The Best of Mind-Numbing TV


I’m likely to be cited in a scholarly paper- about ‘Say Yes to the Dress’, of all things.  How did this happen, I hear you ask?  During my freshman year in college (Spring semester) I took English 120, Reading and Writing the Modern Essay.  Professor Graham was excellent: she introduced me to non-Charlotte’s Web/Stuart Little E.B. White, who is still one of my favorite essayists, and made us wear adhesive mustaches during one class (I forget of what that was apropos)(I hate dangling prepositions).

Anyway, she posted on Facebook recently (yes, we’re Facebook friends) asking if anyone watched ‘Say Yes to the Dress.’ And because I was a bit embarrassed have no shame in owning up to my guilty pleasures, I said ‘Maybe a little.’
Pffft. Maybe a little as in I used to watch it every week after riding lessons while having lunch. So she asked me a few questions about it- What I liked, were the accents notable, etc…

And it made me think very hard about what it is that I like about the television shows that I do like.  I’ve been trying to be more mindful recently (and I refuse to believe that it’s the result of any New Year’s Resolution pishposh), and a big part of that has been considering what it is that makes things have value and worth to my life.

People watch television for different reasons.  For the past perhaps five or six years, since my parents decided to stop getting cable while I was in high school until now, when there isn’t a television around (though Yale tuition apparently includes internet access to cable, which I’ve never used), television hasn’t been a big part of my life at all.  I’ve only really ever watched two dramas with the intention of seeing how they turned out- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I watched long after it originally aired, and Gossip Girl, which distracted me from a rough time in my life and which I eventually lost love with around the beginning of the fourth season.

When I go home, I watch Jeopardy because we’re all around in the evenings and it’s a fun sort of communal thing.  It also helps me feel close to my grandmother on my Mom’s side, who is a big fan. She’ll watch it post-shower with a glass of wine and bathrobe.

I watch movies to watch something new. I watch television when I need something kind of entertaining but… overwhelmingly formulaic.  Things like:

  • Say Yes to the Dress: I love the consultants. I love Randy. I’m not a big wedding or wedding dress person, but white and sparkly is nice to look at.
  • Project Runway: Tim Gunn is lovely.  Watching people sew and stress for an hour is cathartic.
  • Early Scooby Doo: My love for Scooby is well-documented.

And when I was younger, Shear Genius (a reality tv show about dog-grooming) and It’s Me or the Dog (about dog training with the awesomely dominatrix-y Victoria Stilwell.) And then there was that whole time in my early teens that I watched A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila on my computer without my parents knowing. It was practically porn to me then and felt very scandalous.  I was aware that it was trash, but angst and puberty make you do weird things.

Yeah, that was today’s list.

Television isn’t a great thing to get sucked into. It can be a bit too mind-numbing for that, and before you know it, hours are gone.  But every once in a while, when you feel you’ve spent all the attention you can, there’s nothing quite like sitting back and luxuriating in the predictability of old standbys, knowing that resolution is only half an hour to an hour away.

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