We’ve all experienced that brief moment of crisis, those few seconds of rapidly and exponentially mounting tension, when the television fades to black and remains obstinately so for just a tad bit too long. Milliseconds, probably, but it feels like… minutes.
Who knows… maybe some behind-the-scenes monkey dozed off and forgot to ensure that the cut to commercial break be as seamless as a Speedo. Or maybe the film editors got lazy. Or maybe you were watching something directed by David Lynch, in which case everything is intended to make you uncomfortable.
The thing is… we’re so used to sharp, quick, smooth cuts, cuts that leave no room for even the smallest lapse of attention. After all, can’t let those eyes wander. So when you’re sitting next to your homie on the futon watchin the boob tube while your buttery hands duke it out in the popcorn bowl, and the screen suddenly stays black for just a second too long… you are suddenly and rudely confronted with your own mortality.
Okay that may be a little dramatic. Or not. I mean I’m sitting there, blissfully allowing myself to indulge in the cheap and readily available form of escape that television provides, when suddenly my reflection, alongside that of whoever is bored enough to be watching television with me, is on the screen and will not go away.
I almost can’t breathe until the screen lights up again, and, with a sigh of relief, I can bask in the warm, familiar comfort of Alex Trebek doing something horribly condescending.
I think a large part of that panic, during those short moments, stems from the sudden and undeniable realization that I am, to boil it down, sitting still and staring straight ahead at a glowing box – an inanimate object that most certainly does not reciprocate my tender sentiments. Oh, the horror.
Watching television: the anti-hobby of slightly shamefaced people everywhere.
It’s true. Rarely does a hefty portion of TV come without a side of guilt and a dash of self-loathing. Forgive the cheesy cooking metaphors. (And that half-assed pun).
I mean, you probably didn’t intend, when you first pressed that seductively circled red play button, to spend fourteen consecutive hours watching Downton Abbey (or Walking Dead, or Game of Thrones, or Pretty Little Liars…) on your computer, lying on top of crumpled sheets and an ever-accumulating nest of crumbs. When you finally dragged yourself out of bed to brush your teeth at 3:30am, you probably weren’t thinking, Yes! I can check THAT off my to-do list!
More realistically, at least based on my own personal experience, while scrubbing those pearly whites you were probably slowly and painfully coming to terms with the fact that you do not live in early 20th century Britain, that you do not have to worry about Germans, and that you do, in fact, have to wake up in four hours.
When I watch TV, I don’t just watch TV. (I mean, come on, I went to Princeton.)
Oh dear GOD I hope you know how nauseatingly sarcastic that was meant to be.
But seriously I speculate about everything. My mind goes in five million different directions at once. I don’t know if this is normal. You be the judge.
Some of the things that went through my head while watching Game of Thrones the other day:
- Wow, it would really suck to get beheaded.
- How do these elusive HBO puppet masters know what the bloody neck-stump looks like immediately after cranial detachment? (Just coined that term, suck it). Do they have to perform an experimental beheading for research purposes?
- I’m really glad I wasn’t alive back then. Wait, this is a fantasy world.
- Where are they shooting this? Is that a green screen? Is this where they shot Lord of the Rings? It would be so cool if they combined Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones all together… breaking the boundaries of fiction… a clash of worlds. I should write a screenplay. Actually probably a lot of people would hate that.
- Are they naturally that blonde?
- Are these people friends in real life? Are they dating? Do they like each other?
- Right after the shooting of a particularly ridiculous sex scene, do they just fall down laughing? Or do they take themselves very seriously? Do the people who do full-frontal nudity just walk around naked on set?
- Does she let her mother watch this???
- How many naked people did the casting directors (get to?) perv on before they made their decisions?
- What if the characters had iPhones? Then they could just text each other instead of sending crows.
- I wonder if they let her keep that outfit.
These thoughts are only a little different from those I have when I watch Friends:
- Did Matthew Perry hate being Chandler? Was he self-loathing? Did he groan every week when he read the next episode’s script, and count the number of horrid jokes he would be forced to deliver?
- This is so unrealistic. If Rachel and Phoebe are talking in the kitchen, obviously Joey and Chandler would be able to hear them six feet away on the couch.
- Why is Rachel wearing a sundress alone in the house while she does the dishes? Who does that? Where are the sweatpants?
- What time of day is it? Why aren’t they at work? Why can’t I see a clock? Why do they have serious relationship talks in front of everyone?
I know, I know, I’m daggering you with my hilarity. I’ll stop. Feel free to email me for the complete and unabridged list of thoughts I have while watching sitcoms.
Let’s open this to discussion! What do you think about when you watch TV?
(If anyone puts that they don’t watch TV, they will find themselves to be the subject of my next post and it will not be flattering. Muahaha).