“What Do You Mean, You Don’t Like TV?”

By Hannah Wisterman
Blog Content Contributor

Television has shaped the culture of our nation and indeed of our globe for practically 70 years now. It has an enormous impact on how we perceive social issues, what we find funny, the fashion trends we follow, the one-liners and in-jokes we slip into everyday conversation; in short, to be “with the times”, it would seem that you need to watch TV. Spoiler alert: you actually don’t.

Here’s the thing: I’ve never watched—and have no intention of watching—Rick and Morty, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Grey’s Anatomy, or How to Get Away with Murder. I don’t even really have an interest in (brace yourself) The Office. But through the magic of Twitter, I still know all the characters and major plot points of each of these shows. I’m still well versed in TV show memes, even without ever having followed the shows themselves. So, you don’t need to worry about me “missing out”. Trust me, I get the jokes, at least most of the time. And you’d be surprised how many people like me exist. Granted, not all of us are as bold about it as I’ve gotten–just think of how many people have guiltily whispered, “I’ve never actually seen Parks and Rec.”

But why? When all your friends are talking Walking Dead and you have nothing to offer, shouldn’t you bite the bullet and do it to be social? To buy into a popular advertising technique, shouldn’t you want to know what the hype is about? Not necessarily. Think of it this way: pies, cake, cookies, and ice cream are all forms of dessert, the same way that TV shows, movies, books, and podcasts are all forms of entertainment. Some people prefer pie; some people prefer movies. Some people don’t really like sweets; some people don’t really like to consume a lot of media. TV’s not my favorite form of entertainment. It isn’t for a lot of other people, too.

Objectively, it’s not surprising why; there are plenty of reasons some people might not find TV as enjoyable. It’s a huge time suck, shows with large arcs take more mental focus and emotional commitment, and sometimes you just get tired of the formula. TV writers have to tell more stories in less time than movie writers do, in a sense, and so sometimes the quality of writing is just not where you want it to be. Even the fact that so many shows are so ubiquitous can be a turn off for people who burn out on things quickly. (For example, if one more person tells me to watch season two of Stranger Things, I will actually scream. Justice for Barb? No. Justice for me.) This isn’t to say that TV is bad! I’ve picked the handful of (mostly cancelled) TV shows that I enjoy, and so I know that it can be really entertaining. But by and large, it’s not for me, and I bet there’s someone in your life who feels the same.

I understand that this might seem like a fruitless argument. Non-TV-watchers aren’t really ostracized, per se, but it’s still high time someone took a stand and spelled out why TV isn’t as universal as most people think. If you’re considering hawking your favorite show to someone, really consider why you’re doing it, and if your target would really enjoy it. Do you just want another talking point, or will your friend really get something special out of it? Think critically about why you enjoy what you do, and please God, don’t freak out on others who already know what they’re looking for. I’m not a freak for not really caring for TV. You’re not a freak for not liking my preferred mediums, either. Now please, stop telling me to watch The Office.

Featured image via Pixabay.

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