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  • Writer's pictureSusannah Powers Stengel

Couch Sweet Potato: Lessons in TV Gratitude


Spoilers for: Various Turkey antics on Bob's Burgers.

Pass the cranberry sauce We're having mashed potatoes Ooh, the turkey looks great

Thank you for loving me (Lin!) Thank you for being there (Please.) Thank you for loving me (Oh God.)

Everyone's thankin' The whole world's thankin' you (Lin, stop!) Thankin' us for thankin' you (Lin!) Kill the turkey! (Lin!)

The Bob's Burgers team wrote the original song "Kill the Turkey" for their third season's Thanksgiving special, "An Indecent Thanksgiving Proposal", a personal favorite episode of all time for me. In a bid for free rent, Bob's family must pose as their sadistic, loaded landlord Mr. Fischoeder's family (with Bob playing cook tagalong) to lure Fishoeder's ex back into his arms (a woman hellbent on hooking up only with taken family men). Sung with indefatigable nasality by Linda Belcher (John Roberts) and with flat scat interruptions from her consummately-over-it husband Bob Belcher (H. John Benjamin), I love this song because the banal, celebratory simplicity of the season shines through.

We're here to eat and be merry. So a little gratitude won't kill you. Probably.

I am grateful for television this holiday season, as I have been since memories were make-able, as I will be until my eternal lights out. I am grateful for the cultural warmth of sharing stories in great depth with relative strangers simply by asking "Have you seen x?"

Here's some TV dishes that really peak my gratitude muscle this holiday:

1. Abbott Elementary

Former/always teacher here: this show grabs the guts of classroom life to mine for ridiculous gold. The cast is a joy, and the world created is a warm parody of real teaching with all the worst bits tossed out on the cutting room floor. Consume Abbott now.

2. A League of Their Own

Prime's femme-centered, queer tv swing paid off--with a character-driven period piece that simultaneously hits the solemn and the silly in every scene. Rich world building and incredible dialogue round every base. Grab a handful of League.

3. Feminist Discourse in Reality TV

Reality romance shows sink into the subconscious of our culture--even the bro-iest bro and the most dissociated-from-reality-tv leftist feel the fumes. To be able to break down, in lascivious detail, the inner workings of strangers' love lives and reflect upon the ripples we feel in our trauma pool is a true treat. From breaking down Cutiesgate with Hannah, to discussing the sick shenanigans of the Bachelor in Paradise beach with my mom and dad, I grow to be a better critique of misogyny and bigotry in my own life when I watch this lowly medium. To watch for me is to be free to be angry, free to see inertia and ask for change, free to savor the supposedly vacuous pleasures that such rom-com plots offer, free to rewrite my pink chains that no longer so tightly bind. And fuck, I love the tea. Grab a serving, or three.

4. Watching TV with my partner

During a particularly fraught season of The Bachelor, my former boyfriend asked me to stop watching. It was "for my own sake" he offered. I obliged (that's on me) because I wanted to experience tv without shame. Now, gratefully, I listen to myself. I now live with a man where the couch is a non-judgment space of sweet companionship and ease. There are no sanctions, no expectations, no binges too long, no game sessions too distracting--we always find the story together, or apart. But we prefer it together.

Find a holiday space in your life to resist expectations, stuff down shame, come together, and activate your belief in the impossible. My space has always been a mundane couch. And this season, those simple cushions have never felt better.


What TV stokes your gratitude? Comment below! :)

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