Oh, the secrets we keep when we watch TV

Published 12:53 am Friday, February 26, 2010

I’m not usually ashamed to admit things I enjoy — guilty pleasures, I guess you’d call them.

Things like “I enjoy watching Tyler Perry’s Madea movies,” or “Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ is my favorite book” are true for me. And, when I share those truths, many people are quick to let me know their disapproving ways.

(If any of you do enjoy these things, don’t be offended. You know as much as I do, the Canterbury Tales has seen its share of ridicule. And let’s face it, at the rate Tyler Perry makes these movies, Madea is soon to be the next Earnest).

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Nevertheless, I like them, and if someone asked, I wouldn’t think twice about saying so.

There are plenty of things I enjoy, however, I’d think two and three and four and so many times about that I would rather just keep it to myself than think so hard.

I realized this just Monday night. I got off work and was talking to a friend on the phone. In mid-conversation, I realized what day it was and said I’d have to go. I had TV shows recorded and waiting to be watched.

“What were they?” my pesky friend wanted to know. One was “House,” the other, “I don’t think I want to say.”

That of course spurred interest, but I knew if I admitted to watching this television series, I wouldn’t soon hear the end of it. I had never thought about how I’d explain liking this show, but then again, no one had ever asked.

I eventually caved.

My friend’s reaction was just as predicted — lots and lots of laughter.

I tried to justify my fondness to the program — “I was watching the show one day when nothing else was on. I didn’t know what it was at the time. Now, I’m just curious what will happen in those youngins’ lives.”

It wasn’t helping, and so, after receiving a vow of secrecy, I was off to watch not one, but two episodes of my terribly-acted, immorally-horrifying teenage drama television show. (I will only tell you its name if you guess).

That’s when I got to thinking — I know this show is bad, and yet, I tune in without missing a beat every week. This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself in such a conundrum.

When I was younger, I used to watch “All My Children” with my babysitters. And that continued through all the summers of my high school years. I’ve occasionally been hooked on a reality series, like the one season of Real World I watched religiously. And on more than one occasion, I’ve been drawn into one of those awful Lifetime movies where someone inevitably has been beaten, kidnapped, raped or killed … by a man.

Is it just stupidity? Boredom? Dedication? I think I’ll choose the latter for my own self-esteem and yours, too.

Yes, admit it, I’m not the only one who enjoys something I’m embarrassed to talk about. I’m not the only one who’s gotten hooked on a TV show or movie and can’t figure out where the urge to keep watching has come from. I know I’m not.

If I were, all those shows like “Survivor” or “American Idol” or “George Lopez” wouldn’t still be televised.

I’ll bet anyone who watches TV at all can probably relate in some way this dilemma.

Either there’s a television show you watched when you were young that used to be good and has just progressively turned sour, like professional wrestling. (I’m told, anyway), or, there’s that awful TV show or movie that for some reason, you find yourself hooked to watching. Watching it is bad, but not knowing what happens is possibly even worse.

The first reason I’d say is determination, hoping one day the show will reach the peak of its glory days. The other is probably just for entertainment — maybe you relate somehow to the characters or don’t at all, and that’s what is so interesting about tuning in.

Maybe, TV’s not meant for all this thinking. It might just be made for watching aimlessly.

I’m determined “The Office” will once again be as good as it was in Seasons 1-5. That’s why I haven’t missed any of the so far predominately disappointing Season 6. I can relate to characters on Seinfeld. And, then there are shows probably just meant to be secrets.

Holli Keaton is news editor of The Messenger. She can be reached via email at holli.keaton@troymessenger.com.