The watercooler, or why I started watching Dancing with the Stars again

I’m watching “Dancing with the Stars” this cycle. This may not seem like news, but I had decided a few cycles ago that I was done with the show. It seemed to me the same pros always won. I stopped watching but my co-workers did not. For the past few cycles I have been out of the “Dancing” Tuesday morning download conversations, unable to contribute anything.

So this season I started watching again. Now I can participate in the discussions about who should stay or who should go. Bindi or Tamar? Nick or Carlos? Which pro do we like (we are evenly divided between Val and Derek, and also like Whitney).

As I sit here, done with my morning writing and editing, “Masterchef Canada” is on. It is another show that several of us watch, and we like to discuss the worthiness of the chefs the next day. I wanted to make sure I tuned in before the work day began.

It is an interesting phenomenon in this world of hundreds of channels to have narrowed down our discussions to a handful of shows. With another co-worker I discuss my geek loves of “The Flash” and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” I have tried another show (“Limitless”) on a co-worker’s recommendation (jury is out). It all goes into the pool of shared experiences, a safe zone of discussion where our disagreements are limited and non-threatening. I liked Leslie from two “Masterchef” cycles ago, one of my co-workers did not. We had to agree to disagree, but we were united about who we wanted to win.

I have known some of these people for decades and we know each other extremely well. Yet these shows are still a calm area where we can all come together. We discuss other personal things, of course, but those aren’t the lead-in to the day. Instead we can start with gentle ribbing about our dislike of certain “Dancing” pros, and we can get passionate about it without insulting other people. We can choose favorites on our cooking shows, and discuss why our personal favorites should win.

In this day of letting all your dirty laundry hang out on Facebook and other social media, I think there’s value to this common experience. Back in the day when there were only three networks and a few UHF channels it was much easier to share the common TV watching experience. These days we practically have to agree that we are going to watch the same shows, by tacit agreement. I certainly felt as if I had nothing to contribute when I was boycotting “Dancing” but now I eagerly participate (I like Val, but not Tamar, and overall favor Nick Carter). We clearly influence each other, discussing the various upcoming cooking shows we want to watch, and agreeing that we can’t wait for the next version of “baking championship.”

Now if you’ll excuse me, they’re choosing the three worst cooks for the first “Masterchef Canada” elimination. I must pay attention so I can properly discuss it when I get to work.


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