TV no longer unites us

TV no longer unites us

I’ve seen a theme emerge over the past few days–Trump voters coming out of the woodwork to talk about how President Obama is a “man-child,” baby, and divider of people, which is at the same time hilarious, frightening, and sad(!) coming from the folks who voted for a man who can’t even stop himself from tweet-slapping back at an Oscar winner (not to mention a civil rights hero, the media, Boeing, the man who took his job on The Apprentice, for which he is still pulling an executive producer salary…)

These people see Obama as a whiny, divisive toddler, which drives home the fact that we’re never going to see eye-to-eye on anything.

Which brings me to the real point of this post: TV.

Last night John and I watched The Young Pope and Orange is the New Black (season four). After we finished our episode of Orange, John scrolled through Netflix’s new offerings, of which there are MANY. MANY MANY. Shows neither of us had ever heard of nor will ever even consider watching. We wondered, “Who watches these shows?” And it hit me, not for the first time, that this is why the water cooler show is truly dead.

A few months ago, the death of water cooler TV was a cute little observation. Now it could mean the downfall of our society. We used to talk about TV, but now that’s not even a conversation starter.

“Have you seen Fargo?”

“No. Do you watch anything at all on HGTV?”

“God no. Are you watching black-ish?”


We don’t watch or read the same news. We can’t even agree on what’s fact or fiction. We don’t read books period. Sports can sometimes bring us together, but only during those special times where something truly huge is happening or when your city’s team is making a championship run. There are only so many people in Chicago who sit at home watching the lackluster Bulls on a random Tuesday, is what I’m saying.

But we used to have TV. We used to have those shows that everyone watched in real time (no DVRs), so you could show up at work or school or Starbucks the next day and say the word “Seinfeld!” and everyone around you would say, “Mulva!” We could bemoan song choices on American Idol and discuss strategy on Survivor.

There are a few shows today that come close to water cooler status. Breaking Bad did, but only after people discovered it on Netflix. Game of Thrones does, of course; but still, it airs on HBO, so not everyone has access. And that show only runs for ten weeks a year. What are we supposed to talk about during the other forty-two? The Walking Dead has been a conversation starter, but that show’s getting long in the tooth. Empire and Scandal were there for a minute, but have lost some of the buzz. I suppose we have This is Us? That’s always a good one to bring up at a Gathering of Moms.

(And it always inevitably leads me to ask, have you seen The People vs. OJ Simpson? Which they have not.)

The only thing anyone knows for sure is what our orange overlord happens to have tweeted on any given day, which is why you know you can always bring up what he said about the cast of Hamilton and get a reaction–good or bad.

Maybe the Trumpers are right. Maybe he is the great uniter after all. At least he’s giving us something to talk about. And maybe something good will spring forth from the upcoming fascist fever dream that is about to become our reality: When Trump TV is the only TV, at least you’ll have something to talk about with your neighbor again.


I wrote a book! It’s YA novel, THE SOUND OF US. You can find the details right here! Kirkus calls it “a winning story about a teenage voice student that hits all the right notes.”

I also wrote another book (You’ve Got Mail in the Pokemon Go era), which comes out in a month. You can add it on Goodreads!

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