We watch... so you don't have to.

What I Didn't Watch This Week

(Editors' Note: Here at TeeVee, we value and celebrate diversity. That's why we've made an extra effort to bring aboard Vidiots from every walk of life and every color of the rainbow. Lisa Schmeiser, for example, adds a feminine perspective to our Web site. Pete Ko helps us keep our thumb on the pulse of Asian Americans, many of whom watch television. In addition to being black, James Collier is also bat-shit crazy -- another profitable and sought-after demographic for our advertisers! Ben Boychuk appeals to filthy, stupid Polacks. And the Vidiots we haven't mentioned yet? Gay. We could go on and on.

The point is, we've been able to represent just about every crazy viewpoint you can think of... except for one. In three-plus years of operation, TeeVee has never featured the assorted writings of a person who does not watch television.

Think about it: While those of you who watch TV regularly can browse through our Web site, enjoying all of our madcap antics, the non-TV viewer may find it confusing, inaccessible, perhaps even a little intimidating. Not surprisingly, the percentage of TeeVee readers who don't watch a lick of television has fallen in recent months to an unacceptable 14.7 percent. Quite frankly, we've had nothing to offer them.

Nothing, that is, until now.

Andrew Taylor-Spearling is a graduate student at Pomona College, pursuing a doctoral degree in sociology. He's Phi Beta Kappa and founder of a local political and cultural discussion group. He also hasn't watched a single TV program in the last three years. In fact, he doesn't even own a television set.

We think you'll enjoy Andrew's unique take on our crazy TV-watching world. And for those of you who've shunned TV all these years, take heart. At last, this Web site is giving you a voice.)

Sitting here, keyboard at the ready to write about television, I am reminded of the words of Groucho Marx, the popular American vaudevillian comic. "I would never," said Groucho, "join a club that would have me as a member." Just as this delicious paradox spoke for the former Julius Marx and his tenuous relations with America's upper class more than half a century ago, so does it speak for me in the here and now when it comes to my feelings in regards to television.

Because I do not watch television.

I realize I am solidly in the minority here. The average American consumes a half-dozen hours of television on a nightly basis, sitting in front of the pulsating box, mouth agape, as its deadening images dance across the screen. That is their choice. That is their choice to stultify their mind, to let their imaginations atrophy and their waistlines expand as they struggle to comprehend the latest tomfoolery of Ross and Rachel and whatever other fictional character in which they choose to invest their emotions.

As for me, I make a different choice. I simply choose not to watch.

It is a lonely path to take, this choice of mine -- not at all unlike the road less traveled that a certain silver-haired New England poet rhapsodized about so long ago. My fellow sociology students will sit around on Thursdays, idly chatting about the comings and goings of something called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "Did you see what Buffy did last night?" they will say, or "Isn't that an interesting character arc that's developing on Buffy?"

When I hear this talk, I want to grab my classmates by the lapels and shake them violently. "Fools!" I want to say. "Fools! Why waste hours of your life watching the Idiot Box's pantomime when you can be like me? As you fritter away time, mulling the fate of your so-called Buffy, I am out living life. I am reading the works of bell hooks. I am attending performance art festivals in downtown lofts. I am gazing up at the stars in the sky and recalling the Norse myths that explain their origins. I am not letting television weave its spell over me!"

But I say nothing. And they prattle on, in their ignorance, about Willow and Oz.

No, I do not waste the precious few waking hours we are given each day, sitting in front of blinking circuitry and stuffing my face full of chips and salsa and snickerdoodles. And so, this past week, when Walker, Texas Ranger was off solving some crime, I did not watch. Nor did I watch when Sammo Hung solved crimes on Martial Law or when Jamie Luner solved crimes on The Profiler or when Kyle Chandler prevented crimes from happening thanks to his ability to see one day into the future on Late Edition.

Crimes may have been solved, yes. But I wouldn't know. Because I didn't watch.

Hot shot attorney Bobby Donnell's (Dylan McDermott) passionate plea on behalf of a drug dealer fell on deaf ears inside the Taylor-Spearling home. Because although The Practice was on, the television was not. The same goes for Snoops and Touched By An Angel and CBS' heartwarming holiday special "A Season For Miracles." My heart is plenty warm, thank you. I do not need to see Carla Gugino give her jailed sister's children a real Christmas to get into the holiday spirit. If you do, you have my pity.

I did not watch Ladies Man, where Jimmy (Alfred Molina) struggled to find his wife the perfect Christmas gift. How could anyone watch such contrived tripe! And I certainly didn't watch Veronica's Closet. It was on opposite of Ladies Man.

You and your feeble-minded friends may have watched Ally last Tuesday. But I have no need to watch a program of re-used footage that simply streamlines an hourlong episode that aired in a prior season. And after not watching Ally, I certainly didn't loll about on my couch, watching Once & Again. It was a rerun.

Maybe you tuned into ER to watch Nurse Carol Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) struggle with her newborn twins while Carter's toys-for-guns program went tragically awry. Not me. ER hasn't been watchable since George Clooney left in a gripping two-parter last February. And nothing, not even the six-episode arc with Alan Alda as a senile doctor, has restored the magic.

Or so I've heard. Since I don't watch television.

Frasier, Friends, Nash Bridges -- your lives may be so empty and devoid of intellectual spark that you feel a need to sack out in front of the TV set for hours at a time. You may be easily distracted by the shenanigans of a teenage witch named Sabrina or the put-upon Salinger clan or a crime-solving doctor cunningly played by Dick Van Dyke. I'll have none of it. And that goes double for that shameless hussy Sabrina!

No, you may have wasted your time and industry this past week. But I did not. I did not watch television.

Instead, I read Proust. And masturbated.

Additional contributions to this article by: Philip Michaels.


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