Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reflections on a Prime-Time Addiction

Several weeks ago, in my posting entitled Observations from the Niche-Free Zone, I confessed to being an American Idol watcher.

It’s true.

I love the show.

But, I also love my time, and so I am glad the show is over.

What I didn’t confess in that April 21st posting (and, frankly, the context didn’t call for it) is that I also have got caught up occasionally in Dancing with the Stars.

It’s true.

I can be drawn into that show, too.

But, I still love my time, and so it takes a certain amount of talent to draw me in completely.

This year, in DWTS, the talent was awesome when it came down to the bottom three.

And so I watched.

And so… my Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights were a bit “booked” in May.

But, am I wasting my time? I don’t think so. I get too much joy from what I am witnessing. And, in my opinion, joy should never be deemed a waste of time.

A couple years ago, when I was on the East Coast, I had dinner with a friend in the D.C. area. She told me of a man she worked with at the relatively conservative law firm that has employed her for decades. She recounted hushed conversations by the water cooler, her co-worker – this man, high up on the corporate food chain – wanting to sneak in some whispered dialogue about the previous night’s American Idol or Dancing with the Stars episode.

It’s sad to me that a person might feel at risk of being judged negatively simply because he or she enjoys this prime-time entertainment. One could do a lot worse…

When I posted the aforementioned Observations essay and therefore essentially “outed” myself as an Idol watcher, I also shared that there’s a character in my second (not yet published) novel who did a good job of explaining the desire to watch that show. Now that the season’s over, I feel like sharing her words.

So, I’ll set up the scene for you.

The Idol-watching character is Brittany. She’s a pierced, tattooed, heart-on-her-sleeve twenty-something who has endeared herself to Martin, the new neighbor in her Los Feliz apartment building. Martin – the protagonist of my novel – is going through a midlife crisis and has recently moved from the Valley Village house he shared with his soon-to-be-ex-wife. Unrelated to all of that, Martin has never watched Idol.

When Brittany mentions “AI” in conversation and Martin doesn’t make the connection, she teases him. In response, he shares that he has no interest in “reality shows.”

This is how Brittany reacts (bouncy from her Mountain Dew buzz):

It’s not a reality show. It’s a talent show. And it’s beautiful. I swear, I’m such a sap. By the final six or seven weeks, I can’t get through an episode without crying. I mean, God, Martin, it’s about dreams. It’s about risk-taking. It’s about taking a lot of shit, putting it on the line, competing with people who have become your newest friends, wanting to win and not wanting anyone else to lose. It’s amazing. It’s people younger than me being so incredibly fucking brave.

I hear you, Brittany, I hear you. Because, I’m also a sap.

Without fail, I cry through the final few weeks of that show.

But is that so surprising?

Absolutely not.

I invented Brittany. She is a part of me.

Just as Martin is.

Martin’s the part of me that thinks it’s all silly and a waste of time.


Jayne Martin said...

I never get interested in AI anymore until the final 12 are selected and this year the choices were so dismal that I only watched the show to see Crystal. As for DWTS, they lost me last year when they brought on felon Tom DeLay.

I'm a big fan of So You Think You Can Dance though. Some really awesome talent on that show.

Yes, I watch reality TV and I don't care who knows it. ;)

Cheryl said...

This is the first year I tuned into AI. Shioban is the niece of a friend's best friend. When she was voted off, I was relieved I could stop watching and doing my part in helping Shioban. Turns out she didn't need anyone's help. What I learned from this brief foray into reality TV is that I'm not a fan for a reason. The hype drives me nuts; the set-ups are transparent; and mostly, I understand how folks get drawn in. Isn't that what TV is for ~ getting lost in the fantasy?

Martha said...

Haven't watched AI since Carrie Underwood (watched it in the UK). But, I must admit to watching Britain's Got Talent (you can take the girl out of the UK, but you can't take the UK out of the girl). Last year, Susan Boyle made me cry, this year, a 28-year old gay, shy accountant named Christopher Stone. I'm like Brittany - the dreams, the hopes...beating the odds. Nothing strange with you watching, nothing at all. We were raised to always dream with and for the little guy...

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I watched both of those shows in the early seasons. Lately my guilty pleasure has been Glee although I'm surely too old to be watching it!

It's funny how we have a way of both enjoying and thinking something is silly at the same time.

MissKris said...

I've never watched the one about dancing and only last year's "Idol" ever got me hooked. I am just not a big TV watcher and never have been, even as a kid. I much preferred playing outside or reading a book. Now, with daily care of my preschool grandsons, I tape PBS kid shows for them on the DVR. No Disney stuff. I have taped the past couple seasons of The Biggest Loser on the DVR, then watch them as I eat breakfast on Saturday morning. I'm in bed by 7 pm...what can I say?! HA! I'm glad we connected thru WOW as well...thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment!

Anonymous said...

It’s a timing thing with me. You see, I enjoyed ‘XFactor’in the winter months. The auditions are the best part- I like to be amazed or startled in turn. I can pass the odd hour watching ‘I’m a Celebrity – Get me Out of Here,’ but don’t ever let me eat a Witchetty Grub and I have to admit a partial liking for ‘Celebrity Big Brother.’ ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ is on in the summer – not my best time for TV but I have been known to tune in now and then. Then of course we have the Ice Dancing, both amazing and hideous depending on who you are watching, the Ballroom Dancing, so elegant, (I do wish I could dance like my mother) and the constant search for leading ladies and leading men for the West End Stage.
One could spend the entire year tuning into, “and the winner is.....” Happily, we all have real lives so most of us will pick and choose, like chocolates really, you don’t need the whole box but there is no harm in indulging in just a few.
Guilt be hanged - watch away!

Green Monkey said...

Like Cheryl, this is my first season of AI. I love reality anything on TV and yet, in reality do my best to escape reality (did that make sense?)

geezzz Brittany - time to switch from Dew to Wine - fun to read the contrast between the 2 (martin and brittany) thanks for sharing!

best to you, monkeyME

Ronnica said...

I need to set aside some of my regular TV shows...don't want to *have* to watch, you know? (that said, SYTYCD has started and I *have* to watch it!)

#1Nana said...

TV is a "waste of time?" I think not! When the screen action is slow I get my blog posts written on my laptop. I've got a piece rolling around my head about the important life lessons I've learned from TV. My mother couldn't cook (she was English and roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, and over cooked peas were about it for her) so I learned to cook from TV.

I don't know what I've learned from Idol, but I sure enjoy it.

Cheryl said...

Just wanted to drop by to thank you for your kind words on my post the other day. Yes, writing about addiction really helped. Thanks for asking.

Kristin @ Ellie-Town said...

Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

I've always been an Idol fan but I'm worried about what next year will be like with no Simon. It just can't be as fun to watch!

Karen Mortensen said...

Hi. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Can I admit that I don't watch any of these shows? Is that okay? Is it my age? (50)
I guess I preferr mindless tv sometimes but a lot of the times I watch ID Investigate Life I think it is called. Also, since we/I are/am confessing, I have the whole Brady Bunch Series on DVD. Hope this is okay.

Melissa B. said...

I have to say that I do not judge. Because I am one of those people who watches junk TV.

mbkatc230 said...

I have always watched AI, but this year just might be my last. It just didn't hold my interest. I tend more toward comedy, The Big Bang Theory always makes me laugh. Kathy

Lizzie said...

The take home for me from your post was this line.."joy should never be deemed a waste of time".
I couldn't agree more. Our whole family watches Idol together and there often isn't a dry eye in the household. (except the cat, but he is a terrible cynic).
Stopped by from WOW to say hi!