Dedicated and sharp-memoried readers may remember the milestone day back in January when I finally abandoned the rabbit ears and stepped up to basic cable. Remember how excited I was just to have TBS at my welcome disposal? Imagine my surprise and wonder when suddenly I could make Jon Stewart appear in my living room as well!
Naturally, I was skeptical of the whole event. Just like Joey and Chandler, the time they found a free porn channel and didn't want to turn off the TV for fear that they'd never get it back again ("Then we'd be the guys who turned off free porn!"), I was equally leery about switching off my set. I thought whatever wires had unexpectedly crossed would suddenly cross back again. But I turned off the TV, turned it back on again, and Bravo was still there. So was VH1. And Comedy Central. And HGTV. And the ever amusingly predictable Lifetime Movie Network. All of them, right there, free of charge.
I figured maybe Time Warner was running some sort of trial period promotion and I'd simply missed the mailing about it. You know--trying to hook me on the good stuff so that when they took it away again, I'd miss it and pony up. But a week went by, then two, then several more, and the free cable never vanished from my home. I waited for my next bill, thinking surely some customer service rep screwed up and put in an order for me, and that's how I ended up with the extra lineup. But nope, the bill came--$12 plus tax as usual. With the next bill, it was the same again. Who knows how long my luck will hold out. And more important, what's next? Will my crawl-along dialup connection miraculously change over to high-speed? Will my crappy-ass ancient cell phone suddenly morph into a multi-color display camera flip-phone with nationwide long distance and unlimited free roaming? The possibilities are endless, and the only question is the source of my good fortune. I've long been mocked and chided for my slow adoption of new technology; do I have an anonymous benefactor trying to bring me into the new century a few years late?
Despite how exciting this all is, however, what's surprising to me is how much I have not actually made use of all my new channels. I'm sure part of the problem is I'm just a creature of routine. I know that The Simpsons is on every weekday at 6:00 and 6:30, so if I'm home, I instinctively tune to that without bothering to explore what else might be available. And frankly, 60+ channels can be more than a bit overwhelming. I used to say I didn't need cable, that I watched enough TV without it and that, with cable, there can still be nothing on that I want to watch, but that it just takes four times as long to find that out. Oh, how foolish and wrong-headed I was. Nothing on that I want to watch? When I've got The Lost Boys, Drive Me Crazy, a My Fair Brady marathon, and old episodes of Little House on the Prairie all vying for my attention? Frankly it should be a wonder that I ever leave my house at all.
Still, despite how handy all these channels were during my Hangover Sunday a few weeks back, I really haven't been watching as much cable as I'd expect. For ages now, whenever someone talked about some apparently great and addictive show, I'd say, "Oh, I haven't seen that. I don't have cable." Now I can see that (whatever "that" is at any given time, shows on HBO and other premium channels withstanding), and yet, I'm still not watching them. It's as though I'm forgetting they're even available to me. I haven't even watched The Daily Show more than a handful of times, and I can offer no good or reasonable explanation for that.
Although The Daily Show is, in my mind, the greatest offense in this scenario, there are plenty of other shows that everyone but me is regularly partaking of as well. And with that long and explanatory intro, we finally arrive at my Friday Five.
Five shows I'm pretty sure I'm the only person not watching
- Laguna Beach
I'm sorry, but petulant and cosmically self-absorbed teenagers made all the more ego-maniacal by placing their tiny minds and social dramas in front of a gawking nationwide audience? I'm sure it's an addictive sort of train wreck to revel in with glee, but I've long ago kicked my Elimidate addiction, and I don't really need a new reason to hate myself at the moment.
I know this will be an unpopular and controversial statement, but, um, I've seen one and a half episodes, and I really don't get the hype. Is this one of those things that grows on you with a little more time, or am I just not nerdy or curious enough to fully appreciate this show? It doesn't really matter, I suppose, as it airs during my weekly yoga class and I'm therefore not apt to catch it unless I take the initiative to tape and watch it later. I'm not ruling out an eventual Mythbusters appreciation entirely, as it comes highly recommended by more than one very trusted and respected source and so I really feel I should give it a chance, but for now, I hate to say it: I'm not sold.
I know Jack Bauer is some kind of modern superhero or god; I'm just not exactly sure why and I don't particularly care if I find out.
Remember when Twin Peaks first started? How it was an intriguing little murder mystery that we just wanted to see through to the resolution? Remember how it was good for a while, with its twists and turns and wacky character development? And then suddenly it was all log ladies and paranormal entities named Bob and "Fire walk with me" and all that? Some people stuck with it until the end. I gave up long before that. I've never seen a full episode of Lost, and yet, based on other people's comments and complaints, I'm pretty sure I'd be similarly frustrated and done with it at this point if I had.
- Project Runway. And The Amazing Race. And Survivor. Oh, and Big Brother. Basically, if it falls under the category of the so-called "reality" show, it's probably safe to assume I'm not watching it. I know not all reality shows are inherently meritless and evil; I know they don't all siphon out brain cells the way The Bachelor and Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire surely did, but how do I know Project Runway isn't just a gateway drug to something worse? One day I'm innocently watching a single episode at a time; the next I'll be mainlining TLC marathons, discussing the latest developments on Dancing with the Stars, and desperately seeking out Temptation Island on DVD. Frankly, it's just not a risk I'm ready to take. And so, I stay away. It's just the way it is.
* At a loss for a title, I went with a Friends reference here. My other option was to work in some sort of "Please don't tell Time Warner about this" kind of plea, but I'm hoping that goes without saying... Right??