10 Guilty Pleasures

What I love about guilty pleasures is the way they humanize us. Could you even imagine that your firebrand English Lit professor reads romance novels like popcorn? Or that your macho, beer-guzzling neighbor melts while watching Disney princess movies with his little girl? In fiction as in life, these traits define a character. They can help your reader fall in love with a protagonist or empathize with a villain. Remember the nasty, obsessive-compulsive writer Jack Nicholson played in As Good As It Gets? That first scene of him stuffing his neighbor’s dog down the trash chute should have sealed our opinions of him. But then we find out he not only writes romance novels, but hand-feeds that same little dog bacon later in the film. This helps transform him from a cardboard character into a complex and much more interesting one worthy of our empathy. A well-placed guilty pleasure in your characters’ lives could do the same. Here are a few of mine:

1. The Wedding Singer. There are very few Adam Sandler films I like, but I could watch this one over and over. And I have. It’s a cheeseball poke in the 80s’ eye, but I love it. Adam Sandler is sweet and funny as a heartbroken, struggling musician. Drew Barrymore is adorable as the naïve waitress he courts. All of this and a cameo by Billy Idol, too! Aw, now I want to watch it again.

2. Lindt white chocolate truffles. Yes, they’re overpriced and not very good for me, but so smooth and creamy it’s like velvet on your tongue. I have to buy them individually, or I’d down the whole bag.

3. Awards Shows. Oh, make some popcorn and get cozy as the glitterfied and glamorous take to the red carpet! I know some people vilify them as self-congratulatory puffery, but the puffery is why I watch. Some eight-year-old girl inside me is squealing, “Look at all the pretty dresses!”

4. Miss America. This is sort of in the same category as awards shows, as it catches my eight-year-old self in its glitter zone. Beauty pageants, unlike awards shows, have a special cheeseball factor: the interviews. Bliss!

5. Lady Gaga. Finally, a vocalist comes along who understands marketing and branding herself as well as Madonna. The kooky get-ups, the wild videos…and she can sing, too.

6. Legally Blonde. Reese Witherspoon goes to Harvard! So fun!

7. Gilmore Girls. A little saccharine, you might say? But I think this show is brilliant. It’s got quirky characters and great lines, amusingly obscure cultural references, and it’s a kind of comfort food for me. I have the first few seasons on DVD, and the night before my mother-in-law had a radical mastectomy, I chained-watched episodes until I could no longer keep my eyes open. I still watch, nearly every weekday, while I’m on the treadmill.

8. Family Guy/South Park. If either of my parents caught me viewing these shows, they might question the astronomical checks they wrote for my college education. But some days, you just need to laugh your ass off like no one’s watching.

9. Bugs Bunny cartoons. Tell me this isn’t one of yours, too. I double-dog dare you.

10. The Ten Commandments. I loved Ben-Hur, but at the risk of getting bombarded with mail accusing me of heresy, The Ten Commandments is probably one of the most mock-worthy movies ever made. Where to start? The overacting? The ponderous, pompous score? Edward G. Robinson and Vincent Price as Egyptians? Or the memorably cheesy lines that make this movie the Greatest Drinking Game Ever Told? (Don’t blame me. Seriously, I went to a Ten Commandments party where people downed a shot for each iconic, but stupid, line.) I still love to watch it.

Okay, now that I’ve embarrassed myself in front of everyone and invited public scorn, it’s your turn. What are some of your guilty pleasures? Why do you like them?

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7 thoughts on “10 Guilty Pleasures

  1. JenD says:

    Okay, I could honestly transfer half your list to mine. I would also add the movie Van Wilder, which came out long after I’d passed the age of their target audience, but makes me laugh hysterically each and every time. Another movie, Idiocracy, makes me laugh but also gets me thinking deeply about the direction this country is heading – an odd combo, to be sure. One video I used to watch over and over again back in the 80’s when I worked at a video store was called Tex Avery’s Screwball Classics. It’s a collection of the funniest, most clever cartoons ever created by Avery. I’d give my right eye to find that on DVD. Seriously.

  2. Jessica Lee says:

    Actually, the creators of South Park and Family Guy are incredibly intelligent people. The cartoons are kind of stupid an brainless on the surface, but if you really pay attention, there’s all sorts of jokes that go over most people’s heads and they make some damn fine points in some hilarious, amazing ways. So really, your parents should be proud! Awesome list, Laurie, I love most of these too. 🙂

  3. Lee Warren says:

    My guilty pleasures include reading all of Nicholas Sparks’ novels watching and all of the movies based on his novels. My guy friends try to yank my man card away from me as a result, but I’m holding on for dear life.

  4. Hajra says:

    My list is going to be similar…Award shows are my all time guilty pleasure (in my head I am practicing my acceptance speech – for whatever category). Another indulgence has to be romantic comedies…no matter how many Oscar nominated, sensible serious cinema I watch, I always find time to watch a “silly” Rom-Com, makes my heart all fuzzy!
    When my best friend and I meet, our catching up has always got to do with “girlie gossip”…otherwise I am all the no nonsense girl!

    The list is fabulous!

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