Monday, January 05, 2009


I haven't had a television in my house since I lived with my mother for the better part of 2006. When my mom watches TV, it's because she wants to veg out. That's her way of saying she's feeling stressed out and she wants to relax and stop thinking for a while. I enjoyed our TV time together. We'd watch silly sitcoms, the kind I might not get away with watching around certain other friends. I've always liked the fact that my mom appreciates funny for funny. It doesn't have to be any certain kind of humor. It doesn't have to have anyone's high brow seal of approval. It just has to make her laugh. If it hits her funny bone in just the right way, she'll roll on the floor with tears in her eyes. She's the person who taught me the value of comedy, that a good laugh is always worth searching for, waiting for. She taught me that a good laugh can make all of the stress from an annoying day instantly go away. So how do I find humor without television these days? Well, I do find a lot that makes me laugh on the internet. Comics, funny websites, and youtube videos go pretty far in entertaining me, but I can't say I'm actually totally TV free, because I have definitely been known to find episodes of Father Ted, The Office, and The Daily Show and watch them online. But, other than The Flight of the Conchords, the TV shows I've been most addicted to watching haven't been comedies. For the most part, they have been intense, action-packed dramas. Ian and I have rented and watched all (or almost all) of House and Battlestar Gallactica. Our newest obsession is with the NBC show, Heroes. We watched all of the first two seasons on DVD and just got the third season on Netflix (on demand). These are all shows that keep you on the edge of your seat. Each episode leaves you feeling a desperate need to find out what happens next. It makes me wonder how people can bear watching these shows in weekly installments. I can remember back in college really looking forward to Thursday night television on NBC. I couldn't wait to find out what was next for the cast of Friends or Seinfeld, and then later it was ER and the X-Files. I don't have any weekly rituals like that anymore. I can't imagine that I would have the patience for it now. And, I have to say that's one thing that might have been good about television. Television, in its natural state, makes you wait. You have to wait during the commercials. You have to wait until the next episode comes out next week. I always hated waiting, so for the most part I think having the ability to immediately download and watch something I want to see is a wonderfully miraculous sign of positive progress. But, there is part of me that thinks it's not entirely a good thing to have the world at your fingertips. I feel like I become less patient, less tolerant, less creative about ways to spend my time when I am in the habit of using my internet for all it's worth. With television, so often there is nothing good on and you are forced to turn it off and do something else. With the internet, there is always something interesting if you know where to look. I remember when I was living with my mom, around 9:45pm I'd start thinking that I wanted to take out my contacts and put on my pajamas because Will and Grace would be on at 10:00pm. Mom and I would usually watch it and then go off to bed shortly afterwards. There was something kind of nice about having a leisure activity with a specific timing to it. Without television, I don't have anything like that. For the most part, I am okay with that. Just sayin'.


tstockley said...

I think TV certainly has its purpose. People do need time to veg out, and reading is not quite the same. You actually have to think about what you read, while TV takes no brain energy. While people seem to bemoan TV as a waste of time, I think it (like most things) can be good in moderation. If I am home between 2 and 3PM, you can bet I am watching "As the World Turns."

PS - you would love the show "Wonderfalls." It was only on for one season, but you can get it on DVD. So funny.

Steph said...

On the bright side of the whole Netflix thing, I feel life is immeasureably richer for every commercial I avoid watching. Our TV doesn't actually get channels, so we're pretty much in the same boat. I am resentful even of the brief ads I have to endure to watch The Daily Show on the internet.

Pagination said...!

I second the bit about Wonderfalls. It was done by the same guy who did Pushing Daisies, another awesome show that is being canceled before its time, goddammit.