Why am I hesitant to admit there are TV shows I like?

I’m not a couch potato—given the opportunity I’d almost always rather do something else than watch TV. There is a life to be lived that doesn’t involve being stationary: Friends to be visited with, sights to see, walks to take … life outside of the TV room—as comfortable and inviting as ours is to lounge in.

I’m a multi-tasker. For me, it’s easy to do many things while listening to a TV show—only paying attention when my ear sends a note to my brain that something interesting is taking place on the screen. In the evenings when my husband and I are hanging out, fighting over which channel to let the remote stop on (he is bigger and mostly wins), I’m on the computer doing something. It can be answering emails, updating my LinkedIn profile, maybe doing a little project work.

But there are a handful of shows that attract my full attention because of the character nuances and growth, or plots that you have to pay attention to, or in the case of Person of Interest, because James Caviezel is so darned handsome I enjoy watching him.

1950s television set
Our parents’ first TV

Television is Fun

I love TV shows where the actors play characters who don’t even own TVs. Don’t you find the irony of that delightful? We support their careers by watching the show they’re in even though their character doesn’t. Makes me laugh.

When I’m sick, all I want is to be left alone, in front of the TV with a stack of 1940 films on DVD. Give me Grace, Humphrey, Cary and Katharine … I’ll feel better in no time.

In our culture, if you admit liking TV, there’s almost an instant judgment by the person you’re talking with. Like Malcolm Gladwell’s, Blink, only not with people themselves, but what they enjoy. I do it when someone tells me they like Survivor or Ice Road Trucking. Really? My brain doesn’t understand the attraction of reality TV. I don’t watch the news (reading online headlines is fine) because I get bombarded with enough reality through living an active life. Why do I want more of it coming at me when I’m trying to relax?

Again–Not a Potato

I want to be perceived as an energetic, accomplishing, striving person. That doesn’t fit with the persona of me as someone who enjoys:

  • Leverage (I love that the good guys win and have so much fun doing it)
  • Criminal Minds (I love that the good guys win most of the time and that the characters have grown as unique individuals over the years)
  • CSI and Major Crimes (because—you guessed a theme here, didn’t you? The good guys almost always win and the characters continue to grow and evolve).

I’m a novelist. I’m an avid reader of novels and love being entertained by books where something has changed for the characters from the start of the novel until the end. They have opened themselves up to something new, they’re taking on a new challenge, they have revealed some inner portion of themselves, no matter how small, to the world at large, and for them, that was a risk.

Watching TV as a reader

The TV shows I like resemble the novels I love to read. They operate below the surface from where sitcoms generally do and something in them nags at something in me until maybe I’m changing a preconceived notion; I’m opening my eyes to something outside my usual realm of experience. I am, perhaps, changing a bit just as I see characters doing.

What about you? What shows do you like (please, someone explain the reality TV attraction!) and why? Maybe when you share, I’ll  learn a little bit about you … and myself.


Read: Follow your bliss