Is The Water Cooler Empty?

The Red Room: Scott's Side I remember one of the joys of watching Lost was heading into work the next morning and discussing it with the idiots I work with.  They had no idea what was happening on that show and it made me feel a whole lot smarter talking about it with them. Even after the show ended and the show explained that the characters had died years after the plane crash, some of them still said, "I think they died in the first episode."  Awww, talking about TV at the water cooler. 

 The same was true of Seinfeld.  It was fun to go in the next morning and talk about what Kramer had invented, how Elaine danced, or how George was so much like me that I started questioning my sanity.  Are the "water cooler" discussions even possible in 2012?    I think special events will always pull a live audience like this Sunday's Golden Globes with Ricky Gervais. (Listen to our podcast about Ricky here)   I think sports people discuss The Big Game. But I don't think that is still true for scripted shows.  The closest thing we have to any kind of a "water cooler"  scripted show would be Revenge.  But try going in to work tomorrow morning (wait a minute, does anyone still have a job to begin with in this economy?) and ask someone if  Queen Victoria has moved any closer to destroying Emily.  Most likely you will hear this:

"I haven't seen this week's episode yet. I am three weeks behind on my DVR."

"I get them from Hulu plus and they aren't up for a week."

"I wait for Netflix and watch 2 seasons at a time."

"I read."

We all know that last person is the person that is at home with the remote control so attached to her hand that she wouldn't be able to flip a page of a TV Guide.  No one is watching TV as a communal experience anymore.  I seriously wonder if Lost could even have thrived at present time and its only been 7.5 years since its premiere and a short 1.5 since it went off the air.  I remember the night that Michael shot Ana Lucia.  I was on the internet, chatting, reading posts, texting friends, and reading my Entertainment Weekly in a moment.  Now, I would probably end up watching that season 4 years later like I did with The Wire.  I spend a lot of time berating the networks about not providing me with the kind of dramatic and engaging television that I crave.  Shows like Twin Peaks, The Wire, Lost, and Star Trek.  But can we really blame them?  Who is even watching anymore?  Can a show that uses a week to week cliffhanger  make any inroads anymore?  Revenge is often on the list of the best new shows of the year but honestly I only know one person who watches it and she watches it online when she finds the time.  I guess in 3 years from now when 66 episodes are queued in our collective Netflix instant queue, maybe we will run to the water cooler.  But by that time will the water cooler just be empty?

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