We watch... so you don't have to.
Be Still My Remote Control
We were watching Sports Night back in November. Dan Rydell, the
anchor boy next door, was draining the com from sitcom with a plot line
involving the revelation that beneath his jocular surface lay --
surprise! -- a heart beating with existential pain.
"Oh hogwash," I said. "He's just reeling from the fact that I dumped
him before this episode."
"What did you say?" asked the boyfriend.
"I said I dumped him. Dan Rydell was my TV boyfriend, and after
he took off for four weeks without an explanation, I decided I was
"You have a TV boyfriend?"
"No," the boyfriend shot back. "Only the crazy people."
That's not true. I am no more or no less crazy than anyone else; I
just acquire TV boyfriends. It adds something to the viewing
experience. I said as much.
"That's boyfriendsssssss, as in plural?"
"Well, yeah. Why should I restrict myself to just one TV
boyfriend? I do have cable."
And now that my secret is out, I cannot watch television with the
flesh-and-blood boyfriend without him giving me guff about my harem
"So who's your boyfriend on this show -- Carter? Mark Greene?"
Ew! Give me some credit. If you must know, it's the hot Croatian doctor.
"So that's one sports anchor and one hot Croatian doctor."
No, I told you, I dumped Danny back in November.
"You still watch the show."
Only to revel in his post-dumpage agony. You'll notice he's only had
second-string plot lines since I left him.
"Any boyfriends here?"
Once and Again:
Nope. I never date married television characters, or engaged ones.
Television adultery is sick and wrong. I refuse to stoop to that.
"Let me guess: you like Michael Wiseman."
Law and Order:
I wish. I don't believe in dissing a sister. He and his wife are
still carrying torches for each other.
"How noble of you."
That doesn't discount the doctor. He likes show tunes, honey. Sound familiar?
"Who would you date now?"
On this show? Jack McCoy. In fact, I may be already. I just don't know it.
"Don't know it?"
Hey, Dick Wolf never told us explicitly that Jack and Claire were
having an affair. Why would it be any different with me and Jack?
"You know, Munch is single over on Law and Order: SVU."
Forget it. After Mike Logan broke my heart, I vowed never to date
another detective on Planet Wolf. It's DAs or it's nothing.
"Oh God, I don't even want to know."
Relax. It's the human. John whatshisname.
"You don't even know his last name?"
Ask me if I care. He's cute and malleable. I don't need to know
anything beyond that.
"You're just using him!"
He's a television character. It's okay.
"You're watching the show on Mute!"
Hey! I just told you I'm not dating him for his wit or personality.
The Daily Show:
"I'd be too scared to even try."
There's my portable news boyfriend!
Freaks and Geeks:
"I thought you didn't date engaged men."
Well, he's engaged in real life, but not on The Daily Show.
"That's some pretty elaborate logic."
Anything for Jon. He's so cute! He's tiny! He's my travel boyfriend.
What is he, like, three feet tall? I could stuff him in the overhead
compartment on flights. That's so convenient.
"You're so sick. Why am I still with you?"
The West Wing:
Oh, that's just awful. I can't date minors. But if Bill had a brother, I'd--
Totally! If Bill's imaginary older brother was anything like Bill,
dating him would be like taking a trip to another planet every day.
"So now you're dating the imaginary siblings of imaginary characters."
Noooo. I'm just hypothesizing.
"I'm going to guess there's a Rob Lowe
skeleton in your closet."
Hah. I have a thing for Toby. But I fear it would never work out.
"You've lost me."
I'm a shiksa. Oh, Aaron Sorkin, you give with one hand and you take
away with the other.
"Still gloating about Danny's subpar plots on Sports Night?"
You know it. That'll teach him to disappear for four weeks without notice.
"Do you mind if we watch this? There's an
hour until your Croatian boyfriend comes on."
Which triggered off a soul-searching -- well, soul-searching in
between watching meaty clowns pummel each other -- discussion of what
the whole point was to TV boyfriends and girlfriends.
No problem. Hey... who's that?
"That's the Rock."
That's the Lisa's new wrestling boyfriend is who that is.
Why don't you just drink a tall, cold glass of shut-up?
"That settles it, I'm getting a wrestling girlfriend!"
"You're not supposed to say that."
"Look," I said. "Like it or not, we have relationships with
television shows. They unfold in serial, so we get to know the
characters. Couple that with my uncanny ability to guess the plot of
any show in less than fifteen minutes, and I need something to keep
me watching. If inventing interest in a character lets me watch the
show with fresh eyes, then what's the harm?"
That's the explanation that saved our relationship. Well, that and
the boyfriend's newly-developed habit of acquiring advertising
girlfriends, movie girlfriends and TV girlfriends.
But I'm cool with that, I really am. Besides, I didn't reveal the
biggest reason for stocking my harem with television characters: if
they ever annoy me, I can change the channel and fall in infatuation
all over again.