It’s kind of embarrassing, but I’ll admit it: I’m in love with TV.
Our relationship isn’t characterized by the lustful, fleeting passion of “Yeah I Hulu-ed Gwyneth doing ‘Forget You’ on ‘Glee’ like two weeks ago” or “Yeah I watched, like, four episodes of ‘Jersey Shore’ last night” or “OMG, ‘True Blood’!!!”
You won’t catch me walk-of-shaming from a night of “Gossip Girl” or “SVU.” These shows are definitely attractive, maybe good for some mild entertainment if you’re into that sort of thing. And look, I like hanging out with “Mad Men” just as much as the next girl.
But I didn’t spend what felt like hours on the phone with Comcast setting up DVR service in my dorm room so I could record “The Bachelor.” (Yes, I still watch TV on a TV.)
No: my heart belongs to the situation comedy.
I only watch three shows on a regular basis: “30 Rock,” “The Office” and “Saturday Night Live.” I know SNL is not technically a sitcom (it’s actually kind of sketchy), but it’s totally my type — I think it’s that whole comedy vibe.
So why did WEEKEND ask me to write a column about TV if I only watch three, very similar shows, all of which are on NBC? I have no idea — but that’s not the point.
The point is that I DVR these shows faithfully, and watch them — on an actual television — usually the day after they air. I email links of the best scenes to my family; I post clips on my friends’ Facebook walls. Hell, sometimes I even tweet a line or two; I’m not ashamed. But not everyone understands my love.
It all started, I think, when I was in middle school, when Thursday nights were synonymous with “Friends” in my mind. Ross and Rachel! Could Chandler BE any funnier?! Phoebe on the guitar! When would they write out Aisha Tyler?!
After the series finale, I was devastated: I cried as the crew headed to Central Perk one last time. Years later, I can’t even watch a show with a laugh track (no thanks, “Two and a Half Men”!) because it reminds me of what “Friends” and I once had.
The thing is, I’m into slightly more intellectual comedy now. It’s not enough for me any more for a show to simply “be funny,” as if a couple of laughs justify 22 minutes of mediocre writing (or in the case of SNL, an hour and a half). It has to be a constant barrage of razor-sharp wit. It has to be quotable. The characters have to be as believable as they are ridiculous.
Enter: “The Office.” I know it’s a ripoff of the British version, but I don’t care. And don’t tell me you’re not in the mood to endure Michael Scott’s painfully awkward antics that are more cringe-worthy than laugh-out-loud funny. Just give it a chance. Watch Jim and Pam get drunk together on Valentine’s Day, watch Creed do anything, watch Andy sing a cappella and you’ll swoon, I promise.
And “30 Rock.” Even setting aside (for a moment) the force of nature that is Tina Fey, the cast is probably the best I’ve ever had. Alec Baldwin is perfect as the one-liner-spewing machine Jack Donoghy. Jenna is delightfully self-centered and insane; Tracy is delightfully self-centered and insane. I could do without Pete Hornberger, however. No one’s perfect, eh?
But Liz Lemon has me by the heartstrings. Liz, if you’re reading this: I too often eat “night cheese” in a Snuggie. I too like Ina Garten, sweater weather and when Muppets present at awards shows. I too want to go to that new popcorn place for lunch. I will go with you.
So where does SNL stand? SNL is like that distinguished silver fox, that original model to which I compare all the newcomers. Sure, it doesn’t have the polished camerawork of the younger generation, it’s awkwardly live, it’s too long, some of the hosts are unbearable and it doesn’t even have Tina Fey anymore. But you know what? Andy Samberg’s digital shorts and Kristen Wiig’s crazy characters — from Target Lady to Sue to Gilly to the large-foreheaded Junice — still make me laugh harder than almost anything.
I love comedy on TV because it loves me back — it gives me that quotable dialogue, those quirky, lovable characters, those bursts of laughter and often, that searing wit that I just can’t really find anywhere else.
Go ahead, enjoy your “American Idol,” your “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” your “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”
Call me old-fashioned, but I only have eyes for comedy.