Book Review: Television Without Pity
Everything you need to know about the web site Television Without Pity - and why I hate it so much - can be found in the subtitle of their new book. It's called Television Without Pity: 752 Things We Love To Hate (And Hate To Love) About Television.
Why does it have to be like that? Why do they either have to "love to hate" or "hate to love" what they see on television? Is it not "hip" to really like television? I've long suspected that these people don't really like TV, they just find it a convenient place to use all of their snarky tools and be sarcastic. Of course, that doesn't mean that a book about television, even from them, couldn't hold some promise. But reading through the damn thing, this is what I found out about TWoP's view of television.
- All of the following things are bad: I Love Lucy (in fact, all comedies in black & white), The West Wing, Craig Kilborn, Kate & Allie, Will & Grace, Bosom Buddies, William Devane.
- The American version of The Office is only "pretty good."
- The two authors masturbate to pictures of Michael Ian Black every single evening.
There's more, of course. They laugh that Clay Aiken lost American Idol and that his fans had to "eat it." Yeah, he came in second and we didn't even hear from him after that. They say that "you don't see Michael J. Fox on TV much anymore." Yeah, I wonder why that is? They say that Regis Philbin is "coasting on past achievements." He is?? Do these people even watch TV? If anything, he's doing too many shows and hosting gigs, not coasting on the past.
The book is like a mini TV encyclopedia, laid out in alphabetical order. It's not a complete history of TV, just the stuff they wanted to talk about, which is fine. It's just that most of their observations are pretty banal. How did the S.S. Minnow get so blown off course if it was only going on a three hour tour? Yeah, like every casual TV fan hasn't talked about that the past 40 years. That's the TV-observation equivilent of "gee, airline food is really bad!"
They have a section on TV drinking games, but they leave out the "Hi Bob" drinking game for The Bob Newhart Show. Gah.
Most of the information you can get on the web, so this book really isn't worth getting. And the attitude...it seems like if it isn't modern and hip and ironic then it doesn't get much space in the book (see their comment that all black & white comedies are bad). But Michael Ian Black (who I happen to think is funny, too) is a god.
It's the holiday season, but if I can stop just one person from buying this book, I consider this review a success. In fact, I'm not even going to link to the book or their site.