To kick off the month, I want to talk about why I love television. What is it about this medium that makes me want to write about it on a blog and spend my free time watching it or discussing it?
To start on the most basic level, I watch TV because it makes me happy. It’s an activity that I enjoy so therefore want to spend my time doing. The short episode lengths make it easy to fit into my day. I can keep track of several shows at once, so I always have something to fit my mood.
If that were as deeply as I wanted to think about my love of TV, that would be fine but then I wouldn’t be me. The “examined” part of this blog name isn’t just about looking at trends in television or looking at larger societal implications of what we are watching. It’s about looking deeply at yourself and using your consumption of television to tell you more about yourself. It’s an introspective process and one I very much enjoy.
So I ask again, why do I love television? In many ways, I love it for the same reason I love books and reading. I like visiting a world that is unfamiliar to me. I don’t live in Westeros, I haven’t just gotten out of jail, I’m not attempting to become a meth kingpin, and I don’t solve crimes with my fiancee while wearing great coats and having fabulous hair. My everyday life is not filled with Ron Swansons, Don Drapers, or Jed Bartlets. Through fiction, I get to “meet” a variety of people and for a short while, become immersed in their world.
I love it for the length of time we get to spend with the characters. Even in a short TV show, we can still spend 4-5 hours with the characters, getting to know the different facets of their personalities. I want to get to know who the characters are and how they ended up where they are when we come across their lives. I want backstory and motivations that can be doled out in pieces that can both inform and reconceptualize the way we see the character going forward. I want little details, like Danny Castellano’s love of building gingerbread estates, that seem ridiculous but somehow make perfect sense for that character. I want the joy that I get everytime Leslie and Ben mention the wallflower mural because I know its significance for the characters.
I don’t just want to know the characters, I want to find ones that I identify with or look up to. I love finding a character in whom I can see myself and I want to see them grow and change and fall in love and meet their goals head-on because it inspires me to do the same thing. I want that level of emotional connection and the amount of time we spend with the characters makes it ideally suited for that.
I love it because people talk about it with such enthusiasm. It doesn’t matter whether it is the latest episode of whatever prestige drama happens to be airing at the time or the latest episode of a teen drama, television makes people excited. To make it better, it’s relatively easy to find people who are excited about the same show you are.
I love the way that TV fans of all sorts come together to form a community. TV fans all have that show that they love so much that has touched them so deeply that it’s become a part of who they are. We all have that show that was cancelled too early. We’ve all experienced the heartbreak of a character death and we’ll all experienced the euphoria that comes from a truly exceptional episode of TV. There is a shared understanding even when the shows you love are different.
I love it because of the people who spend their time writing about it. I love reading critics’ reviews and industry analysis. A well-written review can deepen my experience with the episode when I agree with it or help me see things from a different perspective when I don’t. Industry analysis just excites me on an academic level because it’s something I enjoy learning about. Looking at long-term trends and how that may or may not reflect societal pressures is incredibly facsinating to me.
More than anything, I love television because without it, I never would have gotten the chance to make some incredible friends who have made my life so much happier. We’ve bonded and shared so much of ourselves through our many discussions about the shows, characters, and relationships we love and the reasons why we connect to them so strongly. While television isn’t directly responsible for those friendships, it has been a wonderful facilitator.
Television entertains me, touches me, excites me, and fulfills my academic curiosities. It brings me joy (and occasionally disappointment). It’s something I can have fun with, something that can make me see the world differently, take me to new worlds, and better understand my own. So I talk about it, read about it, watch an awful lot of it, and simply love it.
Since you’re on a blog all about television, I assume you love it as much as I do, so tell me all about what makes TV special to you. What makes you love it?