I don’t watch much television. I’d rather read a book or have an intelligent conversation, because I find most television to be vacuous and without redeeming value. There are, however, a small handful of programs that I keep in the Hulu cue, and that I make certain I watch every week. I’m hesitant to add new ones, because I don’t like to spend a great deal of time watching video. One hour a night (not including random YouTube subscriptions or streaming news coverage), perhaps a movie or two on weekends, is my self-imposed limit that I break infrequently. I just don’t go looking for the next cool show.
Karen watches a lot more than I do. Occasionally, she’ll recommend a program to me, and often I’ll enjoy it, but not enough to keep up with it on a regular basis. She keeps up with several programs that I’ll watch if I’m bored…but I have to be pretty bored.
Every now and then, I find one that takes me by surprise. Even more rarely, I find one that I thought I wouldn’t care for at all, and end up amazed at it’s quality.
And, let’s face it: any time you find quality in prime-time programming, you should be amazed.
The most recent incident of this is a show called Parenthood. At first blush, I really expected this show to be a soap opera. Most true-to-life family dramas, after all, are rarely true to life. The writing tends to be horrible, the characters flat, and the melodrama overwhelming.
Parenthood is exactly the opposite of all of those things. The plots are believable. The characters are deep, engaging, and thoroughly and progressively developed with each episode. The writing is just good: simple and solid, with dialogue that carries its own weight every time. I’m drawn into the story arcs, and I run a gambit of emotions alongside the characters. What I love most is that there is no moralizing in the characters’ crises. The events speak for themselves, and you’re left realizing that there are no easy answers, just like the life that we experience every day. This isn’t so much a show that you escape with, as a show that you learn from, a show that gives you insight into situations so real that you’ll likely find yourself dealing with some of them sooner rather than later.
Essentially, Parenthood does exactly what good art should do.
I’m the last person to tell you to add something else to watch to your busy life, but I have to recommend this program. If you haven’t already, check out a season. Unlike most television, I can honestly say you’ll be better off for watching.