Just today I had lunch with a friend who was talking about the cable TV options that are available to him and his husband. He wanted BBC News but that was only available on the premium option. The middle option had BBC Americas which he said he really didn't like because, "the only thing that seems to be on is 'Top Gear.'" He was shocked when I then said, "Oh, my god, I love 'Top Gear.'"
I am not a gear head, a car lover, an automobile know-it-all. I know a smidge about cars but not enough to impress anyone at all, not even myself. At work when I get a client into a rental and I don't know what it is, I will tell them, "I don't know because I'm a girl." I say this several times a week. I can't drive a stick and if some rental genius tried to get me to take a car with a manual transmission, I would certainly refuse as the car would be nothing more than paperweight and/or a hotel room. Ixnay on the ickstay, say I. So what the hell is up with my affection for "Top Gear," one of the most popular TV shows in the world?
I'd heard about "Top Gear" over the years. The CBS show, "Sixty Minutes," did a piece on them a long while ago. I finally saw an entire episode when I was staying at a hotel out near the airport the night before a very early morning departure for Seattle. It was 100% car driven (pardon the sick pun) and these guys were obviously thrilled with themselves and their jobs. I should've hated it. Dear god in heaven, forgive me, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. Then Netflix started offering it on their instant streaming option and, well, it's a guilty pleasure.
Here's the premise: Three men test drive cars. They discuss the pros and cons of said vehicles. They sometimes take the cars out on the roads and wreak havoc. They will build hybrid vehicles and wreak havoc. (The BBC must pay a huge amount to people for repairs of things busted by their new frontiers of havoc.) They seem to have their own permanent test track which appears to be either adjacent to or on the runways of what used to be a small airport. They have a "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" segment where they have celebrities drive the current reasonably-priced car at their disposal around a designated track for a time to see if they could beat the time of another celebrity. They call each other morons and idiots. They get cross and play practical jokes on each other usually involving a car. There is a studio audience, everyone standing among the cars, excited to be there.
This show does two things for me:
1. It makes me laugh out loud. I laugh more at "Top Gear" than at some sitcoms. The three hosts -- Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May -- often act like three total boneheads (case in point, the India roadtrip special). They're also very charismatic and knowledgeable and loads of fun.
2. They are a remarkable sedative. It's the middle of the night. I wake up for no good reason and how will I get back to sleep? "Top Gear" on Netflix is how. The openings strains of the Allman Brothers song, "Jessica," come on, Jeremy Clarkson talks about what's on that night's show, and I grin because I know this sedative will help me to soon knock off. But please refer to #1 above as during daytime hours I will go back and watch what I missed so I can have a nice solid laugh.
"Top Gear" might make you forget what was bothering you as you watch and think, "What. The. HELL?"