I Watch TV

free-television-3“I don’t watch TV,” a woman said to me not long ago, a self-righteous tone in her voice. “Except Downton Abbey.” Wow. I didn’t know how to respond to this, other than a feeble, “I watch TV.” Of course, that got me wondering, why do people think that reading books is so much better for you than watching a show on television? And if you do watch TV, why is Masterpiece Classic the only acceptable format?

Here’s how I feel: a good story is a good story, no matter the medium. I’ve read terrible books and I’ve watched fantastic television series. It doesn’t matter to me how the story is conveyed; what is important to me is the story itself.

In the past month I’ve started three novels, all of which got good reviews, only to put them down because they did not engage me. In this same month I finally started watching Breaking Bad, which has me so engaged I feel like I need to watch it EVERYDAY. I’m watching Avatar: The Last Airbender for the third time because it’s such a fabulous story.

From a writer’s perspective, Breaking Bad has taught me a great deal about pacing and character development. Avatar has also taught me about character development and using parallels. I can get that from books too, of course, but I’m not about to rule out good storytelling just because the medium is often considered low-brow.

And let’s not forget about all the “classic” novels that were once considered low-brow, but are now in our canon of “great literature.” The novels of Charles Dickens and Mark Twain would have been spoken about in the same tone of voice that some use for TV. They were considered uncouth and undignified. Look at them now, read in literature classes everywhere!

I love a good story. I don’t care if it comes from books, movies, comic books, songs, a youtube video, or your eight year old son regaling me about his day. And I certainly don’t care if it comes from television. Yes, I watch TV.

What about you? Do you watch TV? What are your favorite shows? If you don’t, why not?

4 thoughts on “I Watch TV”

  1. I dumped my TV around 10 years ago when my mother died. She loved watching the Food Channel and the news, but I was less and less interested in what I saw on the tube. Cost in time and money is certainly a factor. I didn’t have the money to switch to HDTV, and the price of cable is outrageous IMHO. I don’t despise TV, just grudge the time needed to sort out the wheat from the chaff. I love Law & Order, and am working my way through the series via Netflix. When a series becomes popular, I will check it out via Netflix, and if I like it, I’ll watch it. Game of Thrones is amazing, and I wait eagerly for each season to become available. I started Sons of Anarchy, but dropped out due to the soap-opera, one-damned-thing-after-another pacing that began to bore me as I gradually lost interest in who killed John Teller and why, and what happens to the characters. Jumped the shark in the third season with the trip to Ireland. I do miss TV when a major news story breaks, but that doesn’t happen often enough for me to be willing to bite the bullet to pay for it.

    1. kimberlysbarton

      I haven’t had cable for about 15 years. It’s too expensive. I agree about SOA jumping the shark with the Ireland trip. It got better again after that. But I also agree that the pacing in that show is too fast all the time. They need to build in some more downtime. The writers could learn from Breaking Bad on that front.

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