Acceptable Responses To "Oh, She's Someone" When We're Watching TV Together

If we are watching TV together, and I say, “Oh, she’s somebody,” when a character actor (“Never say actress; most female actors call themselves actors” –Grace) I recognize but can’t immediately place appears onscreen, just like my mother and her mother before me, the following responses are acceptable:

  • Light squinting followed by “Oh, yeah”

  • “She is somebody, isn’t she?”

  • “Oh, she was in that thing about funeral homes”

  • “Huh!”

  • “Wasn’t she on Voyager once?”

  • “Hm, I can’t place her”

  • “I had the same thought! What do I remember her from?”

  • “I’m looking her up now”

  • “Weirdly, we have an ex in common”

  • “[Any even-only-slightly-related anecdote about the actor in question]”

  • “You know who else she reminds me of? [Either in physical appearance or spiritual presence: A distant relative, a near-acquaintance, a close friend, a totally unrelated celebrity, Davy Jones from The Monkees, a politician who’s been in the news recently, a friend’s pet, our dead dog Murphy, a painting, whatever]

  • Anything generally in keeping with the spirit of shared ignorance, shared desire for discovery, and/or sharing your knowledge with me, a humble but sincere learner

Unacceptable responses include:

  • “Yes, character actors are character actors.”

  • “That’s [her name only].”

  • “Everybody is somebody”

  • “You keep saying that at random when new actors enter the scene and I don’t know how you expect me to respond”

  • Making fun of me for how often I say it

Borderline responses include:

  • “Oh, is she?”

  • “Mmm”

  • “Do you want to look her up?”

The point of saying “Oh, she’s somebody” is to approach watching television as a collaborative project, where we both prop up one another’s imperfect memories for character actors and things we have watched in the past, and to be nice to my grandmother as her habits and characteristics have been transmitted down the generations to me, and to prepare ourselves to be charmingly old and gentle with one another. It is an invocation, which is why I never preface it with anything, like saying “Thanks be to God” and expecting to hear “It is right and just to give God thanks and praise” rather than “Wait, what do you mean?” or “Thanks for what?” This applies to anyone I watch TV with, whether you be a partner, a dear friend, a relative, a brand-new acquaintance or, in a pinch, a dog.* I don’t make the rules, I just know that she’s somebody and I want us to find out together, and maybe say “Oh, funny” after we find out what we know her from. I’m a simple man, with simple television-watching ambitions.

*You do have the right to ask me not to talk while we watch TV together, in which case I will not say “Oh, she’s somebody” when someone I recognize but cannot place walks onscreen. But if we agree that some talking is allowed while we watch TV together, I’m probably going to say it, and you have to honor the implicit rules of courteous engagement if I do.