Tag Archives: entertainment

Television Schmelevision

Oh, television…how we love to hate you, and how we hate to love you.

Growing up in a rural area in the northernmost part of Michigan, the big antenna that stood next to our house received three channels. One was from Canada, one was PBS, and one was a local channel that generally carried CBS shows. The CBS channel was the clearest channel we got. Canada and PBS were snowy all the time; any manner of inclement weather created problems. Even a particularly bad mood could create enough atmospheric interference to render those two channels unwatchable.

It wasn’t a bad thing, and I don’t remember feeling at all deprived or any more bored than any other kid.  True, I never saw a lot cultural milestone shows that “everyone” has seen, like Gilligan’s Island or The Brady Bunch. The Daddy still becomes occasionally horrified when he uncovers yet another TV show of his youth that I’ve never heard of.

Given that history, I hadn’t been much of a TV fan for most of my adult life. I preferred to socialize; I felt that contact with other human beings was a far better use of my time and energy. “Human relationships are based on give and take,” I’d sneer haughtily, “and you can’t have a two-way relationship with a television.” 

BUT THEN we got a TiVo. In the pre-purchasing period, I argued against it – what did we need it for?  But in his infinite wisdom of all things electronic, The Daddy ignored my anemic assertions and got one anyway. Once it took up residence in my very own living room, I finally understood.  TiVo freed me from TV schedule slavery. If I didn’t feel like watching something on Wednesday at 9:00 p.m., I could watch it Saturday at 10:00 a.m.  Or 2:00 p.m. Whenever!

Me – 1, Bondage to Television Scheduling – 0

Furthermore, I no longer had to watch a single commercial!

Me – 2, Greedy Corporate Advertisers – 0

The final nail in the coffin was the first baby.  For those of you who’ve never gone through it, there’s a lot of sitting around when you have a newborn. There’s feeding, and rocking, and holding them while they sleep.  And it’s not just part of the day – this is a 24-hour-a-day cycle. Sure, you spend a lot of time just gazing at that  adorable face, but you can only do that for so long. So what do you do? TV!

I learned that there really are a lot of great shows. True, many of them are geared towards the lowest common denominator, but not all of them. There are shows promoting creativity, such as Top Chef and Project Runway (I even watched those before baby brainlessness struck me). There are gripping dramas like Big Love, which I’m sad to say recently ended. Fun travel shows like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Spirit-expanding specials like the one we recently watched on PBS about the Buddha. Hilarious, gut-busting comedies like Modern Family.

So does all this mean that my intelligence is waning, my energy is draining, my high-minded ideals are dwindling, my creative capacity is on the decline? Does it mean that my thoughts and ideals are being replaced by those of one-dimensional television characters?

Probably.

Television Brain Rot – 1, Me – 0

However, according to my (always questionable) math skills, that still puts me up by at least one point. I’d like to be able to say that I’m winning, but I can’t because Charlie Sheen ruined that word for the remainder of 2011, at the very least.

This is the opening to Big Love, which I felt was a work of art in itself. The song is by a band called Engineers; all of their music is just this enchanting. Even though Big Love is over now, you can get all the seasons on Netflix. And they didn’t pay me to say that. (Private note to Netflix: If you did want to pay me, I’d be fine with it. Call me!)

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A Sign of the Impending Apocalypse

I was talking with my mother the other night, as I frequently do, and she mentioned that she was enjoying Steven Tyler on American Idol. “He’s funny!” she said. “And I think he gives good advice to the contestants.”

The fact that my mother even knows who Steven Tyler IS – well, it’s kind of freakin’ me out.

My parents were not at all interested in the music of my youth, and that’s putting it mildly.  (To be fair, my taste was often questionable; does anyone remember Ratt?) My dad used to say that everything that came after jazz wasn’t music at all; it was simply garbage. “What about the Beatles?” I asked, thinking that perhaps since they were essentially his contemporaries, he could muster up an appreciation. I was wrong.

My posters of Bon Jovi and David Lee Roth had to be hung on the INSIDE of my closet door. Now that I’m a mom, I think that was actually an inspired idea.  

I didn’t go to a concert that wasn’t classical or school-related until I was 19 years old and away at college.  I’d occasionally try to play a song for them  that I really liked, even going so far as to point out to them what was so great about it, but the enthusiasm fell on deaf ears. (Ha ha! See what I did there?)

With all that in mind, you can imagine my amazement that they’re even watching American Idol at all. And apparently this isn’t even their first season watching it. What it means for American Idol is that the show has truly saturated every possible viewing demographic. What it means for the rest of us is that the world may really be coming to an end.  I hadn’t imagined that doomsday would involve Steven Tyler, but if you think about it, it’s not all that far-fetched.

FOR MOM
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