Broadcast Television and Suburban Sprawl

August 13, 2010

Ordinarily, television and sprawl are not my favorite things, but last night they came together magically to make happiness for me and my darling wife. Naturally, there was a bicycle involved.

You see, there is a television program called “So You Think You Can Dance.” I feel the title should have a question mark, since the essential premise is of competition, and the show’s organizers are challenging America to show off its dancing skills (in other words, the tone of the title is really, “so you think you can dance, huh?”). If that were my only complaint about the program, it would be far better than it is. In fact, it is a very very bad program. There is dancing, which is usually athletically adept, and sometimes choreographically inspired. But the dancing is like the cartoons in the New Yorker if the New Yorker were AARP The Magazine, which is to say, the good stuff is a handful of beautiful sailboats bobbing sadly in a vast sea of garbage. The garbage is commentary by judges and montages of the contestants’ rehearsal sessions and of their hardscrabble back-stories. The commentary is the worst, because the judges are pompous and they talk about how moved they are after every dance, and they say stuff that doesn’t make a lick of sense. The other filler is just tolerably trite.

Maybe I am not making myself clear, so let me get right to it: I hate “So You Think You Can Dance.” Inexplicable, my wife, who is very smart and generally has good taste, adores the program. Luckily for both of us, she has found a community of otherwise sensible adults who like the show. It is lucky for her because she can share her deviant vice with others similarly inclined, and lucky for me because it banishes the viewing of the program from my house on most occasions. The only bad part, if you can call it that, is that Anna’s “So You Think You Can Dance” viewing parties, which happen at a friend’s house in a suburb about 15 miles away, are an important part of her social life and she is sad that she cannot share this with me. I’m not too sad about this, but I do like the people who attend, and I want to support Anna in her weirdness if possible.

Usually, notwithstanding any tooth-gritting goodwill on my part, I cannot attend these gatherings because I have to stay home with the children, who are sleeping and thus safe from “SYTYCD.” But last night, the kids were with their grandmother in Cape Cod, leaving (sigh) no impediment at all to my attendance. And then, inspiration struck: Anna and I had finished dinner, and she wanted to take a shower before leaving for her friend’s house. Having just replaced my bicycle’s inappropriately knobby, off-road-type tires with skinnier, slicker tires, I was eager to take it out for a spin, so I proposed that I leave by bike while Anna was in the shower and we meet at the viewing party. Here’s the genius part: Because our friends live in Cromwell and we live in West Hartford, Anna would traverse 14 miles by highway and arrive by car just about in time for the show, while I would travel 17 miles by bike and miss at least the first hour!

It worked out very nicely, indeed. Night was just falling when I set out, so Hartford’s typical mugginess was giving way to a pleasant summer evening, and I chose a different route than usual, which happily traversed more of those strangely rural pockets that cling tenaciously to the suburban sprawl of Central Connecticut. So while Anna was hanging on every awful word of Nigel Lythgoe (the requisite British judge) and Adam Shankman (the requisite flamboyantly gay judge), I was enjoying cool, dark, country roads and the happy thunder of crickets. Hooray for America!

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2 Responses to “Broadcast Television and Suburban Sprawl”

  1. Alice said

    “The happy thunder of crickets” – you’ve done it *again*! Wonderful.

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