No, I Will Not Watch Your Favorite TV Show

Now, stop asking me already!


What’s that? You say you’ve just started watching this great new television series. And it has fantastic dialogue, amazing visuals, compelling storylines, and some of the best acting you’ve ever seen? And it’s won every award you could possibly think of? And it’s your new favorite thing in the history of ever? And you’re certain I’m gonna love it as much as you do?

Okay, cool. I’m happy for you and everything, but I’m probably not going to watch it.

No — no, don’t be like that. You’re doing the thing: the puppy dog eyes, the quivering lip. Stop it. Just, just stop it. You’re embarrassing both of us.

Look. Let me break it down for you. We are, and I do not dispute this, in the middle of a new “Golden Age of Television.” Production values have increased to the point where TV shows compare favorably with feature films. More series are telling better, longer, more intricate stories that count on the intelligence and taste of their audience. Accomplished film actors who once wouldn’t have been caught dead on television are now taking starring roles on the small screen. There’s a ton of good stuff out there. I get it. I really do.

And I’m glad you’re enthusiastic about it! And I welcome your suggestions of things you think I might really like.

So long as they remain suggestions.

See, here’s the thing:

There’s this tone that’s crept into the conversation when we talk about our favorite shows these days: a kinda strident, demanding tone. It’s not enough these days to say, “Hey, this show is great and I think you’d like it; you should check it out if you get a chance.” No, these days people are constantly telling me, “You HAVE to see this show.”

This would be one thing if they were just saying it for emphasis — but no, they seem to really mean it. I have to see this show.

I know they mean it, because these people follow up and won’t let it go. Have I watched their favorite show yet? I haven’t? Why not? Even if I tell them I’m uninterested or it doesn’t look like my kind of thing, they just keep railroading right over my objections and insisting I change my mind and follow their tastes instead.

I try telling them I just don’t watch that much television — maybe a couple of hours a month. Honestly, I waste my free time in other ways. “There’s this thing called the Internet. Have you seen it?” Doesn’t slow ‘em down.

Even if I tell these people I’ve tried watching their Favorite Show Ever and I didn’t like it, that’s not enough to get me off the hook. “I didn’t give it enough of a chance,” they say! I need to stick with it! Sure, the first few episodes (or seasons) are a little slow, but once I get through those, I’m bound to love it!

Let me give you the short list. In no particular order, off the top of my head, these are some — some! — of the shows well-meaning friends have told me I have to watch:

Breaking Bad. Battlestar Galactica. The Wire. The West Wing. True Blood. Game of Thrones. Mad Men. Lost. Dexter. Leverage. Veronica Mars. Arrested Development. Twin Peaks. Agents of Shield. Carnivale. The Big Bang Theory. House of Cards. Orphan Black. True Detective. Supernatural. The Walking Dead. Luther. The Blacklist. Kids in the Hall. The IT Crowd. Continuum. Penny Dreadful. Once Upon a Time.

There are undoubtedly many shows in that list I would enjoy, were I to take the time. Some of them I’m sure I will get around to. There are a few I don’t intend to watch at all, ever. #SorryNotSorry

But let’s say, just for shiggles, that I wanted to be one of the cool kids badly enough to give into peer pressure here and I say, “Sure, okay, I’ll watch all of it. The whole list, just pile it on. Back up the truck.”

Let me drop some math on you here:

That’s one thousand, eight hundred and ninety-one episodes of television y’all are trying to get me to commit to here. If I watch one episode a night, that’s only going to take me five years, two months, and four days.

By the time I finish, you’ll have found 23 new shows you’ll want me to watch.

This is just not going to happen, okay? Forget it. I am declaring television bankruptcy. I am granting myself amnesty and absolving myself of all responsibility for having to keep up with the new canon of Must See TV.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go look at cute pictures of cats on Tumblr. Go watch your damn show.

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The Outtake

Smart, accessible, and sometimes very personal writing on film and television, classical and contemporary. Written (mostly) by people who study this stuff for a living.

Michael Montoure

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Unreliable narrator Michael Montoure writes horror & urban fantasy about hidden truths, secret dealings, & our changing pasts. He's standing right behind you.

The Outtake

Smart, accessible, and sometimes very personal writing on film and television, classical and contemporary. Written (mostly) by people who study this stuff for a living.