Liberals like to laugh; conservatives dig cars (but here’s the kicker: both are big fans of PBS)

That, at least, is one conclusion to be drawn from research that supposedly delineates the TV preferences of “liberal Democrats” and “conservative Republicans.” You can see the top 25 of each here, but I’m more of a Top Five guy. Here are the Top Five for Democrats:

1. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
2. The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
3. Masterpiece (PBS)
4. 30 Rock (NBC)
5. Parks and Recreation (NBC)

And here are the Top Five for Republicans:

1. Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction(Speed)
2. This Old House (PBS)
3. The 700 Club (syndicated)
4. Swamp Loggers (Discovery)
5. Top Shot (History)

“Swamp Loggers?” So now we see who is watching all that “Redneck TV,” huh? And on the other side, I know whom to blame for the fact that it’s increasingly hard to tell news from satire.

But if there is anything of significance here, anything with policy implications, it’s that both left and right depend on PBS for some of their favorites shows. (Meanwhile, the liberals are so busy pursuing laughs that they have time for only two PBS faves, “Masterpiece” and “American Masters.” Apparently, as long as it’s got “Master” in it, they like it.)

How about that?

Maybe next time Republican lawmakers go to reflexively deep-six public broadcasting, they’ll stop and think how they’re go to explain to their base what they’re doing to “This Old House,” “New Yankee Workshop,” and “Antiques Roadshow.”

31 thoughts on “Liberals like to laugh; conservatives dig cars (but here’s the kicker: both are big fans of PBS)

  1. Steven Davis

    Come on Brad, if you’re going to post Swamp Loggers on the Republicans you at least have to give us the Democrats #6… The View.

    I question the validity of this survey, not one overlapping show.

    Who the hell watches The 700 Club? And why are liberal Democrats watching Aqua Teen Hungry Force?

  2. Steven Davis

    I’d rather watch commercials than that annoying Pledge Week where you have some pasty white guy trying to sell you DVD’s of Musics Superstars of the 1940’s 55 minutes of every hour.

  3. `Kathryn Fenner

    I used to watch 30 Rock, but it got tiresomely arch. I like The Good Wife, otherwise, the rest of the list holds for this liberal.

  4. Brad

    I must confess to being a fan of both “Masterpiece” and “30 Rock.” I do not accept service that that makes me a liberal.

    Basically, this list reminds me how very little TV I watch. A couple of times a month, J and I will think to tune in to ETV at 9 on Sunday night. We watched all of “30 Rock” up to the current season on Netflix.

    Right now, I’m watching “Lost,” also on Netflix (I didn’t see it when it was on the telly). And I’ve seen the previous seasons of “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and yes, “The Walking Dead.” But I’m not getting AMC these days, so I’ve only seen what’s on Netflix.

    Speaking of AMC, I initially had high hopes for “Rubicon,” but it let me down before it was cancelled.

  5. `Kathryn Fenner

    Just because the top five shows watched by liberals are also watched by Brad doesn’t make Brad a liberal.

    Basic logical skillz, folks. Watch and learn.

  6. Rose

    I agree with Steven re: the validity of these lists. Wheel of Fortune? REALLY???

    I watch some shows on both lists, but not on a regular basis. Mythbusters (did you hear they just accidentally shot a cannonball through someone’s house?!), Daily Show, Colbert, Antiques Roadshow. A lot of the others I’ve never heard of, but that just shows that I don’t watch much TV. I’d rather read – real books with footnotes and not in electronic form either.

    That would be a more accurate list, I think – what books are Dems and Reps reading?

  7. Silence

    I’m totally a DVR & Netflix streaming convert. I watch almost no “live” TV. I liked the first few seasons of “30 Rock”, love “Parks and Rec” and “Aqua Teen Unit Patrol” which was formerly the “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” Also, a big fan of “South Park” and enjoying the return of “Beavis and Butt-head.” I’m a huge fan of Ron Swanson, on “Parks and Rec.” Finally a TV character who I can identify with.

    I personally question the need for PBS though, given the current plethora of channels, streaming media, and online offerings. I can watch Poirot on Netflix, This Old House reruns come on DIY or HGTV or one of those channels.

    How did PBS manage to screw up HMS Pinafore this season? How is that even possible? I couldn’t even make it all the way through. I guess I’m a Gilbert and Sullivan purist or something.

    Lastly a few more public broadcasting gripes and questions, while I’m already on my rant:

    1) Why does SC call the local public radio stations “SCETV Radio” Why not call it “SCER” or “SC Public Radio”? Simply inserting “educational” in the name doesn’t make it true.

    2) Who still listens to the classical music NPR stations? Could we save some money as a taxpayers by buying the 10-15 listeners an XM subscription instead?

    3) Why does Sumter get the NPR news/talk station, while Columbia gets stuck with the classical one? I can’t get 88.1 to come in properly in 5-points, USC or downtown.

    4) Why is the locally produced programming SO awful? “Your Day”, “Reading with Rachel”, “Making it Grow”, “Walter Edgar’s Journal”, “South Carolina Business Review” and “Speaking of Schools” are God-awful. If we cut them out, we’d have more time and money to put on extra episodes of “Car Talk”, “This American Life” and “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me.” Are there Arbitron ratings for these shows?

    4) These SCETV management seems to be huge money wasters. Why do we need 5 studios/TV stations in SC? Couldn’t we just streamline and have one station? It’s the 21st century! How much use could the Sumter or Rock Hill studio really get? I doubt they produce enough programming to keep one studio busy, much less five!

  8. Steven Davis

    “I used to watch 30 Rock, but it got tiresomely arch. I like The Good Wife, otherwise, the rest of the list holds for this liberal.”

    So tell us about Aqua Teen Hungry Force.

  9. Bill

    Samuel Smith- Dec 4,2011 (on Frost/Nixon/-Culture/Politics)

    ‘The question, then, becomes why? Why the play? Why the movie adaptation? After all, playwright Peter Morgan could have written about anything. Once he did write the play, audiences could have rejected it. Other troupes, such as the Longmont Theatre Company, could have opted to mount a different show instead, something with more perceived social salience or more box office promise.

    I’m a culturalist, and as a result I pay attention to the artifacts of the popular culture. If vampires are in vogue all of a sudden, then it’s probably meaningful. The broad social response to a theme, a trope, a meme suggests something about the collective psyche, and if you’re interested in understanding the society in question it’s a good idea to pay attention to its books, its plays, its music, its games and television and movies.

    The answer, then, to why Nixon, why now, seems fairly obvious: His presidency, as twisted and corrupt and doomed as it was politically, was actually the last time we had a White House acting more or less in the best interests of the citizens of the United States. And we miss it. We know that power politics has always responded to wealth, but we long for the days when the sell-out wasn’t so comprehensive, so shameless, so arrogant and sneering. We wish those who control the political and economic direction of the nation would drop a crumb or two every now and then. We hate that corporations are citizens and that money is speech.

  10. bud

    I watch a lot of TV and I’m damn proud of it. Why does everyone have to bragg about how little TV they watch? Seems elitist to me.

  11. Phillip

    Silence, not everybody shares your skepticism about ETV Classical. Just because it’s not to your taste doesn’t mean that only “10-15” people listen to it!

    A one-size-fits-all, essentially nationally-syndicated service like XM has its place, but doesn’t begin to properly serve or support local and regional arts endeavors the way radio can, and the way ETV does. As an example, I’d cite the broadcasts from Spoleto, but especially Carolina Live (really a co-production with WDAV Davidson NC) which brings recorded live performances from all over both Carolinas to ETV listeners. So for example, a listener in most any rural part of the Carolinas can hear, for free, concerts by the SC Philharmonic or Greenville Symphony, often with world-class visiting soloists, such as this one.

    Also, it may be called “ETV Radio Classical” but in reality, there’s actually a fair bit of other kinds of music programmed, genres that (like classical) are not commercially-oriented but nevertheless have devoted followings and are worth having available on the air. Examples of this kind of programming would include bluegrass on Saturday nights, the late-night “Echoes” program, and the “World Cafe.”

    It’s all part of having a healthy, vibrant cultural community in our state that exists independently of, and is not completely beholden to, commercial interests. There are reasons why, for all the hostility to the arts our governor seems to embody and for all the reactionary aspects of our state politics, so many nationally-renowned and actively creative people including musicians like this one, and this one, and this one, choose to live in South Carolina, in numbers wildly out of proportion to what one might expect from a state of its small size and population. ETV Radio, and what their work and existence says about our state, is among those reasons. And that goes for the presence of South Carolinians in the visual arts, literature, and other artistic fields. And in turn, that potentially affects the texture, the quality, of day-to-day life for all South Carolinians, which forms a feedback loop in terms of economic development, business development, and so forth. The legislature, to their great credit, understood this when they overwhelmingly smacked down Gov. Haley’s penny-wise-but-pound-idiotic proposal to essentially scrap the Arts Commission and ETV.

  12. `Kathryn Fenner

    I listen the LISTENER-SUPPORTED classical music stations. PBS and NPR programming does not receive any public funding. It’s all listener/viewer supported with “generous underwriting support” from various private companies, foundations, and others. The government funds go to the part that trains teachers via closed circuit and such.

  13. `Kathryn Fenner

    I don’t watch any TV in real time–too cheap to pay for cable/satellite and can’t pull in a signal down in the hole I live in. I watch online or via Netflix.

  14. Steven Davis

    “I watch a lot of TV and I’m damn proud of it. Why does everyone have to bragg about how little TV they watch? Seems elitist to me.”

    Or we don’t have as much free time as you do.

  15. Steven Davis

    “The legislature, to their great credit, understood this when they overwhelmingly smacked down Gov. Haley’s penny-wise-but-pound-idiotic proposal to essentially scrap the Arts Commission and ETV”

    Better the Arts Commission and ETV than something important.

  16. Brad

    Bud, to address your question… I accept service that maybe a lot of us like to sound like we’re “too smart” for television. But it’s not just that. I’m not posing when I say I don’t watch it much.

    For one thing, I really do lack time. What with trying to build this blog while working at ADCO, trying to stay involved in the community and still have time for my family, I don’t have time to do a lot of things that I’d like to have more time for — such as reading more books.

    TV comes in when I’m just too tired to write, or even to read. Frankly, the times I DO watch TV tend to be when I really should be going to bed. But when I do want to just veg out for awhile and not have to think, I do want the content to be something that interests and pleases me.

    And that’s the problem. There’s too little of that actually being broadcast on television at any given time.

    Of course, here we get into semantics: What does “watch TV” mean? For me, it almost always means watching something I particularly want to see, so as to make the most of that little bit of time I devote to this particular (in)activity. A DVD, Netflix, or something I recorded on the DVR sometime in the past. Seldom, seldom am I able to surf the CURRENT offerings at the time I sit down with the remote and find something that I want to watch.

    And so I feel like this survey sort of describes an alternative world, because it is about things currently being produced and broadcast.

    And that’s just not where I experience video, most of the time.

  17. Brad

    Let me add that there was a time when I was the most avid TV watcher EVER, and I’m definitely not too “elitist” to admit it.

    It was when we first moved back to the States after living in Ecuador, essentially without television, for 2.5 years. I was 11 years old. It was 1965. And I thought American TV was AWESOME.

    We lived in New Orleans when we came back, and of course we had the usual three stations. And I knew what was on every one of them all day, every day of the week. I remember how excited I was when the new Fall schedule for 1965 came out (“Lost in Space,” “Green Acres” and “I Spy” all premiered on the same night!)

    The thing is, I was no couch potato. I was a really, really active kid. I was constantly out playing softball, football, basketball, tennis. While it doesn’t count as being outdoors, I was in a bowling league. The Navy base where I lived was practically abandoned at the time (I think it’s more active today), and there were all these wide-open fields where I assume there had been barracks and such during the war. It was right on the Mississippi, almost directly across the river from the French Quarter. We lived in an apartment in a converted barracks, about 100 yards from the levee. I used to walk over to the river and fish for catfish with hunks of cheese.

    I was really, really into EVERYTHING then, just soaking up American culture in great gulps, and loving it all. And TV was a big part of that.

    I wish I could be that enthusiastic about it now.

  18. Bart

    Barrett-Jackson the #1 show watched by Republicans! You gotta be kidding me, right?

    My wife and I watch PBS, Masterpiece Theater and enjoy the great British offerings. Usually well written and doesn’t insult your intelligence.

    We watch a wide variety of shows that are informative and entertaining. There are times when all I want out of a program is just entertainment, no preaching, no messages, nothing but take your head off and forget about all of the crap going on around you.

    I do refuse to watch these so-called reality shows. The ones with the fat people repossessing cars, faux bidding on abandoned storage units, Paw and the young’uns hunting wild boar in Texas, people in a river sticking their hands in a catfish’s mouth, and especially the bounty hunter guy with the long, stringy, thinning hair and his band of misfits hunting down bail jumpers. When the commercials come on, I can’t get to the remote fast enough.

  19. `Kathryn Fenner

    What Bart said, plus the British shows are far better acted on the whole, in part because Brits cast more based on acting ability than, um, I can’t think of a nice way to say it–um, bed-ability. Almost any British actor has formal acting school training, vs. the actress/model/whatevers who populate a lot of American TV.

  20. Phillip

    Very kind, Kathryn, but I’m not in their league and wasn’t thinking of myself in that regard. (My busiest working days in that field are behind me now, hence my free time for posting comments!)

    But to another aspect of Silence’s comment—maybe Brad knows this answer better than I…some of those ETV “stations” are not all full production centers, right?–more like just glorified transmitters to have the ETV signal reach all corners of the state. Maybe I’m wrong about that. In any case, “huge money wasters” seems not to describe ETV from what I know, since it operates on such a lean budget to begin with. It’s a labor of love for those I know who are associated with it.

  21. Herb Brasher

    [Like] what Philip said. Very well said.

    I like NPR and Performance Today is one of my favorites, except when they’re fund-raising, and then they drive me nuts. So in order to counter that, we should subsidize it even more from taxes. After all, human nature being what it is, our culture will lose its historical roots, including in the music and arts, if government doesn’t step in. A genuine case of protecting the people from their own ignorance.

    I wouldn’t have any appreciation for concert music unless my father hadn’t exposed me to it against my own will. I didn’t particularly like the Saturday afternoons with the radio dial on Metropolitan opera, but I learned something from them. Too bad when the time comes that the only thing left on radio are political squawk boxes and only one part of the vast music and cultural spectrum.

  22. `Kathryn Fenner

    My understanding is that most of the stations are relay centers. Hey, Brad–don’t we have some ETV peeps in Rotary? Time for an interview!

  23. Steven Davis

    the bounty hunter guy with the long, stringy, thinning hair and his band of misfits hunting down bail jumpers”

    Or as the comedian, Tim Wilson describes it… “If you look out the window and see the bass player for Molly Hatchet, a roller-derby queen, and two carnival ticket takers walking up the sidewalk…”

    Phillip, there’s always Vegas as a piano bar player or giving piano lessons for hyper 3rd graders.

  24. Bart

    Many years ago, when living in the Roanoke, VA area, I was a big supporter of PBS. Every year the local station had an auction and we bought several items at great prices. The local station had a rather large audience.

    Now, I still support ETV and PBS but not to the extent I once did. Some of the programming is excellent. “This Old House” is a great program for the individual who enjoys working with their hands and watching how some of our preservation efforts are achieved. I enjoy watching the guy who still uses the old hand tools do his thing because it fascinates me to see how much progress we have made in the simple tools we once used to the sophisticated tools of today.

    At one time, it would take a long time to establish a level line around the perimeter of a room at a certain height. Now, you can go to Lowe’s or other outlets, purchase a cheap laser level, set it up in a couple of minutes and presto, you have a rotating level that projects a level line around the entire room.

    When television is used for educational and informative purposes as PBS and ETV was originally intended, it is great investment. When it becomes political, time to turn it off.

  25. `Kathryn Fenner

    “Phillip, there’s always Vegas as a piano bar player or giving piano lessons for hyper 3rd graders.”

    No, Steven– Despite his humility, Phillip actually still performs quite a bit–a luminous and graceful performance here this fall of Beethoven concerto with USC and this:

    a 3 CD set–and such a deal–great for gifts! and these were all performed in NYC.

    Mostly, though, he’s a great father who supports his wife’s career (what a guy!), but reduced to teaching neurotic, prematurely retired lawyers.

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