The big, sprawling multi-season dramatic series that have received the greatest commendation in recent years — from The Sopranos to The Wire to Deadwood to Mad Men to Breaking Bad — have never seemed to me to be worth the enormous investment of time they require. The one that I followed the most closely, The Wire, is really fantastic — but I have to say, if a genie emerged from the lamp and told me that I could have all the hours spent watching The Wire back, and my memories of the show completely erased, as long as I used that time to read books, I would certainly take that deal.
That’s most emphatically not because I think written narrative intrinsically superior to filmed narrative. I don’t. It’s just that reading is the thing I do. Watching TV and movies, not so much. I’m far more likely to read about a TV show than to watch one; Breaking Bad is just the most recent illustration of than tendency. So sue me.
Exactly. The other night some friends were enthusiastically explaining why The Wire is the best television show ever. They kindly offered to let us borrow their copies of each season any time. This has happened lots of times with different people- usually it’s The Wire though these days the show not-to-be-missed is definitely Breaking Bad. And I’m sure they are very interesting, thought provoking, creative shows and I harbor no – zero! – condescension for their enthusiasts. But, like Jacobs, I love to read and have a really hard time imagining committing so much time to a television show. Maggie still thinks it’s funny and, probably, a bit strange that I petered out on Lost after sticking with it for a few seasons. I genuinely liked that show but eventually just couldn’t keep giving it my few and valuable recreational hours.
Of course, the downside of not watching the current “it” show is how many conversations I sit awkwardly through after admitting my ignorance.