If you've ever been to college, you know: most college students don't watch television. They're busy having a social life, doing schoolwork, going to classes, parties, bible studies, etc... Whatever their excuse, they simply don't (usually) plop down on the couch for five or six hours at a time to watch television.
However, before moving away from home, I was a pretty avid television watcher. I had my schedule, based on which day it was, of course. Come to think of it, though, I don't think I liked many of those shows. None of them made any impression on me what so ever. There were exceptions of course: Home Improvement, The Cosby Show, and others that I can't remember right now. So, since school has let out, I've been pushed back into my old TV watching days, but hopefully with a more discerning eye. So, anyway, I've thought of some categories of TV shows that have caught my eye recently.
Best TV show with character: World's Strictest Parents on MTV. First of all, let me say that another category it would win is "Least Accurate Title for a TV show". Basically, MTV took troubled teens from California and dropped them off at a pastor's house in the midwest for a few weeks. The pastor also has three other teenagers of his own living in the house. In the specific episode that I watched, there were two teens, a guy and a girl. The girl was fairly compliant throughout the entire episode, but the guy was a rebellious son of a gun for the first half of the episode. Also, let me say that the parents were not strict, but they were clear on rules and consequences and stuck to the enforcement on the kids. The only rules they really laid down were: No drugs, no alcohol, no sex, and I think a curfew (it's been a few weeks since I've seen the episode). Anyway, to be frank, this was a touching show. I was about halfway to crying when the end of the episode came around. It was very clear that the pastor and the rebellious boy had begun a relationship of trust over the course of his journey there, and it was true and loving. I had to verify many times that this show was in fact on MTV.
Best reminder that Americans have forgotten their history: 1000 Ways to Die on Spike. Basically, an episode of this show basically showcases of about 10 cases of death that were unusual. They have a quick re-enactment, a tangential "expert" to comment in general on whatever may have been wrong with the individual or circumstances surrounding his or her death (very loosely), then they give it a funny name and a number and move on! None of this material is given the proper tone. They rip out the dignity of humanity by making light of how people come to end their lives. These were real people with real problems, who probably struggled with them for years, hurting their family, their loved ones with either the way they fought it, or the way it came out after their untimely deaths. To be curt, it's disgusting. But, it also reminds me of the bloodlust of Roman citizens. They piled into the Colosseum to see deaths as a sporting event. However, as the crowds diminished, managers had to up the creativity of the deaths. This seems to be the case here, as well. The base idea of this show is "let's list a bunch of gruesome ways that real people die so that we'll catch people's attentions and entertain them with some quick quips so that they won't feel disgusted afterwards."
Best repackaging of a classic show: American Gladiators on NBC. God, I love this show. As some of you know, I already have a name picked out: Rhino. However, as few of you know, I gave serious thought into entering this past year. I didn't know when graduate school would start for me, so I didn't send in an audition tape, but I'll be ready this year. Anyway, this gem of a has pretty much everything the 80's show did and more: traditional American values, stories of normal everyday Americans rising to the challenge and competing against each other and what seem like Titans that have risen out of Greek mythology. Also, some of the best classic challenges are back: the Ring Swing, the Pyramid, Assault, and of course, the iconic Joust. I was so glad to see that this show was given a second chance. Although corny at times, they always applaud the persons who come in second place for finishing the grueling last challenge, which is something that is rarely seen outside of kids' sporting events.
Worst TV preacher: Joel Osteen. He's creepy. I don't like the globe spinning behind him, his toothy smile, or his sculpted hair. Just creepy.