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.
So yea. 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 HBO or AMC would suffice.
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 that shit 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.
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.
Instead, 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.