WHAT’S A GUY TO WATCH?

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I LOVE television. It just doesn’t love me back.

Over the past few years, it’s become clear that TV programmers don’t really care about guys like me, guys in their 40s who get to choose what they watch, rather than pretend to enjoy whatever their wives are watching. The only eyeballs network execs seem to worry about today belong to teenagers and middle-aged women.

vicAnd tonight, I’m losing yet another one of the few shows I love: “The Shield” is ending its amazing seven-season run on FX, and I’ll be watching it live (the last time I actually watched a live TV show was the Sopranos’ finale in June 2007). I can’t wait to see what happens to Vic Mackey and the pathetic remains of the Strike Team (and Lloyd the Teen Serial Killer-To-Be better not touch Dutch).

So now three of my favorite shows of the decade have ended: “The Wire,” “The Sopranos” and “The Shield.” And what’s on the horizon to fill the void? “Rosie Live”!! Yep, Rosie O’Donnell hosts a variety show Wednesday, one night after “The Shield” finale, and NBC is considering turning the special into a series. Where’s a dirty cop when you need him?

Ruby Washington/The New York Times

And Rosie’s just the tip of the iceberg (albeit a pretty big tip.) Take CBS. The network hasn’t aired one show that appeals to me in a long time. I don’t give a shit about crime scene investigators or naval criminal investigators or ghost whisperers or cold cases or numb3rs or criminal minds or mentalists.

ABC and NBC and Fox and that CW one aren’t much better. I don’t care about “Law and Order,” so a third of NBC’s lineup is irrelevant to me. “Grey’s Anatomy” makes me ill (ironically), “Chuck” and “Reaper” cancel each other out, and I can’t even imagine spending a minute with gossip girls or desperate housewives.

Some shows do try to appeal to a 43-year-old guy, but they don’t deliver. I watched the first season of “Heroes” on HD DVD (another guy thing) and thought it was a convoluted mess without any focus or point. And that was the good season. I enjoyed the first season of “Prison Break” but didn’t care enough about these people to follow them once they prison broke. I couldn’t even make it to the end of the pilot of “House.” I still watch “24,” but only to keep my eye-rolling muscles in shape. I’ll admit to enjoying “Smallville” and “Supernatural” but they’re geared for people half — or even a third — my age. “How I Met Your Mother” is nowhere near as cool as it thinks it is. “The Big Bang Theory” is mildly amusing, even though that breakout nerd seems to think he’s Lilith from “Cheers.” And I have no use for “Life on Mars” — I liked the original British series and can’t imagine it’s any better with Harvey Keitel.

I stopped watching reality shows about 200 reality shows ago. I know way too much about “American Idol” without ever having seen the show. I don’t care how much money is in that suitcase. And watching celebrities dance is my idea of hell.

So what does that leave me with, other than a lot of space on my DVR? Well, “The Office” and “30 Rock,” the two funniest shows on TV right now; “Rescue Me,” which got a bit too repetitive last season but still entertains; and “Lost,” an exasperating show I gave up on a couple years ago, only to come back just in time to watch it hit its creative highpoint (seasons 3 and 4). And that’s pretty much it. (And “Lost” and “Rescue Me” don’t even return until next year.) I’m not even holding out much hope for Joss Whedon’s upcoming show “Dollhouse,” which seems doomed to the same Friday-night fate as his “Firefly.”

What it all boils down to is that the shows I love aren’t like anything else on TV. “Buffy,” “Arrested Development,” “The Wire,” “The Sopranos,” “The Shield” — they were all unique. And TV programmers aren’t big on unique. Not when they can get another hit just by sticking the letters C, S and I into a title.

So whether or not Vic Mackey dies tonight, I’ll be sad. Because another original is gone, another show for guys like me is over, and millions of people are perfectly happy watching Rosie O’Donnell introduce tap dancers.

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9 Responses to “WHAT’S A GUY TO WATCH?”

  1. So, I am not 43 but not so far from it, and not a guy. But we seem to have similar taste in TV, and similar gag reflexes. I have, in fact, given up on having TV reception and mostly watch the shows I love online or on DVD, because for the number of shows I like, it just makes more sense.
    Two shows that are nothing like the other shows you say you like, but also nothing like anything else on TV: Mad Men and Dexter. I’ve gotten hooked on the first seasons of both recently. Might be worth a shot.

  2. What’s Rosie holding? Is that a churro?

  3. Try Two and a Half Men for a good laugh once in a while. But I agree, not a lot out there to choose from. . .and you already mentioned the only other two shows that I keep an eye on regularly (Rescue Me and The Office). . .I think I’m going to try Mad Men, too (because I know bzzzzgrrrl and she does have good taste).

  4. What’s a guy to watch??? Football, college hoops … hockey, even. Especially if the wife doesn’t have control of the remote.

  5. Give the Americanized “Life on Mars” a try. I haven’t seen the British original, but I’ve enjoyed the series so far (though how they’ll spin in out season after season is questionable).

  6. 45vinyljunkie Says:

    “Two and a Half Men” is pretty funny, even though it has gotten to the point where I can see the punchline coming a mile away.

    If you want some good laughs, the first three seasons of “Green Acres” are available on DVD. You can also buy the first five or six seasons of “Married…With Children” on DVD, too, but don’t bother with the subsequent seasons.

  7. So you mean you didn’t watch True Blood? One of the best shows on in the past two or three years. Charlaine Harris’ book series is also wildly funny and entertaining, a great metaphor for these times we live in.

  8. moses miles Says:

    three words for you. SONS. OF. ANARCHY!!

  9. trick cyclist Says:

    Like you I felt ‘Heroes’ lost its way, and find that ‘Spooks’ suspends disbelief a little too far. No, I’m currently reeling over the fact that the incredible cold-case drama ‘Waking the Dead’ has now shown its last. British crime drama at its very best, real, vuknerable characters, with flaws and issues that cause them to make some very poor or fortuitous decisions. If you have not seen it, it’s a must try on DVD.

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