In Defense of Not-So-Great TV

It’s no surprise that we all aim to find great TV to watch on a regular basis. Why waste your time with something that’s not amazing? And with so many amazing options, it’s not too hard to fill your time.

But last weekend, I found myself spending a large amount of time watching and thinking about two shows that I wouldn’t necessarily put in the “great” category: Girl Meets World and Young & Hungry. You can blame this on a three-part Girl Meets World series called “Girl Meets Texas” and, well, baseball playoff games, which meant that I needed to find a series to watch via Netflix on my iPad (hence, Young & Hungry).


It’s no surprise that I’ve been keeping tabs on Girl Meets World. I’m a big Boy Meets World fan, and I started to watch the series because of the surprise cameos. (Feeny’s not dead, by the way.) It does, on occasion, make me laugh, but I don’t think it meets the quality level of Boy Meets World. I just like the way they tie the two series together from time to time. But I somehow got invested in this love triangle drama that happened in Texas — but more so, I wanted to fix it. I spent the vast majority of my weekend (and let’s be honest, some of the beginning of this week) trying to figure out how the writers could have made this story line better.

I’ve been hesitant about this “love him like a brother” thing since it was first discussed — even more so after hearing that Rachel supposedly loved Eric as a brother back on Boy Meets World. (I do not recall those exact words, just that she liked Eric in a different way than she did Jack. The fact that they said this on Girl Meets World still bugs me.) The legitimacy of that statement aside, saying you love someone as a sibling is a change you can’t come back from. It’s not like feelings just go from attraction (well, crush) to brother back to crush. The writers were writing themselves into a corner. So after Part 1, when Riley told Lucas that she loved him like a brother, I was rather annoyed. It’s not like I’m a huge Riley/Lucas shipper, but that certainly doesn’t provide room for growth — or the potential for anything else to happen between them — in the future.

So all Saturday, I’m thinking about this. Annoyed by this. Why couldn’t they just say, love you like a friend? I think. Why can’t they just say, we’re friends. Nothing else, I mutter to myself. Seriously, ask JC. This plagued me.

But then I had a thought: She told Maya that she knew Maya thought Riley loved Lucas like a brother. A writer wouldn’t make a character say that — to make it seem like it was Maya’s perception — unless this came back around. Maybe Riley doesn’t feel this way, but she’s doing it to just to step aside and let her friend be happy.

If you made it through the end of Part 3 (and it was a not-so-great ending, I must admit), you’ll see that my suspicion was correct. But then I started analyzing how they could have made that episode better because, quite frankly, with everyone going all Dawson’s Creek on their feelings, it’s amazing the only person who could figure out what was going on was Farkle after he was told to do so. I have a whole different way that could’ve gone, or at the very least, a better message for Farkle to share with Riley, but well, that’s not really the point here.

The point is that for a not-so-great show, I got completely wrapped up and invested in it. I struggled to figure out what it was doing and how it could be better. I’m sure that wasn’t the aim of the writers, but it ended up making me more invested than I would have been before. Yes, it was a headache at times — not just for me, but for JC. After hearing me prattle on about this for three days, I finally said to JC, “You want me to stop talking about this, don’t you.” He replied, “No, it’s just that I think it’s not a very good show.”

Young and Hungry

On the other end of the spectrum (or perhaps on the other end of this argument) is Young & Hungry, a show that I don’t think I can fix when it comes to its weaknesses. Young & Hungry isn’t a bad show; it’s just one that uses the predictable, same ol’ devices and plot lines that sitcoms have before. The character who realizes his friend gave him the super-thoughtful gift, instead of the one he was going to marry. The character who flies out of the country, just as someone is running to the airport to tell her he loves her. It’s all been done before. What kept me going was its occasional one-off joke that really made me laugh out loud.

Now, I started this show on Saturday night. I watched every episode that was on Netflix, and I was done by Sunday afternoon. It was an easy watch, and it flew by. But it met all my needs: I wanted something that was light, didn’t take my entire attention span, and it didn’t require a large time suck. It did all that. And hey, it wasn’t bad.

Of course, I was left on a cliffhanger. Seeing as I was watching on Netflix, I’m now in the middle of season 2, Gabi is in Europe, and who knows where we go from here (ok, I kinda do because I read episode descriptions). But here I am, still thinking about it and wondering when I’ll finally have the chance to finish it on Netflix (mid-November, if I’m reading the news correctly). It has a lingering effect, even if it wasn’t great.

So what does this all add up to? Sometimes you need the not-so-great TV, just to enjoy yourself or keep you thinking. When we have so many fantastic shows out there — Emmy-award winning series and breakout hits on TV and online — don’t forget the little guy. You might just find yourself invested. Maybe even hooked.

*Photos by Disney/Ron Tom

1 thought on “In Defense of Not-So-Great TV

  1. You’ve got a great point here, I think. It’s true, there is so much great TV out there these days… but so much of it is dark (even the comedies), intense, or otherwise too exhausting to consume too much of. There’s only so much one can take! I was ploughing through season one of The Knick, which I absolutely loved, but I’ve been putting off watching the final episode because it was just too intense and I needed some time apart. There’s definitely a need for something slower and easier to consume; I think I find that need growing in me as I get older.

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