The TV ecosystem is large and diverse. There are lazy soaps and 'roided jocks, wino mothers and Syfy nerds. Many a mysterious creature calls this land home, but so rarely do we understand them. So, in the tradition of Sir David Attenborough, I've decided to take a deeper look at nine of the most common species of TV Viewer.
Scientific discretion is advised.
1. Ironic Gossip Girl/Hipster Hockey Fan (Callous doofus)
Irony is a dead horse, especially when it comes to everyday things like eating and watching TV. But that doesn't stop this breed of TV viewer from being cynical and pompous about everything it does. From a dilettantish obsession with hockey, to the assertion that Pabst Blue Ribbon is "good" beer, this TV viewer is mostly incapable of tendering any sort of genuine position on television programming. Do not confuse this species with the Obnoxiously Opinionated Hipster (see below), which bears some resemblance to the Ironic Gossip Girl/Hipster Hockey Fan but differs drastically in its willingness to have an opinion on something. Ironic Gossip Girl/Hipster Hockey Fan does not share this trait, unless said opinion is marinated in a thick coat of noxious irony.
I've personally met many members of this species and rarely have I walked away unscathed. It is near impossible to remain impervious to their hollow mockery of everything; you will soon find yourself engaged in their farce, donning cut-off jean britches and listening to Dan Deacon. Best stay away from this dangerous breed, lest you become incapable of true human connection.
2. Non-Ironic Primetime Viewer (Serious supercilious)
As insufferable as it may be to sit through an episode of The Bachelor, Vegas, or that immortal cash cow Survivor, this profitable species of TV viewer at least watches his or her programming with a refreshing level of sincerity. So while you may get an earful about how much of an idiot Ben is for not recognizing Courtney's devious ways, at least they won't do it with air quotes and a grating sense of superiority.
Non-Ironic Primetime Viewers may be full-on TV addicts, dabbling hobbyists, or unemployed sloths, making them notoriously difficult to observe in the wild. However, they have been seen growing sleeve-length opinions that no one else cares about during the critical Emmy season.
3. Obnoxiously Opinionated Hipster (Erroneous doofus)
As mentioned, this breed of TV viewer is anatomically similar to Ironic Gossip Girl/Hipster Hockey Fan, but its TV watching habits are entirely different. Whereas Ironic Gossip Girl/Hipster Hockey Fan tends to deride nearly everything it sees, Obnoxiously Opinionated Hipster soaks up a truly massive volume of programming and regurgitates it in a unique blend of contrarianism and unearned authority. What's particularly interesting about this breed is its propensity to oppose all opinions that they haven't formulated themselves. For this reason, they have been heard making statements as diverse and seemingly antithetical as "I don't own a TV; Netflix is better" or The Walking Dead is a disgrace to the graphic novel but I watched all of seasons one and two."
There are a few key differences in the physical appearance of Obnoxiously Opinionated Hipster and Ironic Gossip Girl/Hipster Hockey Fan, the most striking of which is OOH's oddly deadpan face when pointing out the "logical inconsistencies" (which is OO Hipster for "plot holes") in your favorite episode of the X-Files. Of course, a fully grown ironic mustache may obscure this taxonomical giveaway.
4. Sports Bro (Crapulous douchious)
We've left the kingdom of irony and entered the kingdom of douchery. Here, the dominant species of TV viewer is the Sports Bro, most accurately depicted in the South Park episode "Broadway Bro Down." This breed is not opinionated so much as devoted, sometimes to the detriment of their own health. Sports Bros are known to subsist entirely on buffalo wings and Bud Light, which they consume throughout the sports program of their choosing. Because these events last up to three or four hours, or sometimes an entire day, the common Sports Bro is an overweight drunk. In fact, Sports Bros are so gluttonous that they may occasionally experience Sports Withdrawal -- a mild condition treated with methadone substitutes like SportsCenter and NFL Red Zone.
Sports Bros are identified by their heavy build and colorful wardrobe, which consists almost entirely of ugly football jerseys, sweatpants, and sneakers. However, there is a rarer breed of Sports Bro that is prone to spending huge amounts of time at the gym. This breed is to be avoided, as it is steroidal and prone to lashing out over a missed field goal or questionable foul call.
5. Soap Fan (Obsoletous senilious)
A rare and endangered species, the Soap Fan has been around for decades. But because of this breed's old age and diminishing habitat (All My Children and One Life to Live were recently axed), their numbers are fewer than ever.
Soap Fans are more difficult to find in the wild than Non-Ironic Primetime Viewers, both because of their small population and their floral-print dress camouflage, which blends in with sofa covers and '70s wallpaper. Note: They must be approached with extreme caution, as even the slightest bump will startle Soap Fans and send them into a delirious spiel about the time they met Johnny Carson.
(Photo: Flickr user Oriol Salvador, Creative Commons license)
6. Reality Show Mom (Succubus incompetentous)
A close, younger cousin of the Soap Fan, the Reality Show Mom is similarly detached from reality -- ironic, considering the breed's fixation on so-called "reality TV." The world that this viewer inhabits is one of galling depravity and self-absorption, yet it's championed in a frighteningly sincere manner. While not as dangerous as Ironic Gossip Girl/Hipster Hockey Fan, Reality Show Mom can cause indirect harm in the form of early-onset adult depression thanks to the sheer ubiquity of the breed and its influence over popular culture. If you are unfortunate enough to discover a Reality Show Mom in your own home, stay calm and do not engage; they are incapable of abiding solitude and will incapacitate themselves with wine if left in isolation.
Reality Show Moms closely resemble their on-screen heroes. Identify them by their lush coat of spray tan, leopard-skin shawls, and arm-fitted Chihuahuas.
7. Conspiracy Theorist (Credulous ignoramus)
Conspiracy Theorist is a dangerously widespread invasive species. With the proliferation of shows like Monster Quest and Ancient Aliens, Conspiracy Theorist has recently received undue attention in the mass media. While some TV experts worry about Conspiracy Theorist's influence on an already malleable populace, others claim that the breed's popularity stems mainly from a public fascination with stupidity. These experts also point to Conspiracy Theorist's natural state of paranoia -- a condition that can cause paralyzing agoraphobia, which confines CT to its basement habitat, subsisting on a diet of cheez doodles and Peter Joseph DVDs.
Conspiracy Theorist often wears a black T-shirt emblazoned with a "witty" quip about 9/11 or the moon landing or something. They also tend to be single, unemployed, and devoid of constructive hobbies.
8. Above TV Guy (Pompous freeloadous)
Above TV Guy is a newly discovered parasitic species, emerging only a few years ago with the advent of Netflix streaming. Found mostly in urban environs, Above TV Guy is an annoying but mostly harmless species of TV watcher. They mostly consume a diet of years-old television series, but leech onto the TVs of Sports Bros and Non-Ironic Primetime Viewers to watch current programming like Mad Men, Game of Thrones, or Monday Night Football. Afterward, they disappear into the night, scoffing loudly at the stupidity of paying for cable when you have internet.
ATVG is notoriously difficult to identify, but there are a few quirks that can give them away: disheveled look, a diet of pizza and beer, and general stinginess are all signs of ATVG.
Note: There have been reports of a particularly irritating breed of ATVG that has crossbred with Conspiracy Theorist. These viewers have been known to scold Sports Bros and Non-Ironic Primetime Viewers for buying into the military-industrial complex, of which Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon are a part. These individuals can only be contained through extensive web trolling.
9. Disgusting Addict (Piteous sadsack)
One of the most common types of TV Viewer, the Disgusting Addict enjoys (or at least consumes) all kinds of television. Their condition is fed by pure stimulation, wherein the mere presence of noise and flashing lights is enough to satiate their rabid need. Disgusting Addicts rely on television so much that they've even been known to defend commercials, claiming that they "make TV possible." DAs may also make insane excuses (to themselves or others) in order get their fix, claiming, for example, that "Sunday is my day to just sit around and watch TV," when in fact they do that every day.
While Disgusting Addict looks like a cross between Sports Bro and Conspiracy Theorist -- wearing mostly sweatpants and hoodies -- it cannot be more different in attitude. The only true danger a DA poses to the average TV Viewer is the lure of a comfortable couch and elaborate home theater system, both of which can entangle the passerby in hours of pure junkie entertainment.