The TV Shows You Really Watch

When someone asks what television shows you watch, it's pretty likely you go for the good stuff — Mad Men, The Wire. Because it makes you sound smart and you do actually watch those shows. But mostly, you watch fluff.

Well, if you're anything like me you do, anyway. During the summer, when the TV landscape is a barren wasteland of third-rate talent shows and programs about people falling down, this fact becomes glaringly obvious. Gone are the opportunities to watch quality or even mid-quality programming. Maybe they're on once a week (Mad Men comes on next month!) but most of us watch wayyy more TV than an hour a week. So what are we using to fill those lonely, TV-glow hours? Well, we're filling them with the shows we really watch, the regular stuff that we don't bring up in conversation because either it's unremarkable in its averageness (a Friends rerun, perhaps) or it's embarrassing.

I've realized over the past two weeks or so that even though I watch "Good" TV and a lot of empirically Bad TV for work, mostly I watch HGTV. That's me. I should go change my Facebook favorites to House Hunters, For Rent, and yes, even though David Bromstad makes me uncomfortable, Color Splash. Oh and Bang for Your Buck and Income Property, sweet sweet glorious Income Property. Are these my favorite shows? If you're measuring by how much time I spend watching them, then yes, yes they are. But I never talk about them. Sure I may jokingly reference them in passing, but I never just up and say when someone asks me my favorite shows, "Oh, House Hunters International." Even though I really, really like House Hunters International.

Though I might outgrow it. When I first moved to New York and felt lonely and sad, the Food Network was the most relaxing, normal-seeming thing on (it was the summer). I became addicted, glued to every episode of Ina Garten and Rachael Ray and, yes, even spike-haired yellmonster Guy Fieri. But eventually my interest waned and faded. Perhaps my HGTV obsession will meet the same wistful fate. That doesn't happen to shows like The Sopranos or Rome. No, those stick with me, remain eternal favorites. That's their true power obviously: resonant and lasting artistry. The cooking and real estate shows are just time-passing toss-offs. But I watch them more than anything else. That's the TV I watch, mostly. Why don't I ever just say that when someone asks? They're not trash TV, they're just... not something you talk about, for some mysterious reason.

Do you have shows like that? Well of course you do! But what are they? What TV are you really watching? Let's talk about it! Air that dirty(ish) laundry!

I'll start. The other day? I watched two whole episodes of NCIS. It was not the first time that has happened.