Television is roundly criticized as a colossal waste of time. Granted, there’s a lot of crap on television that deserves to be ridiculed, but I’m here to tell you that there is a lot of quality television available as well. You just have to do some legwork (sample a lot of awful shows) to find the gems.
There are two basic categories of shows – network television and cable television. In general, the drama and comedy series on cable, such as those on HBO or Showtime, are superior to those on network television, such as ABC or Fox. But the seasons are relatively short for the cable shows. A typical run will be 12 consecutive, weekly shows, which are completed in three months. Most network shows spread 20 – 25 episodes out over approximately eight months.
Believe it or not (for those who know me, this is sarcasm), I keep a spreadsheet of the cable television shows I watch, how many seasons have been completed, and when or if the next season will begin. I don’t know why I make so many spreadsheets. You may as well ask me why I breathe so often.
Kim doesn’t care for television. She has only a few shows that she watches during the week, and I watch those with her. Other than that, I tend to record most of the programs that I’m interested in and watch them the next day while Kim is at work, rather than watching them live in the evening while ignoring Kim. Also, by viewing recorded shows I’m able to fast-forward through the commercials. This is particularly important during a political season, which seems to be most of the time these days.
Here is a list of the TV series that I watch on cable. I have rated each show on a scale of 1 to 10 for overall quality.
- Boardwalk Empire 6 (would get a higher rating if not for the over-the-top, gratuitous violence)
- Curb Your Enthusiasm 8
- Girls 7 (apparently I’m not too old and too male to watch this show)
- The Newsroom 7
- Veep 8
- The Big C 7
- Californication 6
- Episodes 7
- Homeland 9
- House of Lies 4 (I’ve put it on probation)
- Nurse Jackie 8
- Shameless 7
- Breaking Bad (AMC) 9
- Downton Abbey (PBS) 8
- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) 6
- The League (FX) 6
- Mad Men (AMC) 9
- Portlandia (IFX) 6
- 30 Rock B (series finale this week)
- The Big Bang Theory A+
- Community C
- Cougar Town C (I’m hoping that this improves now that they are on TBS)
- Grey’s Anatomy C
- How I Met Your Mother A
- The Middle B
- Modern Family A
- The Office B
- Parks and Recreation A
- Smash (I fast-forward through most of the singing and dancing) B
- Two and a Half Men B (same rating I would’ve given it with Charlie Sheen)
- Whitney B (I think I’m in love)
- 60 Minutes
- American Idol- once they are down to the final 12 (not sure I’m going to watch it at all this season)
- The Colbert Report
- The Daily Show
- Saturday Night Live
- The Today Show
- The Voice
- Sports, lots of sports
- News, lots of news (but usually it’s just on in the background because it tends to drive me crazy)
I watch a lot more TV during the winter. In the summer, Kim is off for about eight weeks, and there are so many more options for passing the time in the real world. Even in the spring and fall when I can get outdoors by myself during the day, the television sits idle for long periods of time. But in the winter, if not for television I am certain that I would go stir crazy.
If television were my only answer to the question “What Do I Do All Day?”, then I would have a problem. But that’s far from reality, as you will see in my subsequent posts on this topic. To a certain extent TV educates me and makes me a more informed and well-rounded person. But primarily it just makes me happy, and isn’t that what entertainment is for.
I look forward to your comments about specific shows, and about television watching in general.
Here are my other posts in this series:
2. I Digitize and Archive Family Photos and Videos
3. I Read Books
4. I Attend Courses at Top Universities (sort of)
5. I Nap
6. I Blog