I know. This is where the British wanker tells you how bad American TV is (I hate that guy!). Brits delight in reporting this as if 1) they’ve never seen British TV and 2) Americans didn’t already know.
Yes, Americans know that American TV is very bad but they watch it anyway, because TV is in itself a fabulous invention, and even bad American TV can be a treat. The British situation is very similar.
Now there’s something sweet about watching American TV as a Brit when you’re not living there forever.
When you’re there on vacation, or on a finite working visa, you can watch it and quickly dismiss it. Because you don’t understand the TV Guide (and the time zones? Oh how they kill me) and the channels names don’t make sense, because you’ve heard of NBC, ABC etc but where are they on the remote? How do you make them happen? Let me tell you, Channel 4 in the UK – you press 4. BBC1? You press 1. In the US you have to find the channel by surfing and then they let you know what number they are. Fox 17, what are you doing out there? You’re a proper channel, but you don’t get to sit with the other big boys.
And what’s on? Nothing but commercials, and the TV news is horrible, nothing but store openings and house fires and shootings, and did anything outside of the US and Iraq happen today? Apparently not. Unless a European leader gets beer spilled on her, we could care less.
But this is all okay, because you’re leaving soon, and you can add the American TV = crap to your quiver of anecdotes and the folks at home will adore you for it.
But if you plan on living here forever, you have to find a way to make American TV work…
Rebecca recently celebrated our 3-month anniversary of having our own TV by erasing the entire contents of our DVR. Did you know there’s a delete-all option? There is. Should there be? A good question that we considered as 100 hours of quality programming vanished from our grasp. Season 2 of Downton Abbey? Gone. An entire week’s General Hospital? Sorry, it’s toast.
As with so many things, Americans assume their TV systems are the best in the world (while complaining bitterly about the pricing structures and customer service you have wade through to get it). But yeah, but no. After experiencing Comcast and DISH, I’ve found both wanting, and I’ve gotten sentimental and teary over the UK’s Sky TV. There is just something so fiddly and cumbersome (and yes, delete-happily dangerous) about the way you have to record TV shows in the US. And you bet your ass, I miss the red button.
Do we even need broadcast TV? The biggest cultural difference I’ve experienced since moving from the UK is we watch old The Office episodes on Netflix instead of on our DVD box sets.
And what about all those American commercials? Not as smart as they think they are, and while the cars look sleek and fast, the food looks dreadful, because when it’s HD and on a big screen, the food is honest. The commercials outside of prime time are punishment for not doing something more worthwhile, in most instances offering you legal representation for a medication-caused disease you didn’t know you had.
But c’mon. US commercials? We don’t have room for talking about this. There’s not enough time in the day to nail down what Americans are trying to sell other Americans on TV. At least, there isn’t enough time in this day.
I need to get back to the stuff that happens between the commercials, when I fast-forward at 15x and then 60x to get to the next part of the program.
And truth is, there’s more on American TV for me than for the natives. Because I have a lot of catching up to do.
My wife’s is exercising her cultural revenge for 10 years of me making her sit through:
- Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em
- Peter Kay DVDs (We don’t talk about Peter Kay anymore lest we get dragged into the argument about whether Gabriel Iglesias and Larry the Cable Guy – both of whom I
loathedo not care for) are respectively the Mexican and Southern versions of Peter Kay. Really? You’re equating “Why do mums buy crap pop” with “Git-R-Done” ? But I’ve said too much already…).
- The Royle Family
Now we watch reruns of The Brady Bunch and Three’s Company. I would like to be clear about how terrible these shows are, but of course, they’re actually pretty great. The Brady Bunch manage at once to be the most subversive and the most conservative family in America.
And we enjoy terrible new American TV as well. Dance Moms and Hoarders. TV shows with people crying and cursing; truly, it’s like a little piece of UK home after the pubs shut except all the bad words are bleeped out.
And I like CBS Sunday Mornings, which is slower moving and gentler than BBC’s Songs of Praise could ever hope to be. A wonderful way to start the day.
I am in love with “Once Upon A Time”, which I think may be a show, like Doctor Who, that is meant for children but watched by adults, that happens to be shown on Sunday night primetime.
The joy of this show, other than having more female leads than male, and other than every one the characters taking their turn to doing something staggeringly stupid, is the regular appearance of Robert Carlyle as Evil Scottish Guy, and it was with delight that he finally let loose in a recent episode and gave full force to his McNutter character, beating some poor bastard with a stick and looking wonderfully like Begbie from Trainspotting.
Even better than his playing Evil Scottish Guy is that he actually plays a second role; his true identity of Rumpelstiltskin, who Carlyle plays as…Even Eviller Scottish guy, this time with gold skin. This role is pure genius, because when he’s just messing around he’s like a panto villain, but when he turns it on you can tell that once false move and he’d get straight into his black-eyed, drooling zombie character from 28 Weeks Later.
So yeah, I like American TV, or rather I can cope with American TV, because you get more Robert Carlyle that way. And I’ll be fine as long as they don’t kill him off, or cancel the show. Fortunately, while the show is good, it’s not Fireflies, Pushing Daisies or Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip-fantastic, so I guess they’ll let it stay on the air.
But like I said before; I don’t really watch much TV.