Friday, September 19, 2014

In Praise of the 'Boob Tube'

People used to call TV the "idiot box" and it was a mindless way to occupy your mind. People who were "readers" often looked down on those who would prefer to watch the "boob tube" than pick up a book. There used to be talk of shows that "intellectuals" watched because it was considered "smart TV."  But lately, as in the last several years lately, more and more television is becoming less idiot box, less boob tube, and is just compelling as books.

I, for one, know I've watched more TV in the last several years than I have in my entire adult life. My access to Netflix and the ability to binge watch TV has heightened my awareness for what I think is good TV, and I'm willing to sacrifice my reading time to watch. Netflix is my hook. I didn't watch WEEDS when it was on; instead I watched hours and hours of it at a time. The same with LAW AND ORDER SVU and THE WEST WING. I became addicted, a junkie. If I wasn't at work or sleeping, I was watching. Because I could. Because it's GOOD. Because of my need to have the occasional instant gratification.  I didn't watched DEXTER or BREAKING BAD or TRUE DETECTIVES one episode a week, for years and years. No I waited and now I watch in big gulps.  I think we all now, have a tendency to binge watch a TV show, since we can stream entire series or seasons at a time- thank you technology for all the streaming capabilities!

The only television show I watch week after week, retiring to my chair, stopping the world, is to watch MAD MEN. Even with that, I didn't see the first 2 seasons when they originally aired. No, I rented them one season at a time from either the local library or video store but since then I've been hooked and I watched every Sunday night. And when it comes back on in February for the series finale, you can find me glued to my chair on Sundays at 10 pm to watch Don Draper and crew play out the advertising game to the bitter end, win or lose.

Let's face it, TV is good. It really is, and I know I don't even like most of the stuff that wins Emmys but I do LIKE lots of TV now. Good TV is a crack in the levee, but a flood is coming to Hollywood and the world of entertainment. There's going to be less theater movie watching (because TV is good AND movies are soooo bad right now!) and less reading. Records are showing that books sales are low and so are theater ticket sales. I know, that for one, because I'm watching more TV, I'm certainly reading less. In 2009 I read 117 books. Compare that to last year when I read a total of 67 books. This year, as of today, I'm at 51 books read. My other hobbies are being hit hard as well, but my reading is the one suffering most. When I have time to relax, I find I'm not minding spending some of that rare down time watching good television.  I think TV is better developing characters and story arcs, diving deeper into backgrounds, providing such rich visual details, plots evolve, characters evolve--- there's less stock characters and stereotypes, there is more textures to a story... some TV shows are taking on that book-like quality which leaves me wanting to watch.
I'll never abandon books for they are my true and constant companions, and I do love my other hobbies but right now, I'm enjoying what television has to offer. Bring on the 'boob tube.'



Curley said...

As you know if I am awake the tv is on in my house. I still manage to read a book every week or so.

Jimmie Earl said...

TV right now is mostly rubbish! Thank goodness for Netflix. I have managed to binge my way thru every episode of "Scandals" and have it earmarked for next weeks new season beginning. I have also watched all of "Hack" "Longmire" (which has been cancelled, damn!) and "Hell On Wheels." Now am working my way thru "MI5." There is smart TV out there, just knowing what and where to find it. Most reality TV is pure shit, but there are a few redeeming shows, even in that genre. But give me cooking shows, especially Paula an Ina. That is reality TV at it's best. Then, I can resort to QVC, only if I lock up my debit card!! LOL!