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“The Soup”: Valued Time Management Tool

March 28, 2011

In order to become an expert in any field, it’s important to study all of the elements, not just those that appeal to you. For me, this is as true of television as it is of the pros and cons of the latest arthritis medication and the environmental impact of fish farming.  However, even I’d prefer not to take time away from all other activities in order to watch 24×7.  And while I would never call a show “bad” out of respect for the medium and my fellow audience members, I freely admit there are many programs not to my taste.  As you can tell from reading this blog, my preference is for scripted dramas and the occasional comedy.  I haven’t watched an interview show since Carson went off the air.  Try as I might, I still find most reality television creepy.  (Yes, yes, I must try “The Amazing Race.”)  And since no one in my household is under 12, I have no idea what’s happening in children’s programming.

I was, therefore, quite grateful when in 2005 “The Soup” came into my life.  Like the Franklin Planner and the POSEC method, “The Soup” is a powerful time management tool, only it’s made specifically for television lovers. For those unfamiliar with this E! Channel staple, “The Soup” is a combination of clips, commentary and improv covering some of the most beloved television in pop culture circles.  The show is hosted by stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and producer Joel McHale (now more famous for his starring role in “Community”).   There are regular features, with new ones being added all the time.  Examples include:

  • Chat Stew, which focuses on clips from talk shows such as “The View” and “The Tyra Show”.
  • Reality Show Clip Time!, which spotlights clips from reality shows including the trendy “Survivor”, “The Bachelor” and “Jersey Shore”.
  • What the Kids Are Watching, which covers developments in children’s shows and commercials aimed at children.

Unlike me, McHale is quite clear when he thinks a show is bad, stupid or (capturing his attitude) as poorly put together as Heidi Montag. (I thank “The Soup” for my ability to make that cultural reference.)  Therefore, when using “The Soup” as a time management tool, I focus on the raw material.  Think of it like the off-label use of a drug.  Even some of Soup’s recurring “targets”— including talk show host Wendy Williams and “The Hills” regular Stephanie Pratt — have showed their support for the format by appearing as guests.  I don’t deny laughing at the jokes, but I also appreciate that there are viewers who look forward to “Cheaters” the way I count the days until the next “Justified.”  I truly believe in diversity of programming.  There are hundreds of stations out there, and they can’t all be playing reruns of “Two and a Half Men”, especially now.  For me as a television fan, it is helpful to know that “Shatner’s Raw Nerve”, “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “Yo Gabba Gabba” exist and be able to get an idea of what they’re about without having to actually sit all the way through them.  “The Soup” gives me that overview in as little as 30 minutes a week.

I confess that, like many management models, sometimes “The Soup” has failed me.  The biggest impact on my free time occurred in 2007 when I became overly curious as to how a network could develop an entire series around a woman who, in McHale’s words, was famous for ‘having a big a** and a sex tape.”  My inquisitive nature led me to watch an entire episode of this new entry.  The next thing I knew I was “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”.  Now I approach my weekly date with “The Soup” with a renewed sense of purpose: to (as they say) let McHale watch it all for me.

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