This past Tuesday, Vulture posted their Fall TV Calculator, an interesting (if cruel) tool that allows you to calculate the hours you’ll dedicate to television this fall based on the shows you plan to watch. In a turn of events that should surprise no one who has ever had a conversation with me, I scored in the top 82% of Vulture readers with a whopping 298 hours and 4 minutes planned for fall TV. That is an embarrassing statistic and a bold commitment for someone with a full-time job and a desire to maintain relationships with family and friends. Even more shameful, however, is that I’ll probably watch more than that.
I enjoy many hobbies but dedicate by far the most time and attention to the small screen. I’ve always been a passionate TV watcher (you should have seen how I lobbied my parents to get basic cable in high school), but my habit has grown increasingly time consuming in the past few years. We are in the middle of a so-called “Golden Age of Television.” This period has not only produced more scripted content on the air than ever before, but has given rise to the phenomenon of recap culture. These days it is no longer enough to just watch TV, one must understand and be able to talk semi-intelligently about each episode. I once took a course on The Wire, and my professor often talked about this idea of “cultural capital,” the intangible value that comes with having seen, read or heard some work of art generally considered to be good. I am obsessed with having it, so these days, with nearly 400 scripted shows airing and even middle-of-the-pack stuff considered “worth watching,” I’ve got my work cut out for me.
I occasionally refer to myself as a “TV Superfan,” but that hardly does it justice. My behavior is probably better classified as an addiction, since I’ve started to reorganize my life to accommodate my TV habit. This manifests in turning down invites so I can catch up Scandal, or setting aside a Saturday to watch the terribly-named (but actually quite good) Scrotal Recall in order to follow along with my favorite TV critic’s most recent column. This past summer, which was perhaps the best TV summer of all time, I started using color-coded excel documents to help me keep track of all the shows I “needed” to watch (see above).
You can see why I suspect 298 hours and 4 minutes to be a conservative estimate. Vulture’s calculator only accounted for programs airing in the fall. I still have to consider the critically-acclaimed shows that I didn’t catch this summer, the shows I started but never finished, the shows that I’d like to re-watch before they return in the winter, and the best-of-TV shows that I still haven’t seen (gasp*). Will I ever read a book again?
Though my TV habit grows ever closer toward unmanagability, I don’t expect to give it up anytime soon. Happy Endings brings me too much joy to not rewatch it every couple of years. I need to stay on top of new fall TV shows in case another Jane the Virgin comes along. Live-texting episodes of Hannibal with my friend Molly was one of my favorite summer activities these past three years. I never want to not watch something like Friday Night Lights for the first time. TV forever.
That isn’t to say the the depressing 298 hours and 4 minutes verdict hasn’t inspired me to make some changes. I’ve started this blog so I might take my love of TV and produce something with it. As it stands I’ve just been consuming, and 300 + hours is a lot to give up when you have nothing tangible to show for it.
I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do with McCullar Me Bad. For now it will just be a place to put some TV thoughts. I may do a close examination of all the shows I’ve ever binge-watched (going back to the early 2000s, when I set the VCR timer to record episodes of ER that aired on TNT while I was at school). I may write about the best shows I’m currently watching (Fargo S2, you rock!). I still have a few series to cross off my color-coded excel document, so maybe I’ll write about those.
I hope you enjoy, though I make no promises to be entertaining. All I ask is that you not judge me to harshly. I know this all makes me sound like a sad, lonely, crazy person. Did I mention I am a single woman who lives alone with her two cats? If the shoe fits….
*Calm down, I’ve read the books.