In Southern California, the changing of the seasons is famously imperceptible. You can’t tell what time of year it is just by looking out the window. Television is a much more accurate barometer — better than an actual barometer, anyway. At this point, the trash fire that is summer TV is beginning to burn itself out, giving way to the “prestige” of fall programming. But, similar to the first day of school, we’d be remiss if we didn’t reflect on how we spent the last few months.
Approximate Cumulative Time Watched: 25 hours.
One of the most addicting things on cable, and definitely the only food-related show I can watch straight through. When my girlfriend and I went to Seattle for our anniversary last year, the first three hours were spent in the hotel watching Chopped. It’s really hard to explain, but there’s something mesmerizing about chefs try to make edible dishes out of, like, ground beef, Choco Tacos and melted Peeps.
Approximate Cumulative Time Watched: 8 hours.
Having basically given up on Community, I can say this is solidly my favorite Joel McHale vehicle. I’ve watched The Soup in all its various incarnations over the years, but in an era where new, terrible shows are being crapped out practically on the hour, it’s more vital now than ever. As a junk-TV connoisseur, this is like mainlining all the glorious crap I don’t have time to watch in full in one giant hit; and this summer, I just about overdosed.
Approximate Cumulative Time Watched: 7 hours.
As I’ve written before, I typically prefer the stereotypical cattiness of The Bachelor to the dull bro-downs of The Bachelorette, but there was enough petty drama on this season to keep me giddy, and the climax was — no shit — the apex of the dating-show genre.
Approximate Cumulative Time Watched: 2 hours.
This is my girlfriend’s show, frankly, but it’s so gloriously aware of its own trashiness, I wish I’d watched it more closely than just out of the corner of my eye while cleaning the apartment.
Approximate Cumulative Time Watched: 4 hours.
Every episode plays out exactly the same, and yet, the sheer, mind-boggling self-delusion of all the subjects floors me every time. Also, the host is totally going to get busted jerking off in a theater or something. Mark my words.
Approximate Cumulative Time Watched: 45 min.
I only watched about half of it, but I can say with certainty that it’s better than the more meme-ified Sharknado. It’s more audacious (ghost shark kills a bikini car wash girl via a bucket of water!), you can actually tell what’s happening most of the time, keeps track of its own ridiculous logic, and it’s got Richard Moll as a crazy recluse who lives in a lighthouse! Better in every way, if you ask me.
Approximate Cumulative Time Watched: 15 min.
It’s just as bad as Joel McHale told us it was.
i Need Media is a biweekly media column by Matthew Singer. Follow him on Twitter@mpsinger.