In Praise of Rubbish TV

In Praise of Rubbish TV

I was a TV-show binger before binging was cool. I distinctly remember recording as many (out of order) episodes of House as I possibly could to spend my 12th birthday devouring. That was 2006 and my love for TV has not dissipated. I do, unfortunately, watch a lot less of it though.

I’ve had to cut down my viewing schedule, but the shows that have made the cut aren’t necessarily the best and brightest of small screen entertainment. The shows I can’t give up are the easiest, trashiest, and most familiar. I’m talking detective shows where I know who the bad guy is going to be in the first 5 minutes. Superhero series where they recap the past 5 seasons in the opening credits. Comedies whose laughter tracks tell me exactly when I’m meant to be having a good time. Period dramas where I can get carried away by completely unrealistic romanticism.

And, yes, I have watched and enjoyed the Kardashians.

I like to think I have good taste generally, that I can seek out quality. But I love trashy TV like I love pop music and anything with a picture of a puppy on it. I love it because it makes me feel happy, because it makes me stop thinking.

As much as I’ve called the TV I love trashy, I don’t think it’s bad. It’s very good at doing what it does (until it gets into the 14th season and the writers have clearly run out of storylines, NCIS my old friend I’m looking at you). They’re perfectly crafted pieces of pop tv. The characters are just interesting enough that you invest, but not too complicated. The story lines are easily digested, and quite often guessable, whilst still being pretty engaging. They have moments of darkness to give some contrast to their generally light humour.

The average shot length on these shows is something like 5 seconds. The literally tell you what to look at. You don’t even need to make that decision for yourself. You just have to sit back, relax and lose yourself.

They’re vanilla ice-cream but my gosh is vanilla ice cream damn tasty.

I mean what more could you want when you’re tired and frazzled than something that promises to replace your worries with those of a man who claims to be the fastest man in the world try and stop another guy who runs a bit faster and has a silly name like Zoom? How bad can life be if there’s not a man who can run fast enough to go back in time after you? How can you think about how busy you are when you’re watching them battle it out?

I’m someone who works hard, and stresses out even harder on top of generally just being pretty anxious. Very few things calm me down as much as 45minutes of escapism courtesy of the latest episode of one of my shows.

It’s not just the shows themselves it’s the rituals I’ve built around them now. The rotation they’re on that always leaves me with something to look forward to. The process of getting cosy in my pyjamas with a cup of tea before settling down at the end of the day. The way they always used to bring me and my mum together on school nights rather than me just being holed up doing homework.

I know some people will complain that I’m part of an over stimulated generation who can’t relax without being entertained. That I would be better off with a book, or meditating, or at least watch something “better”. Perhaps they’re right. But I do all of those things, and rubbish TV still has a huge part in my day because there’s something that only it can do.  It’s an audio visual comfort blanket and I’m not quite ready to give it up.

So, thank you to House for getting through the angst of being a teenager. Thank you to Instant Star (yes I said it) of introducing me to fandoms and a community that supported me without even knowing it. Thank you to the Gilmore Girls for my GCSEs. Thank you to Criminal Minds for my IB Results. Thank you to Suits and New Girl for that awkward period before I started Uni. Thank you to The Good Wife and Scandal for getting me through some of the tough patches of the first years of uni. Thank you to Pretty Little Liars and the Kardashians for curing summer holiday loneliness. Thank you to Arrow and Flash, I sometimes mock you but you’ve helped hold me together these last two years. Thank you to the NCISs, CSIs, Hawaii Five 0, and all of the procedural dramas for being there for me for way too long.

Thank you to all of the shows I haven’t listed here.

The next time someone asks me what I’ve been watching I won’t be embarrassed to tell them the truth. Trashy TV is a big part of my life and I genuinely think it has helped me more than it was designed to.



  1. August 10, 2017 / 10:18 am

    late but, gosh this post resonated with me the most. i love watching TV despite not a religious binge-watcher — i watch more movies, simply. and this is the reason why i watch TV a lot. it’s an escapism. the sense of calmness where there’s only me and the series/movie/show that i watch is unbeatable. the ritual i built around it feels familiar and safe and comfortable and 10/10 i’d do it over and over again. i look forward to coming home and de-stress myself by watching TV every weekday. thank you for writing this. all hail rubbish TV.

    • Natalie
      August 11, 2017 / 5:01 pm

      This pretty much sums up all of my feelings Tannya, it’s so nice to know I’m not the only one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *