The decade that broke me! Could anyone keep up with TV’s golden age?

Forget prestige television the real glory days were back when there was nothing on. No wonder people fib constantly about what they watch. Heres how to do it convincingly

Speaking as someone who writes about television for a living, the 2010s have absolutely broken me. It all used to be so simple. There were five channels, three of them good, and you watched whatever they decided to show you. It didnt matter if it was rubbish, either. Soap operas. Game shows. So many documentaries about the British Transport Police youd call me a liar if I tried to list them all. We watched it all, because thats what was on.

In retrospect, it was a golden age. Because now when you sit down to watch television, you basically have to choose between every single thing that has ever been made. The channels are still going, just, but theyre outgunned by streaming platforms with libraries that swell by the day. Netflix throws a new original series out every few days, plus a bank of buzzy imports. NowTV keeps you up to date with all the shows that get recapped by the sites you like. Amazon isnt easing off either, especially now that competition comes in the form of Apple and Disney and Facebook and Snapchat.

I know its amazing because people wont shut up about it … The Good Fight. Photograph: Patrick Harbron/CBS

Its too much. No wonder people are lying about what they watch. I do. I do it all the time. Not in print, of course, but socially. Isnt The Good Fight amazing? a friend will ask me. What choice do I have? Of course The Good Fight is amazing. I know its amazing because people wont shut up about how amazing it is. But that doesnt mean Ive watched it. I keep promising myself Ill get around to it, but I know I never will. Whenever an opportunity to watch The Good Fight arises, Ill immediately find myself wedged in a bottleneck of newer drama. Ill never watch The Good Wife. I have already said my goodbyes to it.

But my friends dont need to know that. Yeah, its amazing, Ill lie in response, knowing Ill be able to bluff my way through the next two minutes of vague interrogation by praising the actors and the premise before grabbing the conversation back by telling everyone how much I preferred Braindead, Robert and Michelle Kings little-watched Good Wife predecessor. Nobody watched Braindead. I am the only person in the entire world who watched Braindead. So now its my friends turn to feel inadequate.

The list of shows I havent watched this decade is vast … Divorce. Photograph: Craig Blankenhorn/AP

The list of shows I havent watched this decade is vast. I dipped out of The Walking Dead after a season, The Affair after a season, Divorce after a season. I couldnt convince my wife to try Rick and Morty, so Ive only seen a handful of those. I still havent and I shudder to admit this seen all of The Wire.

There isnt anything wrong with failing to keep up with the flood of television. Being honest about not watching something is admirable. But sometimes it just isnt possible. So in the spirit of end-of-decade good will, please allow me to share my top tips for lying about television you havent seen.

Rule one: Latch on to others opinions like your life depends on it

Alchemical? … Shrill. Photograph: Allyson Riggs/BBC/Brownstone Productions/Hulu

This is usually the safest bet. You are a person on the internet in the year 2019, so you will have been exposed to all kinds of tweets or reviews of things youve never watched. Use them. If people talk about Shrill, tell them that you think the casting of Aidy Bryant was alchemical (Emily Nussbaum, March 2019), then use that as a tangent to talk about a SNL clip you just saw on YouTube. If they talk about The Deuce, tell them the characters were more impactful than the political statements (Alan Sepinwall, October 2019). If theyre talking about After Life, tell them its mawkish and bad (Stuart Heritage, March 2019). This will probably be enough to get you by.

Rule two: pick a season

This is trickier, but it can be done. If people are discussing a show thats been on for a while, you can get away with claiming that one specific season is your favourite. As a rule, pick an earlier season if its a drama (because that will be when the premise was still intact) and a middle season if its a comedy (because they were still working out their patterns in the first season). Never, ever tell anyone that the final season of a show was your favourite. What if theyre talking about Dexter? Youll look like a maniac.

Rule three: utilise the Braindead principle

Jadore Dix Pour Cent! … if in doubt, go obscure. Photograph: France 2/Netflix

When in doubt, go obscure. If theyre talking about a show you havent seen, hit them back with a show they havent seen. Tell them how much you loved Crossing Lines or Dix Pour Cent or Kidding. But be careful; if your friends are a certain type of person, theyll volley back by singing the praises of an even more obscure show, and youll all end up discussing something nobody has ever seen. I believe this is the only reason why people ever talk about Sorry For Your Loss.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/dec/27/the-decade-that-broke-me-could-anyone-keep-up-with-tvs-golden-age

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