Friday Conversation is a new weekly feature we’re trying out, in which we, the staff, will pose a question in an attempt to engage you, the reader, in a fun little discussion on Friday afternoons, because Friday afternoons are stupid and boring for everyone. Please feel free to comment early and often, as the “conversation” part of this only works if we all get involved. Play nice.
There are too many things these days. I realized that when I was looking at the Emmy nominations yesterday. It is quite literally my job to stay up to date on current, critically-acclaimed television shows, and even I haven’t seen everything that got nominated. (Sorry, Ray Donovan and House of Lies.) Between networks expanding into summer programming, and both premium and basic cable channels doubling/tripling down on making quality original programming, and streaming sites like Netflix getting involved, there’s just too much to try to keep up with. And that’s before you even take into account other forms of pop culture — movies, music, and books — that require less of a time commitment than a multi-season TV show, but still pull you in a million directions you feel like you should be going at any given time. It’s madness, really.
And all that is just trying to stay up to date on the stuff out there right now. It doesn’t even take into account the things you missed years ago, for one reason or another, and would like to get caught up on, if you can find the time. I’ll give you an example: I watched the first season of Friday Night Lights and really dug it. But as the second season and its weird murder/cover-up storyline unspooled, I found episodes piling up in my DVR, unwatched and later deleted, because I figured the show might have gone downhill for good. Then in 2008 I went to law school. Law school is terrible for a million reasons, not the least of which being the way you need to rigidly ration out your free time. The short version of this sad story is that the final three seasons of Friday Night Lights fell by the wayside as I spent that same period of time learning about torts and balancing tests and the tax code and such. (The even shorter version is “Don’t go to law school.”)
Cut to a few years later and I still haven’t gotten caught up. It’s insane. But every time I sit down and plan to, I remember I have a DVR filled with leftovers from a Sunday night programming pile-up, or a Netflix original series to pound through, or another show that’s still on television that I’d like to get caught up on (or at least familiar with) so I can write silly things about it on a slow summer afternoon. I want to watch Friday Night Lights. I really, really do. But with each passing month, it plants its feet more and more squarely inside my pop culture blind spot, along with Titanic, the Lord of the Rings movies, and any book that isn’t about basketball.
All of which brings me to today’s discussion question: What is YOUR pop culture blind spot? Movies, television, music, books, comics, anything. Let’s air it all out. And to prove what a safe space this is, I’ve enlisted a few members of the UPROXX staff to spill theirs, too.
It’s not that I don’t want to watch The Shield. I would love to watch the Shawn Ryan show that basically did for basic cable what The Sopranos did for HBO. Plus, it’s where many of my favorite television people got their start: Kurt Sutter, Walton Goggins, and one of ‘The Walking Dead’s’ former showrunners, Glen Mazzara. But it’s 88 episodes! That’s like 70 hours. It’s one of those groundbreaking series I wish had been cancelled after two seasons, just because then I could find the time to watch it all. But five seasons?! It’s too much. I’ll have to wait until I retire.
I haven’t been watching Mad Men. I know, I know, I’m terrible. I got to it late, watched the first season and about half of the second on DVD, and it was great, but at some point I just felt like I was so far behind that I lost any hope of ever catching up. Why do I feel so terrible about this? There’s just too much good TV now. It almost feels like having a second job trying to stay caught up on all the good TV out there. Trying to stay on top of critically acclaimed TV shows is probably the hardest part about being white. Sometimes I feel like the white equivalent of an Uncle Tom is someone who hasn’t watched the last season of Breaking Bad. Anyway, I’m sorry. Some day I will catch up, and we will all have many spirited discussions about Don Draper and Sally and the grey-haired one and Tutti over Trader Joe’s wine and a cheese ball. Especially Tutti.
There are hundreds of books I know I should have read by now, but whatever, NERDS, I prefer words coming from the mouths of pretty people on glass screens, not my imagination. And there are few people more pretty than Timothy Olyphant, the star of Justified, yes, but also Deadwood, which I’ve only seen a single random episode of. I didn’t have HBO when it was on, and while I’ve caught up on all the other great It’s Not TV series — The Sopranos, The Wire, Arli$$, etc. — I’m ashamed to admit that everything I know about that motherf*cking c*cksucker Al Swearengen I learned from secondhand sources. But I’ve read War and Peace so that counts for something, right? Right…?
I somehow made it through my entire adolescence and well into adulthood without ever watching The Princess Bride. I’d like to think it’s because something something there’s two things I don’t f*ck with: condoms and movies with “princess” in the title. But I’ve definitely seen the She-Ra movie so I guess that argument doesn’t hold water. I blame my friends and my parents. I totally faked it on those Prince Oberyn-Inigo Montoya memes.
Until two days ago, I had never watched an episode of The Wire. I weighed whether or not to even tweet about it out of embarrassment. Over the years, when I have told people that I hadn’t seen The Wire, I am usually met with a mix of horror and revulsion. How could someone who calls themselves a pop culture writer and TV aficionado never have seen The Wire? Two reasons, my friends. One is that it wasn’t streaming on Netflix yet and I ain’t got time for DVDs. The second is that I knew that The Wire was out there and I knew it was good, so what’s the rush? Why hurry to drink a fine bottle of wine that you’ve been aging? So thanks to HBO Go and a dearth of summer programming, the vintage has finally been uncorked.
Your thoughts below.