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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Television Therapy

I should probably never write a blog about television. Anyone who knows me knows about my long history of being obsessed with television, and it’s hard for me to tell the difference between a good conversation about TV and something really gratuitous and self-indulgent. I still regret explaining the entire plot of the season 5 finale of Friends to one of my buddies who obviously didn’t care and almost went into a coma, but anyway.

I feel bad for people who say they never watch TV, because it can be so helpful for releasing those endorphins. Others may drink, indulge in recreational drugs, or do other self-destructive activities to self-medicate when they SHOULD be attaching themselves to a show--but not just any old thing. I actually hate watching TV "for the sake of watching TV";  you must choose wisely, but it’s worth it. I've found that no matter what unpleasant feeling I happen to be feeling, there is a television show to help me out, at least for 30 minutes or so. I hope you consider this guide the next time you think about shooting up heroin; pick up the remote instead.

ANXIETY/DEPRESSION: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I’m not sure why this show makes me less afraid of life. Maybe it’s because the people are so horrible and always go through such horrible things, it kind of numbs you to horribleness? Almost. How about this: their world is so ridiculous, if you put it inside your brain, suddenly everything around you becomes ridiculous, too? That’s it. Not to mention the guys on the show are eye candy. (Well, except for Danny Devito.) And I’m not sure why, but every time Sweet Dee experiences emotional pain, especially relating to her scoliosis as a teenager, I feel better about my own scoliosis and my life.  I recommend a marathon of this show if you’re worried about something or feeling like your life is crap. It just helps. I can’t explain why.
(One of my favorite Charlie Day moments-- goin' postal.)


I can no longer tolerate shows with laugh tracks unless they were invented in the 90’s. Friends is one of those true blues. Reasons: it’s funny, there’s ten years worth of back story and inside jokes, Matthew Perry is adorable, and you know everything is going to be okay in the end. Plus, you can live vicariously through how much they all love each other. Is it sad to write that? But it’s true. Who has that tightness with their friends? And if you DO have that tightness, do you live across the hall from each other? Do you have hilarious Thanksgivings together? Do 1/3 of you end up in the same family through marriage (assuming Ross and Rachel get married some day)? Probably not. Watch Friends, feel the love.

(Actually, it's Miss Chanandoler Bong.)

INADEQUACY: Freaks & Geeks

It took me a while to “get” Freaks & Geeks. I was fifteen when I first saw it, and I was poisoned by the idea that everyone had to look good and talk in snippy dialogue on television. I thought this show was really dark and that the whole cast was ugly. But something kept me hanging on. Little by little, I realized that I was actually watching my own life on television. Suddenly, the show was hilarious and the entire cast was very attractive.

The premise is that normal things happen to normal kids. They don’t always say the right thing. There’s no big dramas. They like their parents. It’s amazing. Although, be warned, it will ruin television for you forever. Since Freaks & Geeks, if people look too nice or talk too eloquently, I have no interest in watching a show about them. You will always be comparing other shows to Freaks & Geeks and they will never live up. And the special collector’s edition DVDs are the best DVDs of all DVDs, and nothing will ever be as good as them, either. But anyway. The more you realize the characters’ ordinary lives are like your ordinary life, but you still want to watch them, the more interesting you and your own life becomes to yourself. It still works even if you’re no longer a teenager. I think it’s the only TV show I’ve ever watched that made me like myself more, and that’s a pretty powerful thing. I didn’t even know TV could do that.
(I didn't completely understand the show until this scene.)


What is it about a show where people are trapped on an island that makes you feel less trapped when you watch it? Of course there’s the escapist element. All the supernatural stuff/mysteries/ weird connections make you feel like possibilities are endless, and opportunities for meaning are endless. There’s also the fact that whoever these people were in real life doesn’t matter on the island; it’s just about your wit or your strength or whatever, so there’s that whole idea of reinvention too. I think I’m finally emotionally ready to watch this show again. I got the DVDs a year ago and they’ve just been chillin’ in my room since because it made me so sad in the last episode when blank laid down next to blank when blank blanked. Oh man. People, give it a chance. If you find it too confusing, maybe that’s not the show’s fault; maybe that’s because you’re stupid. If you don’t want me to think you’re stupid, then you should watch the show.
(This scene gave me nightmares the first time I saw it.)


I know this isn’t really an emotion, but it happens sometimes, right? When you just wish you lived in a rainy little town in a colorful, small flat and you had an accent? No? Just me? When it comes to The Offices, I do prefer the American one (so controversial!) but I feel like it fulfills in combination “anxiety/depression,” “loneliness,” and “inadequacy” for it’s own reasons. The British Office has a more quiet energy, which is preferable at times, and I like how Extras blends that same energy with more obvious humor, not to mention every episode features a celebrity making fun of themselves,  and who DOESN’T want to see that? I also just like watching British things sometimes because everyone is so frumpy, it makes me think that I’d be really hot if I lived in England.
(My favorite moment from Extras. See his pug nose face.)

So, there’s just a few suggestions. What shows would you suggest? Is there anything you watch to fulfill certain emotional needs or voids? Please share with us. And remember, the next time you’re reaching for that meth, reach for a DVD instead. Your welcome.


  1. Remember when our life kind of was like Friends because we did live across the hall from each other? And while we didn't have a laugh track, exactly, Roxy certainly provided an alternative "bark track." Thank you for not putting any mental hospital Lost clips here. I couldn't watch that without you. (Although, eventually, I suppose I will get to that episode and have to watch it without you.)

  2. Aww our life SO was like Friends for that one year! Can you imagine if Roxy took the place of laugh tracks? Probably no one would ever watch shows like Two and a Half Men. Yeah, I knew I had to find a scary Lost clip, but one that was also tolerable. I kind of feel like watching Lost and crocheting tonight. You should be here!

  3. Maybe we should just write to whoever is in charge of the department now and teach at NMHU again and get our old apartments back and pretend we live in a tv show. I know that nobody would watch shows if Roxy took the place of laugh tracks, though.

  4. Awesome conversation going on here :-)

    Also, my Netflix queue just got longer :-/