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.
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.
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.
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