and old episodes of Dateline . I seek out teen shows like Finding Carter and The Fosters. There’s no episode of Law & Order: SVU that I haven’t seen at least twice. I cried watching The Little Couple become a family of four this year and I cried even harder when Princesses: Long Island didn’t get renewed last year. I nearly died laughing when Kate McKinnon impersonated Justin Bieber on SNL and I peed my pants when Ellen made Emma Thompson do animal impressions on her show. TV makes me feel things and I’m not ashamed of that.
Watching TV doesn’t make me stupider. It doesn’t take away from my college education and it doesn’t take away from my more serious interests. I can care about what’s going on in Israel right now and I can also care about what’s going to happen on The Good Wife next week. I can talk about my feelings toward the Duggars and I can also talk about my feelings on gun violence in America. Being a fully-functioning adult means I don’t have to pick and choose what matters to me. I can care about many things and I can care about them in many different ways. I trust myself to be able to tell the difference between the trivial and the important.
So choosing not to watch TV doesn’t make you smarter, it makes you scared. Scared that watching TV will lead to liking TV, and that suddenly all your other interests won’t matter to you. That you’ll go from feeling superior to everyone else to being just like everyone else. But tell you what, being like everyone else isn’t the worst thing. In fact, I’d say based on my incredibly uncomfortable conversation with this guy in the bar, it makes you a more interesting person. Because when else all fails when meeting new people, asking someone what’s currently on their DVR always works.
But tell me again, how you haven’t turned on a TV in years and how that choice makes you a better person.
(GIF: Hello Giggles)