I'm Addicted to Mediocre Entertainment

Talk all the shit you want about Joe Scarborough, but ever since interviewing him about his dad rock band back in 2017, one of his lyrics pops into my head almost every day. It’s from a song called “Freaks Love Freaks” (LOL), and it goes, “My life / It's such a mess / Now I spend my days locked in this cell / As inmates whisper / He ain't well.” This is how I feel constantly, especially since I quit my job and now work for myself, meaning I have no impetus to ever leave my house (AKA my “cell”). The “inmates” whispering, “[s]he ain’t well” is a metaphor for my impostor syndrome. What’s the moral of all this? Like Joe Scarborough, I am also a freak-loving freak, and I should probably start listening to better music.

Throughout my aimless days, searching for motivation, I have become completely addicted to consuming mediocrity. I get my entertainment from watching Jimmy Fallon’s fluffy celebrity interviews, staying up to date with NBC’s The Voice, visiting Flavortown with Guy Fieri, compulsively doing inane word search puzzles and BuzzFeed quizzes, reading the latest gossip from Page Six, and silently philosophizing about the cultural significance of Ellen Degeneres.

I gravitate toward mediocrity for many reasons—first of all, it is very hard for me to find media I genuinely like, and if I seek out entertainment that I already know to be pedestrian, I won’t be disappointed by its shortcomings. Moreover, I understand that mainstream entertainment’s widespread popularity makes it important, and in a world where enjoying inaccessible and obscure art carries cultural cache, it feels slightly subversive to be infatuated with minions instead of being a freak for literature or some shit.

Most of all, I’m able to consume hours of Jimmy Fallon because I’m obsessed with the celebs, I love the celebs, I can’t get enough of the celebs.

For years, I have dutifully watched Saturday Night Live on Hulu every Sunday morning, a ritual I cannot seem to break even though most episodes don’t even get me to crack a smile, never mind an actual laugh.

“I have my show,” I inform my boyfriend most weekends, not daring to utter the name aloud.

“Your show bums me out,” he always tells me, making sure to leave the room when I put it on—and most weeks, he has a point.

Despite this shit talk, I can’t imagine a better way to observe the Christian sabbath than with a new episode of SNL. Through the grapevine, I have heard that many Game of Thrones diehards feel the same way, and although I have not seen the dragon show myself, I send my sympathies.

My SNL habit is a way to parse out what important news stories of the week had enough mainstream significance to get picked up, but most of all, it’s a way to see the celebs.

Some comedians tell jokes for laughs, others will say something wryly woke to get applause, but SNL knows how to rile up the crowd—the celebrity cameo. They have Ben Stiller playing Michael Cohen and Robert de Niro as Mueller—occasionally, Fred Armisen will step in to play someone like Michael Wolff—or TinaFeyAmyPoehlerKristenWiig will make an appearance during a celebrity monologue, and of course, there’s Alec Baldwin’s deeply mediocre Trump impression.

“Live from New York, it’s another celebrity cameo!”

None of this is particularly funny, mind you. (Few things are.) But the goal of the celebrity cameo, even in a comedy program, is not about being funny, it’s about getting the crowd excited. Because nothing gets people twisting into ecstatic applause like seeing a familiar face pop up on that stage. “I recognize that person,” I think whenever de Niro makes the trip to 30 Rock to do his best Mueller. “I have previously seen him in movies, and now he is on the television show I am watching. This is a thrill!”

To be real with you, I am jealous of the celebs. Once you reach a certain level of recognition, you can appear anywhere to great fanfare, without having to do anything at all. I am similarly lazy, but do not get rewarded for it. Instead, I remain cut off from the world, stuffing Spider-Man-branded Doritios into my face, watching a YouTube video called “14 Actors You May Not Know Are Dead,” as I procrastinate on doing work that will actually advance my career, alternating between feeling delighted and distressed about the truth of the matter, which is that I’m a big ol’ slut for mediocrity, and hoping that doesn’t make me mediocre myself.