One of these days, I’m going to watch Mad Men. I’m kind of biased against stories set in the 1960s, mostly because I’ve met too many middle aged people who can’t stop talking about Woodstock and how they just don’t make good music like that anymore. But it was a decade full of great political upheaval and social change, and I’m sure it serves as an excellent backdrop to one of television’s most critically praised shows. Mad Men just began its seventh season, and all the people I follow on Twitter can’t stop freaking out about it. I swear, I’ll get around to watching it, one of these days. Right after I watch The Wire, and Breaking Bad, and The X-Files…
A character from Mad Men. I’m 70% sure her name is Peggy. This actress played Zoe on The West Wing, so that’s cool. Image courtesy of Frank Ockenfels/AMC/EW.
It’s hard out there, for a television fan. My roommate can attest to the fact that I spend a goodly portion of each day watching shows. I have around eight that I watch weekly—nine, once Orphan Black returns on April 19. I’m a hardcore fan of many popular series, like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. But darn it all, I’m just lost when classmates start a conversation about Scandal.
In short, I have the biggest non-problem problem ever: the TV landscape is just too full of awesome shows. We’re living in an age of excellent TV, as many shows are on par with any quality cinematic experience. Back in the good old days, before there were thousands of television channels and dinosaurs roamed the Earth, there were a only a few solid shows that would be discussed over the water cooler at work the next day. Now, there’s a bunch of truly awesome shows with huge Twitter followings that you’re expected to watch. Sure, I’m keeping up with what’s happening in Westeros, but since I’ve never seen an episode of The Good Wife, I’m out of the pop culture loop.
Sunday nights exemplify the “everything is awesome and I don’t have time” struggle. Mad Men, Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, Veep, Once Upon A Time…all of these shows air on Sundays, and college dorm rooms do not come equipped with a fully functioning DVR. Also, like most students, I actually do take a bunch of classes and have real life commitments and responsibilities. It’s lame, I know, but sometimes reality must supersede television.
Not only must I catch up on what’s good now, I need to watch the pop culture phenomena from ten years ago. I must have relevant information for mid-2000s hits such as Friday Night Lights, Veronica Mars, and LOST, if only so I can finally understand what everyone was freaking out about when I was twelve.
Kristen Bell in the new Veronica Mars movie, which I will also watch some time in the nebulous future. Image courtesy of Robert Voets/EW.
Then you have the really awesome shows that you’ve seen before which are so good you must watch them again. For me, that’s basically anything Joss Whedon has ever made, especially Firefly and Dollhouse. Factor in the guilty pleasure shows and the sitcoms I watch when my brain hurts and the insane collegiate workload, and I barely have time for basic human interaction.
So yeah, I’ll watch Mad Man one of these days, maybe on the weekends this summer. But there comes a point where even the most hardcore pop culture junkie—such as myself—has to accept that not everything can be watched. Furthermore, you’re not obligated to watch what everyone else watches. It’s okay to watch ridiculous reruns of Full House on Sunday nights instead of serious critically acclaimed dramas, if it makes you happy. Other than melting your brain and selling you products, television’s true purpose is enjoyment. You’ll get around to watching those popular shows, sometime in the future.