What TV Shows Show

When it comes to television shows, my long-standing pet peeve is when the characters handle a coffee cup and it is abundantly clear that there is no liquid in the cup. The way they hold it, or pass it off to someone else, is so carefree.

In real life, those cups have some weight to them and they aren’t handled with such nonchalance. Also, spillage! There is a gentleness required. Regular people aren’t tilting full cups at a 45 degree angle while talking.

Watch for it the next time you see a coffee cup in a TV show. Even look for how a character carries one of those drink holder cartons, that holds up to four drinks, and how they hand out each drink.

I could write 1000 more words about this, but I’ll spare you the headache and just write about something else.

Lately, I’ve been noticing some television shows incorporating COVID-19 into their fictional storylines.

I think I first noticed it when FBI: Most Wanted returned with new episodes late last year. Characters were wearing masks…and then they weren’t. It felt like the masks were there for a few scenes, just to acknowledge the current state of the world, and then they went back to “normal”.

In recent episodes, I still see some characters wearing masks, but it’s at odds times, and it’s normally just one person.

Meanwhile, over on New Amsterdam, the whole show is now centred around the pandemic, which I guess makes sense because the show’s main setting is a hospital. Again, the mask wearing by characters is inconsistent.

It confuses me because it’s a…hospital.

And then the show, A Million Little Things returned this past Thursday and they are also tackling the pandemic, only they are picking things up a couple of days before the world shut down last year.

So, I guess the entire season will have viewers reliving exactly what they experienced for the last twelve months. Yay?

Look, I understand television shows feeling the need to cover real world issues and shine a light on certain things. I realize how difficult it would be for a medical show like, New Amsterdam, to just come back and do regular episodes about non-pandemic-y things.

As a matter of fact, they were scheduled to air an episode called, “Pandemic” last year, two weeks after the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. Of course, they did not air that episode.

So, I get it. Their show was always about shining a light on the Health Care industry, so doing anything but incorporating the pandemic into their storylines would’ve felt wrong.

For the other shows that are kind of acknowledging the pandemic (but not really), I don’t like it. It is like PTSD hitting me over the head.

Plus, I don’t understand the point of characters wearing masks for a couple of scenes, only to ditch them for the rest of the episode. What’s the point?

I get it, it’s a television show and having characters in masks for 42 minutes isn’t the most ideal scenario. I certainly don’t want that. So, why do it at all?

I’m sure that answer lies somewhere inside a boardroom at a television network’s headquarters.

When I watch these shows, I never think of them as happening in real time. I’m not watching an episode in December and wondering why the characters aren’t battling a snow storm every other day.

The Blacklist is an example of a show that returned and, as far as I can tell, hasn’t acknowledged the pandemic as part of their storylines. That show is happening in its own space-time continuum, which I am perfectly fine with.

They created a fictional world and are staying in it.

I am curious to see what A Million Little Things does in the coming episodes because it really looks like we’re going to be living through the pandemic, from Day 1, all over again.

Perhaps, I am in the minority. Perhaps, people actually want to see this?

Personally, reliving the pandemic through the lens of a television show is giving me conniptions.

That being said, I will watch every episode because I have a hard time giving up on shows. Once I start watching a series and am into it, I can’t bring myself to quit. I am too curious to find out how everything plays out.

That’s what I tell myself. That’s a blog post for another day.

Anyway, that’s all I wanted to say today. Should I bookend this post with another pet peeve? All right, I will.

What’s the deal with (now I sound like Jerry Seinfeld) extras always hustling and bustling in the background of scenes? Every show turns into a university campus, with people going in eighteen different directions.

That’s not my pet peeve though. My pet peeve is that there aren’t enough (or any) extras walking around while staring at their phone, or sitting on a bench, endlessly scrolling. Shows still give off the impression that most people aren’t obsessed with a tiny screen in front of their face.

It’s cute. And archaic.

I swear, I need to be hired by a television production team and given the job title, “Director of How People Act in Real Life”.

I’ll stop now and think of a title for this post.

Thanks for reading!

Do you mind if television shows incorporate the pandemic into their storylines? Is it necessary? Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to television?

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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21 Responses to What TV Shows Show

  1. The coffee thing bothers me tooooooo!!!!! OR they will pour someone “a cup of coffee” and its a 2.5 second pour. Like girl you best be giving me more than a teaspoon of coffee or you’re going to be in trouble!

    I don’t watch any current tv because I don’t have access to it LOL I mean, I could stream next day on my laptop but since I got my tv last year, I’d rather watch on a full screen so right now its exclusively Netflix. But I do have the global and cbc app if I want to live stream shows but then I have to follow their schedule and watch commercials? Pppfffttt

    Anyway, my friends have told me about all their favourites shows doing pandemic plot lines and I agree with you – its too much. Like just stop. We want to escape our lives when watching tv and be entertained! Not be sucked back into the poop canoe on the poop river we are actually experiencing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Yes! They never pour enough! They just stop pouring whenever their lines end.

      Oh I don’t blame you, I PVR everything so I don’t have to sit through commercials.

      Agreed. Shows should offer an escape, not be the News 2.0

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bill says:

    If they incorporate the pandemic into stories, that’s their choice, and if they’re wearing masks on-screen, that’s probably what they should be doing. The funny one is “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy,” because they were clearly in the middle of filming when the pandemic started, so some of the episodes have disclaimers at the beginning if they were filmed before. In other words, it’s an explanation why they’re not wearing masks.

    When I first saw characters wearing masks on shows, my first thought was that they’d have no value as reruns in the future.

    I don’t do it so much for TV shows, but I go annoyingly deep on what they show in commercials. One of my favorite tropes is “buy something because people are being stupid,” like the home-improvement store a few years ago whose campaign was that you’ll be so confident after shopping there that you’ll try things like demanding a raise or folding a fitted sheet, which of course wind up failing miserably.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I had the same though with reruns. And 10 years from now if these shows are still on a streaming service, someone will just stumble their way into a pandemic episode/season.

      Ha sometimes I wonder how commercials like that get approved. There is probably a room of executives, as well as a focus group, that just love it and think it’ll work so well at generating business.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sabrina B says:

    The pandemic isn’t an issue for most of the shows I watch, since they’re almost all in different universes or different years, so it’s not applicable. The rest I doubt will deal with it. So when I was watching an episode of the show 9-1-1 the other day, it was almost jarring to see them dealing directly with the pandemic, including showing mostly good but occasionally inconsistent mask wearing and vaccinations. I do get why shows based around paramedics or hospitals would want to address the pandemic but it’s definitely a risk and kind of a delicate line to walk I think.

    Now that you mentioned that about background extras I can’t stop thinking about it haha. Some of these scenes really have to just let some background people just sit around on their phones without making a PSA about it.

    Something that always bothers me on TV shows is when they don’t eat their food. For example, when a character sits down for breakfast, takes two bites of eggs during a conversation, says “thanks mom” and leaves?? EAT YOUR BREAKFAST. Or when two characters are having a conversation in a diner and their food and drink is completely untouched and it’s not addressed. If you want to use a diner as a location and use food as props instead of just like closed coffee cups, HAVE THEM EATING FOOD.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I guess all I’m expecting is if the shows are going to acknowledge the pandemic via mask wearing, at least try and be consistent about it. Otherwise, it just gives them unnecessary plot holes and bothers people like me haha

      I also find that when characters in the background are on their phone, they’re all huddling around one phone and laughing at what they’re seeing. Pretty sure that isn’t a thing in real life…

      YES THE FOOD. Two bites and out the door! I always wonder why the mom or dad is making a gourmet breakfast feast during the middle of the week. No one has time for that. And then when a character just grabs a banana or apple and walks out the door with it in their hand I’m like HUH? Who does that? I know people eat in the car all the time, but I think most people stop at a drive thru. I could be wrong.

      You’re bang on about diner scenes too. They order this big whopping meal and then just poke at it or say they aren’t hungry anymore. Who are these people that go to a restaurant and not eat?? I know talk with food in their mouth may not make the best TV but at least it would be realistic?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sabrina B says:

        This is true about the huddling! There’s also a lot of group selfies. I want to see people in the background talking to their phones or even just leaning against a wall scrolling twitter (aka me)

        YEAH IT DRIVES ME NUTS. I almost get the apple more than the banana, because then I’m like what are you doing with that peel? Both fruits seem messy in the car. Wouldn’t a granola bar or something be a better idea? Am I just practical?

        All they have to do is have the character eat as the other person speaks. Or start the scene when they are midway through eating. I’ve seen it happen!! It’s doable! No excuse for laziness!! People in real life manage to hang out eating at restaurants or go on dates and its fine so figure it out TV.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        There is a distinct lack of wall leaning in shows. I guess that’s why the people just keep walking endlessly? Why don’t they ever reach their destination and stay there? So many questions.

        A granola bar would be a better idea. Even an apple would be difficult unless they’re driving with one hand. Like where do you rest an apple? The cup holder???

        I think I read somewhere that on The Bachelor they eat before their dinner dates (even though there is food for them) because eating on camera is awkward and the microphones will pick up the chewing. Too many excuses if you ask me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sabrina B says:

        Is it because people would focus too much on a background person if still?? But i mean still doable in like scenes where leads are walking. Idk its an issue.

        I generally feel I would not be a very good Bachelor contestant, and this is just more proof of this. I would be so annoyed if they were like you’re going for dinner but can’t eat and have to eat before! No thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Maybe they’re worried about people crashing through the fake wall they constructed for the scene?

        It’s a show that requires people to do the opposite of what is natural. Someone would probably yell “Cut!” if you dared to pick up a fork.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. sopantooth says:

    I have a similar pet peeve with TV phones – 100% of the time people start hanging up the phone while they’re still saying their line. It drives me mad.

    I listen to a Star Trek podcast where they have a bit called Andy Secunda’s School of Specific Acting where they bring attention to an extra being weird or calling attention to themselves. There’s an infamous episode of TNG where an extra is staring directly at the camera an entire scene.

    Thirdarily when we were young two friends of mine went out to Hollywood, one to be an actor, one to be a nurse who was the on set nurse for a lot of shows. They both ended up doing a lot of extra work. They have some pretty funny stories about extras trying to get discovered – which is not how that works. Some extras get it, their job is not to be noticed, some think this is they big break and they wave their arms around a lot and don’t do things like look at a phone because they want their face to be on camera.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I haven’t really noticed that with phones! I’ll have to look for that.

      Ohh that podcast sounds interesting.

      Haha I can only imagine how many extras probably show up on the set thinking they’re about to be “noticed” and luck their way into a starring role. I don’t fault them for that, but as you said, that’s not how it works.

      I do remember a video I saw a few years ago of a now famous actor who said they were once an extra in a movie or tv show and then they showed footage of them as an extra. So, I guess some people do eventually break through, but it’s probably extremely rare.

      Like

  5. peckapalooza says:

    Why doesn’t anyone on TV ever say good bye before they hang up the phone? They just assume the conversation is over and hang up. For that matter, why don’t a lot of them say hello when answering their phones? I mean, I know Phil on Modern Family would come up with a clever pun for every answer of the phone. But a lot of people answer by saying their own name. Like I would answer my phone by yelling Aaron into the phone. Am I just hanging out with the wrong people? Because I’m pretty sure everyone I’ve ever been around while answering a phone has said hello.

    I think the only show I’m watching that’s tackling storylines as if they’re set in the real world is All Rise, which I love. But they’re pretty inconsistent with the mask wearing, too. My thing is, establish whatever rules you want to establish for your fictional world, whether that mirrors the real world or not. But stick with those rules. Don’t do something one minute then contradict yourself the next and expect me to be okay with it. Like when I had a roommate that never did the dishes. I’m fine with you not doing the dishes. But don’t tell me you’re going to do the dishes and then not do it. That’s when I get mad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Very good point about phone calls. I’m always amazed when characters answer their cellphone so quickly when it’s a number they don’t recognize. Like what?? I’d also like to see both people trade Hellos as if they can’t hear the other person, or weren’t ready to start talking. Make it realistic.

      Well said and nice comparison with washing dishes. Establish your default position, so to speak, and don’t stray from it. And if you’re going to stray, don’t set a default position in the first place.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Rebecca says:

    That’s why we always need to follow the “suspension of disbelief” every time we watch a show or film, haha. It’s easier to tune out the logical fallacies and just get carried away with the plot; you can always judge/criticize the plot-holes after it’s over! I get you with the coffee/drink scenario: I recently watched a short film in which the main character was ordering a to-go cup at a cafe and the way the barista handed the cup to her was just a little too quick n’ easy…as if there was no coffee inside of it! As for the pandemic plot in shows, I haven’t come across any shows that’ve incorporated that in, but I did hear that “The Good Doctor” had an entire season dedicated to that– I have no idea if the characters wore masks the whole time, though (although that’s dubious)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Yes! The transfer of coffee from one person to another is always a bit too quick. It feels like a high school drama play at times.

      That makes sense that The Good Doctor would cover the pandemic. Just did a quick Twitter search and found two tweets saying the characters weren’t wearing masks. At least all the shows are the same? I mean, I certainly don’t want to watch a show where everyone is in a mask, it’s just confusing that they make a big deal about it for a couple of scenes and then ditch them completely.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The week gone by — March 14 – A Silly Place

  8. V Donovan says:

    At least with AMLT, several of their professions will be very impacted (chef, therapist, movie director) so it could be interesting because I don’t know how many other shows can cover the pandemic from those angles, but yeah I don’t think it’s totally necessary. I don’t want to relive it all again except this time with more drama because these people can’t have one calm week.

    Like

    • Paul says:

      That’s a good point, the variety of jobs on the show gives them options. The drama will be turned up to a 12 every week now. I anticipate a sad season.

      Like

  9. What about shows that take place in big cities like New York or LA and the majority of the scenes outside have no foot or car traffic. It’s only when the plot needs the character to be in a hurry that people show up to be in the way.

    In shows where people are investigating crime but aren’t cops (PIs or shows like Supernatural), I always want them to put on gloves. You’re leaving fingerprints everywhere!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Very good observations! Those people in crime shows are always disturbing the crime scene. Stop touching everything!! And it’s starting to be a bit too cliche that every time they catch the culprit, they make a run for it only to be cut off on the other side by another cop.

      Liked by 1 person

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