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Cold Turkey

When the DVR was invented--back then we called it TiVo, in the same adoring murmur we reserved for words like "Adonai" or "Double Stuf Oreos"--I knew it would change my life, by which I meant it would eliminate my need for a life. I worked for Warner back then, hallowed be its name, but my social interactions at night or on weekends were minimal. I had nothing to do, and I hadn't yet considered the option of a gym membership or any other variation on "movement." I piled on TiVo season passes like I was running amok for a game show shopping spree. This habit stuck with me for years, till it was not uncommon for me to watch a couple of dozen shows every week, every episode, all season long, nine months a year. I ballooned like someone shot me with a Dig Dug gun.

Pathetic...but at least I never had to worry about feeling left out of water cooler conversations about Lost or The West Wing or BSG.

God, I miss Lost, The West Wing and BSG.

Now I'm happily married. My wife works during the day, so you might assume I spend weekday afternoons watching Dr. Phil while eating chili cheese everything. The truth is I've been busier these last few months than I was when I worked for Cengage. I watch TV during lunch, but even then I lay on the Fast Forward button like a speed demon. I've become acutely aware that I no longer have the time nor the inclination to sit in front of the tube by myself three hours a day. If Amanda doesn't like a show, it's all but impossible for me to stay committed to it. I need to break this addiction. Come to Papa, sweet freedom!

Which brings me to Mad Men. I started watching Mad Men because all the critics told me how amazing it was. They were right. Mad Men was and is an intelligent, multilayered, convincingly acted look at life in the mid-1960s. It tackles sexism, racism, homophobia, and the rise of youth culture without ever resorting to superficiality. It's addictive, and the many failed attempts to copy its period and style merely emphasize how singularly brilliant it is.

It's also a damn soap opera.

Do I need to be this loyal to a soap opera? Really? My wife doesn't care for the show (no particular reason), so it's inconvenient to watch when she's around. When she isn't, I'm busy. If I stopped watching Mad Men now, would I suffer in any way? How often am I asked how I feel about Mad Men? Is there some great unresolved plotline like the nature of the Island or how Starbuck came back from the dead? (Both explanations turned out to be lame, by the way.) Will Jon Hamm come to my house and beg us to return? I'm sorry, Amanda: the answer to that question is no. So what if I just...stopped?

What if I stopped watching 30 Rock? I know that season finale was funny, but the season which preceded it had about as many laughs as a Jerry Lewis telethon--from his fat years.

How 'bout Community? Ooh, tougher call. I love that show, but NBC just inexplicably fired its showrunner, Dan Harmon. Cram it up your cramhole, NBC.

The Office hasn't been worth a flip since Steve Carrell left, and it wasn't outstanding the year before that. So see you later, Ed Helms and weird British lady! Even James Spader bailed on that show, and he's starting to look like the Quaker Oats guy.

What if I only watched one Anthony Bourdain show? Sorry, Layover. You'll be missed...but how much?

What shows have you stuck with out of sheer DVR addiction? I promise, no judgment...unless you say Toddlers & Tiaras, in which case how the hell are we still friends?

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