“How doth the TV sit solitary, that was full of programs! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among my media, and princess among the appliances, how is she become tributary!”
I don’t watch TV.
Allow me to clarify: I watch a TV quite a bit and spend quite some time watching TV shows but I do not participate in any kind of regularly scheduled TV viewing and haven’t for quite some time. Even my wife who blogs about important things will watch the Daily Show and Colbert the following day on her laptop and tries to keep up with Fringe, Once Upon a Time, and other shows with a certain amount of regularity. I, on the other hand, can barely be bothered to watch the shows I like on Netflix and only turn on our TV out of curiosity to see what the rest of the world (Well…Canada) is seeing only to turn it off shortly thereafter.
This has been a thought rattling around in my brain but it really dawned on me when we watched the finale of Fringe which we will be discussing in the next podcast. Sitting down to watch TV with commercials running and the whole gambit made me feel oddly nostalgic but also in no way interested in participating in this ritual. I, like many of us in the Netflix, DVD, DVR era, have no real desire to bind myself to programmed television and if I do, I want it to be tied to a social gathering like when we would congregate at various friends’ homes to watch Battlestar Galactica or Game of Thrones. But the idea of sitting on my lonesome or even just sitting with my wife and watching what’s on really doesn’t appeal as evidenced by our nonplussed viewing of the premiere of The New Normal. We made the decision a while back to avoid cable for just this reason.
I wasn’t always like this. I used to try to catch my various Star Treks, Xenas, and a whole host of ’90s Do-Gooder shows like the Pretender, Early Edition, and Due South and would even go so far as to battle my VCR in order to record missed episodes but those days are far behind me. Now I just plow through the various shows available on Netflix as they become available (which in Canada is something of a waiting game) usually while I have a laptop running Civilization or Fallout on my lap. I’m interested but not exactly connected.
Rachel will tell you I am the worst person to watch TV with. Early in our marriage, she tried showing me Lost and gave up a season and a half in because I refused to jump out of my seat or shout at the characters. My enjoyment face unfortunately also resembles my listening to a lecture face and so when it comes to trying to view things together, we just stick to safe programming with little emotional investment like Mad About You and when she brings friends over when she wants people to scream the TV or at least break into a smile.
So what’s the point? I wonder if it speaks just to this generation and how we digest TV these days. I know there are still people emotionally invested because in my real addiction, podcasts, I listen to multiple shows where people talk about television. That’s right, I don’t watch TV but I love listening to other people talk about shows I do not and probably will not watch. So I know that people are still sitting down to catch the latest episodes and those who miss out are yelling about spoilers so obviously we haven’t as a society moved away from Must See TV and yet, I know that I have and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.
Societies are bound by shared stories, shared experiences. Geek culture very much so. I wonder if by cutting myself off from the Doctors Who, the Fringes, even much of the Games of Throne, I am not risking a sort of cultural isolation and disconnect from my professed society at large.
If nothing else, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic just came to Netflix.
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