I don’t watch nearly as much TV as I used to. But there are certain moments – often on weekend afternoons when the kids are napping or when my husband is running them wild downstairs while I’m folding laundry (oh, the glamour of my life!) – when I feel like tuning in and then tuning out with some mindless entertainment. And February is the perfect season for it, now that college and pro football are over and March Madness has yet to heat up: flipping on the TV, going to the channel guide, and seeking out the perfect morsel of escapism.
But the thing is, not just any show will do – not just any cooking show or mineral make-up infomercial. At times like these, I find myself scouting out the same few shows, the reruns of which I would watch over and over, anytime, anywhere. And, lucky for me, my Saturday afternoon veg-out favorites are all in heavy syndication rotation:
- Sex and the City: I have seen every episode of SATC many times over and it’s the only TV series I own on DVD. Nevertheless, whenever I catch a glimpse of it for five minutes, I feel like I’m hanging out with old friends. My husband, mind you, cannot stand this show. (I wonder if that’s why it feels like such a treat, like the forbidden fruit.)
- Seinfeld: Sometimes I feel like a regular dose of Seinfeld is necessary to maintain my ability to quote lines directly and reference even the most obscure moments, kind of like a cultural literacy inoculation. From George’s “leave-behind” fur hat to Elaine’s dance moves, Seinfeld is a lingua franca among my closest friends. And it makes me laugh.
- Arrested Development: Something about this quirky comedy tickles every funny bone in my body. I love the way straight man Michael and sweet, sensitive George Michael play the perfect foils to the rest of their wacky family. And did you know that Arrested Development is coming back?! To Netflix?! In May?! (Hallelujah!)
- The Sopranos: For me, the brilliance of this HBO classic lies in the way the writers normalized the completely unrelatable: while not many of us are Mafia dons ourselves (or married to one), who can’t relate to the fundamental questions of family, identity, loyalty, and balance that that The Sopranos presented to us week after week?
- The West Wing: Psst…I still sometimes daydream that I am power pants-suited C.J. Cregg, White House press secretary-cum-chief of staff, working late in my office eating take-out Chinese food while gathering talking points for the president on climate change. Am I just a wee bit obsessed with the promise and power of politics (minus the corruption and stagnation)? Yup.
- Friday Night Lights: Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can’t Change the Channel.
- And last, but not least, the grande dame of all syndicated shows, Law and Order: I stopped watching Law and Order long before the end of its 20 year run, but I still find myself sucked in by Dick Wolf’s particular alchemy of police procedural and legal drama when I come across one of its ubiquitous reruns – and especially those featuring Jerry Orbach and Chris Noth.
So there you have it. A list of my favorite five minute snippet shows, the ones I know so well that I can pop in and out at any point and still feel transported to a familiar, comfortable place – whether Dylan, Texas; New York City; or the White House.
Okay, gotta run. I’ve got some laundry to fold and reruns to watch.
What are you favorite television shows? Any I should add to my rerun rotation?