tfw is a mini personal essay series I’m try to do on Tuesdays to recount second-person experiences of feelings and experiences we all have. Or maybe I’m the only one who has them?
You hear everyone talking about what’s new on Netflix. They tell you about all the shows you need to watch. You nod and you go to watch it but something else grabs you: a PBS Nature documentary about dogs. That New Show or this PBS dog documentary? You watch the dog documentary. You watch a documentarY about mysterious monkeys. You download the PBS app. You watch a documentary about animal reunions. You watch a documentary about pets in the wild. You watch documentaries until you fall asleep.
Then you discover This Old House. “Why are you watching that old people show?” someone asks. You like it. It’s fun! It’s educational. It makes you feel like a butch builder man without having to touch a tool. There are also so many hot New England carpenters and electricians and you imagine being their helper, learning how to build this old house as they touch you and make you feel all masculine and not.
You wash it all up with The Great British Baking Show. You think how nice Mary Berry must be but you are concerned her frail hands are too valuable to be on a television set. You thank PBS for giving this to you for free. “I watch that show on Netflix,” someone tells you. If only they knew that PBS gets the newest season a year before it hits Netflix. If only they knew how important PBS is.
This brings you to A Chef’s Life, where you learn about Vivian Howard and all her hard work building a restaurant from scratch. It’s a home grown, Southern story with food culture and recipes woven into it. You want to go to North Carolina to eat at Chef & The Farmer. You want to tell her how she shouldn’t be so insecure about her success. You want to eat her PBS approved food.
You wonder what Vivian thinks about political issues like all the bathroom business swirling around North Carolina. You know she will probably never speak on the subject but you wish and watch PBS NewsHour to appease your desire for getting PBS stars to comment on current events. You watch Gwen Ifill and think about how cool she must be. She and you could have a political hang session. You want to steal Judy Woodruff’s job so you can hang with Gwen.
For a bit of a break from the heavy shit, you turn to Everything But The News but realize it’s basically no more and you get sad but you think about how cute Steve Goldbloom is and then how you need to watch his new gig Brief But Spectacular. You distract yourself with another personality PBS show: I’ll Have What Phil’s Having. Phil isn’t nearly as cute but he’s charming.
Then there’s America’s Test Kitchen, which is the perfect fusion of culinary wonder and a few oddball cute kitchen boys. Like This Old House, you watch Dan Souza and Bryan Roof and even Adam Ried be distracted by noted goofball kitchen gremlin Chris Kimball and you think how great it would be to work on this show. You want to be in that test kitchen. You want to be in that PBS wonderland.
As you meet up with friends and chat about what you’ve been watching, you fade into your chair, nodding, realizing that you’ve somehow turned into a strange liberal public broadcasting person. You realize you watch a lot of PBS. You realize that all the shows, while informative, are intellectual versions of reality shows which are still reality shows. You go to Netflix and try to get into that one cool show everyone talked about. But then you notice a NOVA documentary about Easter Island and you watch it. Then you watch a documentary about hacking your memory. Then you watch a documentary about making stuff colder.
And you’ve done it again. You’ve watched too much PBS.