Why I Don't 'Hate Watch' Anything On TV, Even 'Smash' And Reality Shows
Tim Goodman on TV's Newest Trend: 'Hate Watching'
If you're a fan of television and use social media at all -- or troll for recaps and the comments they elicit -- then you know all about "hate watching."
And tonight, the scripted drama that's probably the poster child for hate watching, Smash, returns for its second season. Already people are hating on it. Or hoping it's not "fixed" so they can still hate watch it without being let down by, say, an improvement in quality or the shoring up of some characters.
I'm not a hate watcher. As a professional television critic I already watch plenty of shows I hate. Because I have to review them. And then I have to check back to see if they stayed awful or, unicorn time, got better. Once a clear assessment of a show can be made, I snap off the rear view mirror and go forward.
The essential issue here is time. We're living in a TV world of unprecedented options. There are a staggering number of shows on television to choose from and if, like I do, you focus almost exclusively on scripted series, there's still an unholy, time-sucking amount out there to follow. The blessing (curse?) here is that so much of those choices are good. Many of them great.
We are in that era where the drama Renaissance shows no signs of faltering. And hell, comedies are better than they have been in years, though most of them are low-rated and fall prey to the numbers game. For some viewers, the choices are confounding and they seek a kind of freedom from choice. They want their friendly favorite television critic to cut through the clutter and tell them what to watch. Unfortunately for them, even doing that leaves a breathtaking number of options.
If 75 percent to television is crap and 25 percent is great, these days that 25 percent includes more shows than ever before.
I've even told people who are way behind on seminal and/or influential series like The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, etc. to drop cable entirely and just rent or stream the shows. There's been so much amazing television in the last decade that, like readers trying to pour over the classics they never got to, the existing inventory is so immense that everything current can wait. That certainly rules out wasting time on series that get canceled after you've invested time in them, plus you don't get a situation like The Killing. And it allows debates, such as the one involving whether or not Homeland frittered away its greatness in Season 2, to play out definitively while you're busy watching Breaking Bad.
For those of us who are essentially all caught up and current in television, we don't have that luxury. Instead, we have the burden of time, of selective elimination. For example, how do you keep up with -- a random and conservative number -- 15 very strong television shows (including some nightly examples like The Daily Show, etc., plus David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel), go to work, maybe take care of family or kids, or go to college and pay bills, get your car fixed, clean the house, find time to work out, see big screen movies and then have enough time left over to hate watch a show that mostly annoys you?
I do not get that. At all.