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Lost? No, I’m right here

James McGuire | Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Although undying love or hatred for a cultural phenomenon is easy to understand, indifference is somewhat harder to pin down. This Wednesday, while so many of my friends are anxiously awaiting the premiere of the penultimate season of ABC’s hit serial “Lost,” I will probably be doing homework or trolling around cable looking for “Dirty Jobs.” I have been judged and met with bewildered stares on this subject dozens of times. “You don’t watch ‘Lost’?! But it’s the best thing ever.” The way I see it, a large segment of the American populace has drunk the Kool-Aid once more, and I’m just riding things out with water. Being the pop culture maverick that I am, I have always been aware of “Lost.” I have a vague idea of who Kate, Jack, and Sawyer are, and I know that their shenanigans involve an island, a hatch, and one of the hobbits from “The Lord of the Rings,” but it has never quite struck my fancy. There always seemed to be a lot going on: things blowing up, people pulling guns on each other, and I think there was even an abominable snowman one time. Maybe I just hit it on a bad day on those several dozen occasions I caught it. However, that begs the question: Is there something wrong with me? I like to think that I am an intelligent person with a biting wit. Maybe it’s just how I’m wired. I don’t watch “American Idol” either (that’s more of a Ryan Seacrest thing though) or “The Office.” Perhaps I’m not meant to watch anything that is in the Top 20 in the Nielsens. I like my old standards, my tried and true hits. Was I the only one excited when Spike TV started airing “Married…with Children” again? Or who doesn’t mind that TBS will air about twelve hours of “Family Guy” in a row? There is no accounting for taste, I suppose, but most of what the major networks have churned out over the past few years seems interchangeable to me. Can anyone actually tell me what the difference is between “Private Practice” and “Grey’s Anatomy”? Maybe it’s because I have been burned by addictive television shows before. “The X-Files” was just about the greatest thing ever when I was thirteen (I’d take the Cigarette Smoking Man and the black oil over the Dharma Initiative any day) but was torn asunder when David Duchovny left and they thought that the bad guy from “Terminator 2” would be an acceptable substitute. And “ER” really was “must-see-TV” until everyone interesting either left (Dr. Ross), died (Dr. Greene), or got mangled by a helicopter (Dr. Romano). I’m a TV commitment-phobe at this point. Not to say that you shouldn’t give things a chance, but you should never have to “work” at liking TV. You also shouldn’t have to be ashamed of what you do watch either. If you like provocative, cerebral television (like “Mad Men” or “Damages,” for instance), then you should have at it. Is 24-hour cable news your thing? Well, I’m sure Nancy Grace has orchestrated another elaborate child disappearance for you. Do you design your class schedule so that you can run back to your dorm and watch John and Marlena do the dramatic, shifty eyes at each other on “Days of Our Lives”? Then come out of your shell and be proud of your taste in television (or lack thereof). Life is too short to pretend that you are cool and actually know why the people on the island had to keep their finger on that button in the hatch for all those years. It’s time to express yourself (and see what else is on).

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact James McGuire at [email protected]