House is new tonight!
I haven’t watched much television lately. I catch bits of the Nightly News with my parents (“We can’t miss Brian!”), some Jeopardy!, Jon Stewart and Colbert, and tidbits of VH1/MTV/Best Week Ever/Hannah Montana/South Park/random bits I find on Saturday mornings and at the gym. Obviously, one of the reasons why I haven’t watched much is pretty obvious: I started blogging.
And the writers’ strike.
I support the strikers 100%. I would love to march on the picket lines with them; I’d even wake up early to do so! There are all sorts of implications that will be fascinating to watch as a result of what’s going on, like the fact that pilot season as we know it is basically over. Some people have criticized Jon Stewart for his diatribe on the strike his first day back at work, but I applauded it. I literally clapped my hands and squealed in my pajamas watching it. People said it wasn’t funny, that he should stick to politics. But the writer’s strike is entertainment politics, and he skewers the media, of which he very well knows he’s a part. Of course he’s going to cover it. It’s his show, first of all, and he practically has an obligation to talk about it. He’s in a tough situation, and he tried to get an interim deal, to no avail. Give the guy some credit, some slack. Yeah, working on either his show or Colbert’s would be the shit, but it’s tough: they all make it look easy. Writers are your net, your spotter, your safety valve. They are just as important to television as any other level of production, and many, many shows would not be what they are without writers. Talent and charm and improv can only work so far, and I’m amazed at what I’ve seen so far of the striking Daily Show and Colbert, because it doesn’t feel like it’s not written. Oh, I notice the differences, that’s for sure: there’s no Word, the interviews are longer and sometimes choppy, the timing is sometimes off. But that’s ok, and I embrace it.
The funny thing about television is now that I’m done with college, where I notoriously watched little TV and what I did was either in stolen moments or very regimented, I wondered if I was going to go back to my high school days, finding all new shows to follow obsessively, back to taping and posting and scheduling my life around television. Life–and not just mine–is very different from 2003. I never use my VCR anymore. It’s not that I got a DVD player or a DVR, or that I’ve suddenly become adept at downloading shows on my computer. It’s that I don’t feel that I need to tape things anymore. A few months ago, I missed the first ten minutes of House–my current show of the moment even though I had been upset with the direction it was going–but I didn’t feel a sense of panic, of doom, of disappointment. Whatever, I’ll catch it later on Fox.com, I thought. Exactly. That sums up everything. Even though I had to wait 8 days (goddamn you Fox), I knew I could catch it. And even if I couldn’t, there would be other ways: hulu.com (pray eventually), possibly YouTube, BitTorrent and whatnot. Eventually, there would be DVDs. I wasn’t doomed. While sometimes finding things isn’t always easy, there is a chance, depending upon what you watch, that you can find clips of them online. This works better for current shows; anything even a year or two old (or even a few months old) isn’t so readily available.
When I first got wind of the impending strike, I knew I wanted to fill my time with other things, and by and large, I have, though it wasn’t planned. Now I wonder about filling in television into my current life, a problem I never had before. I was one of those people who essentially scheduled their life around television, though I always bristled at the notion. It mattered to me; so what? It didn’t prevent me from doing other things. I learned this the first week of college when I tried to watch an episode of The O.C: California wasn’t as interesting as the possibilities that lay outside my dorm room. After that, television became a communal experience, rarely watched in school unless surrounded by others. In fact, I purposely watched the Friends finale in a large group, so I could get the full impact. It was to mark an occasion, to make memories. Even when we watched Gilmore Girls or Studio 60 it was more to hang out, to argue and debate and analyze then it was about the shows, especially since in the case of Gilmore Girls it was to complain more often then not. When I came to college, all of a sudden all the shows that I had followed compulsively did not matter anymore. I grew irritated by them all and they fell to the wayside, not missed. I caught bits and pieces of things here and there, but I never vowed to return to my regular schedule. For I did not need television the way I needed it in high school; I had friends now, loads of them, providing me with the comedy and the drama and the heartbreak and the tension that I had eagerly, voraciously consumed just a short time ago.
There are times that I miss television. It is a natural part of modern life now, it is rhythm, it is air and automatic. I still long to get caught up in something so juicy. I know it’ll happen again, just like we know this writer’s strike will eventually end. I wish all the writers loads of luck. I’m with you guys, if only in spirit.