So, what do you watch?

Television is a vast wasteland...blah blah blah. Yes, it is and we need not say much more than that sitcoms are and always have been basically pap and drivel and reality TV is exploitative and champions the suffering of others and glorifies its own hand-fashioned faux third-world poverty chic and crime drama is about artificially revitalizing ourselves from our psychic numbness and HBO is its own Tarrantinoland theme park and the soaps haven't changed much in 30 years and the "news" is an artificial construction that mostly just produces anxiety about things we cannot have any impact on or are so far distant from our daily lives that they just leave us even more numb so we just have to watch more original HBO series of swearing and violence and (bad) sex.

Nonetheless, I still watch TV. I have no intention of selling my TV or
killng it or throwing it away, even though I do share some of the glorious aims of folks like the TV Turn-off people and Adbusters and Jerry Mander and everyone who rightly talks about kids attention spans and the McDonaldization of our culture and how media violence affects us and how fat and lazy we all are.

I just use my TV strategically. First off, I use it as a screen for watching videos and DVDs. Second, I watch stuff with my son. In addition to the good-parent selections of Sesame Street and Between the Lions and occasional other educational type shows, we watch more than our fair share of kid-sized superhero stuff. I've written about that (mostly in terms of film) already, so let me just say we're seriously into Teen Titans at my house, and I do have to say I like that my son's favorite character is Raven, the moody girl with a demonic father. He's not crushed out on the cute and chipper alien chick Starfire, nor the macho Robin. He does like Cyborg, who shows some teen angst I enjoy now and then (and is another example of a black superhero on TV, so that's good), and Beastboy, who is a giant shapeshifting goofball. Yes, it's violent and full of all that's wrong with superheroism, but it's also well-drawn and witty. And gotta love Puffy Ami Yumi singing that oh-so-catchy theme song.

Our second favorite show is Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. Created by Craig McCracken, the same fella that made the annoying Powerpuff Girls, Foster's is about a foster home that takes in imaginary friends when the kids who imagined them grow up or don't want them anymore. That's just a damn sweet premise. All kinds of "hijinks" go on, but it's generally a sweet, goodhearted program, and the characters are all entirely loveable or bratty in just the same way your own kid is.

I do watch one or two adult shows. I kinda dig some of the Food Network shows for something relaxing, especially the uberlikeable Rachael Ray and the too-gross-for-America Iron Chef. Just how many times can you watch someone cook with fish eyeballs, shark fins, foie gras, or swallow's nest (made of delicious swallow spit!) without just saying enough! On other channels, my mom actually got me to watch something on Fox (no, not American Idol!). The show is House, and I recommend it for a break from the usual hospital drama fare. I used to watch Xena and Buffy weekly, but nothing of the sort since. Nothing at all.
[Note: My husband reminds me that we used to watch several shows regularly on the SciFi Channel a while back too, like First Wave and Farscape. It's not just lack of good shows that keep us from regular watching of much of anything; it's having a kid around who used to be able to be in the room and not notice what we were watching (at, say, age 2) but now sees all. We have friends who dig Smallville and I really don't even know what's on Sci Fi anymore.]

Right now, Comedy Central gets my top vote for a channel because it features the only show(s) I watch, even semi-regularly. Reno 911 is most excellent, as was The Dave Chapelle Show, and though I'm sick of it, South Park can be extremely witty and astute through (and despite) its immature grossness. The only truly good TV on the air, however, I am entirely convinced, is The Daily Show. It has its share of clunks and missed opportunities, poor interviews and trite ridicule, but it's the closest to Lefty TV we're gonna get in this corporate controlled climate full of rampant intolerance and imbecility, so I am just daily thankful for The Daily Show. (I like the occasional references to Yiddishkeit, too; thanks, Jon.)

Now it's your turn. What do you watch?


rabsteen said...

Queer As Folk. and i'm straight. go figure.

Anu said...

I watch at friends' houses and hotels. The Daily Show. The Daily Show. The Daily Show.

Then, if I have time, the news, the news, and more news. The news. Too bad the right wing of PBS kicked Bill Moyers off the air.

I like Keith Olbermann and must confess to watching the enemy: O'Reilly, Hannity, Scarborough . .

popwrkr said...

Daily Show. Bill Mahr, when he's on. I'm addicted to the BBC(news is better than any in U.S.), Law and Order(I'm waiting for the exclusive cable channel for that), Dead Like Me, on showtime, anything with Viggo Mortensen, Celebrity Poker and am awaiting the College football and hockey season.

Stavner said...

Pantha's my favorite Titans character.