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Addmittedly addicted
to useless television

Posted December 9, 2005

There’s bad TV and then there’s useless TV. Why is it that with only two weeks left of school and plenty of papers and research to occupy our time, we spend pointless hours in front of the TV? Television that’s so useless we know from a logical and academic point of
view that there is no greater good or value to it. We won’t walk away better people for having watched this type of TV or learn something valuable about ourselves or our communities. It’s empty calories like a bag of potato chips or candy, but we gotta have it.

Just as we have those great shows that we watch every week for their excellent plots, interesting characters, important messages and socially redeeming quality, we can’t wait to come home from a hectic day at work and school to watch the useless shows too.
I have a list of final papers I’m writing for the end of the fall semester.

After a long day at work, I know I should try to make a dent in that list, but instead my brain is pleading with me to take a break and watch “7th Heaven,” in my eyes, one of the most useless shows around.

I settle down on the couch and organize my collection of remotes around me like a mother hen.

It’s relaxation time, a chance to gel.

Each week I end up watching some really lame TV with my family. We wince at the acting and wonder aloud how they can play these parts with straight faces. Even in its tenth season, this silly show has raked in 5.1 million viewers. When it finally ends in May, “7th Heaven” will have been the longest running family drama on television. It takes itself very seriously about family values and moral lessons, but its execution is more of a parody. So our family bonds as we make fun of the Camden family
antics.

“This is the stupidest show I’ve ever seen,” we say every week.

Sure these hours could be more productively spent. I’m an advocate for the written word. And I look forward to the way my classes and work challenge me. But I also think we need useless TV. And I’m not the only one.

She gets her fix every night watching an episode she taped during the day. She is smart and very conscious of real-world issues; she just happens to be a soap junkie. For 31 years, my mom has remained a loyal fan of “All My Children,” one of the longest running daytime soap operas.
When she was in labor with her first child, me, she and my dad turned on the soap in the delivery room so they wouldn’t miss an episode. Like any soap, there is no deeper meaning to “All My Children” and it can’t even be admired for storyline or acting most of the time. It’s because shows like this allow us to escape from our busy lives jammed with emotionally trying times and personal challenges that we watch such mindless TV.

Each week, I trade reactions about my favorite useless shows with friends at school.

“Laguna Beach” is one of these – a fun, half hour show for me, my brother, a junior environmental science major at USC and my sister, a high school senior. Unwinding as we watch, we don’t think about much of anything so after the show we are refreshed and ready to get to work.

As long as there’s a balance, useless TV is rejuvenating.

So go ahead, watch some useless TV over the holidays. You’ll be a better person for it.

Bailey Porter, a senior journalism major, is web editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at porterb@ulv.edu.