television shows worth watching (that are ignorable, though.)
April 28, 2013 2:33 PM   Subscribe

After plowing our way through a couple seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race, the gentleman caller and I are looking for a new TV show we can enjoy without always needing to pay attention.

We've spent a good number of lazy evenings and/or late mornings watching and, well, not watching RuPaul's Drag Race (and Untucked) but it's time to branch out, since there's only one season and All-Stars left.

Drag Race turned out to be pretty ideal because there are fairly obvious stretches you can ignore without missing too much, and it's not so serious that you feel weird having it on in the background while making out.

a little bit about us: we're both in our late twenties, and huge nerds: big on hard sci-fi, certainly, but also a lot of British humour, and we're not averse to campiness. We are, however, averse to laugh tracks.
posted by heeeraldo to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Red Dwarf? Hits the Sci Fi, British Humor, and also tends to be something you can watch while doing other things. No laugh track.
posted by stewiethegreat at 2:40 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

MST3K is pretty good for this.
posted by oinopaponton at 2:43 PM on April 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

Seconding MST3K, as you don't need to follow the movies' plots at all to get at the jokes being made, and adding Louie, which I regularly ignore but am able to laugh at (or share in the awkwardness of) whenever I do choose to pay attention to the screen.
posted by ElectricGoat at 2:46 PM on April 28, 2013

Sister Wives. No, really, it's pretty fascinating in a soapy way but doesn't demand your attention in any meaningful way it all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:50 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

My partner and I have started watching... um, Golden Girls while preparing dinner every evening. The humor still holds up all these years later. The acting is superb. And it's not like there are any major plot twists. Perfect!
posted by houseofdanie at 2:54 PM on April 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, the original UK version, is far less sensational and far more intimate and thoughtful than the American version.

I have a soft spot for Work Of Art: The Next Great Artist Season 2 because I have a friend who was a contestant, but I think you might enjoy it as well.

The Mighty Boosh might need too much attention but it's worth a shot.

Red Dwarf totally has a laugh track! Or at least a live studio audience!
posted by infinitewindow at 2:59 PM on April 28, 2013

My spouse and I do this with Storage Wars aaallll the time.
posted by Etrigan at 3:06 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Project Runway. It's up to like, what, eleventybillion seasons at this point? It's really formulaic but there's always just enough variety, you can pick a favorite designer and root for them (or the opposite), and if there's ever anything particularly interesting and worthy of attention they point it out like twenty times before and after every commercial break.
posted by Mizu at 3:25 PM on April 28, 2013 [11 favorites]

Fashion Police.
posted by mynameisluka at 3:32 PM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Firefly, Archer, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Keeping Up Appearances, Arrested Development, Toddlers and Tiaras (my fiance says, anyway), Antiques Roadshow
posted by Jacen at 3:34 PM on April 28, 2013

Came in to say Project Runway, but I'll add The Great British Sewing Bee. There are only a few episodes, but it's the kind of thing I can follow happily just looking over my wife's shoulder occasionally.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:37 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sometimes we or family members "watch" British comedy shows, widely available on Youtube (Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Mock the Week, QI--though I'm allergic to it--etc. etc.). Something is happening most of the time, but it's not usually SO funny that you can't miss it.

Tony Bourdain's various shows (e.g. No Reservations, The Layover, etc.) are good, too.

Or, if you're watching New Who, start working your way through Classic Who. Many of the stories have so many episodes that I can't actually sit there and just watch them, because they're slooow in parts.
posted by wintersweet at 3:43 PM on April 28, 2013

Seconding Buzzcocks. It's great for this (also perfect to watch before bed as you're just dozing off.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:44 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thirding Project Runway. Also, if you enjoy them, house shows (House Hunters, My First Place, Property Virgins, Love It or List It, Property Brothers -- all of HGTV's oeuvre, basically) are great for half-watching, as are some of the Food Network's shows (Cupcake Wars, Restaurant Impossible). Entertaining without needing much attention.
posted by lysimache at 4:08 PM on April 28, 2013

Golden Girls is truly awesome for "not really paying attention, yet having entertainment".

Generally shows with famous chefs helping struggling restaurants (we have plently of those - 4 a week, and I assume every country has at least one version) or a similar premise is great, too. Lots of neglectable narration to know what is happening, no need for details.
posted by MinusCelsius at 4:44 PM on April 28, 2013

The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan. While it's a bit repetitive, after a few shows you feel much smarter about raising dogs than you actually are.

Also; doggies!!
posted by el io at 5:10 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Top Gear (British version, not American) is what I "watch" in the winter when actually I'm spending an hour eating a pomegranate. I don't care a whit about cars, but those guys are highly amusing.
posted by laeren at 5:18 PM on April 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is pretty much how I watch Once Upon A Time. I sort of half-pay attention until the characters I like are on but have somehow kept up with the plot more or less.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:18 PM on April 28, 2013

Shark Tank
Celebrity Apprentice (only because after every commercial break they remind you what the task is they are working on)
Top Gear (American Version) - Think Adam Ferrara is pretty funny and the others are pretty solid, too. I like the British version.

And of the Real Housewives of whatever. But that doesn't sound like it would be of great interest to you.

I typically write while I am watching tv, so I look for things like what you are describing.
posted by Jewel98 at 6:24 PM on April 28, 2013

I do this with Murder She Wrote but that probably isn't really worth watching. It's mostly very *watchable* though.
posted by mskyle at 6:31 PM on April 28, 2013

If you like weird and occasionally macabre old things, there's a show called "Oddities" that might be good for this--it's about a Manhattan store that buys and sells antiques and oddities. You can fade in and out without missing much, since there's not really a plot.
posted by Edna Million at 7:01 PM on April 28, 2013

I sometimes watch 'The Middle' while washing dishes. I never watch it so I can stockpile them, and they are ignorable without being offensively bad. They are kind of nice! Also the first half of the Daily Show as well as the Colbert Report. Catch up on some news, visuals not necessary. Also Hell's Kitchen, just random yelling and nonsense...donkey this and that.

Any show I really like, I want to watch intently. Those are my hulu 'go to' 2nd tier shows.
posted by bquarters at 7:17 PM on April 28, 2013

This is what Gilmore Girls is for.
posted by Kololo at 8:26 PM on April 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

In this genre, I've recently enjoyed:
My Cat From Hell
Love It or List It
Flea Market Flip
Preacher's Daughters
posted by rainbowbrite at 8:40 PM on April 28, 2013

Another vote for Project Runway. If you want to move away from the reality shows, Supernatural is quite enjoyable, but you can definitely do other stuff and not miss much. I basically caught up on the whole current season while packing and I'm sure I didn't miss anything important.
posted by grapesaresour at 8:47 PM on April 28, 2013

Another vote for Gilmore girls.
posted by dpx.mfx at 9:12 PM on April 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

That's pretty much how I watch Bar Rescue, which offers all kinds of entertainment between Jon Taffer and the collection of oddballs that turn up in the service industry.
posted by Team of Scientists at 12:21 AM on April 29, 2013

I disagree with Arrested Development - there is a lot of in-jokes and callbacks in there that reward attention.

I like to watch shows while I crochet, and I find that 90s sitcoms work well for this - Just Shoot Me was one I enjoyed - and if you like that and The Golden Girls (which is also excellent to have on whilst doing other things) you might also like Hot In Cleveland. Desperate Housewives works too, because the narration keeps you up to date.

There's a show called The Hoarder Next Door on Channel 4 here which is more good natured and less sensationalist than the US Hoarders - that's good for half-watching. The UK Apprentice is good for this too - the earlier seasons were better, and you might find UK reality shows feel more documentary-like than the US equivalent as the latter have constant recapping and feel more explicitly manipulated.
posted by mippy at 3:29 AM on April 29, 2013

Masterchef and Masterchef: The Professionals (UK versions, not sure if there's a US one).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:40 AM on April 29, 2013

I vote for World's Dumbest on Tru-TV.

This is what Husbunny and I watch every night before sleepy-time. It's amusing, stupid and you aren't missing anything if your attention wanders.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:10 AM on April 29, 2013

Duck Dynasty.
posted by jbickers at 8:11 AM on April 29, 2013

American Pickers is great for this--it's just dudes buying antiques. I also like to put on those terrible "paranormal" shows (like, the ones where they're looking for Bigfoot) when I'm cleaning or something. Doesn't matter which one because they are all terrible! River Monsters is also great to half-watch. Ditto How Clean Is Your House, a very endearing show about housecleaning/organizing. The hosts are charming, and it doesn't feel exploitative like the US Hoarders.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 9:22 AM on April 29, 2013

Another vote for Supernatural, it's got long arcs and monster-of-the-week episodes, but the previouslies catch you up pretty thoroughly so if you think you missed something you can just watch the first two minutes of the next episode.

I also like How It's Made and How Do They Do It? for quasi-educational television I don't need to actually watch.
posted by mgar at 12:46 PM on April 29, 2013

Most Red Dwarf before Season 7 is good, but it does have a laugh track.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:06 PM on April 29, 2013

« Older Going Home to Toxic Family--How to deal? Help me...   |   Caribe coffee cups without handle Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.