The Perils of Keeping Up With Pop Culture

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There isn't enough time to watch, read or listen to everything pop culture, which is why many of us lie about being in the loop so we seem cool. Fess up — we know you do it, too.
There isn’t enough time to watch, read or listen to everything pop culture, which is why many of us lie about being in the loop so we seem cool. Fess up — we know you do it, too.

FX recently aired the last episode of its acclaimed drama “Justified.” The Timothy Olyphant-led series has been lauded by critics and fans as one of the best shows on cable the past several years.

I haven’t seen a single episode.

Whenever I’m in a conversation with someone who loved the show, I’m able to bullshit my way through the discussion because I’ve read so many reviews, recaps, interviews, think pieces, profiles, etc. to know just enough about it to sound like I’m a total fan. Such is life when it comes to keeping your finger on the pulse of pop culture.

There just isn’t enough time to watch every show, movie, Funny or Die and YouTube video or trailer. No space in our lives to fill our ears with every album, podcast or NPR show. No interest to read every book or article shared on social media — and that’s OK!

I know. You want to be hip. You don’t want to be behind what’s trendy and cool or become outside the loop, if you will. It sucks to not know what the hell someone’s talking about when they refer to Purple/Red Weddings or pinot noir.

(telltalegames.com photo)
(telltalegames.com photo)

We love what we love because we love them. There’s a reason why I’m a fan of “Game of Thrones” but not “Vikings,” “Bitten” but not “The Vampire Diaries” and “Shameless” but not “House of Lies.” Some of it has to do with taste while the rest has to do with time.

Then, one day, you end up in a conservation. It could be with a cute girl/guy, influential person or somebody else you want to impress. The chit-chat leads to a talk about the latest episode of “Penny Dreadful,” this other person’s favorite show that you don’t watch (BTW, you should). Do you tell the truth — or do you try to bullshit your way into their good graces?

I’ve made the mistake of going with the latter approach. At a job interview, I mentioned that “Downton Abby” was one of my favorite shows. I found out from the company’s website it was one of the interviewer’s favorites according to her online bio. She mentioned she hadn’t seen Sunday’s episode on PBS and giddily asks me if “X” finally happened to “X.” I was stuck. I really needed the job, but I had no idea what the fuck she was talking about. All I know about the show is Dame Maggie Smith and Elizabeth McGovern are on it, it happens during World War I (I think), and it’s comically British. I nervously stumbled and said, “Oh yeah, it was awesome, but I was half-asleep, and I’m gonna watch it later.” She didn’t press me for more details, thank fuck. I didn’t get the job, but I think it had more to do with me being too awesome to work there than my taste in television.

I’ve picked the things I’m going to pop culture war with, and I’m happy with the choices I’ve made. These are the shows I don’t watch and can’t talk to you about either due to quality or time: “Silicon Valley,” “Veep” (once “Game of Thrones” goes off, I go to “Mad Men” on AMC … or at least I used to now that that’s come to an end), “Girls” (forced my way through the first season and a half before the lack of joy was too much to endure), “Louie” (blasphemy, I know), “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Togetherness,” “Comedy Bang Bang,” “Broad City,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” every “CSI,” all reality TV like “The Voice” and “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Blacklist” and lots more.

But everyone watches the news, right?! Did you here about that murder or dumb politician?

Tony Hoffman is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.

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