My name is Rachel and I am addicted to television. When I say addicted it means the act of staring at my collection of DVD seasons in my room is eerily similar to Gollum’s attachment to the One Ring. Over years of deal finding and gathering (thank you Amazon, eBay, and Black Friday), my crowded shelves include at least eighty-seven different shows. This does not include all the shows I watch live when they air, nor the shows typed up on an ongoing wish list to watch in the future.
It is my belief that I follow such a variety of different programs that anyone could find at least one they liked, and probably a few they have never heard of. Some are American (Treme), while others are British (Life on Mars) and Canadian (Slings and Arrows). Genre-wise, there is a wide, unlimited range of classics (I Love Lucy), comedy (New Girl), mystery (Castle), science-fiction (Doctor Who), quirky one-season hits (Wonderfalls), dramas (Nashville), violence (Sons of Anarchy) and anything that comes out of the brain of Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
My favorite characters range from the protective siblings to the annoying person every other fan cannot stand, the witty best friend (see Friday Night Light‘s Landry Clarke) to the well-intentioned rebel (which sounds like such a cliché but cannot be denied when people like Gilmore Girl‘s Jess Mariano, Veronica Mar‘s Logan Echolls, and Breaking Bad‘s Jesse Pinkman exist).
Bonds of Siblinghood
Dean Winchester and his Metallicar
Credit: WB, CW
While not predisposed to be a watcher of horror shows or movies, I love Supernatural. In television, it is rare that the protagonists are siblings, seemingly preferring solo stars or love interests. That is why shows like Supernatural, Tru Calling, and the new [UPDATE: canceled] comedy, Ben and Kate, mean so much to me. They focus on the relationship that is so important in my world, instead of acting like the only place for a brother or sister in television is as an annoyance. For example, it is not uncommon for Supernatural fans to be obsessed with Dean Winchester. I mean, it basically comes down to being a member of Team Sam or Team Dean. As a member of Team Dean, though, I find the character (portrayed winningly by Jensen Ackles) incredibly charming, and a lot of that comes from the fact that he is a protective, older sibling. Like Dean, I would do anything for my little brother. He means the world to me and every extreme action Dean does to take care and protect Sammy, is exactly what I would do… if I fought demons for a living.
Defender of the Hated
As for my penchant to adore disliked characters, I know Ziggy says some stuff he should not say (like here), that he should have known ducks and alcohol do not mix, but everyone treats him like an idiot. He just looks so sad sometimes, like he has gotten himself stuck in this shtick and does not know how to get out. No one thinks he can change or do anything right to the point that even his friends refuse to see him as anything but a mess up. It’s not fair. Sure, maybe I give him more credit then he deserves, and at times he is in the wrong, or takes a wrong approach. Then again I am also trying to find some means to redeem Dutch Wagenbach (one look at his name and you know he gets no respect) after he killed a cat on The Shield. I simply refuse to give up on these broken characters, who never seem to be given a chance and are always picked on, but have heart.
We all make mistakes. He just made many.
When a disk skips even a minute I go crazy running from room to room, trying to find a DVD player that will play through the missed seconds.
I read books called, The Office and Philosophy, from Blackwell Philosophy and PopCulture, or Pronto by Elmore Leonard, starring Justified lead, Raylon Givens (but missing my leading man, Boyd Crowder).
TV Guide magazine is a weekly read.
In other words, this hobby is not limited to video content but is reflected in everything I do.
Television vs Movies
All of this could be considered extreme (I use “could be” hesitantly) but I love it. There is something to be proud of, in a sense, in knowing so much detail about one area, to be able to name the actors and actresses who appear as minor guest stars, as well as provide their previous work credentials. The appeal of television over movies is the emphasis on characters, who get to really grow and change over thirteen to twenty-two episodes, as opposed to being restricted to two and a half hours and that is it. There are story arcs which you actually have to keep track of as they are referenced weeks later. They are even divided into attainable thirty to sixty minute segments, which can easily fit into my busy schedule. There is no better way to debrief and recuperate than with a show. Drop all the homework for a moment and just sit: pure watching, no multitasking.
Why It’s OK to be Obsessed with Television
As an added bonus, I can warrant my habits to the more skeptical individuals with the fact that my goal is for this beloved obsession to lead to some form of career, the pipe dream being a television critic. Alan Sepinwall is my role model in the field. Through his blog, and now his work on the web-site HitFix, he gets paid to watch shows and write reviews for each episode. Indeed, he spent one summer re-watching The Wire and writing two separate reviews for each episode, one for new fans and one for people who have already seen all five seasons so would not be spoiled. Not only does that take a lot of commitment but, having read most of the “newbie” reviews personally, it really adds to understanding and provides new ways of looking at events that took place.
The whole concept sounds amazing, such a fun thing to do for a living. Since first grade, writing has always been the discipline where I found my niche and now I know what I want to write about. Indeed, that is one of the reasons I am so excited about writing a blog in this class. Alan Sepinwall got noticed writing about NYPD Blue on a blog in college. This assignment could be a great opportunity to replace my talk with action towards an ambition that, if successful, could lead towards a paying job one day.
Something Quotable for the Last Lines
The best thing about television is it is still fairly separate from the combined gadget world technology seems to want to head towards (like the phones no longer being only phones phenomenon). Some have increased in size and flatness. There are more channels. 3D is being attempted. For the most part, though, television is still that box in the living room we all know and love to turn on. That is something to celebrate.