When you watch as much television as I do — at least an entire day’s worth every week, both on the computer and on actual TV screens — you’re bound to get annoyed and downright bored from time to time. Here are 10 words, phrases, actions and trends that are testing my patience on a daily basis, though probably never enough to get me to stop watching completely.
1. “Bitch” It’s a dirty word that’s been stinking up TV for years, but I still hold my breath a little every time I hear someone hiss it. And lately, that’s been a lot. “Those bitches are finally gonna get what they deserve,” a character on Pretty Little Liars announced in an online ad for the show that I recently saw about a dozen times in the space of a few hours, and I figured, well, at least it’s from one B to another. But when a man is doing the “bitch”-ing, it’s harder to listen to, which means I’m constantly covering my ears.
On General Hospital, there’s even a character who has been nicknamed “Britch” by a another character (male, and gay) because her name is Britt, and she’s, well, a rhymes-with-witch on wheels (literally — her latest get-the-guy scheme finds her confined to a wheelchair). If the name fits, right? Well, sure, but what about when a 5-year-old character (adorable Emma Drake, daughter of the object of Britt’s romantic obsession) starts trying it on, too? Not so cute.
2. “Son of a bitch” Here’s my problem with this one, which, like the final word of the unfortunate phrase, has been popping up with alarming regularity on prime-time and daytime network TV for years. If you have a problem with the son, why criticize the mother for his sins?
3. “I care for you” Ok, I’m confused. Does this mean “I love you”? Are they now used interchangeably? If someone asks, “Do you have feelings for him/her?,” and the answer is yes, does it mean that you care for him/her, that you love him/her, or both. And if “I care for you” is actually a step down from “I love you,” then what does it mean exactly? That you care what happens to him/her? That you love him/her as a friend — with benefits? That you could love him/her… someday? Oh, forget it. Just shut up and kiss him/her.
4. Kissing sounds But when you kiss, for God’s sake, keep it down! Remember the episode of Sex and the City in which Charlotte was dating the terrible kisser who started slobbering all over her face when he got too caught up in a smooch? Remember the look on her face when she was telling the girls about it? That’s sort of how I feel every time I hear two characters kissing while watching them do it. There are many different ways to kiss, but none of them have to involve the sound of lips connecting and saliva being exchanged. And speaking of saliva, I hope I never have to see another spittle thread connecting the lips of two kissing TV characters ever again.
5. “SLAP!” I have mixed feelings about slaps in general. I don’t like that it’s okay for women to slap the taste out of a guy’s mouth, or that sometimes it’s even treated as foreplay, but if he lays a hand on her, he’s abusive. It’s another one of those frustrating double standards. As for the more evenly matched girl-on-girl slapfest, I used to love a good diva throwdown as much as any gay guy (it’s our version of watching two ladies having sex), but frankly, I’m totally over it.
They were so much more exciting on Dynasty, when the slapee always slapped back, and when they were used sparingly. On Days of Our Lives, Sami Brady recently got slapped twice in about one week, and not once did the feisty broad who recently beat the crap out of a dirty cop (whom she later shot in the back) slap back. Alexis Colby and Krystal Carrington never threw down more than once a season on Dynasty, and they always gave as good as they got (or in Alexis’s case, tried to), but on Revenge, Victoria Grayson, in the truest ’80s fashion, goes around smacking people all the time and always getting away with it. In the space of two seasons, she’s already gone through every member of her immediate family and then some. (In comparison, Nashville made it through its entire first season with only one main character getting smacked, and the slapper was strung out on drugs.)
When Victoria finally got it back (from her husband), it was at her own request (to make it seem like she’d been attacked when she came back from the dead), and I don’t recall seeing the actual meeting of fist and cheek. Next season, if she’s not going to learn to throw a punch like her daughter Charlotte (slaps are so ’80s, a good punch is forever), let’s hope she sticks to words and keeps her hands to herself.
6. Chronic throat clearing I’m not talking about the “ahem” that one uses to get someone’s attention every now and then, but rather, the constant clearing of the oral passageway for no apparent reason. It irked me when Jennifer Aniston used to do it all the time as Rachel Green on Friends, and the sound doesn’t sound any more appealing coming out of the statue-perfect body of Nathan Owens (left), who plays Cameron Davis on Days of Our Lives. He’s one chiseled model-turned-actor who definitely should be seen and not heard.
7. “You’re not a mother” or “Wait until you have kids” I know, I know, being a parent is the most noble, selfless thing you can do can do in life and on TV — even if you do it for the most selfish reasons (like trying to trick an indecisive guy into falling for you — see “Britch” above). That’s what TV parents — particularly daytime-soap moms — are always reminding us. While I’m sure that this is true, and I hope to see for myself one day, why not let its nobility go unsaid and stop making those who don’t/won’t/can’t have children feel like lesser humans because of it?
8. “If you ask me, strangers are the easiest way to avoid heartache.” Now I can’t remember where I heard this one, but it’s probably the lamest excuse ever for having casual sex and one-night stands. Do it because you enjoy it, or don’t do it at all.
9. “Who am I to judge?”/”I’m not judging” Guess what? As soon as you utter those words — in either combination or some other variation — you’ve already passed judgement.
10. Voiceovers When they work (Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives, where, in effective Sunset Boulevard-style, a dead woman handled the honors), they’re golden. When they don’t (Grey’s Anatomy, In the Middle, Scrubs and practically everywhere else I’ve heard them), they’re grating. Frankly, I’d rather watch characters randomly break into song. No, scratch that. Unless it’s on Nashville, I’ll pass.