I Like Making TV-Themed Mix Tapes, Anyone Else?

My playlists are often homages to TV characters I love.
Publish date:
December 21, 2013
television, mix tapes

I miss exactly two things about college – being able to eat an entire bag of Ranch Doritos while watching Chris Meloni punch child molesters on SVU, and making CDs. You kind of liked that one Warren Zevon song that was playing when you stopped by my dorm to borrow some sticky notes? I’ll burn you a sampler. Mandatory RA Fun-Time in the lounge? Awesome, I’ll bring tunes. Slightest crush on the guy next to me in Brit Lit? Bring on the Magnetic Fields, slip it into his copy of Moll Flanders.

Now that I’m engaged and everyone has Spotify, I don’t really have an opportunity to make mixes anymore, especially since my fiancé has yet to come around to the brilliance of Michael McDonald (I’m sure that will change after we’re married! Just kidding; there aren’t enough mix CDs in the world to convert him to those smooth grooves.)

But I haven’t managed to stop getting those giddy pangs of new love, when every song on iTunes shuffle sounds like it belongs to Him. And so what if the objects of my affection just happen to be fictional? Don’t fictional characters deserve sweet, sweet tunes all their own?

I once made an entire playlist of songs that reminded me of The Shield, because I love The Shield so fucking much and also, I was bored. In addition to white-knuckle storytelling, The Shield was a veritable buffet of beautiful men playing brilliantly complex characters; smexy Dutch Wagenbach (Jay Karnes), smoldering Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins) and blonde babe Curtis “Lemonhead” Lemansky (Kenny Johnson), all who occasionally do terrible things like murder cats and blow up their friends. So when Morrissey sings “He stole all hearts away,” in “First of the Gang to Die,” in my mind, he’s talking about Lem in “Postpartum,” the most devastating episode of anything I’ve ever watched. Also on that playlist, Better Than Ezra’s “One More Murder” for Dutch and Faith No More’s “We Care a Lot” as the new and improved theme music.

I was an otaku back in the dark days when a two-episode clamshell case subtitled VHS of All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku-Nuku from the Viz Video catalogue would set me back something like 15 Kiwi Snapples (DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE). I’ve gotten rid of all my Sailor Moon dolls and Ranma ½ mangas, but the one thing you will never pry from my hands is anything Cowboy Bebop. Not my Radical Ed plushie, not my copy of No Disc, not my 12” Spike Spiegel action figure who may or may not have gotten pretty friendly with a Posh Spice doll in a yellow dress. And as great as Yoko Kanno’s score for the Seatbelts is, I would add Wang Chung’s “Space Junk” to the soundtrack. Dreamy, spacey, and cool, it is everything that drifting through the cosmos should be.

“A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)” by Romeo Void is practically a valentine to Oliva Pope (Kerry Washington) on Scandal and should replace the theme music permanently. She cleans up DC’s dirtiest messes without getting even a fleck of dirt or a spot of blood on her impeccably white jackets. Except Fitz. He’s a trouble that’s anything but temporary. What does she see in him anyways?

I loved Burn Notice until it got hyper-violent and weird, but in its prime (seasons 2-5) it’s kind of impossible not to love superspy Michael Weston (Jeffrey Donovan), who spends 90 percent of every episode smirking like he’s a competitor in Mr. Smug Universe. I can’t hear Fastball’s “Secret Agent Love” without picturing him, with Fiona, Sam and Jesse in tow, running around Miami blowing things up, eating yogurt, smirking and generally outwitting every mouth-breathing, gun-toting wannabe gangster in Miami.

Discovering Mystery Science Theatre 3000 at my friend Trista’s house when I was 11 was a life-changing experience for me. My sister Hilary and I bonded over Saturday Sci-Fi viewings, my friend Catch and I quoted it constantly throughout college, my friend Eeon and I still meet up for Rifftrax Live shows three times a year. But think of the damage that Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank could have inflicted on the world if they had, say, a 2000” TV like the one Weird Al Yankovic sings about in “Frank’s 2000” TV.” If I had one of these babies, you can bet your shiny metal butt I would screen MST3K 24/7.

I’m not going to lie – I’m not really a fan of Justified. Or country music. But Justin Townes Earle’s twangy “Mama Said” could have been written as lines for Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins, yes, again). Lyrics like “Well, now, I used to drink, boys, I used to cuss/I used to lie, steal, cheat and cause a hell of a fuss,” sounds exactly like something Boyd would say in his terrifyingly precise southern drawl. Goggins has this amazing ability to make anything he says sound like either a threat or a come-on, and when I hear those lyrics, I hear them in his voice.

But this is hardly enough to fill a quarter of a CD – what’s going on YOUR TV Mix CD?