Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Reruns: Reflections on a Prime-Time Addiction

(original post-date: June 2, 2010)

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.


Sioux said...

I love American Idol, but I also love "So You Think You Can Dance" which is the best dancing show around. And, it's just started...

Don't you want a new monkey on your back?

Jayne Martin said...

I'm with Sioux... Totally hooked on "So You Think You Can Dance." I watched AI for years and just lost interest finally. I liked it better when the kids dressed themselves. DWTS sometimes sucks me in depending on who's on. But I hear you on the dreams and the bravery -- and the youth! God, the youth!

Kristy said...

Yes, I like those shows too, but they take a commitment, and you have to be ready to COMMIT, no?

Linda Medrano said...

I have never seen either of these shows, but after having you describe them for me, I'll tune in. Thank you! (I think! LOL!)

Amy said...

I love those shows for the ability it gives me to cry and release emotion. Sometimes life is overwhelming and if I gave into those feelings I would fall apart. Crying 'along' with someone else releases the tension without my caving in.

cj Schlottman said...


This post get me thinking! I have resisted those programs for years, thinking they were, as you said, a waste of time. But you know what? I record NCIS, House, Grey's Anatomy and a couple of more programs to watch over weekends and when I need a break from writing. Same think, no?

Embrace your TV addiction! Own it! You are in a world of company.


PS - Thank you so very much for your lovely and encouraging comment on "Hurts So Good..........." I value your input.
As always, I love reading your work.

Deb Shucka said...

Boy, I hear you - both sides of you. I'm a sap for So You Think You Can Dance, and cry almost every week over something. It's the tender dreams and shining possibilities that get me every time. And then I think about all the other things I could be doing with my time that might be more productive. Not enough to stop watching, though. :-)