a post of imelda's turned me on to "you are what you watch" from alessandra stanley in today's times. as imelda put it, "[B]efore I start getting crap for talking about TV all the time, now that the other three networks (or should I say, the good networks) are beginning their seasons in the coming week, read this." it is quite the feel-good read for those of us who love the tube:
A favorite show is a tip-off to personality, taste and sophistication the way music was before it became virtually free and consumed as much by individual song as artist. Dramas have become more complicated; many of the best are serialized and require time and sequential viewing. If anything, television has become closer to literature, inspiring something similar to those fellowships that form over which authors people say they would take to the proverbial desert island. (People who say “Ulysses,” on the ground that it would use up more time than almost any other novel, would also probably bring “The Wire.”)


Television used to be dismissed by elitists as the idiot box, a sea of mediocrity that drowns thought and intelligent debate. Now people who ignore its pools and eddies of excellence do so at their own peril. They are missing out on the main topic of conversation at their own table.
the paragraphs on battlestar galactica are especially ego-boosting, as it's our current show of choice (i'm going to try to be starbuck for halloween, which will be either fantastic or deeply embarrassing). of course, the ego boost is all about the elitism stanley mentions near the end of the piece:
Before the Internet, iPhones and flash drives, people jousted over who was into the Pixies when they were still a garage band or who could most lengthily argue the merits of Oasis versus Blur. Now, for all but hardcore rock aficionados, one-upmanship is more likely to center around a television series — like metaphysical clues buried in “Lost,” whether the current “Battlestar Galactica” is an affront to the 1978 original (some bloggers sneeringly refer to the current incarnation as Gino, short for “Galactica in name only”* ) or who discovered “Flight of the Conchords” when it was a comedy team performing in concerts, not an HBO series.
good tv isn't really new, nor is the concept of water cooler and/or status shows, but its influence in, say, my office is still pretty incredible. when i was hiring someone for my old job, my cube neighbors less-than-half-jokingly said i should try to find someone who watches lost, the office, and 30 rock. i did, as it happens, and her happy patter with them emphasizes my comparative tv torpitude (i watch only lost, and i usually watch it a day late, which disqualifies me from the first half hour of chat on thursday mornings). pop media fixations are par for the course at a mainstream magazine like ours, of course - our tuesday production meeting began this week with the deputy editor leading the editorial staff in a lengthy facts of life singalong. does this happen at your office? and hey, what do you watch?

*they're right about that, thank goodness.


sara said...

what i watch? oh dear, right now it's only what netflix sends me. which means i'm finally watching the 5th season of "alias" (thankfully cancelled. this seasons is killing me & i never saw it when it aired) and just now getting hooked on "lost" (omg! where have i been?). it also means i'm tackling classic films like "endless summer" and "one flew over the cuckoo's nest" though, so yeah for me.

tom said...

Well, in the year I went without TV (Synergy, naturally), I got unhooked from series, and never picked it back up. I can't tell you a series that I watch religiously. I used to be a Law & Order junkie, but I can't tell you the last time I saw a new show.

Back in the TV-less days, I used to grab news clips off the net and go to Tressider to watch a game or two. The Super Bowl that year was in the CoHo for me.

A long way home, of course, for this breaking news... CoHo? C'est fini, per the Daily. They moved the coffee houses and other stuff into Old Union, apparently, while Tressider becomes the monolithic administrative space that it, well, always was designed to be.

Still, it was one of the pre-fab cute things about Stanford, with its nicknames. CoHo, CoPo, ProFro, FroSoCo, etc. But life changes. Fail and harewell, then.

valya said...

regarding the facts of life singalong: yes, it has happened my office! it wasn't in a staff meeting, but it did involve people singing over cube walls, and also trying to remember all the words to the theme song for growing pains.

on a slightly related note, and in the spirit of the upcoming season, i offer this.

lauren said...

S: i can't even talk about the way alias ended. it - no, too painful.

T: i mock the battlestar purists, but that's how i feel about the my beloved stanford coffeehouse - that thing was coho in name only by the time we left (actually, by the time i got back from england in '99 - it figures that they didn't have the balls to rehab it on my watch). to me, coho means those big old lumpy railroad tie tables, the awkward tchotchke-covered beams above the counter, no starbucks coffee (o prescient gaieties!), and NO DAMN TV. i have no tears for the 2007 version.

V: we don't even have a halloween party! unjust!

Meg said...

On real live tv: Weeds, Big Love, Entourage, and SADLY The Hills (ironically, but that's no excuse, but such good mocking fun after a long day of work). Hum, I'm not a network person, huh?
Of course we L-O-V-E our BBC, but we have to get that netflix style. Prime Suspect (best! so sad it's over), Foyles War (mmmmmm.... great....), and sometimes a Midsommer Murders to relax.
My british taste is clearly much more pithy then my american taste.

sharon said...

this week, I'm watching Ken Burn's documentary The War on PBS.

I watch Prison Break, but late [thank goodness for iTunes] and Lost [c'mon, January!]

i like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report but i can't stay up to watch 'em so i catch up via Comedy Central dot com. i'm also an occasional view of Big Love.