If TV Is Bad For You, Why Is There One In Every Hospital Room?

Two reasons to be happy:

1. We got student cable and Internet because my roommates are grad students. So at a really low rate, we have high-speed Internet and more channels than I know what to do with. I’ve never had the premium channels before. Now we have everything! I bet it won’t last, though. It’s probably free On-Demand for a month or something. But I’m enjoying it while we have it. Last week I was watching Bridezillas, and good Lord, that’s an unbelievable show. I can’t believe anyone would ever go on it. Who wants the whole world to know that she made her bridesmaids diet or had a restraining order put out against her after she flipped out at the florist who didn’t show up?

2. The new TV season starts this week!

I should explain something: I love TV. Love it. I wouldn’t call myself a couch potato– I don’t watch that much TV– but the shows I do watch I become obsessed with. I was a big X-Files fan, for instance, and I’m so good at Friends trivia it’s embarrasing. Now I can’t miss an episode of Gilmore Girls, even though it wasn’t as good last season. This year, there are a couple of new shows I want to check out. Here’s what I think I’ll be watching this year:

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: That starts tonight. I love Matthew Perry, so I’m glad to see him back on TV. And while I never really watched The West Wing (it was one of those shows I could appreciate for what it was but for some reason never really got into), I do like Aaron Sorkin’s writing.

Gilmore Girls: I hated the long-lost daughter plotline last season, but this is still one of my all-time favorite shows, and Luke and Lorelai are possibly my all-time favorite TV couple. I hope they bring back Marty this year.

Law & Order: SVU: I have to watch this show with my sister. We have all these inside jokes with it. The thing is, you kind of have to make fun of this show (and Ice-T, who cracks me up no matter what he’s saying) or else you actually start thinking about it, and then you say, “Why the hell am I watching this? This is the most depressing show on TV!” I’ll miss Mariska Hargitay, who’s on maternity leave at the beginning of this season, but I love this show for the characters, the plotlines that are twistier than a pretzel, and the potential it has for drinking games (every time Olivia says, “Son of a bitch,” every time Elliot mentions his kids, every “ching ching”).

Six Degrees: This one intrigues me. The six-degrees-of-separation theory is an interesting concept for a show– sounds very J.J. Abrams. I’ll have to check it out.

Desperate Housewives: Now, I do agree that last season wasn’t quite as good as the first one, but it wasn’t that bad. I still enjoyed watching the show, and I can’t wait for next season. Mike better not be dead!

Possibly CSI: I like this show a lot, in no small part due to the characters. But although I missed the season finale, I heard that Grissom and Sara got together or something. I’m completely against that, so I may not watch in protest.

Possibly The O.C.: I’m the only person in the world who started watching this show last year, when it was way past its prime (I know this because I got caught up with the DVDs). But I’m very curious to see what will happen now that the show’s most irritating character, Marissa, is dead. It could either get better (because duh, Marissa’s dead) or worse (because now everyone will be depressed). I don’t know why they had to kill her, though. They could have just had her go off to college somewhere.

I’ll tell you one thing that pisses me off: when people think that abstaining from TV makes them better than you. I think that’s ridiculous. Sure, there are terrible shows like Laguna Beach and One Tree Hill, but there are also movies like From Justin to Kelly and Gigli. But of course, no one thinks they’re superior for not watching movies. Because movies, apparently, are for the cultured among us and TV is for the uncultured. Such crap. TV shows that are done well are just as artful as good movies.

And even bad shows can be entertaining. I mean, take Bridezillas. Stupid, but an entertaining, guilty pleasure. And even American Idol, which I occasionally watch. The cheese factor of that show- especially the final episode- is part of its appeal.

One web site I regularly read and post on is Television Without Pity. The other people who read and post on this site are people who care about TV, and who like to analyze what’s good and bad about the shows they watch. But they are also some of the most intelligent people I have ever talked to, in real life or in the virtual world. They’re not just passionate about TV- they can have in-depth conversations about books, politics, religion, sports, movies, music, education, pop culture, parenting issues, you name it. From talking to them, I’ve learned about things like PhD programs, TV production, living with a disability, Orthodox Judaism, planning a wedding, being a stepparent, and music I’d never listened to before but now love.

It’s kind of ironic that the stereotype of the TV fan is the listless couch potato, because in my experience, the opposite is true. People who get really involved in TV shows tend to be passionate not just about TV, but about whatever they love. Being enthusiastic about a TV show is no different than being enthusiastic about a sports team. No one thinks it’s too weird when someone is obsessed with, say, the Red Sox. But I think most people would be surprised to learn that people who are obsessed enough with a show to discuss it in forums or write fanfic about it have many other interests and passions.

Really, I feel bad for anti-TV snobs. In their determination to look like connoiseurs of high culture, they’ve missed out on many an entertaining hour.

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