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October 7, 2015

TV stars say they don't watch TV ... are they lying?

by Jason Hughes, posted Aug 21st 2008 3:04PM
Jennifer Love HewittI've heard and read it a million times in interviews. Johnny X of the show YZ says he just doesn't have time to watch much TV. Maybe the news here or there. And I'm sorry, but I was always pretty suspicious of that. Even moreso when they say they've never watched much TV. Then why did they want to get into TV in the first place? Frazier Moore of the AP talked about the phenomenon of TV actors shunning TV and speculated it may have to do with the old stigma that TV acting is somehow akin to writing pulp romance novels. After all, "real" writers moonlight in that arena, albeit with pen names.

I wonder, though, if it isn't more that they're trying to put on an appearance of someone who is above the "pedestrian" fare of television, elevating themselves to the so-called loftier perches of the stage and big screen actors. After all, don't many television actors aspire to move onto the more prestigious film world. Is television still something to be ashamed of?

I know men who admitted to me privately that they love So You Think You Can Dance, but can't admit it publicly because it would damage their masculinity. Let's set aside the very obvious insecurities they must have about their own manhood and consider the idea of being ashamed that you like something. Maybe to some actors, admitting that they watch and enjoy television is somehow beneath what they think they should be.

Of course, like the homophobes I know, these actors are incredibly misguided. I'd like to think television can reach as high an artistic achievement as anything on stage or film. Sure it often doesn't and you wind up with Emmy nominations all over the place for Two and a Half Men (and what does that say about the Emmy in general?), but who's going to stand there and argue with me that everything at the cinema or on the stage is of the highest integrity and quality? I've seen the Nicolas Cage remake of The Wicker Man. You're not fooling anyone in that bear suit, Nic. Just awful.

TV actors argue that they're far too busy now to watch television, since shooting schedules make for such long days. But I thought much of that time was the "hurry up and wait" adage. That means lots of time in make-up or sitting around in trailers. With DVRs and streaming online, it sounds like a lousy excuse these days. An argument that does make a bit of sense is that once you get into a particular field, you find yourself less inclined to participate as a fan of that same field. Stephen King says he avoids reading anything similar to whatever projects he's working on so that he won't inadvertently be influenced by them.

Moore states at one point in his article that when he did get admissions of television show viewing, they tended to only fess up to watching whatever the latest "smart" show is. "Oh, well I watch The Sopranos."

"That's off the air now."

"It is? Right, well I meant to say Dexter."

I think they read the industry trades and follow the online chatter to know which shows are considered the most highbrow so they can just say they watch those. Then they run home and catch up on the week's Judge Judy and Jerry Springer in shameful depravity.

So how about you guys? We all watch TV or we wouldn't be here. Have you ever been ashamed to admit that you enjoy or watch a particular TV show? Should we be ashamed of our "guilty pleasures?" I watch television and movies and enjoy theater. I read books, magazines and comic books. I play video games and board games. I think Olivia Munn is hot and Jennifer Love Hewitt is all the reason I need to keep tuning in to Ghost Whisperer! But I'll even admit to tearing up a bit sometimes at the end of those episodes. Yes, it's contrived and yes I know exactly what's coming but damned if they don't know that perfect combination of sappy music and Love's leaky eyes to get me right there.

Will it make me gay to watch So You Think You Can Dance? Or was I rendered homosexual already by having been in dance for ten years? Am I less smart-like because I enjoy The Girls Next Door? I like football and figure skating. Is such a thing even possible? Are your viewing habits reflective of what kind of person you are? Should we be judged by what we watch? Should we judge ourselves?

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I don't watch much television myself either. I'm not an actor or writer in that genre of life. My watching is typically focused on watching the weekly NASCARace. Which is something we all do daily - drive in a competitive & congested environment. Which brings me to the next point.

The best authors spend a tremendous amount of time reading the works of others. For Stephen King's reading, visit http://www.stephenking.com/stephens_picks.html
To see Ernest Hemingway's library, visit http://www.librarything.com/profile/ErnestHemingway

My point being, those in the genre not only work within the genre, they live within the genre. The genre of this blog is television. You have to be in it to be in it.

Good topic, great questions.

September 13 2008 at 8:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My mother is one of those that never watches TV. She insists that all she ever watches is news but mention a show, any show, and she can tell you all about it. This past weekend she was even telling me how much she loves "John and Kate Plus 8". When did they move that to MSNBC or CNN (she won't watch Fix News)? The only show I have trouble admitting to is "Keeping up with the Karashian's", that's my guilty pleasure, love Bruce Jenner's reactions to what goes on around him.

August 25 2008 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A great film is like an aged grade 9 wagyu steak, delicious and special.
however it is taxing on the wallet, and i doubt u could eat that everyday, who would want to?

Great TV is a smorgasboard of flavors and textures, many selections to choose from depending on mood and circumstance. this is your home cooking, these are your lunches on the run, and occaisonaly, on thanksgiving or xmas you get a special treat.

if i had to give up one, it would be the former, although its great to have that amazing meal once in a while, there's no way i could live without my double-pepperoni pizzas, meatloaf, 3-bean salad, pastrami sandwiches, mac and cheese etc.... (hey, tv isnt good for you either!)

August 25 2008 at 12:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've heard celebrities in interviews mention both TV shows and Tivo.

Frazier Moore is talking out of his ass. Why was that piece of filler even printed? How did the topic justify an article?

August 23 2008 at 4:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

weird article - it reads like a high school sociology paper. going from actors not watching to "am i gay for liking SYTYCD" is just bizarre. and you aren't gay from ten years of dance - you're born that way.

am i gay for digging "project runway?" - no, i'm just some dude who likes that show. if you're worried what people might think about you because of some tv show you like and they don't, then your self esteem needs serious work...as do those "masculine" men afraid to admit liking SYTYCD.

also, for someone who writes about t.v. you miss the obvious fact that, as previously mentioned, working actors have NO TIME to watch t.v. with shooting days often running 12-18 hours, how in the world could they? a lot of industry folks i know usually just netflix seasons of tv shows when they want to catch up on something.

August 22 2008 at 5:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What's with the weird focus on gender roles in this article?

August 22 2008 at 12:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For some, they really don't have time. For others, it's something that they use to make themselves feel smarter. It's what separates them from the "common" person. Saying "Oh, I don't watch TV" or "TV is just mindless garbage" is an unconscious way of saying, "I am better than most people."

August 21 2008 at 11:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chi Shannon

Very well said :) I've often wondered these things myself and it does seem that society judges you by what you watch on tv. People seem to think it denotes you social status. As if only people with little education watch Jerry Springer, and people in mansions watch Nova.

People like things for different reasons. It's completely unfair to make assumptions about a person based on their TV viewing habits. (Which is kind of sad because people who like Battlestar Galactica aren't always cool :( )

August 21 2008 at 9:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

DISCLAIMER: I watch, enjoy and have commented at this site about SYTYCD. That having been said, it's pretty damned ridiculous that you went from "Doesn't admit to watching SYTYCD" to "homophobe."

SYTYCD is geared toward *WOMEN*, not gay men. There's nothing overtly gay about anything on the show except _some_ of the male dancers, and even they aren't ridiculous stereotypes. They just happen to be gay dudes.

If you are male, not liking the show might just mean it doesn't appeal to your sensibilities, as it is designed, structured and marketed toward women. It's not some sort of homophobe litmus test. That fact that you turned this into that says more about you than you intended it to say. Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.

August 21 2008 at 9:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think a lot of it has to do with time. If you spent 16 hrs a day 6 days a week on set (the "normal" schedule for an hourlong drama) would you really want to watch a lot of TV in the 8 hours of downtime?

August 21 2008 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to MrC's comment

I admit to liking Two and a Half Men. Can't say it deserves an Emmy because I don't watch award shows or keep up with who wins.

August 21 2008 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BC McKinney

I agree. Most of the actors who I have heard claim they don't have time to watch TV have concurrently mentioned that they are up between 4 and 5 am to make it on set and get home fairly late as well. They have their own scripts to read, occasioanl events to attend, and if they have spouses or families and want to spend any time with them at all before going to bed, they don't have much time to watch TV live.

Notice that in several recent instances of actors making this claim, they did mention that they catch up on series they are interested in via DVD sets or DVR recordings during filming breaks.

August 21 2008 at 8:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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