I think I’ve mentioned before that I don’t have a TV. I’d love to say it’s for some noble reason, because really, I do approve of all the noble reasons: the anti-consumerism, anti-rudeness-masking-as-comedy, anti-sit-in-front-of-a-box-and-miss-out-on-several-years-worth-of-life, anti-violence, anti-laughtrack, anti-paying-Telus-more-than-I-already-do reasons. Those are all good reasons.
But none of those is my real reason. My real reason is that I am a TV addict. If I start watching it, I will keep watching it until my eyes burn, I am starving, and my ass has become one with the couch.
And when I watch, I don’t watch anything educational, like the discovery channel or the history channel or the news or anything like that. I watch garbage. I am particularly partial to
- evening dramas (which seem to be pretty indistinguishable from soaps, but are somehow less embarrassing for people to talk about at work)
- “reality” shows about insane brides-to-be
- infomercials about fancy new technologies in cooking and fitness tools
- the final five minutes of home make-over shows
Years ago – even before it was possible to find these shows on at every hour of the day – I realized that if I was going to have any sort of life at all, I would need to cut this part of it out. And that’s worked out well for me.
But something that happens when you haven’t watched TV in years is that you become strangely out of touch with pop culture. People at my work seem to watch a lot of TV and they talk about shows that I have never seen, characters I have never heard about. Often I have been lured into thinking they are talking about actual people. This usually leads to laughter at my expense when I express horror at whatever series of events happened to those poor TV folks.
So occasionally, I will decide it’s time to catch up a bit. I’ll pick a show I’ve heard about from more than a few people, go to the library, take out a full season, and watch the whole thing on my laptop all in one weekend.
I did that this last weekend. (Yes, when I should have been studying, but my mid-term isn’t for another four days, so hey-ho, we’ll worry about that another day.)
What did I watch, you ask? With what show did I choose to sate my brain candy cravings? I picked Gossip Girl. I have a friend and a sister who are fans, and there’s a guy at work who’s pretty into it. (He says he watches it because of his girlfriend, but he likes talking about it way too much for that to be the only reason.)
Well. Quite the show. Overwrought teen drama at its height, so I was in my element (I was a big fan of Dawson’s Creek back in the day.) Although the teen thing is questionable. I saw season one, so apparently these people were supposed to be 16, but not one of them looked under 25. At the same time, a lot of the parents looked oddly youthful, as though maybe they had chosen to breed at the age of nine.
What killed me though was the action. These kids are bad-asses in a way that makes the 90210 (considered a bit smutty at the time) of my youth look like Sesame Street. The drugs, the gambling, the strip-clubs, the jailable offences, the almost incestuous sharing of sex partners among a small group of friends. (Yes, this happened in 90210 too, but over the space of several years, not one season.)
To be fair, I am the opposite of a bad-ass, and as a teenager was even less of one, but I hope I’m not naive in thinking that this is not a realistic portrayal of modern adolescence. If nothing else, I have a hard time believing that trendy bars in Manhattan serve cocktails to 16 year-olds, even if they do look a little old for high-school.
So, I was equal parts entertained, engrossed, and disturbed by the show. (Disturbed about what the future holds for the world if this is what teenagers are really like.) I have got the TV thing out of my system for a while and I can look vaguely plugged-in at work when these conversations happen around me.
I also have a sneaking suspicion that I’m dumber now than I was last Friday, but I can live with that. Because I learned a valuable lesson from that show: You don’t need to be smart to get ahead. You just need to be rich and evil. If only someone had told me before!