The Vast Wasteland [fpq]

Tiger and TV

Warning: super wordy post coming up.

“You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly, commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom.”

Who said this about television and called it a vast wasteland? Probably someone you’ve never heard of: Newton N. Minow. (I hadn’t heard of him before today.) As the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Minow made a speech to a meeting of the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington, D.C., on May 9, 1961 ~ coincidentally, a week or so after I was born.

Nothing much has changed in 60+ years. We now have eleventy hundred channels to choose from instead of 7, or whatever we had back then, and it makes no difference. It’s still mostly garbage, imo. I have gone through phases of watching little to no TV to switching it on daily for hours and back again. Currently, I’m in a TV-on cycle, tied to the hopeless search for a good sitcom a la Max and Agent 99 bound together in Get Smart.

Get Smart Max and 99

Today, Fandango continues his Provocative Question series with the following inquiries about our TV habits.

What country do you live in?

I’m in Orange County, California, USA.

How many televisions do you have in your home?


On average, how many hours a day do you watch TV?

Lately, the TV has been on a lot, maybe 3-4 hours per day, though I’m not usually fully watching it all that time because BORING.

What kinds of programs do you typically watch (e.g., news, sports, movies, dramas, sitcoms, reality shows)?

I never watch news, sports, or reality TV. I’m either following a series, such as Only Murders in the Building (OMITB), which is depicted in the top image with Tiger kitty during its first season (now it’s on S2), or trying to find a movie. Last night I watched the new Emma (2020) on Prime, which I enjoyed. That’s unusual though ~ movies have generally been so awful that this past week I’ve been trying other series, such as Dexter, which was too gross (though funny), so I bailed after two episodes.

Sometimes I give into a nostalgic urge and try to recapture my youth by watching a game show or sitcom from back in the day. It’s always a complete disaster ending in my hatred of something I once loved, such as That Girl, I Dream of Jeannie, One Day at a Time, Match Game, etc. I haven’t actually tried Get Smart again, but I’m sure I would hate it now too. Even though I say I haven’t changed since I was 14, I guess that’s not true. I simply can’t bear the rampant sexism in these old shows, even if I tell myself it was normal then.

IDOJ Jeannie and Major Nelson

Do you watch programs as they are aired or do you record them and watch them at other times?

I have never recorded a show; I wouldn’t even know how. If I miss something, no great loss. Though except for AMC’s cruddy behavior over Better Call Saul, mostly stuff sticks around for a while. And because AMC is such a greedy jerk about BCS, I will never subscribe to them again for any reason. Not only did they prevent Netflix from airing the last season of BCS (S6) in the US, but also even if you pay for AMC+, they won’t allow you to watch eps from the first half of S6. I hate them. Rawr!

Do you mostly watch “network” TV? Premium cable channels (e.g., HBO, Showtime)? Streaming channels (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple+)?

I can’t get anything without paying for an internet connection, so in my mind, they’re all premium. I use the Roku system, and my main channel is Amazon Prime, which is “free” with a Prime subscription. I share Netflix and HBO with other peeps, and I’m currently also subscribed to Hulu for OMITB and AMC+ for BCS. The instant the final ep of BCS is over, I will unsub as there is literally nothing else to watch on AMC. Occasionally, I find something else on Hulu, but I’ll likely unsub there as well. There’s enough crap to choose from on Prime, etc.

How often, if at all, do you use other devices than television (e.g., computers, smartphones) to watch programs?

Sometimes I watch on my iPad in my room, though lately I’ve mostly been watching the “big” TV, since I also try to do a little side work on my laptop simultaneously. I doubt my TV habit will change back anytime soon, since I have no desire or motivation to work on any of my books in progress, besides the nagging OCD of unfinished projects. That voice hasn’t been so insistent lately and I’m glad of it because writing was as much of a time sink as TV watching is now and gave me more headaches besides.

©️2022 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted.

13 responses to “The Vast Wasteland [fpq]

  1. My tv now lives in a closet because whenever I watch anything, it’s on my laptop.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve been quite selective about TV since late childhood. I watch specific programmes for limited periods. I don’t usually channel surf, binge-watch, or just leave the TV on in the background (which would drive me crazy and stop me from doing anything else). It’s rare for me to watch more than an hour or maybe an hour and a half a day.

    I mostly watch old TV science fiction series from the 60s, 70s and 80s, occasionally the 50s and 90s. The only current show I really watch is Doctor Who and even that started in 1963 (and I mostly watch the current version from a sense of obligation and hope rather than expecting to like it much any more). I think CGI has made TV science fiction a lot less interesting, although I possibly don’t watch enough to have a fair opinion.

    I get these shows on DVD, except the new Doctor Who, as they aren’t being repeated and I’m not sure about streaming availability. I prefer to own a copy anyway. Although lately I’m working my way through early seasons of The Simpsons (up to season nine, where the quality becomes more variable).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve got Roku with HBO Max, Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Apple+, Discovery+, and a few free steaming services. Other than news, I watch almost nothing live.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eleventy-hundred 😅. Yeah, it’s mostly junk. And channel surfing is pretty much a fruitless endeavor. There are more shows that are worthwhile than there used to be, but trying to navigate the maze of services that have one to a few here or there from time to time isn’t something I’ve made a pastime. Once-in-a-while, I’ll catch on from somebody what streaming service or old-timey channel has an offering in which I might be interested.

    Currently, I’m keeping my eyes open for a now vintage series I liked when my kids were young and I almost never watched television — but when I let them and there was a lot of Nickelodeon plus Reading Rainbow on in our house. My oldest son and his wife like it, and my son remembers that I did (but that it was only on a few times); he thought his dad and I both liked it, but his dad said no when it was brought up in conversation.

    Later, we had quite a bit of The Discovery Channel and Mike Row (Dirty Jobs) on. I haven’t, yet, found the re-run I’m looking for… Mad About You; not where I don’t have to pay extra. They say it exists. I gotta find OMITB, too. I’ve seen quite a bit of Better Call Saul (which is saying something), but I didn’t keep on with it. I appreciated Hell on Wheels with AMC (on cable). I have a positive memory of Get Smart.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I binge-watch murder mysteries and YouTube via my 27″ iMac. My TV is too old for my newest cable-box, but when I still had the option, I recorded everything. A lot of what I wanted to watch ran too late for me, so i got used to recording and skipping ads.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. After I read this post, I googled “tv line up 1960”. It was a hoot. I got a real nostalgic twinge from looking it over, and imagined I might enjoy “being there” again, if for no other reason than to re-ground myself. But I doubt much of it aged well. I remain untethered and unamused by the eleventy-‘leven channels of pure crap. The wasteland has never been so vast.

    Liked by 1 person