Yeah, I’m Probably Not Going to Watch Your Show

Okay, putative casual acquaintance/co-worker/family member I don’t see that often/stranger on public transit whose cell phone conversation I’m forced to hear half of:

I’m probably not going to watch your show.

Allow me to elaborate.

I know there are a lot of shows on TV.  I know that many of them can be streamed on Netflix or elsewhere.  But before I actually do this (regardless of how many times you bring it up) you’re going to have to do better than the following.

It’s just so good.  I don’t even… just watch it.

Note the distinct lack of anything like a reason being offered here.

It’s just, the characters, they’re so, like, just real.

Okay, that’s something but still – most shows, you know, or most books, or most – well – anything with characters – they’re real if you put enough time into them.  Still not a reason I’m going to watch your show.

But they’re like – morally – like, they’re not good and they’re not bad.  They’re just like… look just watch it.

Yes, now you’re almost a regular Aristotle.  Or you read something in the third-rate press that referenced the notion of “moral ambiguity” but then couldn’t remember that word.

Dare I inquire into its genre, or what other shows it might be similar to:

It’s not like, I mean I guess “drama” but you know, I mean it’s so funny and there’s all this suspense so like, but it’s not really like other shows, look, you have to see it then you’ll know what I mean.

Suppose I dare to voice a contrarian “yeah, I watched a couple of episodes, I didn’t really see what was so special.”

Oh, which episode did you see?

Now my interlocutor has become an immediate expert on the relative merits of the different episodes and their many diverse interrelationships.

Yeah, see with that one, like, okay for me, I had to get to episode 7, then I was hooked, I just had to tear through the rest of it.  Like, I don’t know.  I bet if you go back and watch that later, you’ll see what I mean.

This is Stockholm Syndrome, not you recognizing quality.  Do it – watch 5 episodes of ANYTHING you can find.  Perhaps, “Life’s a Tripp” (about Bristol Palin) or “Dance Moms” or “Preachers’ Daughters.”  You know what you’ll find, especially if you have as much critical intelligence as you’ve displayed so far?  You’ll be “really into it.”

Oh, but also, like, if you just saw that episode like, just without seeing seasons one through six first, like, I mean you won’t…

I made this mistake once with “Six Feet Under.”   I watched 30 minutes of what had to be the most pretentious, tedious, self-important pap I’ve ever had to sit through (even counting my Aaron Sorkin experiences).  Knowledge of narrative context cannot excuse every bit of that.  It makes sense I’d be confused, but angry and annoyed?  Your show’s probably bad.

Now sometimes I will give in to such an interlocutor, in the hopes that perhaps, our conversations will improve.  Instead, to wit:

Oh, are you all caught up?

Once it is revealed that, horribile dictu, I’m only on episode 4 —

Oh, then I won’t, see, oh so you don’t even know yet that… oh I’ll just be quiet.

Such silence rarely lasts longer than a few seconds before these would-be “spoilers” (which turn out to be either fairly obvious things I’ve already figured out, or on the other hand, just complete non-sequiturs that aren’t so much surprising as, well, just complete non-sequiturs that are basically uninteresting and extend some sort of plot arc for 10 more episodes for transparently commercial-viability reasons).

Supposing I do “catch up” (a phrase I find horribly bureaucratic, and depressingly redolent of letting someone know I’m up-to-date on my laundry or my TPS reports).  Now we’re ready for those hours of real reflective insightful conversation, right?  But lo – instead I get the Chris Farley Show:

Remember when Jim said like, that he was really not Jim? /

Remember how like [using indefinite pronouns to spare others – who do not care about “spoiling” either] … no not her, like, yeah HER… Just like what happened with all that? /

Wasn’t it crazy how they just tied up all those plot arcs?

(me, reluctantly: yeah)

That was awesome!  I just now though, I can’t WAIT for next season, what can they possibly even do NOW?

So yeah, I’m probably not going to watch your show.

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