Let’s get something clear right from the start – I’m a huge fan of television. I watch and re-watch my favorite shows over and over. My idea of scintillating conversation is a passionate debate over such important issues as who really was the best guy for Rory, or whether Freaks and Geeks would be as meaningful if it had gotten a second season. I can identify “Saved by the Bell” episodes within the first ten seconds based on what posters are hanging in the Bayside hallway. So suffice to say, I’m a fan of TV as a whole. But, like any faithful viewer, over the years I’ve gotten a little tired of some of the tropes and cliches that appear in even the most original TV shows. We all know these things to be fake and weird and to exist only in TV World, so why don’t the people making the TV shows realize the same thing? A few of my biggest pet peeves:
Girls Who Sleep in Bras
Okay, to be fair, I have a couple friends who sleep in bras on a regular basis. But I’m being literal here – a couple. The rest of us let it all hang out when it comes time to don pajamas, and isn’t that part of the joy of pajamas anyway? Taking off your constrictive bra at the end of a long day? I understand on TV that girls have to look their best and be as pert and un-nipply as possible, but there are ways to at least hide the fact that the actress is clearly wearing a bra. Maybe put them in one of those camisole-type bras or have them wear a tee shirt instead of a bra-strap-revealing tank top. While we’re on the subject, what’s with all the cute tank top lounge wear ensembles girls on TV wear to bed these days? Sure, I own my fair share of cutesy rompers and playsuits, but nine times out of ten I’m in holey boxers and a stained tee shirt. Again, it’s TV, I know, but isn’t there a happy medium we can reach? And don’t even get me started on somehow waking up with fresh mascara, lip gloss, and a neat ponytail.
This is a very common TV trope: friends and neighbors who love to pop in to your house without any warning. Yes, I am about to rail against the tradition that brought us such loveables as Kimmy Gibbler and Kramer, but come on. My issue isn’t so much with the fact that people exist who think it’s okay to arrive unannounced at their friend’s living room. It’s that the friends upon whom they are intruding are ALWAYS THERE. How come nobody is ever taking a shower? Or using the bathroom? Or having sex? Nobody even acknowledges that this is a possibility in TV World! There is absolutely no room for private behavior of any kind. It’s like the TV version of Barbie being all smooth under her clothes. Would it be that bad for humans to acknowledge that other humans sometimes have to do things by themselves that would keep them from entertaining their kooky neighbor at the drop of a hat? Just once I want Kramer to walk in while Jerry’s naked and examining a mysterious mole that appeared on his inner thigh.
People on TV don’t seem to feel the need to say goodbye before hanging up the phone. Like, ever. Conversations go something like this:
Girl 1: I saw your boyfriend at the mall.
Girl 2: Was he alone?
Girl 1: He was with that weirdo Kimmy Gibbler.
Girl 2: I knew it. Oh my god. I have to do something about this.
Girl 1: (meaningful) Yeah. You do.
I think it’s because of this that I have the bad habit of saying “Goodbye” and then quickly hanging up before I even hear if the other person was ready to say goodbye yet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hung up to the faint sounds of someone quickly saying, “Wait, just one more thing…” and then I feel too awkward to call back so I just pretend it never happened. Yeah.
While we’re on the topic, how come people on TV never need to make concrete plans? It’s always, “Dinner tonight?” “Sounds great.” CLICK. Do these towns only contain one restaurant, with one dinner seating, and a guaranteed available table?
I’m pretty much present-obsessed. Seriously, at my 21st birthday party, the only way my sister could get (the very inebriated) me to listen to her was by whispering in my ear, “I have to talk to you about your presents.” And I snapped to attention. Of course. So it really bothers me on TV that every present exchanged is in this weird box covered in wrapping paper but not actually wrapped up like a present. Think about it. It’s always a box with a top that can be easily removed so the recipient just takes off the top of the box and pulls out whatever’s inside (spoiler alert: it’s usually something comically bad). I have literally never seen one of these shiny paper-covered boxes in real life, ever. And I get that we are strapped for time in TV World but how much longer does it really take to rip open a present? If it’s me who’s doing the ripping, about .05 seconds. Also, isn’t this what gift bags are for?
Mysterious Absence of Peripheral Vision
People on TV do not have peripheral vision. They walk into a room and apparently only see whatever is right in front of them, inevitably causing them to blurt out something they shouldn’t about the very person who is standing directly to the left of them but who they somehow haven’t noticed yet. “QUICK, DON’T TELL MONICA I ACCIDENTALLY MADE A MESS IN THE KITCHEN!” “I’m right here, Chandler.” That didn’t actually happen, but you know it might as well have. If it weren’t for the fact that people who populate TV World don’t have peripheral vision, most of the gags and jokes and silly moments on most sitcoms would be moot. I get that. But maybe Monica should at least be crouched behind the couch cleaning something or step out from behind a door or something. And it wouldn’t kill anyone to take a sweeping glance around the room before they spill their secret thoughts and feelings.
The Unstoppable Kiss
People on TV are constantly being kissed when they least expect it. Whether it’s that nerdy neighbor our leading lady has no interest in, or the assistant who’s hitting on her married boss, the moment of the kiss often comes as a surprise. Yet these same people just stand there and let it happen. Even when they really, really, really aren’t interested in the person doing the kissing. This is something I simply don’t understand. I am aware at all times of my personal space and the personal space of the people around me. If some guy I wasn’t interested in leaned slowly toward me with his lips puckered, I’d move out of the way. Immediately. I wouldn’t stand there, tremblingly doe-eyed, and wait to see what happens. You know what’s friggin’ gonna happen! And then they have the nerve to be all shocked like, “Whoa, what are you doing?” after letting themselves be kissed for a good ten seconds. If I were the nerdy neighbor boy or the slutty assistant, I’d be kinda ticked off, like, why did you let me kiss you for ten seconds before pushing me away and acting outraged? It makes no sense. My natural instinct is to move away from unwanted touches, and sometimes even from wanted ones.
“Let Me Go First”
This is a very common complaint among TV viewers, but I had to include it. It’s the fakest, most annoying thing ever when a guy says to his girlfriend, super serious, “I need to tell you something,” and she cuts him off to say “Okay but just let me go first!” And then inevitably she describes the amazingly perfect wedding dress she just spent her entire life’s savings on when he was about to tell her he can’t get married after all. Does this happen in real life? If my boyfriend came to me all intense and grave and had “something to tell me,” I’d be pretty freaked out. But forget that, let’s say these girls really can’t contain themselves and are just bursting to tell their good news no matter WHAT their boyfriends wanted to say first (fair enough). But even then, after the news is delivered, when the girlfriend then asks, “What was it you were going to tell me?” and the boyfriend weakly says, “Oh, nothing. Just… excited for the wedding.” Why doesn’t the girlfriend push him a little more? Who accepts that as a legitimate response when a mere thirty seconds earlier the boyfriend was practically in tears with whatever news he had to give? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?
Needless to say, none of these pet peeves actually diminish my immense enjoyment of the act of watching television. If anything, these kinds of foibles and quirks are part of what make TV World such a popular place to visit. Maybe if I lived in a land where high school never ends and nobody has to deal with morning breath or cold weather, I would wear a bra to sleep, too.
Image via coffeeatlukes.com