Television viewing is something we generally do for ourselves. It’s an escapist thing, a pastime we can enjoy with friends just as much as we can on our own. No one watches TV for anyone else’s benefit – unless you are watching The Wire purely so you can hold conversations about it, or are stuck in a Gossip Girl Season Three marathon next to your spellbound girlfriend. Mostly, TV is for number one.
But we’re not perfect, us humans, and as a result we don’t always watch the TV we should, or even the TV we think we want to. How many times have you sat down with Season One of Mad Men only to make the last-minute switch to re-watch Season Two of Family Guy? Despite clamouring for more quality in my television viewing, I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to the idiot box sin. So here, at risk of losing all credibility, I put forth my top five guilty pleasure shows in the hope of salvation. It has been twenty-eight blog posts since my last confession.
As an occasionally masculine, relatively tall, often unshaven heterosexual male, I really shouldn’t enjoy Glee at all - but I did, at least for the first season, and I would sing its praises to anyone who would listen, which was no-one. The funny thing about Glee is that by liking it, you find yourself between the devil, a rock, a hard place, an audition for an M. Night Shyamalan movie and the deep blue sea as it was derided by almost everyone. Sporty guys didn’t want a bar of it because it was too camp, musical theatre people hated in on the basis it watered down the medium for television, TV people didn’t like it because of its wild swings in quality, etc. What’s a guy got to do for a Lea Michele high note around here? Glee has mountainous highs and spectacular lows, and though I’ve lost interest mid-second season, for a while there, Glee was my guilty pleasure show of choice – but admitting to liking it in public was a very dangerous game indeed.
4. SUPERHERO CARTOONS
Or, to put it more bluntly, shows that are designed primarily for children under the age of fifteen. Ever had a date visit your house and tried to explain away your complete series of Beast Wars, Batman the Animated Series and X-Men? If you have, I bet you haven’t done it successfully. The thing about most kids’ shows nowadays (the good ones) is that they are subtly designed with an extra layer for the adults on top of the show itself. Spongebob Squarepants is an example of a show with a surprising amount of wacky, out-of-the-box humour that adults can get a kick out of as well. For me though, I love superhero cartoons. One of my favourite TV shows of all time (probably Top 5) is Batman: The Animated Series*. It’s artistic, dramatic, dark, funny and exciting with a vintage aesthetic that lends the whole thing a timeless feel, and has some expertly constructed and animated episodes.
But to anyone else, it’s just a Batman cartoon.
*Other great cartoons for kids? Beast Wars, X-Men, Spectacular Spider-man…
3. DANCING WITH THE STARS
This is the one show on this list that I enjoy purely for ironic reasons and get no genuine enjoyment out of whatsoever. For me it’s train wreck television, a gaudy parade of sequins, boobs, abs, hair extensions, terracotta fake tans, inane comments and awkward moments that makes the Mardi Gras look like The Man who Wasn’t There. This is a show in which someone removing a shirt, sleeves, dress or anything is cause for an entire audience of sober, presumably sane people to woo like sloshed party girls hanging out the top of a limousine. When Daniel Macpherson replaced Daryl Somers as host and added a completely unnecessary amount of class and panache to proceedings, I lost interest a little, but I always come back. Who can resist a patented Sonia Kruger awkward one-liner?
I think Wipeout is funny. I think people jumping from one big ball to another and falling off is funny and I don’t care what you think. Moreover, the commentary is far wittier than it has any right to be and the contestants are ready for anything. Note: this is the American version of Wipeout, not the British or Australian versions. Doesn’t anyone have an original idea anymore?
Yeah. You heard right. I like wrestling. Now before you put this blog on your ‘blocked pages’ list, never to frequent this godforsaken corner of the Internet again, let me explain myself. I only casually watch wrestling. I check out the big events – Wrestlemania, The Royal Rumble, Summerslam, etc. – and other than that I just follow along. But I can’t pretend that I don’t get incredibly excited when Wrestlemania comes along – and before you utter the time-honoured catchphrase of the professional wrestling Muggle – ‘you know it’s fake, right?’ – yes, I do. It’s fake, but so is Pulp Fiction, and people seem to like that. I like it because it is laugh-out loud ridiculous, hilarious and occasionally exciting in the way only a scripted sport could be. But if you catch me watching it, I’ll deny everything.
WWE was the inspiration of this list - Wrestlemania 27, which went to air Monday morning Australian time, was its usual ridiculous, patchy, highly entertaining self. There is just no way to adequately explain the excitement involved in seeing someone kick out of a finishing move, in watching The Rock or Stone Cold tear some poor wrestler a new one on the microphone, in understanding that the whole thing is a game and trying to predict how it’s been planned to end. It’s not sport. It’s sports entertainment, and I am entertained.
Please feel free to add your guilty pleasure show to the list in the comments section!