I was listening to an old “This American Life” the other night. The topic was the influence of television, and while I was listening to Ira Glass describe his unabashed love for The O.C. (which he shamefully calls “trashy”, shortly before admitting that he cried when it went off the air) it occurred to me that there really is no point in trying to hold yourself above it all. Even when a show is universally acknowledged by people to be complete trash, you often find those same people are the first ones breathlessly discussing plot points or recounting the crisis of the latest episode. (Reality TV is a prime example; I can’t believe the number of closet Project Runway fans.)
My question is this: do we need to openly acknowledge that something is trashy in order to give us license to enjoy it? Or shouldn’t we try to understand and love what it is that makes these “trashy” shows so compelling to watch? I realize that when you think like a critic (as I’m far too prone to do) you’re definitely not embracing that side of it enough.
Truth be told, I have less at stake here than you might imagine. I don’t actually have a TV show that I’d be embarrassed to say I’m a fan of. Then again, what can I say — I do have amazing taste.