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Confession Time...Again

October 10, 2014

I watch too much TV.


With my propensity to chatter, it’s no surprise that I strike up conversations with anyone, including the cute 35ish lifeguard at the pool where I swim. I asked her if she was a fan of Downton Abbey, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones or any of the über-hyped programs about to return to the Fall lineup.


She said, “Oh, I don’t watch TV, don’t even own one.”


I’m always suspicious when people tell me they don’t watch any television. Then this lifeguard admitted, “But I did just finish the Ken Burns series The Roosevelts. I caught a live stream of it on my computer.”


Well, saying this isn’t watching TV is a distinction without a difference. Whether we want to admit it or not (and as an artist/writer it pains me to do so) television is the premiere art form of our time, overwhelmingly the most influential. Banishing TV from our lives would be like living in Vienna during the golden age of classical music and saying, “Sorry, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven; no tunes for me.” (Yes, my car radio is still stuck on the classical music channel.)


Watching television isn’t like it was in the old days. Having referenced “The Old Days” automatically registers me as a card carrying member of The Old Farts Club. Back in my day, they’d make far more episodes than they do now, stretching nearly to Summer when programs were repeated…once. Then in the Fall, new episodes would air. I just finished watching Outlander (for the history not the soft porn) and at the end of last week’s episode they told us to stay tuned for the next episode…in April 2015. Heck, we could all be dead from the Ebola virus by then and I won’t ever learn if Jamie rescues time-traveling Claire who is about to be raped by her husband’s ancestor. Of course I could read the books, but that would be too much trouble.


I also want to point out that men controlling the remote is nonsense: a forensic test would show very little of my DNA on our remote. Mrs. Chatterbox handles it, and these days I end up watching too many shows on the Food Network. Bobby Flay cooks at my house more than Mrs. C., who’ll watch anything being cooked, particularly if it involves a contest. A typical evening will find us watching Chopped, where a motley assembly of chefs try to create something palatable from random items like squid, candy canes and lamb brains. Many times I’ll frown at my wife and ask, “Why are we watching this? You’re never going to cook this stuff, I hope.” She just raises an eyebrow suspiciously, often replying with comments like, “Would you prefer I turned the channel to Dancing with the Stars?”


“Hell no! That’s the dancing we all laughed at when we were teenagers.”


Back to more cooking shows. I know I’ve been sitting on the couch, watching too long when I start screaming at the screen when a female contestant pushes a tart made of squid, candy canes, and lamb brains into an oven.


“What are you thinking!” I rant. “That crust will NEVER turn golden without an egg wash!” 







The whole term "television" is increasingly... confusing. Most of the people I work with don't have cable. Really. They have netflix and probably hulu, though, and end up watching more television programs than I do. I think people believe that when they say, "I don't own a TV" it makes them look smart. I have a TV. Lately, I've even watched it. As shows aired for the first time. I'm STILL smarter than the people without televisions.
By: Katy Anders on October 10, 2014
95% of what is on TV is never seen by me. Reality shows, sports, news (except a little in the morning) are all off my list. Now, BBC and PBS and actors with funny British accents or a bit of Scottish brogue I am so there!!
By: Tabor on October 10, 2014
i am so grateful for the dvr. anything i want to watch, i set to record. i never watch anything live anymore.
By: TexWisGirl on October 10, 2014
My DNA is absent from our remotes- I don't even know how to use them save for turning on/off, and using the little arrows to turn up the volume or access other channels. Like Tabor I avoid that 95% and stick to newsmax, BBC,PBS and I adore Netflix. My sweetie uses the dvr so he can watch bicycle races without the commercials. Your post today did not fail me- I laughed and laughed- thanks for the giggles!
By: Kathe W. on October 10, 2014
I've been an avid TV and movie watcher since I was a kid in the late 60s. Generally, the TV goes on first thing when I wake up and it's the last thing I turn off at night. I watch about 60% series, 10% movies, and 30% reality (mostly crime or Discovery, but tell your wife I love MasterChef Australia!!). When I first moved to Egypt, I spent about 3 yrs without TV. It felt like punishment. Never again will I sacrifice the awesome tube of dreams!!!
By: Lexa Cain on October 10, 2014
Own it, watch it, don't even try to pretend otherwise. We watch a random assortment of sitcoms and whodunits, and The Voice. We are usually reading or using our computers/iPads while watching, so I like to think we are multitasking. :)
By: Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma on October 10, 2014
If I lived alone I truly would say that I never watch television (although I might still subscribe to the baseball network on my computer & that could be construed as television). As it is I know a lot about WWII and airplanes & armament. You know who controls the clicker in my house!
By: The Bug on October 10, 2014
When I moved to Illinois, my evil sister who lives there told me repeatedly that she doesn't watch television. But as I got to know her better, she would say, Don't call me at X on Y. I'll be watching Survivor. This continued until she had a show or more to watch every evening. Maybe she didn't watch television and didn't want me to call her, but I'm pretty sure she watched. When I was in her house the TV was always on. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on October 10, 2014
Like TexWis, I record everything including sporting events. Partially to avoid political commercials but I really don't have as many years ahead as behind and hate to waste precious time on political rants and advertising.
By: Akansas Patti on October 10, 2014
I know a lot of younger people have switched from watching the traditional TV and get their respective fixes by way of their computer/MAC. I dabble in both worlds and enjoy The Big Bang, various documentaries, PBS programming, Coronation Street, Mrs. Browns, Hockey and Baseball, some UFC programming. National Geographic, Discovery. I also enjoy just about anything nature related. Long Island Medium to see whats on the other side, Jeopardy. As you can see their is a fair bit of variety. When it's nice out (before Winter arrives and it's dark by 4'ish) otherwise indoors keeping the woodstove going, fetching water from the river, keeping the outhouse draft proof. Feeding the woodland critters and their friends with feathers. I get the girls running a few hours a day to generate and store electricity in the batteries. I think that covers it. ;-)
By: Daniel LaFrance on October 10, 2014
honestly, you are a hoot. You make me laugh my dogs bark, my husband wants to know what's going on and the grandkids come to see if it is some video on Youtube. I say nope just CC making me laugh heartily and again. love it
By: omalinda on October 10, 2014
You watch a lot of the Food Network, too? Good grief, Mrs. Penwasser LOVES that network. Speaking of Game of Thrones, I really have gotten into it the past year. In fact, I am very nearly done reading the fifth book. And, I own Seasons One-Three on DVD. Once Season Four comes out, I'll grab it.
By: Al Penwasser on October 10, 2014
Now the really great series was bonanza!!! I'll bet you've never heard of Bonanza.
By: red on October 10, 2014
I certainly hope Mrs. C makes you watch Cutthroat Kitchen! Where else are you gonna see a guy who has only a hockey skate to use as a knife?
By: Val on October 10, 2014
Ohhhh this is funny! I only watch Grey's Anatomy and American Horror Storyâ¦.but like Mrs. C., I'm a sucker for the food channel and LOVE chopped.
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on October 10, 2014
Not only do we not own a TV, but i haven't voluntarily turned one on, or watched any TV show at all, on TV or on a computer or any other device, since August 2000. Yes, i know i'm weird, but i just don't have time for it1
By: mimi on October 10, 2014
I watch a few shows, but not a whole lot. Whenever people say they don't own a TV, I remember the episode of "Friends" when Joey dated a woman who said she didn't own a TV. Joey was just flabbergasted. "But," he responded, "what is all your furniture pointing at?"
By: Pixel Peeper on October 10, 2014
In our house it's HGTV -- House Hunters; Love It or List It; Property Virgins, and on and on. At least it's cheaper to watch it on TV than do it in real life!
By: tom sightings on October 10, 2014
I really don't watch TV and haven't seen the programmes you've mentioned, but I do watch about an 30 mins a day when I'm on holiday in the States, but here in the UK I never turn a tv on. I watch music videos on You Tube on the computer. And the only films I'll ever see and on the plane flying out and back from the States.
By: LL Cool Joe on October 11, 2014
If you are serious about wanting to avoid watching too much television, just watch an episode of Chrisley Knows Best on the USA Network. This is guaranteed to work on the basis of the fact that "they" may make another show like it and you would never know until it was too late.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on October 11, 2014
We think that British television drama is over all the best, though HBO, AMC and Showtime have put some great product before our eyes. I agree with your view that TV is the coin of the realm in contemporary entertainment.
By: Tom Cochun on October 12, 2014
Although I watch much less TV than my wife, I must confess to regularly viewing football (soccer) X-Factor and some soaps - all educational stuff!
By: Bryan Jones on October 12, 2014
A thought provoking post. Now I am off to watch Outlander..................... ( I did watch part of the pilot)
By: John on October 12, 2014
Stephen: I confess. I own a television. It's a plasma that replaced a 2004 95 pound JVC regular TV. Technology!
By: Michael Manning on October 12, 2014
I only watch PBS and the 6 o'clock news. Otherwise I read the classics, and go to the Opera, Broadway Shows and Roller Derby
By: cranky on October 12, 2014
I enjoy your writing very much; you have a good turn of phrase. Re TV - there are some programmes I can watch without falling asleep, including (picking up on a previous comment) some where people have funny American accents... But, more seriously, there is so much TOSH on TV - we are fast entering the realm of ever more devious means of ritually humiliating people - and how many cookery shows do you really need?
By: Mike@A Bit About Britain on October 13, 2014
That old "I don't watch TV" definition is sorely stretching lately. As for cooking shows, my mother watches them all. She does not cook and does not plan to cook. But every time WE (well not me) cook for her, she gives pointers: "Rachel says!" "Jamie says..."
By: Mitchell is Moving on October 13, 2014

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