By Sarah Bennett

Bad first impressions have kept me away from a few of the best shows. Please don't judge me hastily, as I did them. 

It’s one thing to publically admit that you watch bad TV, but I feel it’s more important for me to confess to the good TV I have absolutely no interest in. Judge me if you must, but if you haven’t already judged me at this point for calling VH1 “Black Bravo,” then I think we’re good.

Mad Men: Like most other Earth beings, I was a huge Sopranos fan, so I was excited to see Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men and love it and move on from debating people who hated the whole “Don’t Stop Believin’” finale, especially since bemoaning Glee and their whole “Don’t Stop Believin’” beginning was still months away. Unfortunately, when I saw the pilot for Mad Men, I didn’t just dislike it, I felt allergic to it. I’m sure my reaction stemmed mainly from my pet peeve with films/tv/books/politicians/etc. who fetishize the 1950s—a simpler time, when people didn’t lock their doors, knew their neighbors, and aw shucks, women and minorities were shit out of luck—and the specific way the Mad Men pilot positively soaked in nostalgia like a warm, whites-only bath.

I realize that does seem to be an oversimplified, liberal knee-jerk reaction, especially given how everyone tells me how “feminist” and “exciting” the show has become since then. But nothing happens in the pilot, plot-wise. There is no plot. There’s a philandering lead, there are cigarettes placed in every actors’ every orifice, and constant scenes of men drinking scotch and smugly laughing in more than one location, giving one the impression that the show wasn’t an engrossing drama but merely a prop-heavy portal into Reagan’s wet dreams, but there is no plot. One day I will give this show a second chance, and on that day, I just might like it, but until then I’m happy watching true crap, buying my own Joan-esque dresses, and seeing Jon Hamm’s penis outlined through his slacks in Us Weekly.

American Idol: I know most people don’t give a crap about this show anymore but I have never been able to wrap my head around what makes it, or any musical talent competition, compelling. I’ve seen a couple of episodes, and all I could gather was that everybody sings in an octave way too high or low for their voice, cannot dress themselves, and that the whole thing is a very blatant infomercial for cars and Coke. And I mean, like, old school, Australian-in-suspenders, useless-tchotchke, one-long-advertisement-veiled-as-a-show informercial, with the contestants driving around in a Ford while sipping branded soda steins with real ads for the products thrown in during “commercial breaks.” Then occasionally, a teenaged girl sings “The Greatest Love Of All” two octaves above range with enough vibrato to convince you she’s having a seizure.

The Voice or America’s Got Talent might be more subtle in their schillery, but if you sing the kind of music that inspires anyone to spend precious cents to text their “support” for again, what is essentially a glorified Coke commerical, your music is beyond my comprehension.

Game Of Thrones: My brother-in-law is an orthopaedic surgeon. This makes him what I call a “nerd-jock,” i.e., a highly competitive person whose obsessions are equal parts sport (Michigan football, Patriots football, fantasy football) and dork (building computers, reading Sci Fi/Fantasy, entertaining the notion that fantasy football could involve wizards). When he found out Game Of Thrones was going to be a TV show, he was first thrilled and then pissed, because somewhere in there he was reading George RR Martin’s latest book and, after years of faithful readership, threw it across the room with disgust. As my brother-in-law explains it (spoiler alert maybe?), “in four pages, every character I ever liked in these stupid books was killed, and it’s bullshit, and fuck him.”  

So I put off watching the show until Christmas of 2011, when I decided I would just watch them all on demand at my parents’ house, like any normal, bored adult whose parents live at least a half-hour from technically somewhere in Northern New England. Our annual Christmas day movie was my parents’ selection, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and for some stupid reason, I decided to start watching Game of Thrones that evening. Unfortunately, between my brother-in-law’s warning and my fairly average threshold for the amount of rapey entertainment I can take in a single 24-hour period, I had enough of the show after getting through the pilot. It wasn’t just the rape and incest stuff, but the fact that, while I knew that some of the people my brother-in-law considered likable were in that pilot, everyone I saw seemed creepy on one level or another, either blatantly (doing their sibling) or subtly (being Sean Bean), and if I was supposed to root for any of these people and not just the giant puppies, I knew I wasn’t going to like this show. I can’t imagine I’ll put in the effort again, because if I want to see a dragon, there’s The Hobbit, which has no rape, or Sean Bean.