Television in 2013

  • Thursday, November 21, 2013

I’ve been thinking about TV a lot lately, mainly because I never watch it. Apparently that makes me strange. (Which surprises no one.)

I used to watch “House” and “Law and Order SVU.” “House” ended (I hated the finale) and then Christopher Meloni left L&O-SVU and I was done.

Today I watch exactly one hour of TV a week—“Modern Family” on ABC and “Duck Dynasty” on A&E.

The average American watches 34 hours of TV a week, according to New York’s “Daily News.” I’m skeptical—I don’t know anyone who watches 34 hours of TV a week. That’s another full-time job, and who wants that?

Do you watch “Duck Dynasty? More than 8 million Americans are right there with you.

I first watched it about a year ago. I’ve never seen anything like this phenomenon. The only show that compares, in terms of popularity and marketing in the last 50 years, is probably “Lassie.” (Full disclosure: I did have a Lassie lunchbox, and a Mrs. Beasley doll like the one Buffy had on “Family Affair.”)

Back to Duck Dynasty: ABC’s “Modern Family” has won an Emmy for best comedy four years in a row plus a Golden Globe, but the cast doesn’t have their pictures on every other piece of merchandise in Wal-Mart. The DD level of popularity is incredible. I’d say it’s overkill, but the juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down.

I love the show, especially Jase. He’s fit, has a smart mouth and loves Jesus. What’s not to like? At the risk of getting my car egged, my least favorite is Miss Kay. It’s like she’s trying to be a sexy, brunette version of Paula Deen. And regardless of the topic, she won’t stop talking.

Widdle Baby likes Uncle Si, and we’ve both read his New York Time best-seller, “Si-Cology 1.” It is hilarious, and surprisingly poignant.

“Duck Dynasty” is the only reality show I watch. I’ve never seen “The Bachelor,” “Survivor,” “The Biggest Loser” or “Dancing with the Stars.” (As a friend asked last week, “How long have you been a Luddite?”)

In 1992 I saw the first episode of the granddaddy of modern reality shows: MTV’s “The Real World.” It was inspired by the 1973 PBS series “An American Family,” which followed the vicissitudes of the Loud family of California. (During the series Pat Loud asked her husband for a divorce and their son came out of the closet, so it was REALLY groundbreaking.)

The inaugural episode of “TRW,” in which seven 20-somethings from across the country were roommates in a New York City loft, was a revelation. Everyone I knew started watching it. (Each season new strangers are set up in a huge house in a different city. Charleston was rumored to be in the running this year.)

Much as I loved “TRW,” I bailed around year nine, when it started being all about musical beds and which roommate most recently OD’d on alcohol.

Before “TRW” the term “reality show” didn’t exist, but look at the boob tube now. From “The Biggest Loser” to “Project Runway, we’ve got reality coming out of our ears. And if you believe these shows are all organic and unscripted, I have a pig ranch in Paris I’m selling, cheap.

As for “Modern Family,” I am obsessed. OBSESSED. It’s the funniest, smartest, most relevant show on network TV. I like Cam, one-half of the gay couple, and Gloria’s much-older husband, Jay. Widdle prefers Luke, and my brother T-Bob likes Manny.

Finally, a show the whole family can watch.

Julie R. Smith, who admires Luddites very, very much, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.

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