Gossip Girl is alluring and utterly addicting. Desperate Housewives, despite Eva Longoria’s recent departure from modelesque glamour and Teri Hatcher’s ever-escalating ability to irritate me (though she used to be my favorite) will always hold a special place in my heart. I hear Lost is fantastic and that The Office is the best thing that’s ever happened to NBC (no, I would not know this from personal viewing experience — please don’t hurt me). As for Grey’s Anatomy, in my opinion if it hopes to be remembered as anything at all, its best bet would be to go off the air immediately. Although a friend recently told me that something amazing just happened with Izzy, I’m going to have to say that it’s too little, too late.
I must make the case that while these shows come and go, wow us one week and make us want to shun TV forever the next (I know, I know, The Office is amazing every week), there is one genre out there on television that is more or less consistent in its ability to satisfy — crime shows, for lack of a better term. In this category, I am including Law and Order (both Criminal Intent and its generally accepted superior SVU), CSI (Miami, New York, and regular), Crossing Jordan and Cold Case.
These days, with overwhelming classes, activities and social lives, it’s a big commitment to become addicted to a show. This semester, for example, I knew I needed to cut one out. The winner? You can probably guess from my previous rant: Grey’s Anatomy. Sometimes, though, you may find that you don’t have time to watch even one show regularly. This is why I’m advocating crime shows. You don’t have to watch them in order. Each episode is a story in itself — you do not have to know what events transpired the week before to have a thoroughly enjoyable hour in front of the television. Yes, sometimes the writers make the unfortunate decision to dive into the characters’ personal lives outside of their jobs as super, invincible crime investigators. But really, you can ignore these occasional mishaps and just focus on what matters — the crimes and the stories behind them.
Let me explain what I mean when I tell you that you don’t have to watch these shows in order. Let’s say that one Tuesday, you have a prelim in Microbiological Astronomical Chemistry (I’m constantly amazed at the mind-boggling combinations of words science people put together as majors … sorry, I’ve always wanted to make up one of my own). You can’t watch Gossip Girl that Monday night because you have to go camp out in the Olin stacks in the hope of getting above the mean on your test the next day. The rest of the week turns out to be a busy one, and before you know it, Monday has arrived again and you never watched Gossip Girl from the week before. Maybe your roommates are watching the newest episode, so it’s just too tempting. You have to watch it. But wait! Dan and Serena are back together, Lily and Rufus are searching for their long-lost baby and Jenni has ditched the fashion world for a normal life of (gasp!) school. You’ve only missed one episode, yet you’ve missed so much!
Yet with Law and Order, for instance, you can miss as many episodes as needed to pass your classes. You can catch up on the episodes later, or you can just watch random episodes every December break. Either way, the hour (or two or three hours) you spend watching Olivia and Elliot find a murderer, outsmart a rapist or get a testimony from a psychopath, will be worth it. None of your precious TV-watching time will be wasted trying to figure out what you missed from the previous episode. Each episode is its own glorious story that stands alone. You can also save your relationships with your friends. Who really wants to be answering questions during Gossip Girl for someone who had the nerve to miss it the previous week anyway?
Let me add that if you’re someone who really needs some individual character drama, I highly reccommend Crossing Jordan, which always throws in a little personal drama along with the general crime storylines. If you’re so inclined, you can pay attention to the characters’ love lives and family crises, or, if you aren’t going to watch this show in sequence, you can simply ignore these mini-storylines.
Okay, so you don’t have to watch every episode. This probably doesn’t convince the average starved-for-time Cornellian that crime shows are the way to go. These shows are the best out there, however, for several other reasons.
1) Gossip Girl, Desperate Housewives and The Office are about (supposedly) normal people. In Law and Order, CSI, etc, you get to meet crazy murderers and psychopaths. Let’s see — spend an hour watching tall blonde girl stroll around Manhattan or watch scary man confess to his love of murdering people … I know which I’d choose …
2) You feel intellectual when you watch crime shows. They talk about DNA. They match cells and blood types with other cells and blood types.
3) Maybe you will find your calling. After all, it’s about time I stopped trying to convince people that I decided to be a psychology major because I want to help people. I think Law and Order made me want to spend my life watching crazy people (and I say “crazy” in the most complementary light).
I’m not trying to convince you to say goodbye to Serena, Gabrielle Solice, or (god forbid) Michael Scott, I just want you to consider giving some less frequently praised shows a chance to steal your overly-extended heart.