As I’m watching yet another re-run of the same episode of Scrubs on Comedy Central whilst eating my lunch, I contemplate again the utter rubbish that plagues our TV screens. Normally, I’ll say “I realised” or “I began to understand” but in this case, this does not fit: bad TV is an existential dilemma.
Now I know that I am about to open an enormous can of worms, especially considering the fact that it is a topic surrounded by greatly diverse opinions. Then again, most of the topics I write about are like that and this is, after all, The World According To Fred. So.
I will openly admit that I’m a teleholic. I follow nine TV shows, and that’s without mentioning those that I just watch every now and then, like Scrubs, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. And apart from Dr. Who, Torchwood and Outcasts all the programmes I watch are American. We as the British people seem to have resigned to the fact that everything America produces is flashier and cooler than what we can do (except for cars and biscuits. The Mini and the custard cream outstrip anything the USA has. Oh, and Harry Potter of course). And yet when it comes to television, we aren’t even putting up a fight. Our answers to the hit shows Glee, One Tree Hill and Desperate Housewives are The Only Way Is Essex, Made in Chelsea and Geordie Shore. I mean seriously? If I wanted to watch a load of narcissistic, untalented morons prance around then I would watch the auditions for the X Factor. The programmes seem to be a cross between a reality TV show and a scripted drama, which creates more of a train crash than anything else. I mean, if it’s a reality TV show, where is my option to have them all shipped off and hidden from society? Please, enlighten me on how these all work, because I have never been more confused to see an ignorant bunch of egotists on my TV screen. I haven’t watched the shows, no, but the trailers that interrupt my viewing of better programmes tell me everything I need to know. What qualities do these excuses for entertainment actually bring to the table? For example, Ugly Betty teaches that the beauty on the inside is more important than the out; and Glee teaches that you have to love yourself whoever you are – because of your faults, rather than in spite of them. The Only Way Is Essex? Ah, that takes loving yourself to a whole new, but entirely superficial level. The Only Way Is Essex teaches you that the real you is not someone worth being, but with a religious appliance of oompa loompa make-up, you can be someone worth knowing. Yes, this is exactly the kind of lesson we want to be putting out to the nation. The funny thing is, when I was at the Harry Potter premier in London, Ollie from Made In Chelsea befouled the red carpet by turning up. And then he had the audacity to reach for and try to sign my Harry Potter book. No! I am sorry (well actually, no I’m not) but these pages were reserved for my childhood idols, not some washed up idiot who got lucky by wondering in front of a camera without having ever cut or washed his hair. Not only now have we made these cretins famous, but now they believe that they are as important as the real actors that have slaved away for years to portray a message worth repeating, rather than which hair product is best for slimy egomaniacs.
Now for a TV show that gets the heart pounding in an entirely different way: as in, not from anger and frustration, but from excitement. The Vampire Diaries. For those of you who I know who are reading this, yes I can hear your sigh of exasperation. But why not! The show is amazing, gaining better lines, better plot points and more fans by every episode. It epitomises what modern TV should be about – love triangles and cliffhangers and characters so lovable that you fly the highs and scrape through the lows with them. Of course, the bountiful plenty of hot shirtless guys doesn’t hurt, but what I’m saying is that it’s about much more than a spray of fake tan and a false smile. I am one of those people that openly weeps at films, but it takes a true masterpiece to do that, and The Vampire Diaries managed that. I highly doubt that Made In Chelsea could pull that off, except for those that are mourning for the bygone era of decent TV. And for some unfathomable reason, despite the fact that it revolves around vampires, witches and werewolves (not to mention the mortal relationship issues that are sometimes just as perilous) TVD is somehow more believable than a group of people prancing around like ignoramuses. People love to watch what we all once or maybe still aspire to be – and I can guarantee that people will rather be the heroine in a fairy tale than a faker in real life. Which is why something made in Mystic Falls will always be more realistic and more enjoyable than anything Made In Chelsea.