If You Don't Like A Show You Can Just Stop Watching It

Places I Puked When I Had Food Poisoning And Episodes of “Westworld,” Rated

A double listicle with a lot of commentary


Have you been watching “Westworld?” The new Michael Crichton HBO drama about cowboys and robots and corporate social responsibility? Lots of people have! I know this because Twitter and my friends who are generally up on things have told me so. Before getting food poisoning this past weekend, I’d tried to watch the pilot once at home and bailed about five minutes in. I could tell from the tone of the opening scenes that I was not this program’s target audience, and I am currently not in the business of forcing myself to pay attention to things that don’t make me feel engaged or happy or horny. “The pilot is pretty slow,” everyone said. “But then episode two? Hoo! I’m hooked!”

This is a popular defense of buzzy TV, and the rationale always eludes me — if a piece of entertainment programming is good, shouldn’t you not have to close your eyes and plug your nose and cram it down your gullet like a fish oil supplement? Shouldn’t it just…be appealing? Call me crazy, but TV is, traditionally speaking, an extremely digestible art form meant to be easy-to-follow because it needs to be broken up by the ads that pay for the show to run in the first place. HBO doesn’t run ads, so they’re in a more creatively lax position, but if you cannot convey to me in a sixty-minute pilot why your characters and premise are worth my time, I do not feel confident you’ll be able to do it over the course of a season.

It’s kind of like in school when someone thought their paper was gonna be bomb because it had the word “diaspora” in the thesis, but then you peer edited it and realized, “Oh, this person is a dunce.” That is what “Westworld” feels like to me. A sixteen-year-old who just learned the word “diaspora” and is resting on his laurels because of it.

Anyway, home sick with food poisoning and unable to leave my bed, I watched all four hour-long episodes of the show, and now the two conditions are inexorably bound in my psyche. “Westworld” = vomit. Vomit = “remember that show that asked, ‘What if Ex Machina, but cowboys?’” So without any further ado (I can hear the people clamoring for me to hurry up), here are the places I puked when I had food poisoning this weekend AND the currently-viewable episodes of HBO’s “Westworld,” rated:

Hotel sink
Ah, you never forget your first. My friend was in the bathroom taking a shower, and not wanting to interrupt, I opted to run to this decidedly-closer scum vessel. Had my morning Claritin been too much on an empty stomach? Who could say for sure. All I knew was this place had a garbage disposal and ample Dawn to clean up the crime scene after I’d finished. 5/5

Hotel toilet
I thought I was done after that sink business, but lo! There was still more puke left to puke. Luckily my buddy was out of the shower and I could cozy up on the floor next to old faithful for a no-fuss, flush-posi experience. 4.5/5

Highway McDonald’s parking lot
Maybe two hours into being on the road, I felt bold. Potentially healed, even. I took three small, shy sips from a water bottle, and it turned out to be three small, shy sips too many. Luckily the McDonald’s parking lot offered plenty of pavement for me to spew the water onto. And, when I was feeling more mobile, it boasted a lovely grass median for me to stand in with my hands on my hips while I waited to see if my body was done rejecting basic nutrients. 2/5

A plastic bag in the backseat of a Mini Cooper
This was a first for me, and I’d really love it to be a last if at all possible. At this point there was no more puke left to puke, so it was really just me drooling into a bag for a couple of minutes while everyone asked, “You okay back there?” It may be a long shot, but I’d love to never again have to say, “I am okay enough to answer your question, but not okay enough to not be puking.” 1/5

The pilot
“Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality?” a scientist asks Dolores in an interview. Yes. Every day. She is a woman in the 1800s. Even if she isn’t cognitively aware that she is a robot, her life still blows. Suffrage is like a hundred years away for her; show some respect. 1/5

Episode Two, where we follow some guests into the park
The boss and the nerd programmer who loves facial expressions are having an affair! Fun! It is also cool that Dolores is some kind of purity litmus sheet against which we have to test every male character. If they are bad to Dolores, they are bad period. So far, Teddy: good. Tourist in white cowboy hat: good. Tourist in black cowboy hat: bad. Got it. 2/5

Episode Three, where resident hotboy Teddy gets a new backstory
Dolores now appears to be becoming woke and her programmer worries that she is becoming too woke, in fact, perhaps problematically woke. Damn. Must be stressful for him. It is cool that the gang of rogue randos in the desert can’t be killed by bullets because Who are they? Also what is Arnold’s deal? This ep felt a lot like “Lost.” 2.5/5

Episode Four, Maeve is getting woke
Honestly, Maeve the town prostitute is onto something with all of these flashbacks and visions. I’m rooting for her to solve “Westworld” before the rest of them do. Preferably in the next episode. 2/5