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guilty pleasures
a little break, a lot of fun
by jael mchenry (@JaelMcHenry)
3.3.10
humor

In general, being a grownup pretty much sucks. There are all these things you have to do. Pay your rent/mortgage. Make money so you can pay your rent/mortgage. Work so you can make money. In the time you have left when you're not working, there's laundry to be done, meals to be managed, messes to clean, and other obligations to be met. Throw a couple kids and/or pets into the mix and then you're really overscheduled, even on days when you're not technically "at work".

Is it any wonder we all need a break sometimes?

This is where the guilty pleasure comes in. Shorter and cheaper than a vacation. In no way fruitful or useful or mind-expanding. It isn't a guilty pleasure if you don't feel at least a little bad about it, but it isn't a pleasure if you're feeling the guilt too deeply.

Things that people might call guilty pleasures that aren't: naps, curling, yogurt, books. It's not a guilty pleasure if it's good for you or serves some purpose. It must be without any value except for entertainment value. Chocolate counts, because the nutritional "value" some people cling to doesn't begin to cancel out the indulgence, but quinoa doesn't, because no matter what you put on it, it is still healthier than anything else you could have used in its place (rice, polenta, potatoes, a piece of bread, your fingers.)

Need more examples? Here are my favorite guilty pleasures of the moment, in no particular order.

"The Tudors". Sure, there are plenty of historical-type soap operas that you can indulge in, but for sheer eye candy and utter uselessness, this Showtime series starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers takes the (frothy-frostinged) cake. The costumes are glamorous. The nudity is gratuitous. The acting is... uneven at best. And whenever historical accuracy is available, they avoid it AT ALL COSTS. Other than the fact that there's a guy called Henry the Eighth, who is king and has wives, it bears as little resemblance as possible to actual history.

Which is awesome.

If you're ever stuck at a computer and starved for entertainment, head over to Television Without Pity (itself a guilty pleasure for some, though it does contain actual information, which hurts its case) and read the discussion boards for "The Tudors". When the show premiered there was a misapprehension that it would actually have educational value. To read the posts of people who know about this period in history become surprised, disbelieving, overwhelmed, and finally resigned is catnip for TV-watching nerds who understand both sides of the argument. On one hand, yes, it would have been historically inaccurate for Anne Boleyn to have shown her bare arms in that masque at court. On the other hand, well, have you seen how hot Henry Cavill is? CRAZY HOT.

You must watch this show. It's a bunch of hot people in ornate costumes standing around in cavernous spaces looking privately disappointed. And occasionally people get tortured and/or killed. But they've all got fancy accents, so it's at least better for you than "24", right?

Twitter. You might think that Twitter serves some purpose, but in all likelihood, it is actually a giant time suck. You go into it thinking you'll be hobnobbing with John Cleese or John Cusack or at least John Hodgman, and in the end you find you're only being followed by pornbots and made-up people hawking anti-wrinkle creams.

That's not to say it isn't fun. It's lots of fun. You can spend hours picking up on random hashtag games, coming up with puns that fit categories like #failedbeers or #oneletteroffmovies or #thairestaurantpuns or whatever that day's/night's trend happens to be. And what happens if you come up with something brilliant? Your friends see it. Or maybe, maybe, someone you don't know retweets it. The definition of fruitless fun.

You can also find out what, say, Eliza Dushku is up to. If you're dying for that kind of information. But after disappearing down the Twitter rabbit hole for minutes or hours, I guarantee you will look up at the clock at some point and say, "You know, I didn't mean to spend that much time doing that."

These girls.

Also these girls.

Cheese. In all its luscious, delightful, gloriously delicious forms. Melted over a pizza. Sprinkled onto a taco. Chunked off a block and eaten standing up in front of the fridge. Ordered at a restaurant with a glass of wine. No other food does so little for you and so much for you at the same time.

Guilty pleasures are a great way to recharge if you can manage the guilt.

Me? After I check Twitter I think I'll put some extra-sharp cheddar on Rye Triscuits and see if that pirate-looking courtier-spy continues to get down with some lord's wife (actually, several lords' wives) while we wait for Prince Edward to kick the bucket so the king can howl "Nooooooo" in unconvincing fashion, probably while lying in bed wearing only a breechcloth.

Guilt-inducing? A little. Sweet? Absolutely.


ABOUT JAEL MCHENRY

Jael is tired of being stereotyped as just another novelist/poet/former English teacher/tour guide/"Jeopardy!" semifinalist/bellydancing editor-in-chief with an MFA who was once an overachieving oboe-playing alto newspaper editor valedictorian from Iowa. She was also captain of the football cheerleading squad. Follow me on Twitter: @jaelmchenry

more about jael mchenry

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COMMENTS

adam kraemer
3.3.10 @ 9:39a

Hey, most of the people "24" this season have fancy accents. And the fact that they speak to each other exclusively in English is very realistic.

erik myers
3.3.10 @ 10:46a

I have never heard of Garfunkel & Oates before.

Thank you so much for ruining my productivity for the day.

jael mchenry
3.3.10 @ 12:17p

Erik, I can't apologize for bringing "This Party Just Took a Turn..." into anyone's life. Unless that person doesn't like swearing. In which case, oops.

tracey kelley
3.3.10 @ 3:24p

"I ain't in love with you cousin, I ain't George Michael Bluth"

HAHHAAAAAA!!!

G&O definitely a keeper.

michelle von euw
3.3.10 @ 5:51p

Garfunkel & Oates!! I can't believe you linked to them! I totally adore those girls -- hilarious. Added bonus: playing "Spot Kate and Riki in guest roles in various TV shows & movies." (Riki -- Pushing Daisies! Kate: best thing about When in Rome!)

Not to mention that their "Pregnant Women are Smug" video is pretty much required weekly viewing for me these days.

jael mchenry
3.3.10 @ 11:11p

It was around the same time I discovered G&O that I saw Riki on Big Bang Theory... now I see them both everywhere. Everywhere!

(also, 'chelle, you are doing a fabulous job disproving the song!)

I suppose it is complete poetic justice that I have not been able to get Party Took a Turn out of my head all day.

(T, you found my favorite line in one)

jael mchenry
3.3.10 @ 11:11p

It was around the same time I discovered G&O that I saw Riki on Big Bang Theory... now I see them both everywhere. Everywhere!

(also, 'chelle, you are doing a fabulous job disproving the song!)

I suppose it is complete poetic justice that I have not been able to get Party Took a Turn out of my head all day.

(T, you found my favorite line in one)

carrie deahl
3.7.10 @ 10:13a

Jael, this is a great read. I, myself, don't relax enough. So, my guilty pleasures include: crunch ice cream bars, a good Jeep ride away from the city with friends (and a cooler full of beer), Weeds (for its brilliantly unrealistic and clever writing), and game night once a month... Besides the cheese, do you have any guilty pleasures that require you being unplugged? Just curious.

jael mchenry
3.11.10 @ 8:24a

Carrie -- mmm, crunch ice cream bars. I see the appeal.

Good question about unplugging! I guess my guilty pleasures tend to be passive ones, and those tend to happen a lot more in the internetty-televised environment. With books, even if they're trashy books, I feel like my mind is more engaged and I'm having to do more of the work, which makes them useful/good for me on SOME level. Even if it's deep deep down.



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