Television is high ranking on the student procrastination scale. According to my own market research, it comes in about level with an afternoon nap. I’m not one for day sleeping but I am into marathon series watching.
This particular activity holds its reign of power over essay writing: box-sets will be devoured in preference to multiple-thousand-word extravaganzas of academic drivel. What, you’d rather be writing about Milton? Give yourself a break. Who cares what Wordsworth meant when you could be watching Arrested Development? Or Made in Chelsea? Or even Downton Abbey, if you want to pretend that your middlebrow tastes in any way correlate with the demands of your degree.
But I don’t really care what you’re doing in your spare time – it takes no genius to discover the multimedia habits of higher educational attendees the country wide. Even medics. And that’s because Twitter is an infinite resource. My column this week may as well be sponsored by Twitter.
Just in case you emigrated to Planet Analogue this week – I wish I had – then you’ll have missed the Big News. Not Apple’s update – that seems to more closely resemble Samsung than anything else – but that Game of Thrones, the American fantasy show, has finished. For now. Frankly, I’m chuffed because now people will shut up about it for a while. But it made me wonder what the meaning of cool telly is. And more properly, is it supposed to mean something? I’m sure you’re all very concerned with what is and isn’t cool but I’d like to know, when did television get cool?
Popular opinion concerning taste doesn’t usually interest me but it is known that I endured three series of The Mighty Boosh to impress a boy. We all make mistakes. I can’t decide if there’s been a sudden influx of good drama or whether life has just become too weary to disguise our love for it. Maybe we’re all massive geeks and that’s the way it’ll have to be. I had a school friend whose parents didn’t believe in television. A life lived without sick-days featuring Jeremy Kyle, Casualty reruns and mockable Hollyoaks seems lacking.
But my personal television schedule – and accompanying ‘to-watch’ list – is poor at best. It’s not particularly highbrow, that’s what my degree is for. I have steadied through a decade of Eastenders fever, enjoyed Matt Dawson’s Question of Sport prime and rejoiced at Pointless in the gym. As for my American series quota, it was only propelled to more indecent heights upon my ascent to university halls and those blasted Thursday morning hangovers. I can recite sections of Sex and the City, have a working knowledge of neurosurgery via Grey’s Anatomy and have powered through even the poorest series of Gossip Girl. I am a trooper, if nothing else. Sadly, that’s the tip of the iceberg.
Obviously I’m not concerned by my schedule. I did a quick office poll, and on the list of tweet-worthy television, Broadchurch struck gold with The Fall close behind. Someone even mentioned Whitechapel, but The Village was less popular. Thank goodness The Apprentice is on at the moment, a prime opportunity for shameless buffoons to brag about glass ceilings and their field of ponies ready to charge at Alan Sugar. Who, by the way, seems to ‘lay on’ an awful lot of stuff for them. Scott and Bailey, ITV’s girl power cop drama that serialised vacuous romantic interaction with questionable mass murder delighted me every Wednesday at 9pm. There is a Manchester Metropolitan Police hole in my life. It was not Twitter-raved, I think deemed uncool for the clique. But they never gave Downton a miss. That ship sailed for me upon the beginning of my Jane Austen module last year, bit too close to home.
If it’s cool to be tweeting about telly now, then the climate is just right – financially and meteorologically. It seems alright to dine in at the weekend because life is too tight for continual escapism; television allows self-indulgent vicarious living through another. It’s so much nice to laugh and cry at someone else’s fictional nightmare than your own. There’s something especially nice about snuggling down with a blanket – even in June – with a bottle of wine, a book for the ad breaks and some chocolate fingers for the adrenalin. It’s awfully ordinary, and oh so modern.
Eleanor Doughty is a second-year student at Queen Mary, University of London. Follow her on Twitter here. She probably won't follow you back.