Something happened to me over the weekend. While I’m patiently waiting for my Google Fiber to be installed this April, my husband did some kind of cable change-a-roo where we are now saving money each month AND PLUS we can watch TV on Demand.
Enter The Good Wife. Previously, I had never watched it, but I have seen it on critics’ picks and “best of” lists. I have a thing for procedurals. They are like comfort food for me. Law and Order (and all its incarnations) has always been my TV mashed potatoes and gravy. So The Good Wife’s case-a-week format appeals to me. But it’s much more than that. I’m still finishing up Season 1, but I’m totally impressed with the acting and writing. It’s interesting and unique because of the character development surrounding each week’s case. I’m hooked.
So I was pretty intrigued to see that in a recent episode, The Good Wife (now well into its 5th season) ripped a story about Glee from the headlines.
What’s the news story? It all started back in 2005 when Jonathan Coulton covered Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.” Everybody loved it. (Watch it, here.) In 2013 Glee covered his cover legally, but without permission or credit. (Here’s theirs.) There was no lawsuit, but Coulton fans rallied and made sure his version sold more on iTunes than the Glee version.
Enter The Good Wife. They recently aired an episode inspired by the Coulton/Glee scuffle where Glee was called Drama Camp, Coulton became “Rowby,” and “Baby Got Back” became a catchy tune called “Thicky Trick.”
(Can I just say: Writers — they’re the best!)
In The Good Wife episode Rowby wins, which was pretty nice for Jonathan Coulton who comments on The Good Wife episode here, but kind of a spoiler for me — 4 seasons behind! I would have missed this reference (and will surely miss others) by the time I get around to watching it. But one of the best things about TV today is that we can watch anytime, anywhere — whole seasons at once. I love this.
There are still advantages — treats and Easter eggs — to watching a show live. I think the subtle layering in today’s best shows is ingenious and fun. But the entertainment world moves so quickly. Sure, we’re talking about this Glee reference on The Good Wife today, but next week we’ll have already moved on. When I binge-watch a show 2-3 years “late” (or even a week “late”!) there’s a whole layer of current events references that I miss. There are incentives to watching a show in the moment when everyone is talking, tweeting, and posting about it. I enjoy being part of this dialogue and talking about shows with my friends on social media. We pore over “scenes from next week” and appreciate the next episode more when we have to wait for it.
Self-referential shows that comment on culture at large are best viewed within context, but as someone who is still on season 1 of The Good Wife and who binge-watched years of Breaking Bad in one glorious, disturbing summer, the good ones hold up out of context too. And for TV lovers, that’s a thrill.
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