Friday, February 16, 2007

Palatable TV

It takes a lot to get me to start watching a new TV show. For one thing, I prefer to read. I like to create my own mental pictures. For another, so much of what’s on TV is so lame. About eight or so years ago, I basically stopped watching new shows. For a brief period before we got TiVo, I stopped watching TV altogether (except for football, which I can’t give up, despite several attempts, the most recent on the heels of the disastrous refereeing mistakes of two seasons ago). The shows weren’t great and the commercials just made me angry. They were so stupid and sexist – vis-à-vis both men and women. Women were portrayed as maids, mommies or sex kittens; men were portrayed as morons with more testosterone than is really reasonable. Luckily, TiVo came along and made it possible for me to watch TV commercial-free. I haven’t watched anything in real time for years.

Anyway, thanks to my no-new-shows policy, we totally missed the first two seasons of The Sopranos. So many people recommended it, though, that we decided we might be missing too much by not watching it. (A rudimentary knowledge of pop culture always comes in handy.) We spent a weekend watching those first two seasons back-to-back on DVDs. It was amazing to get so steeped in a show and its characters. We felt as if we were in the show – we locked the doors, eyed each other suspiciously, decided our neighbor was probably in the Witness Protection Program, wondered if the crossing guard on the corner worked for the FBI, and ate Italian food for several days.

Now, there’s The Wire. Wow! We were recently alerted to its existence (thank you, Charlie) and told it was incredible. Turns out we’ve missed four whole seasons, which has led to a gratifyingly tall pile of DVDs on the coffee table. The show is great – really complex and layered and human. It actually has a couple of ironic, interesting, strong female characters, too (something I thought had been outlawed in TV production land). We watched the first episode one night, then watched 6 or 7 in a row the next afternoon-into-evening. As before, it was wonderful to get immersed in another world – much more like reading than like watching TV. Can’t wait to make another big dent in the stack of DVDs and see what happens next – maybe tomorrow. And, for some reason, I made the Ziti al Forno from the Sopranos cookbook for dinner.

1 comment:

Zoe said...

This sounds just like my story -- I usually watch little to no TV. After hearing endless good things about Sopranos (and James Gandolfini was, oddly enough, the speaker at my graduation in 2007), my boyfriend and I bought the whole series and watched every episode several months ago. It exceeded my expectations.

Last week, I caved and bought seasons 1-4 of The Wire, and we're slowly being sucked in...!