How much TV do you watch each day? Three hours? How about two? Maybe you’re more conservative and keep your boob tube time down to sixty minutes or less. Maybe you don’t watch TV at all.
Whatever your response, I’m sure most of you have never watched a full day’s worth of television. Even if you have, though, you’d still have a long way to go before catching up to Jeremiah Franco and Carin Shreve, two California residents who landed in The Guinness Book of World Records by watching more than eighty-six consecutive hours of The Simpsons. To clarify, that’s over three days of one Simpsons episode after another without any sleep.
Franco and Shreve were participating in The Ultimate Fan Marathon (hosted by Fox in Los Angeles), and walked away with a shared $10,500 for their trouble … or devotion, I suppose. The event was held in celebration of The Simpsons reaching its 500th episode. (For more info, click here.)
This feat is an achievement of sorts, but not one I’d personally ever tell anyone about. While I’m not a huge fan of The Simpsons, I do enjoy the show and don’t waste my time as others do by bemoaning the series’ fall from sharp satire to recycled comedy. The show is well past its prime, but that doesn’t bother me too much. Nothing gold can stay, right?
What does bother me, however, is the notion that there is something commendable about such a mammoth amount of TV consumption. Simple facts: 1) sleep—believe it or not, your body needs it; 2) remember how your parents said too much TV wasn’t good for your eyes—they were right; and 3) if you can spare three or more days just to watch TV, your life already has no meaning or value. Simple truth: your success in such a venture proves that you may just be a loser after all, and unemployed for sure.
Look, I watch TV on a regular basis (Dexter and Justified, anybody?), but I’d like to think I know when enough is enough. After eighty-six hours without sleep, your mind cannot function at full capacity; after eighty-six hours, the show becomes no more than background static as you persist only in an exercise of endurance.
Great storytelling (be it on TV or on another medium) has to be considered, thought over, even discussed. When it is simply endured and not experienced, the whole point of its telling is not just lost, but actually wasted.
With that said, however, it’s worth mentioning that I don’t have a problem with either Franco or Shreve’s decision to participate in the event. For $5,250 a person, I too would sit my keister down for eighty-six hours of television hell. That’s more than two months of my wages.
No, the problem isn’t the participants. The problem is the event itself. While held under the banner of fan adoration, The Ultimate Fan Marathon has symbolically reduced The Simpsons’ legacy to noting more than a pop culture blur.
As Homer himself might say: Doh!
Opinion is a bi-monthly column of just that, my opinion. While opinions are like noses and everyone has one, mine are especially snotty. Please leave a comment or question—all opinions are welcome, and all contributions are greatly appreciated. If you like what you read here, please subscribe.