There are two nevers in my life: Never trust someone without a sense of humor, and never believe someone who says they dont watch TV.
I dont know why it is, or when it started, but at some point it seems a large number of people decided not watching TV somehow makes them superior to the rest of us. A few say they only watch PBS and BBC America, as if a British accent somehow makes The Office smarter. Fact is, the NBC version is just as funny as the original.
Dont you feel sorry for people who claim they dont watch TV? Theyll never know characters like Hurley, Veronica Mars or Karen Walker. Theyll never know why everybody loves Raymond but hates Chris. If they hear Prison Break is about a group of Illinois prisoners trying to break a guy out of death row before hes executed, theyll focus on the fact that Illinois has a moratorium on the death penaltywhen 1,000 other details make the series totally implausible and yet, somehow, completely riveting entertainment.
Sometimes, enjoying TV means forgetting all sense of reason and going with the flow. Suspending disbelief is part of appreciating literature, too, so why do TV snobs feel so superior? If they cant suspend their disbelief for just 30 or 60 minutes, can we really believe they suspend it through a whole novel? Maybe they dont spend all that free time of theirs reading after all.
Fortunately for the rest of us, theres a lot worth watching these days.
Faced with a ratings slump just two years ago, ABC took big risks on shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost (the pilot episode is rumored to have cost upward of $10 million, thanks to the spectacular plane crash and special effects, which would make it one of the most expensive TV pilots to date) and emerged last season as the network to beat. UPN made strides with breakouts like Everybody Hates Chris, Veronica Mars and Americas Next Top Model. Even cable networks are producing high-quality original programming like TNTs The Closer, USAs The 4400, and FXs The Shield.
TV fans can be snobs, too. Some people avoid watching anything in the Nielsens Top 20. I admit that I tend to look down on reality TV. Sorry, but I just dont get the appeal of American Idol and felt disgusted with myself for getting sucked into the first season of Survivor. But lately Ive found myself glued to Dancing With the Stars and VH-1s Celebrity Fit Club. I cant explain why. I dont set the VCR for them, but when I flip past either show, Im compelled to watch.
Not sure what this says about me, but maybe theres hope for other snobs, too. So next time youre confronted by a TV snob, just remember even they know what it means to be voted off the island. Not that theyll ever admit it.
Paula Hendrickson of Rockford is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications including Advertising Age, SatelliteORBIT and TVGuide.
From the Jan. 25-31, 2006, issue