Dear well-meaning friends who want me to watch your favorite TV show (you know who you are):
I’m insanely passionate about TV, but I’m also a rebellious kid by nature. As such, please allow me to respectfully demand that you stop telling me about TV shows that I just HAVE to watch. Because you know what? I don't have to watch them!
That's right, you heard me. I’m tired of hearing about Damages, I don’t care how life-changing The Wire is, and I don’t want to hear another word about Battlestar Galactica or its super-awesome ending. And no, it’s not because my life is too rich and fulfilling that I can’t possibly be bothered with television; I may or may not stayed home from a party one time just to catch up on Project Runway. I'm simply fed up with being judged for skipping the shows that changed your life. I'll even give you five good reasons why:
1. The more you hype something, the more disappointed I'm likely to be
Has anyone ever described how hilarious a situation was, rather than just telling you what happened? After a certain point, it becomes useless to actually tell you the story because it’s been so built up that it can't possibly live up to your inflated expectations. This is how I feel about every HBO show I’ve missed. I get it—[insert show name here] was highly praised and amazingly portrayed. But at this point, I know everything about True Blood except the plot of the show itself, and there’s no way I could ever enjoy it as much as you want me to enjoy it.
2. All the world's a spoiler
I actually recently started watching Breaking Bad after someone literally brought the first season to my house, and even though I am loving it completely, I’m about three years off. Every time I start to talk to people about the show, they start giving me spoilers from Season 3. In my world, Walt just told Skylar he has cancer; I don't want to hear about anything beyond that! Plus, when you’re just getting into a show that’s been on a while, you'll never escape the people who smugly say, “Oh, you’re only on Season 1? Just wait!” Well hey, guy, I've got some news for ya: You’re not a trailblazing psychic, you were just less busy than I was when the show first started.
3. If it’s that popular, it probably sucks/If it’s that unsung, it probably sucks
This complaint can go in either direction. If a show is wickedly, hugely popular, like Mad Men, I assume that the masses, in their infinite inferiority to me, don’t know what good TV is, and that everyone is just brainwashed. If a show is a critical success but a ratings flop, I assume that people are just championing the show because it looks cool to root for an underdog.
4. Catching up is a huge time commitment
When someone insists that you watch a show that’s already been on for a few seasons, they’re basically saying, “Hey, you’re not doing anything for the next five weeks, are you? Because have I got a plan for you every single night! It’s Weeds!” Even if I end up loving the show in question, it can sometimes feel like a chore to binge on episodes, racing to catch up to where the show is today. This is no way to enjoy television, people!
5. Why would you peddle addiction?
When a show gets you, like really gets you, you find yourself thinking about it constantly, looking for ways to fit in an episode between meetings, talking about it even when you’re not watching it—and these are all signs of addiction. You want to what else has this effect on people? Heroin use. No one bullies you into trying heroin at parties, and yet Dr. Who gets a free pass. There are 769 episodes of that show! I have bills to pay!
So to all the well-intentioned TV bullies out there, give me a break! I know you want to change my life, and maybe one day I’ll take your advice and start watching the show you can’t live without. But until then, know this: It’s okay if you've haven't seen Freaks and Geeks, or Mad Men, or Sports Night, or even Inception. You are good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.
(But seriously, you have to see Freaks and Geeks.)