I was thinking about it the other day, and, on balance, I think "I don't really watch TV" is one of the worst things a new acquaintance could ever say to me.* "I voted for Boris," "dinosaurs didn't exist" or "I really love the recording catalogue of noughties indie outfit Keane, don't you?" would all throw a great big spanner into the works of our burgeoning friendship, but I daresay they could be worked through and forgiven in time. A non-TV watcher, however, may as well just stroll on by. We're not compatible. Does not compute.
It's not the lack of interest that bothers me per se - telly is, I'll grant you, at any given time at least 85 per cent cack - but the sweeping dismissiveness. "I don't really watch TV," they say. That's ALL of TV. The whole of it. Not "I don't watch BBC Three," or "I don't watch anything starring Martin Clunes," but the entire blooming, multi-billion pound, been-evolving-since-1925 genre.
For TV is, whether you like it or not, one of the most wide-reaching and accessible art forms we have today. And would Team Smug dismiss another medium in the same way? "I don't really read books"; "I don't really watch films"; "I don't really look at pictures or vases or decorative cushions." Would they stand on John Logie Baird's grave and say "nah mate, not for me"? Let's ponder that.
And before you say it, watching stuff on DVD boxsets or 4oD DOES count. You're being a discerning viewer, yes, but you're still watching the stuff.
As with many divides in human life, though, I've got to admit this is partly down to lack of understanding. I just find it hard to fathom what a TV-less person would do with their time. What do they do on a Sunday night, or when they've got flu, or while they're waiting for their pasta to cook? Also, as Joey Tribbiani so brilliantly put it, what's all their furniture pointed at?
The smuggery is usually accompanied with a dollop of condescension, and the suggestion that while you're slack-jawed, watching Don't Tell The Bride repeats with one hand in a bag of cheese Doritos, they're reading Baudelaire and serving soup to the homeless. But are they? I ask you, are they? Or are they, in fact, down the pub, with slightly less to discuss than normal people because none of them saw The Apprentice last night?
Then we come to the obvious, overriding argument: TV is brilliant. Not all of the time, but sometimes. Often, even. Take Frozen Planet, the David Attenborough spectacular that had us all gasping over glaciers and sobbing about dead baby seals last week. It was the most beautiful hour of programming I've seen in a long time, even including Russell Grant's Foxtrot. And Team Smug would have missed it.
*Actually the very worst would be "I don't own a TV", but I'd have realised this out on first seeing the mix of smugness and wanton despair in their eyes, and been prepared.
Knock knock knocked up
2 weeks ago