======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ====
My version of hell would be sitting in a waiting room at a car dealership, my phone dead, and stuck watching whatever is on the big, early 2000s TV. I’d just be stuck there, watching some fuzzy picture as I waited for them to tell me that my car was done with repairs. Only they never would. And I would be stuck there forever.
Whether it’s the dentist, the mechanic, or the DMV, the communal television exists only to taunt you. You can barely hear it, you can’t change the channel, and it’s never on anything good. Sure, part of the issue is that normally you’re stuck in a waiting room during the middle of the day when nothing good is on. But there is still a hierarchy of options when it comes to what you will be watching for just a few more minutes.
Who is watching this? I mean, honestly, how do people watch a minute of local news without experiencing every single one of their brain cells committing suicide en masse?
Local news is nothing but garbage. Human interest pieces about dogs saving children, “news” about the opening of some new non-chain restaurant that will likely close in nine months, some interview with an awkward high school student after a car accident, followed by whatever propaganda Sinclair Corporation forces them to air. There is literally nothing more painful than watching some fresh-out-of-journalism-school anchors slog through a story about the scandal of the local fire chief embezzlement thirty dollars to gamble at the race tracks.
The only good thing that local news does is to give us memes (like Antoine Dodson) or newscaster fails for compilations. I say every local news outlet should just lean into it, dedicate themselves to covering what local events could become memes and ignore the boring shit. Hell, maybe get some grads of Taylor’s class on the staff.
What Duda is to CSI and NCIS, I am to talk shows. I cannot comprehend why people watch these things. Like legitimately, who getting uber hyped up to watch Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest interview Mark Wahlberg to promote his next movie? Maybe Donnie Wahlberg, because he’s still angling to get a part as the brother? How can anyone possibly care about “hard-hitting” pieces like a tour of Joanna Gaines’s house, whether the new iPhone is shatterproof, or a performance by the “break-dancing dad.” None of these are made up, by the way, these are all real things airing on weekday talk shows.
And then there are the televised abortions like Dr. Phil, The Dr. Oz Show, or The Wendy Williams Show. I mean, my God who in the actual fuck wants to hear Dr. Oz spew medical “advice” that even pseudo-scientists would say is bullshit? Or gives a flying fuck what Wendy Williams came up with during her wine-and-Ambien induced stupor about Pete Davidson’s controversial joke? At least with Dr. Phil, there might be some entertainingly destroyed people we can laugh at, but even he’s a known huckster “psychologist.” It’s amazing to me that people who committed non-violent crimes don’t have the right to vote, but people who have been in the audience of a Wendy Williams show can. Felon disenfranchisement can stay the day they also announce they’re disenfranchising people who buy Dr. Oz’s shitty products.
Food Network (cooking shows)
The equivalent of a daytime show but with cooking. I don’t give a shit about Rachel Ray or Paula Deen, and witnessing the stilted acting of their friends, husbands, and/or kids as they serve them some game day or holiday feast should be a violation of the Geneva Convention. Watching someone teach me how to cook is unbearable because I know if you gave me a thousand lifetimes I’d never be able to replicate what they’re doing.
Seriously, who has their frosting already chilling in the fridge, all their graters clean and within arms reach, and has an electric whisk on standby? Give me a cooking show where a chef goes into a random person’s house and has to cook with what they have on hand, in real time!
Controversial take, I know, but I can’t think of any program on this network that wouldn’t put me into a boredom coma. Nothing is less exciting than watching a couple of hipster yuppies trying to find a place under their ridiculous budget for two city officials, ultimately settling on a fixer-upper and sinking in half the cost on renovations. Congrats on being rich and gentrifying another neighborhood. All it does is remind me that I’ll be renting until my student loans are fully paid off…so forever.
And not to beat a horse to death, but every single “personality” on HGTV is smug, as uncharismatic as a snail, and wholly manufactured. Home renovation shows peaked when Bob Vila left This Old House and everything that came after it is an abomination.
Unlike local news, now we’re getting into stuff that people actually care about. Unfortunately, with all the controversy in today’s political landscape, putting a 24-hour cable network on your TV is making a statement. CNN is #fakenews, Fox News is Republican propaganda, and MSNBC is watched by no one (I do love Morning Joe, though).
The worst part about all of these entities is that they no longer report the news, they dissect it. Quit bringing a bunch of pundits on to tell me how Trump’s recent tweets will affect voter turnout in the midwest. Tell me the facts, bring me statistics, studies, qualified individuals with credentials beyond just having been in the White House, and evaluate the policies that each side is espousing. If you want to be treated as the fourth branch of government, stop putting jackasses like this guy on television and just tell us what is happening.
In high school, I spent my afternoons and weekends working at an ice rink. It was a pretty boring way to get some spending money, but the plus side was that the TV in the mezzanine area was in full view of where I sat and it was always on ESPN. Back in its hey-day, ESPN was the undoubted GOAT of mindless, midday watching, with a core of shows like PTI, Around the Horn, and Sportsnation leading into the big daddy of them all: Sports Center.
Now, ESPN is a shell of itself. Those programs I mentioned, they’re still around, but they’re zombified versions of their once former glory, now focused more on athlete tweets, endorsements, and political stances than things like statistics and standings. ESPN used to have personable anchors who electrified highlights, now they have talking heads who yell at each other about some off-the-field issue. It’s a goddamn shame, but ESPN has dropped like a stone in these rankings since the passing of Stuart Scott. RIP Stu.
Now we’re getting into actual, watchable television territory. The problem with either of these two options is that you’re flipping a coin to see if you’ll actually land on something worth watching. Will you see Pawn Stars or American Pickers? Moonshiners or Battlebots? Vikings or Ancient Aliens? Naked and Afraid or Naked and Afraid XL? It’s a total crapshoot between whether you’ll be entertained or have your eyes bleed.
Food Network (competition shows)
Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef. The holy trinity of mindless background television and it’s perfect for the waiting room. You can jump in at any point, the format is easy to follow, and the only real time you hear contestants talking is when they go into their whole personal sob story about who they’re here to win for. That means it’s perfectly fine if the show is muted as you won’t be missing anything interesting. And, unlike the cooking talk-shows, the stakes and competition on these shows make them immensely fun to watch.
Nothing and I mean nothing, is more entertaining to watch than a shitty, late-night infomercial for a janky product that no one needs. There’s something so incredibly calming and unintentionally hilarious about the low-quality acting during a Magic Bullet commercial. I could watch ten thousand testimonials about the powers of the Shake Weight or P90X, even though I know it’s the modern-day version of Uncle Jeffrey’s Miracle Tonic.
Whether the sound is muted and you just have the closed captioning on, or you get to hear the off-key saxophone playing in the background, infomercials are great. And if you luck out as to get one of those marathons where the announcer continuously entreating you to “call in the next ten minutes and we’ll double your order” well then your day has gone from a bore to an opportunity for a deal. .