...Now that I've recovered slightly from the tiredness of Vegas, and the shock of the taxes, I think I can start putting coherent thoughts together again. And this time I'm talking about television. No, not movies, but that's coming soon....
Week before last, or so, I heard a DJ on a local radio station go on about how much he loves watching NCIS - it's his television crack. But it's bad writing, bad acting, jokes that aren't funny - so why does he keep watching? He asked people who love the show to call in and explain to him why. I got out of the car and went into my office and knew why instantly - it's because Mark Harmon is so darn cute. That's why I watch that show.
But that doesn't get to the heart of this individual's problem - why does he love bad television? First thing I thought of was trainwreck television. Then he went on to mention that he checked his Netflix queue and was going to be receiving Category 6: Day of Destruction and was thrilled.
I mean, if you really want trainwreck television it's a made-for-TV miniseries about a hurricane that hits Chicago and takes out the entire US. With Brian Dennehy - because anything he is in can usually be classified as a trainwreck - it's horrible to see, but it's also so horrid that you can't tear your eyes away - usually in the hope that something good will come of it, but that's usually limited to the end credits rolling.
I differentiate trainwreck television from trainwreck movies (something that I'll wax on about another time) because while a trainwreck movie could be a guilty pleasure (like 'Dirty Dancing' - we know we don't watch it because of the story or acting, it's seeing Patrick Swayze looking so darn hot while dancing so smoothly), trainwreck television is on every single week. And you keep watching.
Why? What makes something so awful so worth watching? Let's use what DH affectionately calls "American Idiot" as an example. What is so good about watching a show that's really the offspring of Star Search and The Gong Show, with even more cutting remarks and limits on the ages of the performers? Honestly... I can't find anything compelling about it - not even in the audition rounds at the beginning where we have to hear all the screechers who think they can sing. What the heck is the appeal?
Same goes for 'The Amazing Race' which is my newest television crack. The whole family watches this one, because we rather like cheering on the people who we want to fail. This one I can't explain - why do we want to watch the people fail? Why are we happy about it when the ones we enjoy do well? It's not like we actually know these people, or are ever going to see them again anywhere (except at the finish line/last episode of the race). Is it an underlying need to be a voyeur - after all, with the reality shows you get to see someone's fears, fights, and sometimes a really good mental breakdown without having the uncomfortable issue of being right there and not knowing what to do. No fuss, no mess. And who doesn't like watching a good mental breakdown on television?
Why do we love trainwreck television? Is it because it's so bad that it's good? Is it because we all secretly love some guilty pleasure that everyone else pans horribly? Is it pity? Is it because we actually feel bad for these shows that have rankings close to the triple digits when it comes to how popular a show is - kind of like the kid on the playground that nobody likes but you really feel sorry for them and tend to talk to them when nobody else is looking? Or is it because everyone (including the discriminating television viewer) can find something redeeming in really bad television...
...speaking of, I need to set the DVR. NCIS is on tonight.