May 31st, a lot of things changed for me. That’s the day I had my son. And while I could go on and on about the many things that this little man has brought into my life and all the ways he’s changed it, this is a TV blog. I’m going to focus on what may be considered one of the most trivial of issues: watching TV.
In my defense, I am (or was, or try to be) a TV blogger. While TV can be frivolous, there’s a reason that after a long day of work and after desperately trying to get my child to just eat one pea already!, my husband, visiting in-laws, and I all settle in to rewatch an episode of Mad Men. It helps to unwind. It entertains. And hey, it’s Mad Men — that’s art.
But as I’m sure you’ve noticed over the past almost 10 months, TV isn’t necessarily a priority, and writing about it is even harder to find time for. First, I took a three-month break to care for a newborn (on the bright side, I actually did watch some new things including Project Runway and So You Think You Can Dance, two competition series that have strong followings that I’ve heard about for years; and I even rewatched some old favorites on Netflix, including Scrubs and My Boys). Then, I have posted a smattering of posts that are some combination of reviews and general thoughts on episodes to shows to everything in between (this post falls in that last category). So what’s the deal? Do I just not watch anymore? Is TV not important?
At least for me, certainly not. I’m still watching. I’m fortunate enough to be one of the lucky parents of a child who sleeps. Raked, Jr. is in bed by 7:30 on most nights, which means I’ve still got an entire night of (usually uninterrupted) primetime programming ahead of me. But the way I’m watching has suddenly changed.
As a new mom who is constantly watching, assessing, feeding, carrying, changing, and generally enjoying a child, I have very little energy. While TV used to be something that kept my interests in those few hours between work and sleep — something that could sometimes keep me away from boredom, if it was a good show — now it’s different. I prioritize. I decide. I have only so much time in my day — so why am I watching crap?
I’m much less likely to take a risk on a show. Take, for example, Intelligence. In seeing the ads for the series, I was interested. After all, it has Josh Holloway in it. Sawyer from Lost! It has Meghan Ory, who I’ve enjoyed ever since Higher Ground (can I get an “amen” from my HG fanbase? I know you’re out there…) But my god, people, this show is just awful. The premise is stupid. The characters are stilted and, with the exception of perhaps one of them, unlikable. This is a show that I’d almost want to give a chance, but I just can’t do it. So why do I know anything about this show? Because it’s on after I trek through my shows of choice on a Monday. At that point, I just turn the TV off.
So I’m sticking to old favorites. What else? I’m not tolerating a show that takes too much of my time. If your show regularly steals two hours away from me, I’m not watching. Sure, there may be exceptions, but those are TiVoed and fast-forwarded to the relevant parts (even with So You Think You Can Dance, I passed on all the interviews and personal information about the kids). I just don’t have the time or the energy to sit through that much.
And timing is everything. If you’re on at 10:00, you may not be watched live. I know that’s not unusual for many people who have their Hulu Plus subscriptions or regularly DVR, but for me, I try to watch as much as I can live or at least on the same day. This week, I missed Being Human — and it’s driving me nuts. The only show I’ve really made an exception on is Parenthood, and you can only imagine how tired I am on Friday. I feel like an old woman, but it is what it is.
Finally, I don’t play catchup. I’ve missed two episodes of Hannibal. If I don’t catch up soon, I’m not sure I will. I missed the last five episodes of American Horror Story. They’re still on my TiVo, but this is certainly something I’m not going to toss on while playing with Raked, Jr. in the living room. He’d be scarred for life. My brother keeps telling me that Agents of Shield has gotten better, but at this point, a game of catchup’s not worth it (especially with a show I’ve already turned down once). I’ve tried hopping back into Revenge, but I refuse to play catchup, so I’m just doggie paddling along, wondering who that girl is and who that guy is and, goshdarnit, why is everyone so mad all the time? But you can only imagine what impression I’m being left with when I really don’t know what’s going on.
In the end, TV watching isn’t a spectator sport anymore. It’s choosing what I want to watch, when I want to watch, and how much I really want to give it a chance. Only the best of the best is winning. And while I’m sure my own dilemmas are not the same that other families have when choosing to watch their family programming, it certainly is a shift. But I can’t say it’s all bad. Suddenly, commercials are more entertaining.Jokes are funnier. When Cam and Mitchell bonk Lily’s head on the ceiling and rush her to the doctor on Modern Family, that’s not only highly relatable, but it’s suddenly ponder-able parenting advice (wait — so if it doesn’t hurt me in a life-altering way, perhaps it doesn’t hurt him! Interesting!). There’s a whole ‘nother level of viewing I never knew I was missing.
So managing TV can be a challenge. And maybe I still haven’t conquered finding the time to write. But it’s still worth it when you’ve got the smart True Detectives, the ruthless Game of Throneses, the melodramatic Parenthoods, and the sentimental How I Met Your Mothers to watch (yes, I’m hanging with HIMYM ’til the end). But I’m taking advantage now. Pretty soon, I’m going to be stuck with Disney, Jr. And no one wants to see that.