When an Office Goes Mad for Television

    We didn’t have much to work with. Our friend (for the sake of clarity, we’ll call her Angela, because that’s her real name) doesn’t exactly watch too many television shows. Her preferences: “Maury,” “Jerry Springer,” “Matlock” and “Veronica Mars.” But I suppose I’m not one to judge — I did grow up watching “America’s Most Wanted” for family TV nights.

    Thus began the television bracket, which fans of the Guardian may have already seen. To everybody else, which is to say, everybody else, the staff took a pricey-but-worth-it break from production to create a bracket of shows to help Angela. When the editor-in-chief asks us to jump, we ask how high. It was still much less dramatic than the arm-wrestling tournament. But I digress.

    The comedy bracket featured off-beat choices (mainstream favorites “30 Rock” and “Modern Family” were ruled out): “Parks and Recreation,” “The Office,” “Louie,” “Avatar the Last Airbender,” “Arrested Development” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” On the dramatic side, the choices were catered to Angela’s air of gloom and included “Battlestar Galactica,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Wire,” “Dexter,” “Downton Abbey” and “Breaking Bad.”

    I believe I must explain some of our choices. “Avatarz: The Last Airbender” was included because my friend once claimed that she was a “brony” (in actuality, she enjoyed philosophizing about the first episode). “Sherlock,” the BBC mini series that spawned a semi-hysterical fandom, was eliminated based purely on the fact that our friend group likes the show too much.

    Our selection process meant that the staff took turns giving presentations about our favorite shows. My description of “Avatar” as “the Dalai Lama with superpowers” was not convincing, but when our sports editor flounced into the room and declared that the characters of “Downton Abbey” are “fabulously dressed,” it was enough to make “Breaking Bad” fall in the first round. Yes, that “Breaking Bad.” Somewhere, half-faced Gus Fring is rolling in his grave.

    The entire argument for Curb Your Enthusiasm was “Larry David,” and for that reason, it floundered in the first round to the fan favorite “Arrested Development.” And like most of the public, none of us had actually seen “The Wire” — we’d just heard that it was good. Angela kept harboring a creepy, almost-obsessive interest in serial-killer drama “Dexter” and threw out “Game of Thrones” early on, possibly to spite me.

    In the end, “Battlestar Galactica” and “Arrested Development” won. But in the end, the real winner of the night was our editor-in-chief, who got her entire staff to drop everything they were working on to help her choose a television show. If only all of our indecisions could be solved with a hyperactive, opinionated staff.

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