There’s nothing I love quite so much as guilty pleasure television. Television that’s not even well written, but hooks me in and keeps me coming back for more, week after week. Shows that I ask myself, “Why am I still watching this? Better yet, why did I start watching it in the first place?” Whether I’m crying at Kerry Washington’s wobbly jaw on Scandal, or sobbing at Princess Tiana finding out she was the hero she needed all along on Once Upon a Time, subpar television never fails to deliver.
That’s not to say that the writing in some of these shows can’t be great sometimes. Once Upon a Time has some of the best writing that I’ve seen, mostly due to the fact that it’s written by the same people who wrote Lost. The plot is expertly crafted. But the sappy, family-friendly nature of the show is what I truly crave. Basic, universal themes about redemption and forgiveness get me every single time. If I’m weeping, it’s working. What has surprised me the most from watching a lot of really awful TV is that, even in the later seasons, shows can still be really good. Supernatural is currently in it’s thirteenth season, and the show is still something that I love to watch. Thirteen seasons! Seriously. They went through the apocalypse, the rapture, met God, AND God’s sister, and STILL they have more story to tell. Now that is incredible. Kudos to the CW, because I’m still watching.
It also doesn’t help that I am obsessive when it comes to TV. I will not start a show in the middle, I will start it from the beginning or I will not watch it at all. And even if the show goes off the rails, if I started it I’m damn well finishing it. That mentality got me through at least 3 godawful seasons of Glee. Speaking of shows that I used to cry over, I think I’ve cried more over the same 5 scenes in Glee than I’ve cried about things in real life. There’s nothing like a good gay cry to make one feel alive.
Shonda Rhimes is someone who, despite my better efforts, truly captures my attention. There are certain elements in all Shonda Rhimes shows that make it a Shonda Rhimes show. Number one, neverending monologues that have got to last at least a page and a half and contain more sass than should be legal. The kind of monologues that go on and on and on and you know the actor just loves because it gives them a chance to be sassy and oh no you don’t get to talk right now because don’t you see my head bobbing back and forth and my finger pointed at you because honey you have NO idea who you are dealing with that’s right. Number two, female leads with a drinking problem who own more wigs than I could afford in a year’s salary. Seriously, I’m convinced that Viola Davis’ character on How To Get Away With Murder doesn’t even have hair. And as much as I love Shonda, I still haven’t seen Grey’s Anatomy. I like to think that’s like the Queen Mother Alien from Aliens. The giant that birthed all the mini Shonda shows. I don’t even wanna think about trying to tackle that one.
My one habit from my childhood that I never was able to shake was my love for watching TV and playing video games at the same time. I love the thrill of not quite paying attention to either of them, being able to see the TV out of the corner of my eye while I listen to what the characters are saying. Having to rewind every few minutes because I realized I haven’t even been paying attention. Pausing my game because I realize that this might be a scene I cry at, and therefore requires my full attention. This level of multitasking is I believe what could have trained me to be an excellent doctor. At least on Grey’s Anatomy.
I tell myself that it’s good to watch these shows, that it helps make my writing better to see what’s out there. But I do realize when people ask me, “What’s the best show you’ve watched this year?”, that my choice in television does leave something to be desired. All the greatest award winning shows seem so boring to me. In what world does “Mozart in the Jungle” seem like something that would hold my attention? It just feels like work to watch. I want soft, soothing melodrama. Dipping into an episode of Scandal is like dipping into a hot bath at the end of the day. I let How To Get Away With Murder soothe my body like Viola Davis soothes no one because her character is a terrible mother figure. I meditate on The Walking Dead like I meditate on the reason why I’m still watching a show that went off the rails two seasons ago. And I fall asleep like Lucifer fell from grace on Supernatural, even though he somehow is kind of a good guy now? Whatever. I’ll probably still be watching this show even when the apocalypse does happen. It’ll be in its 20th season by then.