Television 2012: Can't We All Just Get Along?

12/28/2011 08:39 am ET | Updated Feb 27, 2012

In the past two weeks, I've posted two pieces about the positive and long lasting impact of TV. My main points were:

  1. People DO watch a LOT of TV -- more than ever, in fact;
  2. Much of today's TV is, generally speaking, awfully good;
  3. When used responsibly, TV can actually help bring people together.

There have been positive responses to these posts. Some remembered the collective experiences brought up in the last piece. Others noted how incredibly good TV has gotten recently. To those people, thank you.

However -- Boy oh Boy! -- judging by a number of comments, many of you clearly believe that TV is the Devil's PA System, and that I am the Assistant Principle at Beelzebub High. Some even suggested that by watching TV with my children, I was dooming them to become "Zombies of the great consumer culture." (Note: my kids are good, but thanks for your concern. We do much more than watch TV together, including eating, traveling, school work and reading humorously off the wall rants on the interwebs.)

This week, I've decided to directly address both the TV Lovers and the TV Haters out there.

First up, to those who read HuffPo TV and then write scathing comments about TV, this is for you:

If you hate TV so very much, what the holy heck are you doing on something called HuffPo TV? Shouldn't you be at a book store reading hardcover books or at a craft club sewing suede patches onto your tweed jackets or something? If you don't like television, if, you in fact hate TV, I totally and utterly respect that opinion. I would never ask you to watch something you disdain, nor would I suggest you bring a device that gives you such a karmic rash into your home.

However, visiting a site dedicated to TV and then bashing, wholesale, an entire art form -- anonymously, mind you -- is the very type of knee-jerk reaction I highlighted in my last post, that has made our society so incredibly polarized. Quite obviously, you are entitled to your opinion and free to post it wherever you want. But when you call those who like and watch TV "mindless," you are being both unkind and unfair to 95% of your fellow citizens. (What's more, doing so incognito avoids accountability for such insults.) This is one of many reasons I would argue that TV Time is a superior cultural influence than the "comments" sections of the internet where you seem to spend much of your free time.

Is all TV good? Of course not! A lot of TV is crap. But denigrating ALL TV as evil is like burning all books because Snooki is now a best-selling author. (That's right, bitches, Snooki has infiltrated BOOKS. How do you like them apples?) There are many books, magazines and newspapers that I personally believe are detrimental to society. But that doesn't ruin my opinion of the written word or compel me to post comments like "STOP READING AND START KNITTING."

Hey, I know I'm not going to convince someone who "burned their TV years ago" to sign up for cable. But, on behalf of those of us who actually love TV, I gotta ask you to dial back the screed a tad. We don't need you to tell us to read a book or talk to our kids. We do those things too.

HuffPo has literally thousands of pages of stuff about subjects OTHER than TV. I suggest you enjoy them.

For those of you who watch/like/LOVE TV like I do, I offer this list of reasons to reaffirm your passion for medium in year ahead (or, for those "Book People" out there who might be considering joining the dark side):


  1. While it doesn't keep you as warm as a fireplace, it uses a lot less wood. (I speak for the trees!)
  1. TWO WORDS: LOUIS CK (ok, technically that's one word and two letters, but you get my point, right?). CK's Louie is the 21st Century Archie Bunker.
  1. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I have to admit, when he first got the gig, I was, like, "Dude?" Now, I'm like "Dude!!"
  1. Dexter... C'mon, a serial killer as a hero? That's genius. And the last episode of the past season saved the show from the shark jump and gave everyone a reason to get on board for the last two seasons.
  1. Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert. It's not fake news, it's News-ish. With the presidential election ahead, 2012 promises to be a career year for both. Plus, the sexual tension between those two is just terrific.
  1. Arrested Development. One of the best comedies of all time -- now running on IFC. (Yes, it's a shameless plug. But you have to admit, you love that show, right? Right? Made ya smile!)
  1. Jimmy Kimmel. I hate to have two things named Jimmy on this list, but the guy makes it ok for normal people to be on TV. Plus he employs more of his own family than the Kardashians. Nice.
  1. Saturday Night Live & The Simpsons. Combined, they've been on TV for nearly 60 years. If that's not an endorsement of TV, I don't know what is. Do you? DO YOU?!
  1. Nothing else I could hang on my wall would work so nicely with the room.
  1. Portlandia. Returns to IFC January 6! I know, this is the second shameless plug of the list. But hey, it's really a great show -- it would have easily made at least #7 on this list if I didn't work there. Plus, HuffPo doesn't pay me squat for this stuff, so...
  1. Bryan Cranston. First, he was Tim Whatley. Then he was Malcolm's dad. Now, he's Walter White. The first two would pretty much make the career for most actors. But Cranston's acting trajectory in Breaking Bad is one of the all-time TV greats. In short, he just kicks ass. If you don't own a TV, this one guy alone is worth the price of entry. Give it a taste. You'll go back for more.

So, to those of you who hate TV -- I have to say, you really don't know what you're missing. To those of you who love TV -- it looks like a great year ahead. Hopefully, in the year ahead, we can all set a good example and learn to get along.

To everyone in both camps: Here's to a great 2012... HAPPY NEW YEAR!