10 and a Half Rules for TV Dinners
4.(a) For the purpose of eating we will consider some reality TV as fiction: there is, after all, little reality in reality TV, as Hugh Hefner once tweeted. Any single episode of Kendra! or Keeping Up With The Kardashians is so scripted that, in comparison, Holby City seems improvised in the style of Stanislavski’s method system.
4.(b) There is also another obvious exception to Rule 3 – i.e. watching Man vs Food whilst eating is not only perfectly acceptable, but actively encouraged.
5. It helps if food is heavily featured in the VM: The Sopranos is excellent in this respect, with the characters pretty much constantly eating, swapping Pyrex dishes of baked pasta, idly opening the fridge, ordering pizza, cooking and then eating some more. When they are not whacking someone, of course.
6. Don’t pick anything with a particularly complex plot. Remember ,you will have to look down at your plate at least occasionally and the sound of your own mandibles chewing will inevitably distract you from what could be a vital narrative twist. So keep it simple: House is ok (you already know that it’s NOT Lupus) and so is something light and fluffy like The Mentalist; but trying to follow The Wire whilst stuffing your face is setting yourself up for failure. Also see 7.
7. For the reason described above, it is also a good idea to pick a show with subtitles and put them on, ready for those moments when scraping cutlery and the chewing sound in your head interfere with your Mega Dolby Digital 5.1 home cinema set-up with surround sound.
8. Subtitles are there as a back-up plan, not as the main conveyor of dialogue: therefore, if the VM is not in a language you understand well, it will NOT do. So keep your boxset of The Killing in all its original Danish glory for another time, and the same goes for any strange ideas you may about stuffing your face to the first series of Heimat, unless you are fluent in Dutch or German.
9. (WARNING: CONTAINS PLOT SPOILER!) At the risk of stating the obvious, avoid any VM containing excessively gory scenes, as MMM editor Chris found out recently as he was idly eating his dinner during an episode of Boardwalk Empire. Then the scalping scene came on. Oh-oh.
10. Finally, if you are on a diet (this is, after all, the first week of January), don’t bother with any of the above. The chances are that, as you munch on your salad, Tony Soprano will be taunting you from the TV screen with a huge plate of lasagne and calling you a pussy. It’s really not worth torturing yourself. Instead, switch over to the shopping channels and just lose yourself in the first available diet & fitness infomercial, and maybe one day you, too, will look like the Kettlebell swinging, Ab circling Venus/Adonis.
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