Niagara Gazette

January 13, 2013

VINCENT DAVIS: The lesson of cancelled TV shows

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Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — If this were a summer camp ice-breaker activity where everyone had to say an interesting fact about themselves mine would no doubt shock many of you: I have no idea what’s going on in the world of television.

I don’t know who won “America’s Got Talent” and I don’t know what you’re talking about when you name off people who have recently passed on in “The Walking Dead” but you do have my condolences as a lot of people seem pretty broken up about it. “But Vince,” you say, “how can you not be keeping up with the chilling drama that is ‘American Horror Story?’ Do you care about ‘The X-Factor’ at all!?”

Not really. The reason I don’t know what’s going on in the world of popular television is simple — all of my favorite shows are already cancelled.

If I’m to believe “the media,” these are crazy times. International conflicts seem to happen more frequently, our fiscal lives are more “cliff-y” and Andy Rooney hasn’t been on “60 Minutes” in years. Instability is everywhere and in the turbulent torrent of change that is life in the 21st century “will NBC’s “Smash” get cancelled before they resolve all the romantic conflicts?” is not another worry I need added to my plate right now.

I understand the appeal of investing your time in prime time television. There’s the anxious anticipation as you wait a week to see if your favorite characters are going to get out of whatever predicament they were in at the end of the last episode, heated discussions with friends over why your favorite singer/dancer is the best and their favorite singer/dancer totally deserved to get voted off last night, and who can forget Internet fueled speculation on what the real storyline of the show is (I’m looking at you “Lost”, “The Event” and “V”). Everyone likes to look forward to something and a watching a great show and texting your friends about it can be a great time. But honestly all of that waiting, arguing, hoping that quirky heroines will dump that loser and realize that their real love is their best friend, who has been with them the whole time, sounds exhausting.

Last night I watched two episodes of “Life.” What’s that, you don’t know about “Life?” The short-lived NBC cop drama starred Damian Lewis (currently starring on “Homeland”) and Sarah Shahi (of “Fairly Legal” fame). You’re missing out on the first benefit of watching cancelled TV shows: feeling superior to others via having obscure tastes. This feeling of superiority is similar to saying you like a popular band, but “only their old stuff” or even better liking the band they were in before they got famous.

There’s the added benefit of not being a slave to network programming. “American Horror Story” comes on Wednesdays at 10, “Life” comes on whenever I feel like it (assuming Netflix/Time Warner isn’t having issues). I’ve become the master of my own schedule; it only plays the shows I want, when I want, with no commercial interruption.

Much like the uncle that bought you mildly dangerous gifts (fireworks, BB guns) when you were a child and only listens to vinyl, I have found a new kind of freedom in appreciating things that the modern world has cast off. Every time I stream an episode of “The Real World/Road Rules Challenge” whose winner was decided years ago I am reminded that people worked hard to produce that drama even if many of us have forgotten about it. Everything and everyone has value, that’s something we should all remember.

Vincent Davis II is a Cornell graduate, DJ, and market development specialist in the IT industry. He can be contacted at vincedavis06@gmail.com