I grew up with appointment TV. This is not the same thing as saying, ‘I grew up with the TV always on,’ because I didn’t. We had shows we watched religiously, though, scrambling to finish homework and eat dinner before the clock struck 8 pm and our evening escapism began.
We watched as a family, which is harder to do these days, and in-between episodes, we discussed TV plot lines, characters, and Nielsen ratings. (Untimely cancellations were like deaths.) This tradition continues to this day: we may watch in different households, but my parents, sister and I compare favorite series, spill spoilers over the phone, and discuss characters as though they’re next-door neighbors. When my kids were smaller, they actually thought we knew people named Tim Riggins and Lorelai Gilmore and Ed Stevens. (And if you ‘know’ all three of those people too, tell me so in the comments so I can declare us kindred spirits.)
When the kids were babies, I used quality TV (note the adjective there) as a reward at the end of endless cycles of feedings, diaper changes, and Thomas the Tank Engine episodes. Back in the pre-DVR days, I once got a speeding ticket racing home from a preschool function to get the kids in bed in time for Joan of Arcadia. Once the era of online message boards and forums began, I got a bit obsessive (the understatement of the year), and even now, with such busy schedules all around me, I take the time to read my favorite reviewers, catch up on spoilers, and keep up with backstage politics. I know my TV shows like some people know their NFL: who’s writing for which network, who’s producing what, who’s presenting at ComicCon and Paley. I await upfronts like baseball fans await spring training.
In the evenings, Charlie and I watch more than your average amount of TV. (Some would say a ‘ton’ of TV.) Friends are always surprised by this, as though as avid readers and reasonably thinking people, we should be in the ‘we don’t own a TV’ or ‘we pulled the plug on cable’ camp. I tell them this: TV snobbery is for the uninformed. Spend an day flipping channels, and 90% of what you’ll see will be crap: reality TV has permeated the TV world like an infectious beast (with the exception of Survivor, Charlie would have me add). Spend time getting to know what else is out there, however (on cable and the BBC, but also on the networks) and you’ll find well-crafted, thought-provoking series worthy of your time, discussion, and entertainment.
So what are we watching this season? As they air, we’ll be tuning into dramas such as Dexter, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Bones (though has it jumped the shark?), Burn Notice, Smash, The Good Wife, and Mad Men. For comedy, we’ll turn to 30 Rock, Modern Family, New Girl, Big Bang Theory, Parks and Rec, and Up All Night. (And dare I take yet another gamble on Matthew Perry with the new Go On?)
What I watch that Charlie won’t touch with a ten foot pole (and is only punishing himself): Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, Parenthood, and Castle. Plus, I’m totally tuning into the new Nashville for Connie Britton alone.
What he watches that I skip (debatably missing out): Survivor, Shark Tank (though I sometimes get sucked in), and the Mentalist.
What we’re watching with the kids: The Middle, The Amazing Race, and old episodes of Monk.
Shows we’ve loved in the past (RIP): Six Feet Under, Lost, Friday Night Lights (just me; he refused), Prison Break, Big Love (just me again), Firefly (do yourself a favor and watch this short-lived series!), Arrested Development, Joan of Arcadia, Ed, Heroes, Jericho, and way too many more to count.
If you’re a TV family, this is a safe place. Tell me what you love, what you hate, what looks promising, what premiere you’re counting down the days to. (For me it’s Castle…plus are you reading the Rick Castle novels? Extremely fun guilty pleasure!) Once premiere week hits, stop by my TV Pinterest board, which I’m sure will see a surge of fangirl activity.