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I love TV, and I’m not ashamed!


Back in the year 2000, I started watching a TV show called The West Wing and loved it. That was the good. The bad? I started watching from the second season premiere and we had no Hulu, no Netflix, and no BitTorrent for me to watch the first season. It was the dark times, younglings. (We did have IRC sharing channels, newsgroups and FTP queues, but we also had dial-up*. Oh, dial-up.)

So, what was a girl to do? Well, she got on the interwebs and got a fan to send her ten VHS tapes containing copies of copies of the episodes. Shipping cost at least twenty dollars and thirty seconds of one episode was overridden by a California emergency weather alert, but they were watchable and that’s what we had, so we made do.

But now, now we have DVDs and Netflix streaming and life is good! Life is fantastic! Now entire seasons of television shows are available to watch in binge marathons on the weekends. It has transformed the way I watch TV, no longer parceled out in bite-size pieces every week, but watched as a detailed season-long story arc. You don’t want to read a chapter of a book every week. You want to read the whole book at once, and that’s what is possible now, which is what’s great. And I love it, because I think the televised season-long story arc is one of my favorite forms of storytelling, if not the most favorite. (So says the book author who reminds you to love books and buy books, especially my books!)

A season of a television show gives you more time to meet the characters, tell the stories and flesh things out. When I compare Friday Night Lights the movie and Friday Night Lights the television show’s first season, the TV show wins. Both have excellent production values and great acting, but you can tell so much more story with umpteen hours of TV than you can in two hours of movie. And you can tell it’s good because I do not care an iota about football and still love that show.

It seems like TV is looked down on as inferior to movies, but I don’t think that’s a valid stereotype. The quality of TV shows has gotten so good in the past few decades that they’re just as good if not better than many movies. You’ve got accomplished actors of stage and screen appearing in shows, like Laura Linney in “The C Word” or Anna Paquin in the hit “True Blood.” And now with our smartphones and media players, it is becoming less important where you watch a show. You can watch it almost anywhere.

I love good TV shows. I love that I can watch them in my house and not at a theatre with chatty couples and the distracting light of someone texting in the second row. I love that there is so much more to devour and enjoy than in movies. I love that the characters continue to change and grow more than they typically have space to do in films. I love talking about TV shows with my friends. I love TV!

And I love that TV comes on DVD, so I don’t have to wait through commercials. I love that it’s available online, legally, so I don’t really have to pay for cable if I don’t want to. I particularly love it when I discover a great show after it’s been on the air for five years. Then I get to watch seasons of it back to back, not waiting long summers for the resolution to cliffhangers. So thank you DVD and the Internet. And thank you TV!

* If you don’t know what any of that means, don’t worry. You don’t need to and it probably means you actually interacted with human beings as a teenager.

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K • August 26, 2010 at 8:51 am

This happened to me too! I don’t like to invest the time into watching a story that ends after two hours (i.e. a movie). I’m in it for the long haul. It started with West Wing. Then it was Lost. Now it’s 24. I love TV on DVD.


fd • August 26, 2010 at 9:07 am

I love TV too. Really really really. And I’ve found bringing boxsets of tvshows with me for laptop dvd watching when I’m travelling for work has made journeys infinitely shorter and evenings less lonely. Sometimes I get quite afraid though when I calculate exactly how many hours of my life I have spent watching and rewatching the West Wing. And sometimes I hear about a tv show and just know I will be addicted so I avoid it like the plague, because I am more than capable of being hours late for work or not going to bed ever or blowing off a long planned evening out with friends just to watch TV. While I love it, the impact I let it have on my life is sometimes a little unhealthy.


Beth • August 26, 2010 at 10:02 am

Love Friday Night Lights and I was super bummed that this will be last season of it!! Great Post!!


Karen • August 26, 2010 at 10:09 am

I agree with you about the quality of Friday Night Lights. I know this statement is not true – but it really does seem that the critics (and buyers of sponsored products) don’t find the value of the really good shows. The movie – I fell asleep!


tessler • August 26, 2010 at 11:01 am

I had to laugh when this popped up on my reader:

Mentalfloss West Wing Quiz



Lanie • August 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I love television. I could watch TV all day. Love cable. Love it all. there is ALWAYS something on that I want to watch. Therefore, I busy myself with other things because there’s no such thing as just a little TV for me. That would be as absurd as the concept of “one brownie.” Whatev.

Btw, I rcvd the 3 copies of your book yesterday from amazon! WOOT! Now to come up with the give-away!


Pam • August 26, 2010 at 12:41 pm

I have loved TV since I was a kid in the 1950’s! Yes I am THAT old. TV was still brand new. I remember watching Mrs. Francis’ Ding Dong School, Captain Kangeroo, Howdy Doody and Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and the ORIGINAL Mickey Mouse Club. Of course today, the quality of TV has vastly improved–West Wing and Friday Night Lights being two shining examples of what is RIGHT with TV today. We watch most of our TV via DVR now, fast forwarding through all commercials. What a great invention that was. Because my oldest son borrowed our copy and has never returned it, I recently bought a second DVD copy of Lonesome Dove, (which was a TV mini series back in 1988), and we are watching it for the umpteenth time, because it is truly the best Western ever made! I LOVE TV TOO!


Annalisa • August 26, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I love TV. I spent this summer vacation watching all 8 seasons of the West Wing! I can’t believe I missed the boat on that.

Have you seen Mad Men? I also love Breaking Bad, Big Love, and Weeds. I just started the Sopranos and they are OK – not mind blowing like I expected. I did Prison Break a while ago and spent last summer with Lost trying to catch up for the final season. 24 is OK as well — not in my top 15.

I’m a sucker for reality shows too — I love real Housewives and 16 & pregnant.

(For the record – I work from home and need mindless background entertainment so I tend to watch gobs of TV, listen to tons of podcasts, and books on tape)


Linda • August 26, 2010 at 1:58 pm

I also love TV and The West Wing. My newest addiction is that I have discovered The Closer. I’m watching the new ones and going back and recording all of the old ones for marathon watching sessions on the weekend. I am also a Reality TV Junkie. I hate, hate, hate watching TV in real time because I can’t fast forward through the commercials. I catch myself wanting to rewind something in real life though….actual people and events. Something will happen and I’ll think…I sure wish I could rewind and watch that again.


PastaQueen • August 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm

@Linda – I just discovered “The Closer” too! I had a big marathon last fall and I’m finally caught up with the new shows.


Sheila • August 26, 2010 at 2:45 pm

It’s not really fair to directly compare TV with the movies because, as you pointed out, they are different art forms, each with its good and bad characteristics. Character development is very important to me, and you just can’t beat a long-running TV series for that.


Debbi Does Dinner Healthy • August 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I love watching TV on the comuter. I hated having to record things or be a slave to the TV set at 7 pm. Now I can watch what I want, when I want. SOOOO much better. We hardly watch anything on real time anymore. Great post!


Rachel • August 26, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I shall be British for a moment and say, ‘HERE! HERE!”


Bethama • August 26, 2010 at 3:31 pm

“You don’t need to and it probably means you actually interacted with human beings as a teenager.”

Or, ahem, um, that you ARE a teenager.


CK • August 26, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I’m with you on “The West Wing” and “Friday Night Lights,” which I will be buying on DVD as soon as the complete series comes out. (Still missing Season 7 of WW, though!)

This might sound annoyingly virtuous, but I bought the complete series of the new “Battlestar Gallactica” on Craigslist, which I discovered in its last season and LOVE, and I allow myself to watch an episode only when I work out on my StairMaster using a portable DVD player — two of the best investments I’ve ever made.

Otherwise, all my TV viewing is done online.


Stacie @ Imperfectly Healthy • August 26, 2010 at 6:14 pm

I’m so glad I’m not the only tv junkie out there! I LOVE it for all the same reasons you do, and I get really sad when I watch seasons in a binge of a month or so and then the show is over. I actually MISS the characters as if I knew them personally. Sad, but true!


Cathryn • August 26, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Couldn’t agree more! I love the season-long story arc of a good tv show. AND the luxury of watching it all in one sitting! I honestly don’t even watch much tv that’s ON tv because I prefer getting my tv fix through Netflix or season boxed sets of shows.

Buffy, LOST, Sex and the City, Rome … I’m really into The Tudors right now. Good stuff! :)


sherijung • August 26, 2010 at 6:50 pm

I can argue both sides of the marathon argument–I recently discovered House and am loving catching up in 4-5 episode mini marathons. I didn’t start watching Damages on DVR until I had caught up on Seasons 1-2 on DVD. That show is best watched in big chunks.

But I would not trade the last season of Lost in one week at a time segments for a DVD marathon. It was awesome to watch it weekly with the rest of the country, debate it online, listen to the podcasts from the producers, etc to really get more out of each episode. It was a fun pop culture experience beyond just watching a weekly TV show. I almost looked forward to reading the various online episode recaps as much as watching the program.


Lisa • August 26, 2010 at 7:08 pm

I love “The West Wing”! I still watch it in syndication though. No DVD’s yet. In fact, I had a great “Josh” dream just last week. I’m such a TV nerd…


Dianalee • August 26, 2010 at 9:44 pm

The only, (and I think it’s a big one) problem with season long arcs is I’m so afraid of getting really wrapped up in a show that is cancelled mid-season and I never find out what happened. There are shows I’ve purposefully never watched because I was afraid of this emotional wrench. Now, of course, I could go back and watch them on DVD or whatever if they survive. But I am leery of jumping in the front end, especially if it seems less commercially viable.


Lydia C • August 26, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Others have said they just discovered something, and for me it’s “30 Rock” — I have been laughing so hard at 1 a.m. when the rest of my family is asleep, as I know I’m the only one who’d be interested in it. Netflix is WONDERFUL!!!!


PastaQueen • August 26, 2010 at 9:55 pm

@Dianalee – Oh, I hear you on that. And in an opposite sort of way, I tend to dislike shows that have a series-long arc that drags out forever and ever and ever. Like, did we ever find out what was the deal with all those aliens on “The X-Files”? And is Clark Kent ever going to become Superman on “Smallville”? Is that show even set in Smallville anymore?


Stacy • August 26, 2010 at 10:13 pm

@K – What are you going to watch now that 24 is gone? I’m gonna miss it but I do think it “jumped the shark” a while back. :) Got any good ones in your scope?


Lindsay • August 26, 2010 at 11:23 pm

OH Dial up. How I remember attempting to download a 3minute song and it taking HOURS when now, it’s done in 10 seconds.

I second liking to watch TV shows all at once (sans commercial interruption). It’s a beautiful thing.

I would like to take this time to promote the fantasticness that is DVR…I wouldn’t know what to do without it!


couchpotatoatheart • August 27, 2010 at 12:13 am

When the first season of West Wing came out on DVD, I bought it, and a DVD player, and a new TV, because our old one was so old it didn’t have the right inputs. TV on DVD is totally my guilty pleasure too. When I started on this weightloss thing, I made a concious decision to allow myself to escape into as much crappy TV and other fiction as I wanted to, now that my favourite escape, Food, was no longer available.

I have watched a lot of TV since then!


Mom Taxi Julie • August 27, 2010 at 1:05 am

I never really watch TV anymore. Between the kids and the man that watches things I don’t like I’ve just given up.


Johanna • August 27, 2010 at 12:18 pm

@Mom Taxi Julie – I don’t watch TV either, but what I do enjoy is hunting for old and obscure BBC series that I remember watching eons ago … and then seeing them again on my laptop, all by myself. The House of Eliot is fabulous!


Jim Scheibel • August 27, 2010 at 4:54 pm

I am huge fan of Nurse Jackie…it is quirky, topical and full of both humor and drama….

I am a total fitness geek, I love putting in a dvd of the series and hit the treadmill for an hour..it is a great way to be dsitracted…Happy Friday!!



Julie • August 27, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Oh…so WITH you on the Friday Night Lights. I cannot stand football. In fact, the small town where I live is a little too much like Dillon, TX, but I love this show.

Please, PLEASE check out The Wire if you haven’t already seen the series. I truly believe that it’s the best thing that’s ever been on TV. I wish I could watch it for the first time all over again.


PastaQueen • August 27, 2010 at 9:49 pm

@Julie – Oh, I did a four-season binge of “The Wire” right before the fifth season came out. Which was great, because I noticed lots of connections and references I wouldn’t have caught if I’d had to wait a year in between seasons.


Jim Scheibel • August 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Weeds is a great series too…a little edgy but funny, quirky and very contemporary….thanks for the great forum Pasta Queen…happy Saturday!


Julie • August 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm

That is what I did with The Wire too. I love seeing the cast in new shows and projects. A bunch of the cast is now on HBO’s Treme….which is incredible. And Idris Elba who played Stringer Bell is everywhere. He’s in upcoming episodes of The Big C. And Omar!! I think he was my favorite of all. He’s going to be in Boardwalk Empire on HBO.


Becky • August 28, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I haven’t watched TV in real-time in…well, over a decade. We’ve never had cable, in 18 years of marriage. My dad is a TV shows on DVD junkie; he buys them, we borrow them. It’s awesome. We’ve seen all of The Office that way (though we did watch this last season on Hulu because we HAD to see the wedding and the baby), my kids are addicted to Everybody Loves Raymond (ALL seasons). I love The Sopranos, Weeds, Extras, Nurse Jackie, Big Love, Deadwood. I agree that The Wire is the best thing that’s ever been on TV, but I think Six Feet Under runs a close second and it is my favorite series of all time. I can’t believe it’s been over for more than five years now. Someday as a gift to myself I’m going to buy all 5 seasons in the giant box that has artificial “graveside” turf on top. : )


Stacie • August 29, 2010 at 10:18 am

Love Love Love The West Wing. I own every season and still DVR the episodes that are on tv everyday. I still think life would be better for all if Jeb Bartlet were President.


julie yeshnowski • August 29, 2010 at 8:01 pm

I love cable TV and my DVR and my TV on DVD.

I own the first 8 seasons of ER, all of the Gilmore Girls, all of My So-Called Life,

I have guilty TV pleausres, Man vs. Food, Intervention, Teen Mom, Cops…

I am such a TV low-life.


Sara • September 1, 2010 at 8:52 am

This rings true to me.

Many a weight loss experience has fizzled with a moaned “Why can’t I just get that old fire back?” as it’s death knell. Maybe we just need to accept that things will NEVER be like they were at first, and stop pining for the past and start living with the present.

Honeymoons are fantastic, but they’re fleeting.


jenny • September 3, 2010 at 11:42 pm

@CK – Funny. The only time I allow myself to watch Friday Night
Lights is when I am on my treadmill. HA! Love that show. I was dragged kicking and screaming to watch a full episode (I HATE football) but I was hooked. It is so well produced and acted and no studio looking shots. Very REAL


Cristina • September 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm

@Sara – This is totally out of topic. It must be spam


PastaQueen • September 9, 2010 at 3:32 pm

@Cristina – She just meant to leave that comment on the next post which is why it seems off topic. There’s no easy way for me to move it, so I just left it here.


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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