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How To Watch Television

How To Watch Television
Alice Doyle

A few months ago I got rid of my TV set, which was a decision I originally made out of practical concerns about space.  The TV set, being something like a millionty years old, was an immense dusty thing that inhabited an area of my bedroom that I knew would be way better left empty, that I might occupy it to take vain self-portraits.  Plus I had basic cable and everything on basic cable sucks(except for like the trashiest shit, and maybe Parks and Rec), so I never really watched it.

When I finally saw a recent picture of Kim Kardashian, I was alarmed to find that, unless she had met with hard times in my months away from her E! monstrosity/reality show, I had never noticed that she looks quite like a sex doll.

Anyway, so I ditched the great shadowed monolith with Chelsea Handler’s big stupid face in it and immediately realized two benefits I hadn’t previously considered: firstly, I can mention that I don’t have a TV to support basically anything I say.  And trust me, I do mention it, to the bald disgust of my boyfriend, whose groans only add to my routine.  (Why don’t I eat red meat, you ask?  Well, I don’t have a TV.  I mean, I just, you know, I avoid caffeine because it really isn’t good for you!  It’ll fuck up your skin, you know, and your sleep cycles really start to spin out of control!  It’s important to be, like, in tune with nature and the moon, right?  I don’t have a TV!  I compost!  I recycle! This necklace is hemp!)

The second benefit was that I completely lost touch with popular culture.  I mean, I just have no idea what’s going on at any given time.  I thought that the internet would keep me hooked in, but it just doesn’t.  I didn’t know what movies were coming out.  I wondered who the fuck Kate Middleton was for weeks.  No, I haven’t seen “that commercial with the dog,” and would prefer not to watch it on YouTube.  When I finally saw a recent picture of Kim Kardashian, I was alarmed to find that, unless she had met with hard times in my months away from her E! monstrosity/reality show, I had never noticed that she looks quite like a sex doll.  Of middling design quality.

So when my friend went on vacation and asked me to look after her home, which is outfitted with no less than three gigantic flat screen TVs that receive a full line-up of HD satellite channels, I agreed really hard.

Before my unsupervised week in her space, my friend asked me to spend the night with her, in part so that she could orient me to her home and her hundreds of channels.  Spread out in the immense bed she shares with her partner, she gave me a tour through the TV guide, almost all of which was completely unknown to me.  Lots of channels broadcast something she enjoyed and strongly recommended I watch when I had the time, and I was grateful for her advice, because I was clueless and a lot of this shit has to be seen to be believed.

Did you know that there’s a whole show on TLC about Gypsy weddings?  Isn’t “gypsy” kind of an offensive word, to say nothing of the suggestion that they share a monolithic cultural experience?  I guess that’s a conversation for another day, but I implore you either to immediately watch this horror show or to avoid it for the rest of your natural days.  It is my queer feminist nightmare, all pastel princess gowns and mountainous cakes made for very young brides who are not allowed to learn to read.  Whether or not they like their husbands, I cannot tell, as they seem more resigned to than excited about the elements of marriage that lie beyond the ceremonial festivities.

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  1. i like Alice’s perspective! she could make almonds interesting. more.

    • You know I’ll talk about an almond for you, boo boo. I make it my solemn promise to mention an almond.

  2. jay

    Oh damn, did I miss Fran D’s new show? You’re right–it’ll probably never be shown again. This entry does make me want to order LOGO rather than just guilt my best dude to record most of it.

    • If it’s ever aired again, you’ve got to watch it. It’s a shitshow, but Fran is in it, trying so hard not to default to that Nanny voice. Logo is worth it for at least a month, just to see what I’m talking about.

  3. Qwin

    OMG it’s Alice! :D

    I love this website.

    • QWIN! I’m so glad you’re here! Pretty Queer is so badass ALREADY.

  4. Lucian

    <3 this!

  5. Jillian Weiss

    Talk about vast wasteland. I gave up my TV when I moved to upstate New York a few years ago, and I haven’t missed it. In fact, when my sister moved in for a few months, I was kinda upset when her boyfriend hooked up the idiot box. Since they moved out, it’s been sitting unused faced to the wall. I’m not against TV. It’s not a moral stance, like your hemp necklace. There are a few shows I like once in a while, but frankly I have enough to keep me busy without that trash. Like, for example, this incredibly cool website. I wish I could write as well as you and everyone else I’ve read here. Yes, I’m a total pop culture zero, but I have my own unique charm. I guess.

  6. Melissa

    It’s not like I never watch television. My roomates watch all of the time. Drama programs, police investigation programs, police investigation-as-drama programs, Courtroom dramas, comedies, almost everything. Unless I want to hide in my room ALL of the time(a thing that is not all that bad, really), I can’t completely avoid the way too large 60 inch rectangle in my living room. After 5 minutes, I’m usually thinking, “Really, how starved for entertainment must one be?” After 15, I feel dirty and manipulated, and usually retreat back to my computer, or the printed word on paper. Even without the ads(my fellow apt. dwellers pre-record many programs, so they fast forward through most commercials) There is a narrative to almost all television, a homogeneous set of story lines and outcomes, no matter the vast potpourri of content, and by extension, expected reactions. Maybe it’s just me, but I FEEL it. Even when watching something with undeniably decent intent, like the teen school drama, “DeGrassi” (I’d say “Glee”, but never saw it; but was still sitting in front of the TV at times when this show came out) there’s still this aura of expectation that I can’t fully put my finger on, but know is there. Maybe it’s just the expectation not turn the thing off and keep watching. Maybe I’m a Counter-culture snoot. I don’t fully know, actually. But I feel just a little used. Full disclosure: When my roomies aren’t home, I do sometimes watch one of the cable news channels, if I am starved for urgent information, or a baseball game. I do like that. A ball and a bat don’t judge me. I try to ignore everything outside the lines, including the thought that it would cost me two weeks salary to actually be there.

    • As someone who has never seen Degrassi but has seen Glee (against her will, thank you VERY much I SWEAR), I can promise you that though the good intent is definitely detectable, the weird feeling is still very much present. I can’t say anything about the feeling of expectation (can you elaborate on that at all? It’s really interesting! Though I do understand the idea of “the expectation to keep watching” and can sense that too), I can say something about the feeling of just plain being used.

      Not to be a big queer martyr or divert this conversation or anything, but Glee is pretty gross in part because while it kind of wants to send me some good vibes about being different (uh emphasis on “kind of”), it still also wants me to tune in forever and love people and hate people so that I will tune in and watch its commercials, and buy its soundtracks, and buy the original music that the little Glee cast members are covering, and whatever. And it also manages to say some fucked up stuff in the process.

      MY THOUGHTS ON GLEE ARE ALL MIXED UP, but basically I hate it.

  7. andrew

    this is the aforementioned boyfriend, and i just want to say that the only one i really want to kiss is jonathan morton-schuster.

    • I double dog dare you to resist a kiss from a single one of those little beauties! Double! Dog! Dare!

      • andrew

        i wouldn’t, but hush! he’s my favorite!

    • Jonathan Nathaniel 4evr!!

      Jonathan war.

      • WE LOVE THEM ALL, DO NOT GET US WRONG. We actually just watched an episode with Jonathan in it, because we’re housesitting again! He was so cute and sweet.

      • andrew


        just kidding, they’re all super cute, especially the two jonathans.

  8. Gus

    I love this and I want to be your friend k thanx.

    • You know I will totally be your friend, right? We’re friends now and I love you.

      • Gus

        Aw you’re like the best friend I made two seconds ago ever!

  9. CNE

    I love this.

    And oh god queer guilt.

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