When I watch television, I want to see a game, laugh or learn something. Otherwise, I'm not interested. There are only a couple of dramas that I bother watching - FlashForward and Dexter. I don't have the time or energy to devote to watching regular people become celebrities, I don't care who survives, who races across the world fastest, which model is top and I find no enjoyment in watching short-order cooks scream at people. That's just me. I think we have plenty of celebrities and I see no need to create more by putting regular people on TV.
I don't consider "reality" shows entertaining. Besides, when have you ever seen anyone act normal when a video camera is five feet away from them? If they want to show us doing what we really do, there should be a show called America Uses the Toilet or America Masturbates or America Picks its Nose. America Watches Television could be a reality show, but ironically I don't think anyone would watch.
When it comes to episodic comedy, there isn't anything like Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm. I was trying to describe the show to someone who had never seen it, and I came up with a few standard themes:
- Some seemingly innocuous event will occur that later is hugely important,
- a person that Larry insults will later be needed for something he wants or
- an awkward social situation is made more so by something Larry either says or does.
Last week's show contained two of the three elements. He spent the first two minutes trying to open a blister pac that contained a GPS unit. That's both funny and real. He gave up on it, and pursued his awkward social life. Once he decided to buy a box cutter to open the GPS package, the tool itself became the source of comedy when he needed it to extricate Jeff from his seat belt, only to find that the box cutter was encased in the very packaging he bought it to open.
I think, when a writer comes up with that scenario, he sits back with his arms folded and grins, realizing that he has created something beautiful.
As a viewer, it softens the blow of my cable bill to realize that there is still quality writing on television, and in the morass of junk and made-up celebrities the best things are the things that people create.