I am hopelessly addicted to TV show recaps. I’ll read them for shows I’ve never watched and have no intention of watching. I read them to keep up with what’s moving in pop culture, and for the curiosity of seeing how many ways a single hour of television can be interpreted — humorously, solemnly as a cultural commentary, or passionately by people who care about the characters as deeply as if they were real people.
It speaks to the power of these programs that viewers become so immersed they start to feel as though they know the characters better than the director, the writers, or even the actors. Writing up a weekly criticism of a bad show is a boring waste of time. The fact that a show is painstakingly critiqued every week is, ironically enough, proof that it must be pretty good; or at least, significant in some way (good or bad).
These are my favorite shows not to watch. Okay, I cheated — I do watch some of them, but I tend to read the recaps before I get around to seeing the latest episodes.
3. Mad Men
I stopped watching Mad Men after marathoning the third season left me in a blue funk for two weeks. But the recaps didn’t end there. The virtue of Mad Men recaps is getting all the drama and cultural commentary with less than half the depression. Since it sounds like the show is starting up the long ramp toward jumping the shark, I don’t regret tuning out — but I do enjoy checking in, if simply to answer the question, “How much more miserable can they all get?”