New tricks

Largely speaking, I learn nothing from TV. When I wasn’t too busy going out and getting wasted (note: this happened once) my viewing schedule over the summer went something like this: Maury, King of the Hill double bill, pause for lunch, Murder She Wrote, Monk. The evening varied, but it usually ended with Big Brother. This isn’t helping my ‘cred’ much but I do what I do, and if watching Maury proclaim that, ‘you are NOT the father’ keeps me off the streets, then I am doing a service to all those twitchy Daily Mail readers out there.

I never see gangs of teens wielding knives or beating up old grannies on the streets anyway. Apart from the vagrants that consider appearing on Jeremy Kyle a rite of passage, most people are quite affable, really. At least the ‘hood that is Somerset doesn’t have the casual mass murderers, the happy-go-lucky rapists and fiendish cartoon villains that frequent The Old Vic or the Rover’s Return in its pubs. Real life, unfortunately, isn’t all that gritty and exciting. Your sister, for example, probably isn’t your mother. Although in Somerset…

I digress. I learn nothing from TV because TV never represents reality. Soap operas are consciously escapist fairy tales, reality TV is a synonym for ‘gameshow,’ and even documentaries aim to find some unlikely drama in an everyday situation. That recent programme by Fergie about ‘saving’ some community in Manchester from killing itself almost made me want to scream. The producers made it seem like you were lucky to survive opening your door without getting your head blown off by your heroin-addled paedophile neighbours. In reality, the neighbours actually got along perfectly well. Quiz shows, too, are a crock of bull (except for University Challenge, obvs.). Note to the BBC’s Guesstimation: asking a contestant to ‘guess the least popular Top 40 ABBA song’ does not really test their intelligence.

So I don’t watch TV to learn and I have no shame in saying that. Yes, I am a student at a top level university, but I don’t have to be a bloody martyr to English Literature at every god-given hour of the day. Heck, my life would be incomplete without witnessing Nene and Kim’s arguments on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, raging at the brides on Bridezilla or feeling superior to every single Deal or No Deal contestant who has ever proclaimed, ‘I’m feeling that box.’

Then along comes Silverville. The exception to the rule. In case you missed it, Silverville was a late night program on BBC2 about old people living in a retirement village. When I think of old people, I think of them owning miniature china ornaments, being grumpy, achy, slightly racist, fully crazy, acting like children, having hernias, false teeth, catheters, soft toys, grey hair and a non-existent libido. A part of me assumed that old people must suffer some sort of castration at some point during their golden years.

Oh, how wrong I was. I have learnt, people, and I will now share. There are four times as many single elderly ladies as there are men (who promptly grab their coat, they’ve pulled… I was just sick a bit in my mouth). Old men move to retirement villages purely to get a ‘little action.’ Little old ladies know far too much about vibrators and many still own sexy pieces of lingerie. I don’t know if this information is supposed to give me hope for old age or send me running to the grave, but it is information nonetheless. I stand corrected. Edutainment: 1. Me: 0.

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