A couple months ago, I wrote a blog post about how I didn’t want to read TV recaps anymore. I still stand by the basic argument, that reading an article about what happened in a TV show you just watched is a waste of time/brain energy. However, like many things in life, the knowledge that I shouldn’t do something doesn’t necessarily make me stop doing it. Especially when the thing that I shouldn’t be doing is an impulsive click of a link away. Here’s a few reasons why I can’t quit the reading-about-tv game:
ADHD. I’ve never actually been diagnosed with ADHD, so I can’t say that I have it. But I can say that my mind and body are generally always restless, and if my phone’s in my hand, I’m generally going to do something with it. Checking something, reading something, searching for something. It’s incredibly unhealthy way to live, but as noted, I can’t help myself.
I do like thoughtful criticism. I was a cultural studies major in college, which means I studied how to examine cultural works/trends through the lens of traditional literary criticism. And while the worst, link-bate-iest recaps are basically hastily written book reports, the best are like good New York Review of Books reviews, with smart examinations of themes and explanations of context. (Hat tip to the AV Club, my primary source for generationally relevant cultural criticism since I was twenty years old).
I live on the internet. My job is on the internet, my friends are on the internet, my TV IS the internet, so I guess it’s natural that I need the internet to help me think about what I just watched.
Instant gratification. Sometimes, when you’ve seen something really great, or just really interesting, you can’t wait until you hit the water cooler at work to talk about it. Or in my freelance, working-out-of-cafes case, the digital water cooler that is g-chat. (For some reason, no one here at Vinyl on Divisadero wants to talk to me about anything, much less the sad fate of Lane Pryce on Mad Men). And the fact that as soon as I watch a show, I can dive into a serious consideration of it’s meaning is great.
I think the instant gratification though, is what keeps me going back, and it’s something I’d love to work on in general, especially when it comes to television. I do believe we are experiencing a renaissance of quality television and that the best TV shows’ runs are similar to great novels. So trying to unpack the meaning behind individual episodes misses the point of experiencing great TV. Each episode is a chapter, so reading a review of each chapter misses the bigger picture.
However, as noted, my instincts tend to work against my rationale sense of what I should do with myself. So, I guess I’ll keeping reading the recaps, but I’m going to try my best to only do it when I absolutely HAVE to unpack why a show was interesting, not to just read someone telling me that the show I just thought was great was, indeed, great.
(“Good fucking luck, Hank.” – thing I just told myself)
Henry Goldman is the founder of yr an adult. HE CAN NOT BE STOPPED.