There aren’t too many things I dislike about Spain, but this is undoubtedly one of them. Of course it’s not all bad; the news, for example, is a good watch. And in no way am I slagging off Spanish films either- with or without subtitles they are invaluable sources of language learning, and should be watched regularly (‘Que Tan Lejos’ and ‘Y Tu Mamá También’ are two of my favourites). However, in general terms, Spanish TV leaves a lot to be desired, and it’s only recently that I had this realisation.
When I first moved to Spain I hardly ever watched TV. After a day’s work and/or an hour and a half of uncomfortably bumbling my way through a snail’s pace intercambio, I just wanted to switch off. It was a chore to me, and the prospect of sitting down for a double helping of Dexter or Breaking Bad was invariably more appealing.
I knew, of course, that this was an entirely unhealthy approach to overcoming those bumbling intercambios, yet I continued to shun my dust-gathering boob tube like superman shuns kryptonite. I suppose it mainly came down to the fact that it was just so effing fast, and instilled in me nothing but scorn and further embarrassment for my self-determined sh*te Spanish.
My first year here generally continued in this injurious fashion, and as a result I arrived in Granada not knowing nearly enough to comfortably chitchat with my new, plainly appalled (at the fact that I had spent nine months living in El Puerto de Santa María and knew so little) Spanish housemates.
Things had to change, and getting acquainted with Spanish TV was a sensible start. So, considering that I was void of any opinion when it came to Spanish telly, I was content to let my student housemates take charge of the controls. What I was watching didn’t really matter- as long as I could understand some of it, I was satisfied.
Thus, I spent most of my TV dinner time trying to make sense of either squabbling football pundits on MARCA or badly dubbed rappers talking about their cars and ‘cribs’ on MTV. At the time, I presumed that this was merely the arse-end of Spanish TV and just something I needed to get to grips with before feeling suitably qualified to take on a whole other world of laudable and fascinating television, rife with riveting documentaries and original, hilarious game shows.
How wrong I was.
Now in my third year in Spain, I am yet to discover anything approaching ‘watchable’ and to be perfectly honest the more I look the worse it gets- Telecinco’s wishy-washy, predictable and canned laughter-filled ‘Aída’ is a textbook example. My new, older housemates can’t get enough and the show, now in its ninth season, has apparently won stacks of awards. God only knows why. Call it a cultural barrier if you like but I can understand more or less all of it yet nary a snigger has ever escaped my lips. Imagine the progeny of ‘Friends’ and ‘Will & Grace’ birthed by a surrogate Spaniard and you’ve pretty much got it. It’s on every day and each episode is dragged out for 45 agonizing minutes.
When ‘Aída’ isn’t robbing me of my will to live, there’s a good chance that newly launched singing competition ‘La Voz’ is (again, housemates are infatuated with it). Now, I am, by my own admission, secretly addicted to the X Factor, which may well have just compromised anything more I have to say on the matter of creditable television, but if comparisons are to be drawn between the two, then the Spanish version is simply laughable. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. The contest is currently in its final stages, yet you would be forgiven for thinking it was the first round owing to some of the contestants’ ‘voices’. And when one of them attempts to sing a song in English the cringing can even become painful. Fair play for trying I suppose- the day an English speaker sings a song in a different language on X Factor will never come- but someone really ought to put a stop to it.
Maybe I’ve just been spoilt by the BBC, and Spanish TV is simply a reflection of the global standard. Whatever the reason, I’ve had enough. I’m boycotting Spanish telly until it gets its act together and reverting back to my old ways. C’mere Dexter. Oh how I’ve missed you.
*Watch as La Voz’s Rafa Blas massacres Bon Jovi’s Livin On A Prayer!*
Anyone else feel this way about Spanish TV? Or do you really like Spanish TV and think I’m a prudish and unreasonable ass? Either way I’d like to hear your thoughts!