Perhaps the most infuriating phrase hurled at me every time I am passionately discussing a tv show is “it’s just a tv show”. This is usually word vomited by someone that would sever your head if you so much as suggested that “it’s just a book”, “it’s just a game”, or “it’s just a *insert inanimate object that means something to the person*”. The idea that something I like or feel passionately about is “just a” anything is a belittling statement. You may not realize it, but what you’re saying is, “this thing you like is dumb, therefore you are dumb and I don’t want to hear about your feelings”. Ok. Gee. Thanks.
It’s not so much about me being a special snowflake that can’t take criticism, it’s the way you phrase it that’s demeaning. “It’s just a tv show” is usually precluded by an exasperated sigh, sometimes an eye roll or side eye, in a condescending manner. It’s not like you said, “I don’t really watch that show so I don’t know what you’re talking about” or “I’m not really that much into tv”. That is at least a more polite way to acknowledge that you don’t care about what I’m talking about. Furthermore, you don’t know how that tv show affected someone’s life. Maybe it saved their life? I know there are large fan communities that would tell you this very thing. That loving something and being a part of it brought them happiness and joy. When my father passed away, I clung to my New York Rangers. They’ve always been my favorite hockey team, but focusing on them and rooting for them was one of the few things that brought me joy during one of my darkest times. Do not invalidate someone’s love of something just because you don’t think it’s important.
Not that I should ever have to explain myself, but let’s try. My favorite thing is television. I love a good story. I used to be an avid reader and I have found that I don’t have as much time or energy to read as I used to and so I watch tv. I like to watch intricate stories develop over seasons, culminating in a series finale. It’s like reading a good book series. Coincidentally, some of my favorites are book or comic adaptations. For me, the nuance of dialogue and storytelling is really important. Now, there are some things I watch simply for enjoyment, and those shows I would never deem to analyze or pick apart so intently because that’s not their purpose. There are others, however, that have meticulously crafted storytelling and those are the ones I like to theorize and dissect and even sometimes, criticize. I even host a podcast dedicated to television so that I can carve out a specific time during my week to talk about one of the things in my life that brings me joy. So do me a favor, try not to belittle it.
Maybe we should try an exercise.
And then when you flip your shit on me, I’m going to implore you to remember that it’s rude to belittle someone. Then, maybe the next time you feel the words, “it’s just a tv show” creeping into your throat, you’ll think twice about spitting them out. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize to Fifty Shades of Grey and La La Land fans, yes I think your thing is awful, but you go on and love it all you want. I am in no position to tell you what is or is not enjoyable to you.
I have spent an exorbitant amount of time listening to my friends and family talk about their wedding plans (I am not married), their children (I have none), buying a home (I inherited mine), complaining about their job (I like mine), or any number of things that I may not be able to contribute to the conversation, but I listen and try to respond accordingly because that’s what you do. Because I care about you and your family and your child and your house and you job. It’s “just a tv show” to you, but to me it’s something I have invested my time and maybe even money into and I don’t appreciate it when you disregard me the same way you wouldn’t like it if I told you to shut up about your kid. Did it ever occur to you that because I have no family, no children, that this is my “thing” that I look forward to every day? No, I’m sure it didn’t.