The conversational power of television

Written about
13th March 2019


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Photo by John Tuesday on Unsplash

As an introvert, I always have a stash of conversation starters ready. For unfamiliar friend groups, for networking, even for my besties - it's a mental safety blanket, even if I don't end up using them.

My absolute fail safe, for all situations, is always television. I've never been in a situation where asking about favourite series or what someone is watching that hasn't lead to a pretty lengthy discussion, around recommendations or extended conversation about the relevant subject matter.

It happened this past weekend and I realised how connecting a discussion about TV could be. While this conversation starter has never failed me, it has also never got heated or separated people in the group. While TV gets people's passion points going, it never seems to divide, even with one person loving and one person hating the same series.

It works on so many levels. You can discuss your own favourites, even with the other person having not seen them. You can discuss your recent watches as a group, a televisual book club in the making. Or you get to listen to the other person's favourites and mentally add them to your Netflix list for the next rainy day.

I've fallen out of love with marathonning shows. My attention span doesn't last and I also think I'm rushing through something when I prefer to pace myself. This has become a silver lining to conversations though, as I seem to rouse a past interest in people, those that finished a new show within a couple of days, while I catch-up a couple of months or even years later. Actually, returning to my earlier point - Game of Thrones is perhaps the only exception to the non-divisive TV chatter. People are pretty offended that I've only struggled through the first series, with no interest in continuing. 

I share my own views on where I'm at, watch their eyes twinkle as they know what's ahead but keep spoilers out of the conversation. For the rare shows I can do the same with, I'm excited for people to catch-up and I love hearing raw thoughts of early seasons before characters change and story lines twist to create the need for a new perspective.

I wanted to get my thoughts down on this as it's always such a natural conversation development, but never seems to be the one heralded as an icebreaker. Try it in your next awkward silence, it'll get the people going.

With my late bloomer status in the world of TV, I wanted to close by sharing some of my recent favourites (that I've just watched, not necessarily that are new) and my all time favourite TV that I love going into rapture about.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace

My most relevant show of the moment for quite some time. I love the production of the American Crime Story series, but the story of Versace's killer is so interesting, it's a must for any crime fans. Darren Criss plays the killer and he is absolutely perfect in the role. There are nine episodes, each with a pretty intense segment of the overall story line, all acting as dots to connect for the bigger picture.

The US Office

I'm a first timer with the US version of The Office. I was obsessed with the British version and spitefully made no effort to watch the remake until now. It is definitely worth the time. The first series is the only one where episodes are recreated from the original, but having a nine series run means there's plenty of original content to get stuck into. There's a notable difference in humour and mock reality aspect, each for the better and each actor seems made for their roles.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel

I think I've rewatched the entirety of Buffy every other year, on average, since I first saw it. This was one show I was on time with, watching it on TV when it first aired. I'm in the midst of a two-episode a day rewatch as it's on SYFY, still every bit obsessed with it as I first was, including my larger than life crush on Spike. Even with somewhat sub-par season four, of The Intiative and Riley, it's still a brilliant series that has stood the test of time.

I somehow completely skipped the Angel spin-off when it first came around. It's now available on Prime so I'm braving the waters. There are a few crossover episodes throughout, but for the most part, both standalone. Angel doesn't live up to the 'favourite TV show' status of Buffy, but I'm early on in my viewing, there's still time to get obsessed.

Botched

You obviously knew I wasn't about to run this list without one reality TV offering. Alongside the forever Real Housewives (my watching now including New Jersey 💅), I put Botched on as background noise and I'm about to watch the whole damn thing. It's a simple concept - botched surgeries put back to best by two celeb surgeons (both previously husbands on the Real Housewives. Full circle). The highest order of trash TV, so when you need a moment for your brain to switch-off, get E! on. Never the cool recommendation but definitely up there with my most watched.

Queer Eye

The new series is out on Friday! The Fab Five rouse a similar fandom in me to Spike in Buffy and I am beyond excited to have another season to flick through. I've been rewatching some of my favourite episodes in the run-up, getting my fix of the Five. They bring pure joy to the screen and it's contagious, I am ready for them to conquer the world 🌈

Let me know any must watches, of the moment or of ten years ago, I'm pretty uneducated in the world of cult classic TV.