Thursday, February 5, 2015

Let the CBS Wash over You

This week Rembert Browne, a staff writer on Grantland's "Hollywood Prospectus" blog, has gone all Margaret Mead. He's exploring life among the CBS viewers.

Browne has launched on a week-long diary series about experiencing each night's CBS prime time programming live and uninterrupted. For him, and presumably Grantland's readers, America's Most Watched Network is foreign territory. At one point in the series' first post, he writes,  regarding a plot development in the venerable CSI, "These shows are super nerdy. This episode is about potassium chlorate. They should push that more. CBS: Where smart people go to get smarter, instead of the current slogan, CBS: I heard you don’t live in the city."

The resulting series of posts is occasionally funny, often tedious, but also sometimes telling. Here and there, we catch a whiff of the intertextual flow of an evening. At points, we spy (as in the case above) an implication about how the network's programming construes (and perhaps constructs) its optimal viewer.  But overall we experience something like a distillation of the savvy TV viewer's experience: each TV episode arrives amidst a jumble of biases, associations, memories, and expectations about the show, the network, the cast, and even the means of production. No viewer is an island.

(And, seriously, how much does he hate Two Broke Girls?)

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