Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
This interview with Maddie Charne ’14 is the second installment of a bi-weekly series, PersonaliTV, in which I profile different students to see whether their television inclinations have anything to do with who they are.
Charne’s favorite shows are The West Wing, Slings and Arrows, Dead Like Me, and Dr. Who. Her guilty pleasures include Top Chef, Once Upon a Time, and Lost Girl. But what do these shows say about her? Read on to find out.
Grant Torre: How did you get into each of these TV shows?
Dead Like Me: My mom and I started watching Dead Like Me together when I was in 8th grade. My father died when I was young and the show actually helped the two of us through the grieving process. I still watch it now, though, divorced from that. It is funny, smart, and brilliantly directed.
The West Wing: I watched the last episode of this show when it was on TV with my best friend who’d been an avid watcher for the whole series. I fell in love and have been slowly watching the series since then. I now have marathons of the first four seasons at least once a year.
Dr. Who: I started watching it off a recommendation two or three years ago. I started slow but have been quickly accelerating and am all caught up. I have even watched a few episodes of the classic doctors now.
Slings and Arrows: My boyfriend and I got told by multiple sources that we’d love this show. We were told so frequently and repeatedly that we started watching together last spring. We watched all three seasons before the end of the semester, which, given our schedules was a feat.
Lost Girl: To be honest, it was a Netflix recommendation. I have gotten sick of all the characters, but I love the mythology!
Once Upon a Time: Another Netflix recommendation. I had been meaning to watch it when it first came on, but I never had the time. Last spring I had my appendix out and binge-watched the whole first season while recovering.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Some people would say that isn’t a guilty pleasure, but I always feel a little embarrassed when people see this on my Netflix queue. I got into it in high school and have re-watched the first four seasons too many times to count, but I still haven’t watched the last two seasons.
GT: Are these shows an escape from reality?
MC: Oh man. Yes! They all kind of are. I’d say Dr. Who, Lost Girl, Once Upon a Time, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer especially, but I always use TV as an escape. It’s the thing to do when you need a mental pause or a laugh or a way out of a bad day.
GT: How do you watch TV at Swat?
MC: I use Netflix and sometimes check out a season or two out of McCabe.
GT: Why should other Swatties watch your favorite TV shows and guilty pleasures?
MC: I think my TV shows fall into two different, sometimes overlapping, categories: fantasy and sarcastic, witty humor. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Upon a Time, Lost Girl, Dr. Who, and in some ways Dead Like Me fall into fantasy. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dr. Who, Slings and Arrows, and The West Wing fall into humor. I think in particular the humor category would appeal to most Swatties.
I like things that poke fun at things that I observe in the world. I also like humor that tends towards the absurd sometimes. You definitely see that in Slings and Arrows and Dead Like Me, both of which use gallows humor and death as comedic elements. I think Swatties would also enjoy the fantasy category, though. I like fantasy that feels like fairy tales and myths. I like to use those shows to escape the work and stress of Swarthmore and go somewhere different and new and exciting for a little while.
GT: Have you ever been judged or stereotyped for liking a certain show?
MC: Definitely. Particularly Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think there’s a very particular group of people who like that show and I’ve been lumped together and stereotyped quite frequently, particularly in high school. That might be why I label it a guilty pleasure show.
GT: Have you ever bonded with someone or made friends through mutual love of a TV show?
MC: Of course! I’m not sure I ever become friends just because of it, but I definitely bond with people over shows all the time. In particular the shows on my list that are less popular. For instance, when I find someone else who also knows and loves Slings and Arrows or Dead Like Me, I know I’ll likely have some great conversations.
GT: Do your TV habits reflect your personality?
MC: In some sense, yes. I don’t think any of the shows on the list would seem out of character. But I’m not sure this is the list people would guess for me. And I feel like some of them don’t go together well. For instance, The West Wing and Lost Girl feel weird on the same list.
GT: If you could get into a new series what would it be?
MC: Definitely Orange Is The New Black. I’ve been meaning to watch it for a long time. I’m also trying to catch up with Mad Men, but that’s not a new series, and I have watched a few seasons already.
If you or someone you know loves watching unexpected or quirky TV shows, send us an email and you might be featured in the next installment of PersonaliTV.
Photos by Elena Ruyter/The Daily Gazette