Words and Waffle Cuts

I haven’t gotten much done in the past week or so. I’ve been around work all day and night – hey, I’m on my computer reading words on a screen! – so it’s easy to rationalize procrastination. You’re thinking about all the writing you have to do and you think that’s actually writing, when in reality you’re simply on the edge of a writing desert, observing an illusion.

Repeat after me: reading is not writing. Research is not writing. Surfing the web isn’t writing. And for God’s sake TWEETING ISN’T WRITING.

In other news: just when you thought we had reached the limits of new potato chip technology, I saw these in the store this weekend:

That’s right: you think you’re getting kettle chips, but they throw you a curve. They’re quite good, actually. Crispier than regular chips but not as crunchy as regular kettle chips (which are good but you and your teeth really have to be in the mood for them). I do have to say though that sometimes Cape Cod chips can taste a little…off? Not incredibly bad mind you, just that maybe the oil is stale. Or something? What is that, anyway?

Doesn’t happen with every bag but sometimes…yeah.

I also watched the season opener of Mad Men. Quick review: loved it. I’m noticing a weird backlash against the show though. The show gets a lot of attention but doesn’t get a ton of viewers. I think the show averages around a million a week (last night’s premiere got 3.5 million because it was the first show back after 17 months away). But critics – and by critics I mean mostly people who don’t watch the show but also TV critics as well – are wondering why the show gets so much attention and hype when the ratings are really low.

What, a show that happens to be one of the more brilliant dramas in the history of television and has won the Emmy for best drama four years isn’t worth attention and hype?

Here’s the weird thing: usually when a show is great – and I think that for the sake of argument we can say that Mad Men is great – we don’t care about the ratings. Sure, we care in a general way – and we’re realistic about how things work on TV – but if a show is truly great, we usually have a “damn the ratings!” attitude. We want the show to continue even if it does get so-so ratings. We want a network to take a chance on a show even if the ratings aren’t that hot.

It’s as if there’s some weird alternate reality thing going on. Aren’t we as good little TV fans and TV critics supposed to look beyond the ratings, look for the quality of a show (or a movie or a book or an album)? Isn’t this what we pride ourselves in, that we’re better than just looking at the ratings?

I get that Mad Men might not be everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to TV drama, but it’s almost as if people are trying really, really hard to create a backlash against it to “put it in it’s place,” and using the gravitas of TV ratings information as a cover.

I’m just happy that there’s actually a TV show that’s worth talking about this much. Bring on the essays and the reviews!

The truly odd thing though is this: the show is not in danger of being canceled. AMC has already announced that the show will end with season 7 (in a couple of years). So why are we even talking about ratings at this point? This is the FIFTH season of Mad Men. It’s not a first or second season show that’s in danger of being canceled and needs to get more viewers. The end date has already been announced, so why the fixation on ratings (in any context)? It’s a great show, it has all the viewers it’s probably going to get, and we should just enjoy it while it’s still around.

But hey, let’s talk about Community some more! That ratings powerhouse that should get lots of attention and hype because it’s so good!

(Note to subscribers: The Letter is coming in April. I promise on a stack of waffle chips.)

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