Why I don’t like TV, Part I (or, why I am a stuck-in-the-mud)

Let’s get this out there: I don’t really like TV.

At least, just to clarify, I don’t like TV in general.  I’m not a total Neanderthal: there are exceptions.

I’ve been known to get obsessed with certain well-written shows, such as Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (there, I’ve said it).  I am capable of getting sucked into a compelling storyline.  I’ve been known to enjoy the occasional Law and Order and Simpsons, even random shows on Animal Planet (this really is quite the confessional of dorkdom).

But I never got into Seinfeld, Friends, 90210, Family Guy, or pretty much any other popular show.  The same goes for most funny-but-stupid movies, which is its own culturally vital canon.  Even Arrested Development, a show that my girlfriend is completely obsessed with, and which objectively I recognize is brilliant in many ways, is hard for me to watch.  I can concentrate and get into it, but it’s hard.  And one day I realized why.

I’m too uptight.

Seriously.  Sitcoms rely on putting their characters in excruciatingly embarrassing situations.  The characters can be idiotic, socially awkward, ignorant, overconfident, absurd, dull, disconnected from reality, whatever – as long as they’re over the top in some way.  And even though I know they’re exploiting the fake-ness of the medium to carry their impossible scenarios, I can’t help reacting like it’s real.  So I cringe as though I were in the room, as though there were some sort of regrettable reality that I have to cope with.

And I can’t bear it.  I distract myself by doing something that takes up half my attention span so I don’t have to go through the awkwardness myself.  Or I just don’t watch in the first place.  Which makes me the epitome of uncool, but I’ve made my peace with that.

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