During the last TWTV Book Club meeting, I confessed to having watched only a few episodes of Frasier. Naturally, the rest of the group affectionately (or at least I assume so) teased me about this gap in my television viewing history.
The good-natured (seriously, I’m pretty sure they’re all joking when they use #ShunCoryBarker [They definitely are. Completely. -NK]) ribbing even spilled over onto Twitter.
I didn’t take these playful taunts personally because, after all, it’s my choice not to indulge in Frasier, right?
Well, maybe. In the past few days, I’ve been contemplating those events and my approach to various ideas I have for pieces on TWTV. The dominant feeling that underpins all of these musings is frustration.
The world of television is vast in its history, and it keeps churning out new content. The list of shows I wish to watch and write about here, as well as the random concepts I have for this platform, is honestly quite extensive.
You’re probably aware that I launched this website with the aim of dedicating more of my time to older television and exploring the broader history of the medium. However, it goes beyond that.
I’m persistently driven, sometimes even irritated, by the shows I haven’t seen, the books I haven’t read, and the people I’ve yet to meet. These gaps in my knowledge truly get under my skin and ignite a sense of frustration in me.
The most frustrating aspect of this situation? It’s a seemingly insurmountable endeavor. I can never, under any circumstances, fully catch up. I will never manage to watch all the shows or episodes I yearn to, nor will I ever get through all the books I’m eager to read.
I understand that this might come across as one of the whiniest rants ever to grace the internet, especially when there are people suffering, dying, and facing far greater challenges out there.
I’m privileged and fortunate to have the ability to watch television, let alone complain about not having more time for it. It’s, in all honesty, rather trivial.
Nonetheless, I’ve committed myself to a professional path that revolves around my expertise in television, with the hope of eventually imparting that knowledge to students.
Even as an aspiring critic who writes about television online, there’s an expectation that I possess a deep understanding of the subject matter and that my references and historical context are not merely regurgitated from Wikipedia.
I believe that comprehending both the present and the past is crucial to truly grasp what’s occurring “now” and what transpired “then.”
With that in mind, my frustration, while admittedly a bit whiny (I won’t claim it’s more valid because, again, I’m essentially griping about not having enough time for TV), feels somewhat justified.
However, even if I can quell my concerns about being seen as a whiner, I’m uncertain about where that leaves me—or anyone, for that matter. I imagine that my colleagues at TWTV share similar sentiments about certain shows they’ve missed, just as you probably wish you had a bit more time to watch that one thing.
Most people would likely agree that the current media landscape offers a golden opportunity for those of us who want to catch up or delve into the world of television (or any other subject, really).
Want to watch Cheers? It’s available on Netflix for streaming. Interested in checking out Miami Vice? You can find it on Hulu.
If it’s not on either platform, you can consider alternative options, though I must emphasize not resorting to torrenting (it’s illegal -NK). Or explore YouTube. Naturally, not everything is readily accessible, but a plethora of content is out there.
Strangely, the seemingly endless accessibility options paradoxically heighten the frustration of attempting to become a more adept television scholar, critic, or viewer.
Also Read: The Cheers Legacy: An Introduction
This is because I now realize that if I were to find the time, I could catch up on nearly any show I desire, often for a nominal fee, at most. Instead of being unable to obtain something I want, everything I desire is readily available, almost taunting me.
I had to temporarily unsubscribe from Netflix because the platform hosted so many shows I yearned to explore, yet time constraints prevented me from doing so, leaving me aggravated.
Again, I acknowledge how absurd this may sound, but I suspect that some of you can relate, at least to some extent.
One of the other significant advantages of today’s television-watching landscape, the online community of critics and fans, also exacerbates our vexing relationship with television history.
There’s an evident pressure to stay informed about what’s happening right now, a crucial element that, however, detracts from the pursuit of catching up on what occurred in the past.
Furthermore, there’s an expectation that to comprehend a show truly, you must have watched it in its entirety. You can’t genuinely appreciate The Shield by merely viewing two seasons, nor can you genuinely detest Smash unless you’ve seen the entire first season.
The straightforward solution to circumventing these predicaments is to liberate myself from any constraints imposed by critics or scholars and simply embrace my own preferences. If I want to watch a few episodes of Adam-12 and form an opinion, I should have the freedom to do so.
If I opt not to watch The Sopranos at all, no one is compelling me. I concur with these notions in principle. But in practice? I capitulate. Those societal or subcultural expectations seamlessly align with my personal aspirations to consume every piece of content.
Even if I were to shun the major, widely-recognized shows that the “Important People” consider significant and instead choose to explore more niche series, I’d still be faced with an extensive watchlist.
The fact that I desire to watch shows from both categories only compounds the challenge.
Perhaps I’m simply a tad irrational, and perhaps you all can offer some guidance. Or maybe you’re just as befuddled and vexed as I am.
How do you, on a personal level, navigate the shows (or films) you wish to watch within the confines of your actual available time? Should we shift away from such a rigid set of expectations regarding the significance of shows, whether from the past or present?
Does the broader concept of television history hold importance for you, or is it primarily centered on specific shows?