Television so bad it's actually awesome

22:34, May 06 2014

I saw something on Twitter this week which had me worried - a complaint from someone I know and respect about the negative bent in much of what is written by Kiwi critics.

Are critics unnecessarily negative? I certainly try not to be and, while I can't speak for everyone, I see little criticism for the sake of criticism.

However this week, just to show it can be done, I'm going to be extra positive.

And because I'm an awkward bugger I'm going to be positive about bad programmes.

When I think of shows that are so bad they become awesome and addictive there is one that sits above all others - Scandal.

Coming from the pen of Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy) I really shouldn't have been surprised at how bad it was.


I've never been able to stomach a whole episode of the melodramatic tosh that is Grey's - although my wife is an addict.

I can always tell when she's watching an episode. There's a feeling of angst in the air and a box of tissues beside the laptop for the inevitable tears.

McSteamy? McSteamin' pile of sh*** more like.

So when Netflix suggested I would like Scandal based on my other favourites I had a mission - I was going to prove that Netflix's recommendation algorithm was broken.

I was ill and in bed and feeling very sorry for myself - it was easily the worst case of Man Flu in the greater Auckland area in 2013.

I lay smugly with my laptop on my belly and started episode one, making a mental bet with myself on how long I would last.

The day passed in a blur. But not through illness, through addiction. I had finished the first season and was onto the second and I wasn't going to stop.

I wanted to know why Huck was that way. I was desperate to find out the truth about Fitz and Mellie's marriage.

I wanted to know what made Olivia Pope tick. And most of all I wanted to see Cyrus get his comeuppance.

It's not the actors that make Scandal bad. On the contrary - I think the acting is superior to that on many other programmes.

There's genuine drama, comedy and excitement in there too.

And if anyone can point me to a scene that can freak me out more than the moment when Huck licked Quinn's face before he set out to torture her I would be glad to give it a shot.

No, what makes Scandal so bad that it goes all the way around the spectrum to awesome is the characters and their story lines.

Rigging the election of President of the USA? No problem. Murder? No problem. By just about every character? No problem. Elicit Government Agency which kills people for fun? Of course!

Throw in the dodgy background stories of them all and suddenly you have a cast of characters that you hate.

Or you should hate. They are, without doubt, bad people. We should be scared of them.

Instead of wondering how POTUS can get away with murdering a Supreme Court judge we care more about his dodgy relationship with Olivia. Why?

Because Mellie is a cold, calculating bitch of course. Except rather than jilting her husband it turns out she was raped by her father-in-law.

So she’s someone we absolutely should sympathise with.

Aaaaaarghhhh! I can't keep up with who I am supposed to relate to and who I should be rooting for.

In the end I gave up trying to understand it logically. I let it wash over me, except it makes me feel dirty, not clean.

But like any addict I can't give up. I promised I wouldn't watch the season that just finished airing in the USA. I lasted for about five minutes after the first episode was posted to watch online.

And - if it's possible the characters - got even worse in this season.

What is going on? By my measure of quality programming I should hate it. But I love it.

There, I've admitted it. Judge away!

But isn't everything I've described about Scandal what makes television great?

Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to our attachment to certain shows.  We can analyse it to death. Or we can watch and just let the whole thing consume us.

Now while I go off and get a job working at B-613 (believe me, there are a few people I feel could be taken out to make they world a little better) I want you to share your dirty secrets with me.

What programmes do you consider so bad they are actually good?

Come on - admitting it is the first step on the road to recovery!