Tag Archives: UK

Five Ways British Television Is Simultaneously Awesome and Infuriating

Recently, I’ve received a lot of complaints that my blog is not being updated frequently enough. Several of you have expressed concern that this is because I’ve dumped my loser blog for the cooler, more popular blog, Forever Young Adult. And indeed, I have been doing some writing for them, and also, designing some sweet T-shirts for their new store. But do not blame FYA for my absence! The real problem is that nothing is happening in my life. Or at least, nothing worth writing about.

At first, I tried to make Things happen. I thought that Ladies’ Night at the hardware store was a sure thing! But, while drinking wine next to the snaking demonstration was both fun and informative, it was not particularly blog-worthy. Normally, I bring chaos with me wherever I roam, but I somehow managed not to knock over any displays, inadvertently light myself on fire, or put my new-found snaking skills to the test with a broken sink the next day. Instead, I just left with some free but unremarkable swag and got drinks with a friend. I’m as surprised as you are!

The more recent problem is that I’ve stopped leaving the house. After traveling for most of December and January, I kind of just want to loaf around in my pajamas. And I’ve been extremely successful at it, thanks to a little friend I have called British television. If you’re going to blame anyone for my disappearance, blame British television. In the past week, I’ve managed to catch up on an entire season of Misfits, and then an entire season of Downton Abbey. If you are not familiar with either of these shows, you probably shouldn’t start watching. In fact, you should probably avoid British television altogether, because ignorance is bliss.

Five Reasons British Television is simultaneously Awesome and Infuriating

Shorter Television Seasons
I have an incredibly short attention span. I can hardly stick to any American television shows for more than a season, and I’m about to murder the creators of How I Met Your Mother because at this point, I’ve already invested far too much of my life to not find out who the mother is, but SERIOUSLY? HOW MANY MORE EPISODES MUST I WATCH?

This is one of the reasons I love British television shows! You’ve barely started and then suddenly, an entire season is over! Skins has ten per season. Downton Abbey, seven or eight. Sherlock only has three. THREE! It’s glorious!

It is also horrible, however. Thanks to Netflix, I’ve cultivated an expectation of instant gratification around television watching. I’ve been known to watch entire seasons of television in one sitting. It only took me three and a half weeks to get through all 64 episodes of Veronica Mars. At least with American shows, I’ll watch three episodes and there are still 21 left in the season, an insurmountable task for a single evening.  If you watch three episodes of a British television season, you’re already halfway finished. There is absolutely nothing that can keep me from watching the remaining three to five episodes until 3 in the morning, even though I have work the next day.

American accents are fairly lame. British ones sound so fancy! Except when they don’t. And suddenly you need subtitles.

As far as I can tell, you can show just about anything short of actual pornography on British television. The upshot of this is that shows can get away with some pretty funny but extremely vulgar humor. Nathan from Misfits might be the world’s most repulsive television character, but you love him for it. The show manages to walk the fine line between hilarious and straight up offensive.
Some shows, however, are not as adept at knowing their own boundaries. Skins frequently crosses this line to its detriment. Sometimes they throw in extremely gratuitous plot-lines featuring drug use and graphic sex just to seem young, edgy, and cool, and it doesn’t work. I skipped all of Generation 2 for precisely this reason.Also, it can be super embarrassing to get caught watching those episodes. I recently got EG hooked on Skins, and at one point during the season two episode “Tony,” she became extremely concerned that we would hear the episode and think she was watching porn in her room. It’s that bad.Better casting

I don’t know if there are better actors in the UK, or simply better casting directors, but the casting on these shows is AMAZING. Especially with the younger shows like Skins or Misfits, the demographic equivalent of a CW show in the US, perhaps, I just don’t understand where they get these kids. They are so good! Whereas everyone in American shows seems to be cast based on attractiveness rather than talent, British shows are clearly cast for skill rather than looks (though often, for both).

Here is the problem, though. These actors are so convincing that I am unwilling to believe they are anything but the characters. With Downton Abbey being so popular now, it’s hard to avoid seeing interviews or pictures of the actors in their real life clothes and personalities. IT’S HORRIBLE. Lady Sybil once showed up on Misfits as a brainwashing, religious zealot villain and I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MYSELF. I want to keep those actors in a character-specific box and never take them out again, which is problematic because they are so good that I’m sure they’ll get cast in lots of other things.

Cassie, I want you to be successful, but I refuse to acknowledge
that you have any facial expressions besides this one.

Watching British television makes me feel both insecure and proud to be American
In sum, British television is better than American television. This depresses me and makes me feel unpatriotic.

Then I remember that, for all our bad television, including the worst of the worst of American Reality TV, at least we are not responsible for The Only Way Is Essex:

By the way, this show won a popularity award over both Downton Abbey and Sherlock at the BAFTAs last year. Thank you, people of Britain, for once again allowing me to feel superior to you.