Are you sometimes ashamed of the guilty pleasures you watch on TV, or at least how much time you spend at it? Do you feel that watching TV is a guilty pleasure in itself? Or maybe you fall into the camp that feels slightly (or greatly?) superior because you have no TV, or at least no regular TV watching habit.
I watch plenty of TV. Sometimes way more than you’d think, for a clearly busy intellectual like me (CBILM). It’s 99.5% on Netflix, because I hate commercials. While I’ve often worked through many seasons of a show I never watched but always wondered about (Grey’s Anatomy, Brother & Sisters, How I Met Your Mother), I’m currently working on Futurama, Forensic Files and Glee, all of which I’ve seen almost every episode of before. I also like documentaries, mostly about historical or archaeological topics, and sometimes educational stuff like Ted talks. But I’m certainly given as well to junky TV like American Idol, or The Glades, a lazily formulaic yet strangely compelling (even to a CBILM) detective show set in Florida. The protagonist’s investigative technique consists mainly of pushing things around in the dirt with a golf club, having hunches, and going around accusing different people of the weekly murder based on some hunch, until someone fesses up. He’s hot though. The actor, Matt Passmore, is Australian, and he has that swagger. You know—that Aussie one. It’s like the Texas swagger, minus the parts that make you want to throw up (gun rack, misogyny, tea party politics). In any case, ask me about my viewing list in two months and the titles on it will be totally different.
Friday I attended a production of The Invisible Hand at Seattle’s excellent ACT Theatre. [Note: I attend almost all their productions. Check out the ACTPass! Best entertainment value in the city.] Written by playwright Ayad Akhtar, the show is described thusly on ACT’s website: “When Nick, an American financial guru is captured and held by a militant Islamic organization in Pakistan, he is forced to raise his own 10 million dollar ransom. In his desperate quest to gain his freedom, he warms to the task, as does his captor and avid student, Bashir, with terrifying results. An important new voice in the American Theatre, Ayad Akhtar delivers a chilling examination of personal and political responsibility, and the shifting sands of the global power structure.”
Now that sounds more like the sort of entertainment a CBILM would spend time on, doesn’t it? Still, if you’re buying into that idea, I’d like to refer you to this excellent short essay I saw there in Encore, the arts magazine with the program in it that they hand out before the play—the one that gives you a little something to do so you can avoid chatting with unknown seatmates until the curtain goes up. So please, please, go read Lauren Hoffman’s piece, “On TV and Shame.”
Really, go read it.