Nope, Didn’t See It


thewireSo, I’ve been making the joke lately that I was at risk of having my official Crime Writers’ Badge taken away because I’d never seen HBO’s The Wire, a crime drama that debuted more than a decade ago and taped its last show in 2008. With nods to a current drama about a deranged high school chemistry teacher, it’s sometimes called the best show ever made.

I remedied that situation by buying the entire show through Amazon Instant Video. I’m now about halfway through Season 3 and I’m enjoying it immensely–David Simon is a genius and our politics are simpatico. It’s everything everyone said it was: smart, engaging, timely (yet perennial), well-acted (with exceptions), has fantastic writing, and–for me–little insider jokes for someone who lives near the area in question (Baltimore > Washington DC) and knows a little about the producers and their families.

But now the same people who shook their heads at the fact that I hadn’t seen The Wire are now asking me why I’m not watching Breaking Bad. And Dexter. And Justified. And The Shield. And Low Winter Sun. And The Bridge. And Lost and Deadwood and Buffy and Veronica Mars and Jesus Christ, how do you people ever get anything done?

Folks, I am not a TV guy. But even if I were, I’d be writing first. And if not writing, then reading. If not reading, promoting. If not promoting, playing video games (my passion/weakness), going outside (rarely seen), meeting my wife again, visiting family, drinking with friends…and then I’d turn the TV on, probably to watch a hockey game.

breadingbadTruly, I understand that there is some incredible writing getting done on television. Writers I know and trust implicitly say Breaking Bad isn’t one of the best shows, it’s actually one of the best things written in our generation. The norms of novel writing and story telling are actually being shaped by what’s being aired on TV (and, glad to say, on all kinds of channels, too–not just the usual suspects). It’s crucial for writers to keep their finger on the pulse of other media if they want to keep current.

But, look, I’m busy. I pick one or two shows a year–Game of Thrones: guilty–watch ‘em, and get back to work. I’ve got my vices and time-wasters and I definitely don’t work as hard as some writers in the mix, but–wow–if you have a job and watch half the shows on TV, then you’re not doing much else.

So, before you ask: no, I probably haven’t seen “it.” I will catch up, promise–Breaking Bad and The Shield are on my Amazon Watchlist–but it’s gonna be a while. Until then, I’m hoping to add to that storytelling pile, not just consume it.

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Writer of crime fiction, psychological drama, and dark humor.

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Posted in Rants
9 comments on “Nope, Didn’t See It
  1. Wow, were we separated at birth Matt? Your list of preferred ways to spend time is in the exact order as mine. I too haven’t seeing Breaking Bad or many of the other shows you’ve listed. I do watch some TV, mainly because it’s something I enjoy doing with my wife, but other than that, it’s writing, reading or video games!

    • Matthew Iden says:

      LOL, Phil. Good to hear it…I was starting to think I was the only one. The amount of TV people watch is kinda stunning, especially for people who say they’re trying to write. I want to tell them, Sorry, folks, it ain’t really research…

  2. Ellen says:

    Agreed, agreed, and agreed. Although I do yearn to see the last season of “Madmen”…oh, well, we all have our guilty time-wasters. Just have to limit the number so they don’t rob us of our creative time and family/friend/exercise/nature/reading/promoting time.

  3. lol! i’ve got lots and lots of tv i “love” seeing, but my wife and i’ve (tried) learned to pick and choose, use the dvr, use netflix, etc.; it’s a challenge!

    there’s time in the day where it’s enjoyable for us to enjoy some favored shows together, get mad at the plot, snarky at some character, sniffle, hoot 😉

    heck, “lots” of great tv is now being made available, really entertaining important stuff about life ; i can imagine in shakespeare’s day (live drama being closer to tv than reading) hanging out catching some interesting shows; good thing he didn’t have to twitter, fb, blog, or try to be outside, since most of that was outdoors!

    maybe our modern day of media convenience is biting us back on our butts, taking the time technology initially freed us from, and putting us into social media slots like old time transistor bulbs til we burn out, and finally sit back with our spouse, and wearily ask, “anything good on tonight?”

    even great blogs like this are a challenge, but i do try to get to it here and there, and usually very glad i did 😉

    • Matthew Iden says:

      🙂 Thoughtful comments, as always, Adan. I sometimes wonder how much more time we’d lose if we didn’t have the DVR at our disposal, lol. At least one show’s worth per week…

      • very true 😉 and we record stuff we end up deleting cause we lost interest 😉 crazy huh?

        i think for me, having a degree in theatre, and having done some community theatre stuff (even with my kids for several summers), finding really good acting that entertains and engages, actually stimulates my imagination, not so much for story, as for descriptive nuance, something that’s a constant challenge for me, even if usually enjoyable

        the confluence though, of so much media, tv, music, theatre, dance, movies, books, does, i believe, at this time, condense most in written stories; there’s some fascinating studies showing how much more of the brain and memory can be reached in a person through the written word

        all good stuff, all fascinating, best wishes matthew 😉

      • Matthew Iden says:

        Wonderful observation about acting offering a different kind of stimulation. All of the arts have their own specific power over us, and maybe good TV is an art form unto itself. Food for thought. Maybe I should set aside some time, after all…

      • Sometimes just watching expressions on really good actors (male & female) is really interesting.

        You & a sig other could pick out a mutually intriguing show & let ya’ll selves critique it out loud. Probably blast through a few shows til ya’ll find one that really appeals to both of you.

        Anyway, that’s what my wife & I do. We have our favs and we have a few we both really like. Plus she reads all my work, true love 😉

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