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A TV Guide to Life: How I Learned Everything I Needed to Know From Watching Television Paperback – July 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425221555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425221556
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,129,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Alexander, a writer for notoriously acrid web site Television Without Pity, takes on the common wisdom that television rots your brains by examining the wealth of knowledge he's gained through his lifelong pursuit of television viewing. Sly, wordy and tongue-in-cheek, Alexander offers commentary, insight and information that straddle the line between impassioned viewer and cagey insider. Limiting himself to pure entertainment (no public or educational television here), Alexander distills the influence that scripted dramas and comedies, past and present, have on collective views of school, life, love, jobs, medicine, cops, friends, superpowers and death. While he does raise valid, and funny, points while berating television's glamorous, unrealistic portrayals of doctors, lawyers, cops and a particular group of city-dwelling friends, it's always evident that he's made his living dissecting television-something that may alienate the masses who watch television simply to be entertained, not to fuss over the differences between NBC's fictionalized portrayal on 30 Rock and Studio 60. On the other hand, fellow television writers, industry insiders, critics and true media junkies should find some barbed laughs.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

A former staff writer for public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor, Jeff Alexander writes about television for the popular website Television Without Pity. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and son.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Chad Eng on July 17, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those of you who grew up in the 70s and 80s, go buy this book. Anyone born before or after that, go buy the book for someone you know that was born in those years - they will thank you for it. Alexander has taken a look at the TV shows I used to watch and put them into categories no one has before. Television isn't as mind-numbing as once thought, especially when viewed from an expert perspective. This book will have you laughing out loud (and you won't care that people are looking at you funny). And the end of each chapter has hilarious things to try (or at least think about trying) that will tie the whole chapter together for you. I can't recommend this book enough.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mediaman on July 22, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This ridiculous book is an attempt at "humor" with an author who writes "essays" about what he learned from different TV genres. I bought it assuming he was somewhat serious and would cover a nice breadth of shows. Instead the whole book is a joke, with a guy making stupid comments about TV shows, often not knowing what he is talking about. A complete waste of money and time.

He starts out by saying the book isn't going to cover educational TV, public TV, talk shows, soaps, cooking show and reality shows. So much for it being about "everything" as the title suggests.

That means it's mostly him making fun of scripted sitcoms and dramas. He has chapters like "School on TV" where he claims to have walked into elementary school expecting it to be like Little House on the Prairie (that should show you the level of his intelligence and his lack of humor). There are other "chapters" on science fiction, crime shows and love. Nothing he says is worth reading since it's all one big joke.

He lost me early, when he claimed that TV in the 1950s "wasn't a true representation of anything." (How would he know? He was born in 1970 and obviously didn't do any kind of research to find out.) He also has an annoying trait of putting footnotes of his own side comments at the bottom of a page. (Why not just write properly and include them in the paragraphs that are already filled with his rambling rants?). He'll make obscure references to shows dealing with the subject but sounds like he hasn't really watched any of them.

If you have a serious interest in TV (I've read over 200 books on the subject) don't buy this book. I'll repeat it again-it's a complete waste of time and money.
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