Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Microstory 993: Television

Tonight, I finished watching the annual crossover serial from the Arrowverse on CW, which this time lasted three nights. For those of you not in the know, that’s when all (read: most) of the DC comics adaptations come together and fight a big bad together. I also watched The Kids Are Alright, but I’m trying to get to bed earlier, so that’ll be it. The funny thing about the latter show is that this latest episode was about the family receiving a far too generous gift from the cool uncle in the form of a quite expensive television set. I promise I did not do that on purpose, because I am not allowed to use my power to see the future for my own personal gain. I get a lot of judgment from people for how much TV I watch. What those assholes don’t realize is that watching TV has been a bonding experience in my family since before I can remember. We don’t just sit there with blank looks on our faces, and then frankenstein monster our way to our beds. We laugh together, and discuss what happened. We critique the style, and predict where the story is going. Thanks to DVR technology, we can now pause any program, and talk about it in the middle of it without missing anything. Sometimes my mother and I will spend more time with an episode paused, talking about things—prompted by what we’ve just seen or not—than it would have taken to just watch it straight through. I’ve always loved TV, and I won’t apologize for it. It’s a beautiful form of entertainment, and I challenge you to come up with non-judgy, legitimate arguments against that. A good piece of television has smooth narrative structure, interesting characters, a driven plot, and compelling motives. What’s different about it than other performances, like films or plays, or musicals? Why is it that this one type of content is lesser than the others? Because it’s newer? New does not equal bad, valid conclusion.

I once met a guy who only watched a single show, Chuck. I didn’t feel comfortable pressing him, but I wanted to know how that worked. How did he find out about it, and more importantly, if he liked it, what gave him the impression there weren’t any other shows he might like? It didn’t sound like he ever tried anything else, and now that the series is over, is that just it for him and scripted television? Has he spent all these years only watching sports games, and not even bothering to see what else is out there? In contract, at one point, I was estimating my television watching habits at sixty to eighty hours a week, depending on how busy my life was at the time, or which season it was. The advent of internet video has made the estimation much more difficult. I now watch content on YouTube, Netflix, and I do have a history of illegal streaming, but I imagine the number hasn’t changed much. There’s so much more to choose from than in years past, but I try to be more selective than I once was. I didn’t just watch things I didn’t like to punish myself. I was using it for research, and I don’t regret the things that I learned. It’s made me a better writer. Everyone loves Ernest Hemingway, but the man only ever wrote about himself. His life was pretty adventurous, which is great, but it was still impossible for him to relate to others, because he didn’t have the opportunities that I do. I know a lot about how people work, because I’ve spent all this time observing; much of the time with characters. Anyway, I’m getting a little off topic, and repeating information I’ve already told you in other stories, but the point is that I love television. I always have, and I always will. If you don’t, then fine, but you’re missing out on some really great stuff.

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