I listen to a lot of television podcasts, and I love them all. TV on the Internet, hosted by Todd VanDerWerff and Libby Hill is the one that taught me how to watch television critically, and will always be my favourite. I first listened to it in October 2012 when I was typing up notes for my economics exam and needed something to listen to so I didn’t fall asleep while doing it. That was a time when I was able to listen to podcasts and write at the same time. Not write an essay, but take notes at the very least. There were well over 30 hours worth of notes for that class, so I downloaded the longest podcasts I could find. It worked well for me.
Around that time, I was a fan of a few television shows, mainly Community and The Good Wife. It’s strange that at that time I downloaded a podcast to listen to two people talk about one show, but I also learned a lot while listening. Not just which roadside attractions to visit if I ever roadtrip through South Dakota, but also about criticism. As a baby television fan, I read criticism, but if I disagreed with a critic I couldn’t articulate why. I loved The Newsroom, and didn’t understand why the majority of critics didn’t. I didn’t understand why the female characters were frustrating, but then I started watching more television: Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, Parks and Recreation and Parenthood to name a few off the top of my head. There was a television world where female characters were good at their jobs and didn’t forget how to do them as soon as a man walked in the room. It’s one thing to read television criticism, but it’s another to listen to it, and to hear why a woman was frustrated with Aaron Sorkin’s female characters was a big step in understanding why there needs to be more gender diversity in writers rooms.
Todd and Libby are married, and they have a great dynamic. Like any good podcast, it feels like you’re hanging out with friends and there are great in-jokes: Emmy Justice, Turk Scrubsier and the Dushku Scale. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to the episode “Ass-kicker Saturday”, which is the day before Easter Sunday when Jesus is killing demons in hell. I was sitting at my desk typing up economics notes, and suddenly Todd and Libby were talking about the best roadside attractions to visit if you’re driving through South Dakota, and I was in stitches. I also enjoyed the podcast in 2013 when they changed it up to just focus on one or two shows. That was the point that finally had me watch Game of Thrones (I didn’t really like the pilot), and Todd’s crush on David Sims was legendary. I loved it when Mo Ryan came on to talk about masculinity and the dearth of white male anti-hero shows. There’s so much television out there now, and it’s hard to sort through it, but Todd and Libby were my guides.
Earlier this week, Todd posted the series finale of TV on the Internet. I wasn’t entirely surprised, because they hadn’t recorded anything in over a year, but I was still a little sad. Libby got a job working for The Los Angeles Times, and I couldn’t be more happy for this person that I’ve never spoken to but feel like I know. Unemployment is rough, and hearing stories like Libby’s give me hope that this is going to be a temporary part of my journey. Todd and Libby also gave great advice about writing and breaking into the industry, which can be tough. This blog has its roots in TVOTI, which taught me to think more about what I was watching, made me laugh until I cried, and helped me get a really good mark on that economics exam. I’m a little sad that it’s ending, but I’m also grateful that I got to experience it for a few years. Do yourself a favour and check it out – I highly recommend Episode 60.