Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hate-Watchers Anonymous

My name is Dave and I am a hate-watcher.

Every week, I tune in “”Saturday Night Live,” even knowing it’s going to be awful, and every week it never fails to justify my preconceptions. So why do I watch? There’s almost no one on the show that’s even close to funny (there’s Kenan, and that’s about it). The writing is awful, the hosts don’t even try to not read the cue cards, the musical guests are invariably awful, and there’s an air of flop sweat all over it.

And yet the studio audience is always in hysterics and the morning-after reviews are always glowing. I often wonder how it is that such a hilarious show inevitably has all the humor sucked out of it as it travels across the country.

My hate-watching isn’t limited to just SNL, though. Longtime Facebook readers of mine will remember my distaste for “The Newsroom” and pretty much every awards show ever.

Of course, there are shows that even I’ve reached my limit on: “Parks and Rec?” Gone after I realized it was nothing but a half an hour of people screaming “Look how wacky I am!” at the camera. “The Killing?” Given the axe when I saw it was nothing but unpleasant people walking around in never-ending rain. “The Simpsons?” Cancelled when each episode was somehow more laugh-free than the previous one.

But SNL persists. Like a fungus. I can’t give it up, because every so often, an episode comes along with a host who actually, though sheer force of will, makes even the worst sketches work. There’s usually only one a season, but that’s enough of a promise. Last season, it was Martin Short. In the far distant past, Charlton Heston and Kirk Douglas surprised (the former especially), but so far, this season, there’s been no one.

The question remains, why do I put myself through this torture? It’s not like I think I’m going to be missing anything. It’s not out of schadenfreude. (The performers, while unfunny, aren’t suffering or doing anything more painful that performing badly-written and under-rehearsed skits.) It’s not that, if there actually were somehow a good sketch, it wouldn’t be all over the Internet the next day.

I think it’s mostly a sense of stubbornness. In the same way I pride myself on never having seen an episode of either “The Brady Bunch” or “The Partridge Family” (among many other iconic shows), I am determined to keep up my streak and outlast the overwhelming awfulness that is SNL. In the back of my head, I know it’ll win; as long as Lorne Michaels is in charge of NBC’s late night franchises, the awfulness will fester over the network like mold on cheese.

And this isn’t to say that every show I watch is a quality one. Even as I type this, I’m watching “Ghost Adventures” again, and, come Monday, will watch “How I Met Your Mother,” in spite of the fact that that show has long since jumped the shark. (If it weren’t the last season of the latter, I’d have signed off.) But, for the most part, if I’m going to take the time to watch something, I want it to be worthwhile.

I think, ultimately, my hate-watching is a combination of things. On one level, there’s a sense of superiority that “I’m funnier than that” or “That’s absurd; people don’t act like that.” On another, there’s probably some bizarre kind of enjoyment; that, for all my bitching and moaning, on some level, I am enjoying the show I’m hating.

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