I’m not really sure how “normal” people watch TV, let alone how they talk about it.
I am confused by co-workers who say they love The Office, but don’t know the actors’ names. Or worse, the characters’ names. I get irrationally angry with friends who watch things out of order, or in pieces, or who don’t feel the need to pay attention to every line. I can’t stand it when people talk through scenes or leave the room or fall asleep. And I embarrass myself when I do land in a conversation about television, struggling to find the line between a water-cooler chat about LOST and a Doc Jensen column. After all, it was fandom that taught me how to talk about TV.
As a result, I’m never comfortable having conversations about television with people I didn’t meet on the internet–or with people who I can’t trust to love me even after they have to listen to a fifteen minute rant about Amy Sherman-Palladino and character assassination on Gilmore Girls. I’m not even really comfortable discussing TV in public. I get overly verbose, overly emotional…perhaps this is an ironic statement from someone who has just started a blog about TV, but I often find words insufficient when I try to discuss television. I am reduced to flailage and capslocking and excessive use of !!!!!!!s (or whatever the verbal equivalents would be).
I suspect that the way I feel about television has affected the way those around me feel about television, or at least the way they watch it. Nearly all of my friends are involved in fandom to some extent, and a few of them were before we met, but would they all be fully functioning fangirls if we had never roomed together? Would my mother be able to participate in my rants about character assassination on Gilmore Girls if I weren’t her daughter, or would my sister be tumbling about her Dawson’s Creek rewatch, or would my father be lending me his DVDs of The Wire? How has my obsession with television affected the lives of those around me?
I know I’m not the only person whose heart wells up with so much passion for the medium, the internet has taught me this, but I also know that the average television viewer is more casual. Less inclined to perusing and parsing the text and subtext of a series. Not everyone has to watch everything in order. Not everyone has to keep track of the details.
What must the Emmys be like if you’re just a casual TV viewer? I find them ecstatic, entirely joyful–even when I’m watching my favorites lose–but every year I hear complaints that they’re boring and stale. What does a show like Breaking Bad look like if you haven’t seen every episode? Doesn’t it bother you to find that you’re missing information? Don’t you want all the pieces of the puzzle?
I doubt that I’ll ever be someone who can watch TV casually–I think at this point I’ve invested too much time and energy into it to give up or let go–but I do wonder what it’s like for the rest of the world, for the people who just decide to skip a week of Modern Family, or to only catch the second half of an episode of Parenthood. Maybe the people who can do that just don’t care…but I have to think they’re missing out on all the fun.