Monday, November 9, 2009

A scientific study of how I watch TV ...

On the 1980s sitcom Cheers, the fiery waitress Carla had an ex-husband named Nick Tortelli, who could practically impregnate her by sneezing in the general direction of her cocktail apron. While the American viewing public knew as well as Carla that he was a sleazy dirtbag, he had a look that he would give her -- his head tilted forward, one eyebrow cocked, eyes squinted -- that Carla was powerless against.

This is the signature look of the character Chuck Bass. Somehow, over the course of more than 20 years, this facial expression has gone from "I hope that man doesn't get me alone in his van," to, "Why yes, Chuck Bass, I will refresh your vodka gimlet, and no, I'm not at all chilly with just these two green olives covering my nipples."

On Monday nights, I watch Gossip Girl. I don't even necessarily like Gossip Girl. If, running opposite of Gossip Girl, was a show that just featured Blake Lively's hair in various states of disarray, I'd watch that instead.

TiVo also records One Tree Hill on Monday night. There is no urgency involved with watching One Tree Hill. I save that for late Friday night.

TiVo is en fuego on Tuesday! The second I hear Chuck begin slicing the banana to put on his sandwich for lunch, I sneakily begin watching The Hills, pausing it every time he walks back into the room, and acting all cool-like "There's nothing to see here, I still read books, you know."

Chuck has an aversion to screaming blondes in oversized sunglasses, which I believe was a rejected title for the show.

Watching The Hills, followed by The City, is probably the highlight of my TV week. There is no irony here. I don't watch it "because they are all so stupid." I watch it because it is good entertainment, set to good music, and blondes in oversized sunglasses scream at each other. In the past, I've let Lauren Conrad narrate my internal monologue. I don't miss her (much). Now I let Kristin Cavalarri do it, and she has been a solid replacement.

Wednesday night is date night. Chuck doesn't have to work, so we try to watch things we both like. We have to be strategic about this: Mad Men while we are eating, Nip/Tuck after we're done eating. I don't know how many times I've stuck my fork into a mushy mound of beany whatever only to see Dr. Christian Troy ram a lipo tube into a tranny's ass, something the consistency of grits clogging up the piping. God forbid we try to watch this show and eat something like chicken.

Nip/Tuck is my absolute favorite show. Somewhere around season two or three, it went off the rails and the writers looked at each other, shrugged, and said "Lets keep off-roading." Chuck likes to compare this show to something like "Lost," where you can watch for three seasons and never learn anything. You would be amazed what can happen in a single episode of "Nip/Tuck." Instead of leaving questions, this show answers more than you could ever want to know.

As for Mad Men, well, I feel weird about saying this, but I think Don Draper can do better than that humorless shrew he's married to. I like it when he cheats on her. This makes me feel like a failure as a woman, until I remember how much I love Peggy and Joan.

If there is time, we watch Top Chef. Chuck isn't invested in this one. He knew enough to hate the T'shirts favored by Mike Isabella. This means he can rarely relate to my snot-fused sob fest when someone has to pack up their knives.

Much like Nip/Tuck, it can be tricky to watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia while eating. You never know when Charlie is going to snort cat food, or Danny Devito is going to pull a sandwich out of a dumpster.

Milk steak over hard.

Modern Family is about the only new show we're watching. I can't pinpoint exactly what makes it hilarious, but it really is.

At some point, Chuck thought he heard me say that I hated The Office, so he unTivo'd it. This is an untruth. I like The Office. Sometimes it's a snoozefest, though. 30 Rock is always solid.

We are so busy on Thursdays.

I spend my Friday nights alone. Just me, a pair of sweatpants, chocolate soy milk and Tyra. I start the night with America's Next Top Model. This is my favorite show in the whole world. It is the reason that I no longer feel disgusting when I wear a ponytail with a weird barrette jammed into my bangs. I just feel like I'm going on a go-see.

Much like Top Chef, there is not a dry eye on the couch when someone gets sent home.

I move on to 90210, followed by Melrose Place. Neither of these shows is good. Neither of these shows are interesting. I think if you were trapped in an elevator with a writer from one of these two shows, he would admit that the scripts are manufactured using a high-tech computerized version of Whacky Mad Libs in which a name appears (Annie) and a situation (abusive relationship) pops up. The writers then wait until they are good and shitfaced, and begin writing around these randomly generated ideas.

I think my brain would go wonky if I watched these shows in the wrong order, or not consecutively -- the way it was in the 1990s. So say we all.

I am always confused after watching 90210. I can never decide if I should get my hair cut to a short sassy bob like Silver, or let it go long and flowing, like Adriana. Sigh.

I double back to One Tree Hill. One episode of this show, which is well beyond its cancellation date, lasts approximately 4 hours. I don't get why I like it. I think the CW leaves it on only for me, to placate some leftover Dawson's Creek nostalgia that I have.

I close out the night with Grey's Anatomy. Again, not a show I'm hugely invested in. Again, a show that usually sends me reeling to bed, weeping.

I try to find a Law and Order marathon. Or CSI something. Or a movie.

My viewing is exhausted.


Jodi said...

I love that in this post you claimed that three of the shows were your favorite (or two, and one that is the highlight of your TV week).

Also, notice the distinct lack of actual sitcoms (aside from the NBC Thursday power hour). Much like the novel, blogging, and communism, I think the sitcom might be dead.

Finally, I don't like Betty Draper either. She bugs the shit out of me. I will join you in forming the Peggy Olson fanclub. Have you watched the finale yet? I guess not, being that it's only Mondayish/Tuesdaymaybe.

Mach1 said...

Before you, I never realized how obsessed women are with each other's hair.

You teach me so much.

christina said...

You know what killed the sitcom? All those shows about go-get 'em women who live with jersey-wearing, remote control hording dude. I think in the early 2000s, this over saturated the sitcom market. Then, as the serial dramas became more sophisticated, fart jokes and Bud Lite hobbiests paled in comparison.

I did see the finale. Awesome.

Jodi said...

When Joan came in kicking ass and when Peggy said no to fetching coffee, I almost stood up and clapped.

And you're probably right about the Beauty & the Schlub era of sitcoms killing it. I hadn't thought about that. I've been doing a lot of thinking about sitcoms (have just subjected myself to the last three years of Roseanne) and wondering about their demise.

Futbol said...

why is there no mention of The Ruins?

christina said...

Futbol -- For some reason I don't get into the MTV challenges. I think it is because I missed so many seasons of Real World, that I don't know who half of the people are.

Eva Gallant said...

I'm with you on Modern Family! It's just wacky enough that I can't stay away from it!

audra said...

i loved this. i feel better about my telly habits, and i'm totally stealing your idea! don't worry...i'll give you credit. xo

feisty said...

Reading your blog is like reading leisure-time porn.