Television: An Apology

I watch a lot of television—by my calculations too much. This wasn’t always the case. For the majority of the last 15 years I did not own a television. That all changed two years ago when my fiancée and I bought a nice big television. We bought the television because, well, it would be a hell of a lot nicer to watch than the both of us trying to cram in front of the laptop. This is not to say that I did not watch TV for fifteen years, only most of my TV viewing was restricted to what I could rent at the video store or download or stream when it became more prevalent. “So what’s the problem?” you may ask yourselves. If the existence of this blog is any indication, we live in an era when some of the best TV shows in history are being made.  I strongly believe this to be true. We also, however, live in an era when more TV shows are being made than in any time in the past. For every Girls there is a Honey Boo-Boo; every Treme a Pawn Stars. The problem becomes, not that I now own a television but rather, that I now have cable to go along with the television—and extremely shitty viewing habits.

On any given day when I sit down in front of the TV have a few options. (Assuming, of course, I am going to turn it on and watch something.) First, I can turn it on and see what is playing in Cable-land. I can watch Criminal Minds or Chopped or House Hunters or blah or, if I’m lucky, Top Chef or something, well, better. I can be gluttonous and indulge in my cable. My other option would be to put on something I have pre-recorded: Mad Men or The Larry Sanders Show or Deadwood or The Hour or, if I’m lucky, a good episode of Project Runway. The last thing I want to do is watch crap. The crap, however, is abundant. I watch The Mentalist. I watch Wipeout. When I turn on the television I watch it but I try not to step in it. This is my sin.

The bloating and excess that is my TV viewing habits has to be trimmed and refined. Cable-land has to be harvested and fenced in. I will no longer suffer the fatigue of watching a Duck Dynasty marathon or The Godfather II with commercials. TV hours will not be wasted wallowing in it. No more. The crap will be put aside to allow room for the good stuff; the quality programming, so to speak. TV shows I’ve only dreamed of watching, or only just begun: Portlandia or Downton Abbey or Luck or The Greatest Canadian Handyman, until I realize it sucks. These shows will be given a chance. These shows will be allowed to flourish and the great ones will continue to be appreciated.

How shall this be done? By disconnecting the cable? By keeping the cable and getting a PVR, provided I treat it properly? By simply renting or downloading or streaming? I will resist my compulsion to turn on the TV and channel surf to the most comfortable state. On the next given day when I sit down in front of the TV, I will pause to give thanks for all the wonderful TV and I will renounce the crap by choosing a better show. I will sit on my couch with my inner TV guide and remote control firmly in hand and I will watch a show that deserves to be watched. I will do this because deep inside I know that having access to cable means more than having 24 hour access to Toddlers in Tiaras. I will visit Bluth’s Banana Stand instead of watching Guy Fieri (pronounced FEE-EDDIE) fist pump a diner owner for creating a spectacular bacon and ham and gravy sandwich. Television, I am sorry I have abused you. I promise to make things right again. Amen.

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