It’s official – I’ve lost interest in watching television. Since early this year, I have gradually watched less and less TV. It wasn’t a January resolution, not even a conscious choice. No intervention, no twelve-step program to break the addiction, no white-knuckled nights of grappling for self-control with the remote control. I just drifted away. Lost interest. When the remote to the TV in the bonus room (which is also my office) went missing and we had to dig around to find it, I knew that my lifelong electronic companion had finally lost its hold on me.
My mother has always eschewed television as lowbrow entertainment. (A TV teetotaler?) She rationed TV watching for her children, limiting us both in terms of time and content. With 3 or 4 black-and-white channels to choose from, it was pretty easy to be choosy and judicious.
But despite her best efforts, I was determined to be a TV junkie. I binged on Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched, Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, Addams Family and anything else I could finagle my way into watching. Even HeeHaw, Petticoat Junction and Lawrence Welk…hey, it was TV. I watched Saturday morning cartoons, Sesame Street, Electric Company and Mr. Rogers with my little brother.
When we moved to Colorado, cable was required just to pick up “local” news along the front range, and so HBO entered our lives. Back in its early years, HBO re-ran a LOT of stuff. I watched the same movies over and over again, just because I could. (I think I memorized Dr. Zhivago and Caddy Shack in the same summer.) I developed a fondness for daytime TV in the form of General Hospital, and skipped class to watch Luke and Laura tie the knot. Yes, I was one of those people. (My mother was horrified.)
During our college years, we both watched All My Children, rooting for Greg and Jenny. Later, I switched allegiances and became a Days fan, despite their trashy, outrageous storylines. I suspect I could tune in and quickly pick up on any of these shows, right where I left them decades ago.
As an adult, I have been a loyal follower of many shows over the years: Cosby Show, Thirtysomething, Wonder Years, Seinfeld, ER and Law & Order – the original and all its many spinoffs. In more recent years, I’ve taken to watching The Mentalist, House and Burn Notice – and I still do some weeks. Watching a few episodes of Biggest Loser was part of my motivation to start running last year. But unless the TV is on in the den, I’m not likely to sit down and watch anything these days. If I turn it on in the bedroom, I’m lucky to catch a few minutes of a re-run before nodding off.
Apparently, I’m not alone; there are 2,499,999 others just like me. I had to laugh at this quote from a chief researcher for CBS.
“We let them get out of the habit of watching television a little bit, and it’s going to take some time to get these people back in front of their television sets.”
Here’s a newsflash for Mr. Poltrack: it’s going to take more than time to get me back in front of my television set. It’s going to require putting forth something worth watching. And even then, it’s dodgy. The remote has gone missing again, and nobody is looking for it.