Sometimes while watching a really good television series I can’t help but wonder why actors don’t eat their own dog food. If you’re not familiar with this phrase, it basically means whatever it is a company or person is trying to sell is so good that they use it themselves. You see this a lot in the tech industry but it is just as applicable in television.
A lot of times actors and actresses will skip watching themselves in movies because they don’t like watching themselves. I have a problem with this because a lot of hard work from people other than them went into making the movie. It really gets under my skin when actors say this about a TV series they star in as well. I understand that show business doesn’t allow for a lot of free time. I understand an actor doesn’t want to watch a show they just finished filming a few days, weeks, or months before. But what about after?
Entertainment Weekly recently had a reunion issue where they brought together the casts from famous movies and TV shows. One that drew my immediate attention was the reunion of The West Wing cast. The West Wing is one of my favorite TV shows. I think it has some of the best writing that has ever graced the TV screen. The acting and directing was far superior to anything else on TV at the time as well. That’s why it was surprising to hear that Bradley Whitford, who played Deputy Chief of Staff Joshua Lyman, say he had never seen an episode. Janel Moloney, who played his assistant Donna Moss, chimed in saying she had never seen the show before either and was at a family member’s house when she caught a bit of it and had no idea what order the story went in and what came next in the episode.
The West Wing cast wasn’t the only cast that mentioned not watching the show. Several months ago I listened to an interview on Fresh Air with the actor Idris Elba. Elba played the drug dealer Stringer Bell on the critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire. In the interview Terry Gross was surprised to learn that Elba had never seen the show. Again, this was another show that was raved about by critics and fans alike and a lot of hard work was put into developing such rich stories and characters by the writers and the actors.
I know there are numerous other shows where this happens as well. That’s why it’s refreshing when you see the stars of shows actively participate in the viewing of the show. The latest thing seems to be answering questions live, on Twitter, while the show is airing. Does this mean the stars are actually watching it? No, but there’s a good bet they are if they are answering questions about the episode. In recent weeks Romany Malco and Julie Benz from ABC’s No Ordinary Family have done this. I’ve also seen some of the cast of SyFy’s Eureka do the same thing. When the actors are excited about their show, that excitement transfers to viewers.
So why don’t actors eat their own dog food? Surely there was time in the years since the show has been off the air to pop in the DVD to see what all the acclaim and awards were about. It seems as if they don’t really respect all the hard work that went into making the shows they star in or respect the fans that were so enthusiastic about them. If we are to believe this dog food is good enough for us to eat, shouldn’t they be eating it too? Is it too much to ask or expect?