Republicans are flag-flying rubes who drive enormous pickup trucks and lap up mass-produced reality dreck like it was a case of shitty domestic beer. Democrats are effete, pasty elitists who drink tea with their pinkies up and prefer "sophisticated" TV programs nobody cares about. These are the stereotypes basically confirmed by a study just released by the media-research company Experian Simmons, which suggest that, TV-wise, republicans are more likely to favor ratings-driven hits, while democrats more often go with more cultish critical darlings. Apparently, though, what everybody loves is -- sigh -- pundits.
First, let's take a look at the list, in which a variety of shows were "scored" by people who stated their political preference as either democrat or republican, liberal or conservative, and then the overall scores were averaged together according to that affiliation:
A first glance reveals truths utterly unsurprising: Republicans like The Amazing Race, democrats like Mad Men; republicans dig on Dancing with the Stars (hence the weird influx of noted Republican figures like Tom DeLay and Bristol Palin as contestants?), democrats grok on 30 Rock. The first depressing thing about this study, then, is that, as people of political persuasion, we are embarrassingly predictable.
But while it's a mildly depressing non-surprise to find that our politics define us, it's a bona-fide depressing surprise to find the extent to which they do; we may or may not tune into either The Bachelor or Breaking Bad depending on whether or not we think Obama's birth certificate is authentic, but what we evidently really want to watch is people who will tell us whether or not we should think Obama's birth certificate is authentic. Because the number-one shows we pick? They're Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann, respectively: two programs that serve the exclusive function of reinforcing whatever political beliefs we already have, right down to the party line. You could basically see the first items on each list as a predictor of what follows.
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Republicans will do doubt smugly observe on the basis of these statistics that democrats are out-of-touch; democrats will take satisfaction in knowing that republicans are bread-and-circuses philistines. The truth, though, is that we're all a bunch of sheep.