I love The Walking Dead. But there’s one thing that drives me crazy about that show: While the characters are careful to make sure they are not bitten by the undead, they pay no mind to all that zombie blood spraying like geysers. What if it gets in their eyes? Or mouths? Or seeps into a paper cut? (I don’t know how often people in a postapocalyptic wasteland are actually handling paper, but you get my point.) Wouldn’t that turn them into zombies as well? I know I should just let this go. But I can’t. Because I am officially part of Nitpick Nation, the generation of TV watchers who must dissect and debate every point of minutiae on any and every TV show.
Take The Following…please! I should just enjoy the twists and turns of a cat-and-mouse game between a hard-boiled former FBI agent and a serial killer. Instead I keep obsessing over the implausibility of unhinged cult followers acting like trained covert agents able to assume a secret identity for years on end — and outsmarting the entire FBI in the process. The Following is a nitpicker’s dream (or nightmare, depending on your outlook). The erudite British serial killer is basically Hannibal Lecter lite. And there’s the sneaking suspicion that producers basically spun a giant Clichéd Antihero Vice wheel for Kevin Bacon’s character and it came up ”alcoholic.” Hell, I even find myself irritated by Bacon’s permanently half-tied tie! (Okay, your character is disheveled. We get it. Now either lose it or tie the damn thing already.)
But how much are little annoyances like these the fault of the show, and to what degree is the magnification of such blemishes a product of the way we consume television — with fingers on touch pads ready to tweet barbs en masse at the first misstep? The entire social-media landscape almost imploded on itself when Homeland made the admittedly preposterous move of allowing Nicholas Brody, a confessed terrorist, to waltz in and kill the VP because the FBI was not even bothering to monitor his freakin’ phone. Reading the avalanche of online criticism, you would have thought Homeland was the next coming of Work It, not an Emmy and Golden Globe winner for best drama.
The irony is, even as television gets better thanks to the proliferation of original programming on cable, the complaining over quality control has only increased. TV used to be considered a disposable medium, and we treated it as such. Then came The Sopranos. And Lost. Suddenly it wasn’t okay to be just okay. Now we expect greatness on a weekly basis. Not even the mighty Breaking Bad on AMC is immune, as fans cried foul when the always supercautious Mike inexplicably allowed the one person he never trusted — Walt — to sneak up and shoot him dead. Sure, it was annoying, but not as annoying as 10 years ago, when AMC was showing Can’t Stop the Music instead. (Because if ever there was an American Movie Classic, it’s the film starring the Village People and directed by the Bounty towel quicker-picker-upper lady.)
I realize that by getting so wound up over a TV show’s fine print, I am only hurting myself. I should be happy that the medium offers so many exciting alternatives that more often than not make me want to suck face with my 46-inch flat-screen Samsung. I promise to do better. But in the meantime…dude, do something about the tie.