stay tuned

Is Watching TV Together a Good Date? Your Pressing TV Questions, Answered

Photo: HBO, FXX, FOX

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, or tweet @margeincharge with the hashtag #staytuned.

Should I delve into The League? I’m a massive fan of a lot of the comedians involved — Rob Huebel, Nick Kroll, Paul Scheer — and I’ve heard that, despite appearances, it’s not your average bro-com. But after a couple episodes it sure seems that way, with all the dumb stoner punch lines and nagging wife B-plots. Is it worth it? —Kelsey

Oh, I liked The League for a long time, though it wore me out eventually. But if you saw a few episodes and didn’t like it, you’re not going to like it — especially in the early seasons, which are very representative samples. If you watched later eps and didn’t like it, you might still like earlier episodes, but if you weren’t into it, you weren’t into it. Plus once you’re spinning yarns about having been in the World Trade Center on 9/11, it’s sorta like, “Eh, I can watch Archer, actually, I’m good.”

Can watching TV together be a good date? À la a movie date? Like if the episode is significant, like a premiere or a finale or an event in some way? —T

The more into TV you are, the worse a date this will be. I am super, super into TV, and my nightmare is watching significant television episodes with other people. I would not find that romantic or relaxed or anything good — I would find it stressful and unnerving. “If this is such an important episode, why are you also playing Jelly Crush?” Like, mind your business. “Want to come over and watch the series finale of The Good Wife?” Ugh, set me out to sea.

Call me old-fashioned, but inviting someone over to watch TV sounds like a very, very flimsy cover for just inviting them over for, er, fooling around. (My parents read this column.) If you want to invite someone over to fool around, be safe and have fun. But don’t drag my best friend Television into it.

The only exception is if you’re not really that into TV — though you’ve made a bold choice in that case, reading a TV advice column — or you have some kind of long-standing TV-watching social tradition you’re inviting someone to participate in, like a group that gets together to watch Game of Thrones every week and then examine the ways in which the show differs from the books. (A nightmare! Truly! But some of my own actual friends do this.) I think “date” is a stretch, but it could be meaningful social-romantic bonding time, and probably a signal both to this person and that group of friends that your relationship is more than casual.

One thing that really bugged me about Gilmore Girls, though they’re not the only guilty ones, is when they’d have an episode that was all about an “annual tradition” that was soooo important according to that episode but never came up again. If you’re going to tell me it’s a really important day, sure, I’ll believe it, and I’ll believe that it adds to that whole Stars Hollow charm or whatever. BUT THEY NEVER MENTION THAT DAY AGAIN. WHY. That could have been a delightful annual episode! This irks me to this day. What shows create their own annual traditions and actually follow through on them season to season? I feel like these shows need to be celebrated for their commitment to the worlds they’re creating. —NJ

Ugh, so many shows ditch their “annual” traditions. I wanted a pretzel day every damn year, The Office! Why did we only get to Festivus in the final season of Seinfeld? I’d like to think 30 Rock would be celebrating Leap Day William’s return this year, but who can know?

The show that best upholds its own made-up traditions is The O.C. with Chrismukkah.

How do you know when to give up on a show that has gone on way past its expiration date ([coughGrey’s [cough])? I’ve been a loyal fan for 12 seasons, but the repeated story lines are becoming too much. There’s only so many times that somebody can have a half-sibling they never knew about before I can’t suspend by disbelief anymore. Should I stick with this once-incredible show hoping that the throwbacks they give me every once in a while satisfy me until its inevitable cancellation, or should I just call it a day and move on to one of the other shows on my constantly growing “Shows to Watch” list? —Jonathan

I think maybe give up on Grey’s, Jonathan! This season has been the best season in a long, long time — and Maggie is so much better than Lexie, I don’t even know what to tell you. So if this isn’t doing it for you, and it sounds like it’s not, then this isn’t really going to be a source of joy for you for a bit. Step away! It’s fine.

You don’t have to file for show divorce yet if you don’t want to. Just do a trial separation. You might discover you kind of miss Meredith and Alex and what should be their romance. Or you might discover that you don’t miss it, you’re not curious about it, and the path you walked together for 12 years has ended. You can always come back for the finale.

So you know how there are all these phrases and sayings that Shakespeare invented and everyone says all the time without really meaning to make a Shakespeare reference? What I really want is a comprehensive database or list or something of all the phrases from The Simpsons that have infiltrated American English. Stuff that’s been repeated so many times, people might not even realize it’s from The Simpsons. Please help. —Emily

Emily, usually I don’t pick these “let me Google that for you” kinds of questions (enjoy) for this column, but you hit close to something I think is really important: The name Jebediah is not from the Bible, it is from The Simpsons.

You might be thinking, But there are many seemingly reputable baby-name sites that say it is from the Old Testament! You’re right, there are. But those sites are wrong. The name Jebediah is not in Hebrew Bible. There’s Jedidiah (only in there once) and Obadiah (okay, he’s in there a lot), but no Jebediah. And no Jebadiah. I could go on and on, but it’s more of a Shelbyville idea.

Is Watching TV Together a Good Date?