The Categorization of the Television

If I were to turn on my television, I would be able to choose from hundreds of different channels. Each channel airs hours and hours of original programming/reruns each and everyday. You might think it would be impossible to categorize every single television shows of the past five years. You would be wrong, so very wrong.

Category 1: All television shows can be divided up into four distinct categories. The first category is made up of news shows. They are boring so I don’t want to talk about them. However, the rest of the shows on television fall under the other three categories. Example Shows:  All of CNN shows, the 9/10 o’clock news, Whatever Glenn Beck’s Show is called

Category 2: The next category is made up of shows that are terrible. These are just awful, abysmal shows. You watch them and wonder to yourself, “How is this on tv?” This includes both comedies and dramas. The comedies contain laugh tracks, and plenty of formulaic, situational humor. All jokes look something like the following:

Guy 1: (in a funny voice) Oh! How am I going to find a date to the big (pick some combination of office party/banquet/wedding)

Guy 2: Well, you could always take your cousin just like you did to our senior prom!

(laugh track)

(the 2 guys’ platonic, way-too-good-looking-to-be-hanging-out-with-these-guys female friend walks in)

Guy 2: Hey, what about (Amber/Brittney/Rachael)?

Guy 1: As a date? I don’t think so. Spending time alone with her would be more scary than the time I heard that George Lucas isn’t making any more Star Wars films!

(laugh track)

The dramas are structured in a similar, excruciating way. There is a hardened, cynical character who deep down is as soft and doughy as undercooked bread. (double points are awarded if said hardass is a woman!) The cynic is countered with a bleeding heart, empathetic character. Together, they undoubtedly work and solve the crime/talk to horses/do whatever that chick from Medium does.

Ultimately, these shows never teach us anything about the world. We don’t gain a new appreciate of life. They are not capable of moving us emotionally either. You never cry during these shows nor do you laugh aloud. You simply sit and watch. This makes up the majority of television shows.

This category can also be referred to as the entire CBS line-up with the exception of How I Met Your Mother. Example Shows: CSI: Wherever, NCIS, Cold Case, The Big Bang Theory, Medium, The Ghost Whisperer, Numb3rs, The Mentalist, The Good Wife (like I said, ALL of CBS shows)

Category 3: The third category is for television shows which, unlike category two, are highly enjoyable. This includes all sorts of genres; reality shows, dramas, comedies. Sometimes, the shows are really stupid (Jersey Shore) other times, they are super serious (Dexter). All are welcome in category three as long as they are enjoyable.

You might be asking yourself how category three is different than the one’s preceding and succeeding it. Good question.

First, it differs from C2 because C3 shows can be watched by a wide variety of people for a variety of reasons. This differs from C2 shows which can only be enjoyed by the elderly and individuals who have had half of their brain removed. Take the aforementioned  Jersey Shore and Dexter. Jersey Shore can be enjoyed by the incredibly stupid, who watch it and envy the lives of the Shorians. It can also be enjoyed by the incredibly intelligent, (me) who watch it ironically. Dexter can be watched by those who are intrigued with the fact that the show masterfully employs the antihero, or  it can be watched by sick individuals with blood-lust. They have broad appeal for many different reasons. These shows have moments which make you say, “Wow. That was pretty cool.” Some even occasionally have moments which make you view the world in a different way. All in all, C3 is filled with consistently quality programming.

However, C3 shows, while consistent are not transcendent. In the end, that’s what precludes them from inclusion in the elite Category 4. Example Shows: Jersey Shore, Dexter, East Bound and Down, Real World, 24, The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, American Idol, Mad Men, Lost, Entourage

Category 4: Category 4 television shows are the creme of the crop. These shows are not only eminently watchable, they also teach the viewer about the world. You can literally learn about life watching these shows. These are the most influential shows to be shown on TV. From a creativity stand point, they blow C3 out of the water.

That being said, these shows are often less watchable than C3 shows. For instance, it’s much more palatable to watch 4 episode of Entourage than it is two watch 2 episodes of The Sopranos, but Entourage is not nearly as good of a show. For starters, the same thing happens. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Yeah, the episodes are fun, who doesn’t love the movie star lifestyle and the copious amounts of accompanying tits, but the episodes are empty. You want to watch Entourage because it’s easy. You need to watch Category 4 shows because they are important. These shows speak to real 21st American cultural values more than any other shows on television. They are about anxiety, uneasiness, and declension because those are the issues Americans are dealing with at the moment. However, not all Category 4 shows are dramas. There are some comedies on the list. However, unlike C3 comedies, Category 4 comedies have to be about more than jokes.

The best example of a Category 4 comedy is the television show Scrubs. While often patently ridiculous, Scrubs was at its best when it was delivering life lessons. The jokes served as comic relief to make the moral lessons more palatable. Yes, it was a comedy, but it was really about faith, friends, living life.

Sometimes, it was stupid funny like C3 comedies, but mostly, it was about dealing with the difficulties of life.

That’s what makes Category 4 shows so special. They may not have been the most fun, but they are undeniably the best.

Example Shows: The Sopranos, Arrested Development, The Wire, Scrubs

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Peter, those are just your favorite shows, that’s not fair.” Well guess what: too bad. My blog, my article, my list.

Eff you.


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