Television as a cultural anthropological prism

Ike and Mamie watching TV
I think I keep reading about, and therefore writing about television, despite the fact that I watch it in decreasing amounts, because I find it a fascinating cultural phenomenon. I was at our choir party this month, and we were talking about how networks, particularly ABC, will start broadcasting a serialized show and either never show the ending (The Nine, which I watched) or truncate it badly (this season’s Last Resort, which I wouldn’t watch for that reason). I saw the ads for the Dana Delany show Body of Proof; first the season premiere was supposed to be the first week in February, but then it got kicked back to the third week in February. Why? Because they failed to realize that they had never broadcast the last show of the previous season, after which wholesale cast changes took place.

What particularly interested me is Mark Harris’ case against binge-watching in Entertainment Weekly, which I really related to. He has binged himself, but: “Sometimes your deep engagement with a series turns out to be intertwined with your patient willingness to spend weeks and months in the company of its characters, getting to know them in what feels like real time and living their evolution as you live your own.”

His piece was in response to the disappointment some have felt over the fourth season of Arrested Development, 15 episodes available en masse on Netflix. I tried to watch the first season, but never got engaged. Some folks, particularly Gordon, suggested I give it another chance, and I saw seasons two and three , mostly enjoying them. Whether I ever see Season 4 – on DVD, because I’m not getting Netflix – depends on my time and inclination at that point. If I DO watch, it’ll be one or two episodes at a time.

I admit I liked the Daily Kos piece on How ‘Arrested Development’ explains the Republican Party. Also enjoyed the NSFW video parody of Girls: Season 38, featuring the original SNL’s Laraine Newman, even though I’ve never seen one minute of the Lena Dunham show.

Here’s an interesting side-by-side comparison of three cable news networks with their coverage of President Obama in Germany.

Recently, I referred to my wife as Ramsey Gordon, which was that she was the total opposite of Gordon Ramsey, that mean chef on whatever that cooking show he’s on; I’ve not viewed it. Weird how the brain picks that up.

Speaking of food shows, Paula Deen is getting booted from hers because of some nostalgic racist language. Heck, I thought she should have been let go after continuing to promote her high-calorie meals while hiding her Type II diabetes last year.

Apparently, the first season ending of Game of Thrones, featuring a beheading (can that be a spoiler, from two seasons ago?), was not nearly graphic enough, so this season has the infamous ‘Red Wedding’. Big time thanks, but NO thanks.

Another show I’ll never see is Pregnant & Dating on the We network; Ken Levine’s description could have come from the Onion. It is “complete with the usual crying, angst, pretty people, upscale settings, cloying background music, and jaw dropping stupidity.”

Read about the Latina stereotyping that’s endemic in a show such as Devious Maids. Someone once said to me that I can’t judge a show fairly unless I watch it; I totally disagree.

On the other hand, I TOLD you seeing the Tonys was worth it. Here’s the opening number which was THE highlight of the show.

I watched Paul McCartney on the Colbert Report, of course. Watching TV with commercials is brutal, and Colbert’s schtick wore thin, but loved seeing Sir Paul, especially on Being For The Benefit of Mr Kite!, which he said he’d never performed before. On the other hand, I loved what Colbert said about his late mom this month.

Still, most of my affection for television is nostalgic. This video about Johnny Carson, delving into his Nebraska roots, is quite entertaining; it features Dick Cavett, one time Carson writer, then competitor. Cavett writes about going to his high school reunion. Ken Levine shows – part 1 and part 2 – what a CHEERS outline looks like. Although he met him only a couple months ago, Levine has an interesting story about the late James Gandolfini.

Chuck Miller reminded me of all the weird pets fictional people had. Ah, a picture of MTM and DVD on the set of the Dick Van Dyke Show. And Evanier showed my absolute favorite TV commercial when I was a child; it was that nifty 4th verse. Unfortunately, he has no idea who the singers were, and neither do I.

3 thoughts on “Television as a cultural anthropological prism”

  1. Caught one episode and Game of Thrones but probably won’t get sucked into the series. I really don’t watch a ton of TV, but have a few favorites I hate to miss (i.e. Once Upon a Time) I was sort of into Red Widow and wish they hadn’t canceled that one.

    Like

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