I often make fun of my parents for watching shows such as Numbers and The Mentalist.
They are cookie-cutter shows that simply present a problem (Think: A murder) and a solution (Solve the case, bring a bad guy to justice). Each week, this is done in a formulaic method that is dreadfully predictable and offers the viewer nothing more than a sixty-minute waste of time — a gift-wrapped box-of-nothing, complete with a bow. The thing that I hate the most about them is that almost no plot development occurs from one episode to another. It pains me to think that some people are paying an extortionate cable bill so that they can watch these shows regularly. Now, hopefully, they use some cable bill negotiating tips to help them get a better deal for themselves, although not too many people actually do this sort of thing despite the money-saving advantages it brings.
So yeah. I make fun of my parents and try to convince them to watch shows with depth and drama. Shows that leave you hanging and wanting more. Shows that don’t offer you a gift-wrapped package, but instead light it on fire. Shows that leave you heartbroken for the next 6 days and 23 hours. Anything on Netflix, HBO, or AMC would suffice.
I have even tried to get them watching TV shows from abroad by using a VPN. In case you did not know, more and more people now use VPNs to bypass the geographical restrictions put into place by streaming services like Netflix. Using a VPN service such as IPVanish has a number of other benefits too that you can read about in this IPVanish review. For example, a lot of my friends from other countries where censorship is rife also use VPNs to watch shows from America.
But then I realized that I am a hypocrite.
You see, in the past few weeks before going to bed, I have made a habit of popping in an episode of a show like The Big Bang Theory. This show happens to be a sitcom, but follows the same predictable formula as the crime “dramas” that I so despise.
And I eat it up.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll also I admit that I have had the same affection for such shows as Friends and How I Met Your Mother.
I never realized that I was such a hypocrite towards my parents’ taste in television entertainment until I was commenting on A Crow From Wolves‘ blog and defending my beloved Big Bang Theory.
As I began to write a long defense (which I never published) for the effectiveness of the formulaic plot line of the show, I realized that I was defending the very thing I despised about my parents’ cop shows.
I might as well do a defense of my parent’ shows. At least Law & Order is grounded a bit in reality because they hire writers like Roger Wolfson who have backgrounds in law and activism. I don’t think Big Bang Theory was written by nerds, there are some points where it clearly shows.
But there is an intrinsic value to the predictability of a show such as The Big Bang Theory, I have learned. And I am only realizing now why I enjoy watching an episode of such a show before I go to bed.
Because it washes my mind.
Sure, I could be spending my time more wisely by reading a book. Or writing another page of a novel. Or starting a new blog post. And yes, The Big Bang Theory takes the place of television time in which I could be watching a plethora of real TV shows like Breaking Bad or The Wire.
But partaking in any of these activities leaves my brain racing with ongoing thoughts and questions. Questions about what I just read or watched. Desires to continue watching or reading, to see what happens. Or worse, exponential questions about what I am currently writing. What is going to happen to a character? Whether a particular topic is funny to everyone as a collective whole or only funny to my peculiar mind.
Whether or not my writing sucks.
A sitcom easily allows me to stop worrying about all that stuff. More importantly, I am mentally liberated from all the things going on in my life, good or bad. This is why a lot of us watch television I think. We like to escape our lives for a while and enter a fictional world where we have no worries or responsibilities. That’s probably why so many of us still watch cable television every evening after work. We’re looking to relax and forget about our stressors for a short period of time. According to some statistics, nearly all Americans have a television in their homes that they watch for around 2 hours a day (to see these cable tv statistics click here). We’re all looking to escape reality for a while with our favorite tv shows.
Instead of worrying about me, I can focus, open-mouthed, on one trivial and humorous problem of a nerd followed by him and his friends taking a predictable path to a solution.
A solution, which I know is guaranteed to come in the following twenty-two minutes.
It’s always the same:
Problem. Laugh. Solution. Laugh. One last joke. Kinda laugh. Sleep.
And because this formula is comforting to my tired little brain, I have made a vow to not be a hypocrite and make fun of my parents for their choices in television viewing.
Because even the most unimaginative of shows can give me a great gift.
It might dumb me down, but at least it can wash my brain out and prepare me for a good night’s sleep in which my real-world problems aren’t as apt to creep into my dreams.
Although, I have been having strange dreams in which I am a nerd (perhaps not so far from the truth) who is in love with the hot girl who lives across the hall. Or I am an Indian nerd who is unable to speak to women. Or I am an egotistical nerd who is unable to effectively communicate on a respectful level with everyone else, thus leaving me with very few friends.
Perhaps I should start watching Victoria’s Secret photo shoots before I go to bed.