Welcome back to Stay Tuned, Vulture’s TV advice column. Each Wednesday, Margaret Lyons answers your questions about your various TV triumphs and woes. Need help? Have a theory? Want a recommendation? Submit a question! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment, or tweet @margeincharge with the hashtag #staytuned.
How do I convince other self-proclaimed comedy snobs not to desert SNL? I feel like every season, all anyone wants to talk about is how bad it is now, but … Kate McKinnon! Kyle Mooney! Don’t give up! Every season has bad sketches! —Emily
Don’t be a snob, for starters. Your assessment is perfectly accurate: Every season is a mixed bag, just like life. And if your friends can’t get onboard even for Kate McKinnon, the pressing emergency here is how badly you need new friends.
But okay, if you’re going to find yourself in these situations, the thing to remember is: SNL is the most important comedy institution in America. If you care about comedy — not just your own comedy performances, but the state of contemporary comedy, the idea of comedy, the form in general, etc. — then you care about Saturday Night Live.
Are you a comedian? And are you young? Because here’s my experience from being a young comedian: We spent a lot of time shitting on stuff, including but not limited to SNL. Most of the comedians I know grew out of it as we developed our own voices and sensibilities, and were putting up work we were proud of, and actively participating in supportive, collaborative, challenging communities. Puffing up your chest about how much you think SNL sucks is the “whatever, Dad” of comedy maturation.
You’ve mentioned your great love for Enlightened. I trust your recommendations, so I gave it a try and found the first episode didn’t hold my interest. I want to like and appreciate it. Can you sell me on it? —Suzanne
The pilot for Enlightened sort of stresses me out because everyone’s in such a state of upheaval. The show definitely settles in a bit as the season continues, and as Amy (Laura Dern) becomes more comfortable as her new self. Episode four, “The Weekend,” is one of my favorites, because it nails down just how much pain everyone is really in. Amy’s not a ditz. Levi’s not some junkie. There’s just all this terrible life they’re trying to figure out, and so far, their coping methods have limited success. I like Enlightened because I like shows with a sort of object permanence: Even when the characters are offscreen, their lives continue to exist. Season two’s “The Ghost Is Seen” is a masterpiece, and even if you give up on the rest of the show, do yourself a favor and at least watch that episode.
Give Enlightened the first four eps, and if you still don’t like it, move on; I’ll feel a little sad for you, because it’s so good and gentle and unique, but different strokes.
I’m a guy. Do you think I will like Outlander? —Patrick
You brought your vague gender reductivism to the wrong place, Patrick! Your penance is to watch Free to Be You and Me 100 times and think seriously about why it’s important for there to be guy shows and girl shows. Ugh! Cut that out right now.
A few weeks ago, someone told me that The Simpsons is “really a boy show.” In addition to generally disagreeing, the statement also just … hurt my feelings. I love The Simpsons. My female friends love The Simpsons. My mom loves The Simpsons. Doesn’t that count? Don’t I count? I’m not intruding on some kind of sacred boy territory: I have every right to stake a claim to that show as my own because I watch it and I love it. At parties and social functions, I regularly field questions from men sheepishly asking about Gossip Girl, and they’re always super embarrassed and want to make sure I’m not going to question or mock their masculinity. Don’t dress your cat in an apron, Patrick. Watch whatever you like. I don’t know what shows guys like or girls like because those categories are awfully broad, though not broad enough to include people who don’t identify as either. We live in a culture that is, for a bunch of true trash reasons, really into gender rigidity and proscriptive gender roles. This is bad for everyone. It’s bad for people who fit those roles exactly, and it’s bad for people who don’t.
You’ll like Outlander if you like historical dramas, romantic stories, or things about Scotland. What you’ll really like, though, is this opportunity to cast off the shackles of the binary gender system and just like whatever you like without the pressure of gender police keeping you from being your true self. Enjoy!
After season four of The Vampire Diaries, I gave up on it. I just didn’t find it interesting anymore, and I had just seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the superior vampire show). But after that, my best friend has been saying to me every week that I need to catch up on it because it’s so much drama, and every week, I’ve been saying that I will when I’ve got the time. But the truth is, I just don’t want to. But I don’t have the heart to just tell her NO. So, my question is: How do I say no? —EV
Gently but firmly, and consistently, the same way you decline anything else. But if this person is your bestie, and you used to talk about the show all the time, my guess is she’s projecting a little, and she doesn’t really care one way or the other if you watch TVD — she just wants to make sure that your friendship is intact and that it will be for a long time. Your friend just wants to make sure you still have stuff in common, even though you’ve watched the superior vampire show and have now moved on. Pick a new show for the two of you to get into! Maybe Being Human? The 100? Arrow? Veronica Mars? Maybe just tell her you love her, and while you’re just not up for watching TVD anymore, you’re always happy to hear her vent about it.
Our cable provider swapped Comedy Central and MTV with Pivot and FXX. Is this a good swap? —Ben
Nope! Nothing wrong with Pivot or FXX, but I’d be very sad not to have Comedy Central.