I grew up without a TV. While I’m not the only one out there, it’s often a bit of a shocker in this era of a PC on every desk, a Mac in every home and a TV in every living room. Now don’t think for a moment that means I grew up as a well adjusted child with little interest in TV. I was obsessed with it.
When we were at my maternal grandparents’ place we’d sneak back in from pretending to play outside, creep upstairs, put the TV on at the lowest volume, sit about 20cm away from it so we could hear….and then we’d watch adverts. French daytime TV in the early nineties meant Melrose Place dubbed in French. We didn’t know about that show and we were too young to care about it, so we watched the adverts. Raptuously. (There are advertisers out there who would pay good money to have people give their adverts the kind of devoted attention we did).
As a teen, I took my obsession a step further and lied, telling everyone that I had a TV. I minimised invites to my house, allowing only a few trusted friends to know my Terrible Secret (I don’t think anyone cared in retrospect, but I was mortified at the thought of people finding out my TV-less state), and whenever I went to anyone’s house and we watched TV, I’d go into a frenzy of memorising so I could regurgitate it whenever conversation steered to TV shows.
So if someone mentioned Friends, I’d be all ‘hey, did you guys catch the episode where Monica got stung by a jelly fish? It was hilarious’ *nervous laughter, breaking out into cold sweat at the realisation that I’d already mentioned that episode last week*.
I doubt it worked, I think everyone saw right through me or they thought I was weird (which was a fair assessment).
Naturally when I left home for university, the first thing I bought was a little TV with built in VCR player (genuine Friends watching! Excitement levels were through the roof).
Naturally when I started earning decent money at work I bought a bigger TV and got cable (a channel that plays Friends reruns every day! Excitement levels increased exponentially).
Naturally I took it a step too far and
spent wasted day upon day watching crap that I didn’t enjoy, just because it was there, all the while berating myself that I was wasting the day, wasting the day – oh look! The day is already wasted. No point stopping now.
This culminated in a (rather embarrassing) binge of a show called Good Charming Bells (or GCB for those of us in the know). Have y’all seen it? I think it’s possibly one of the worse shows I’ve ever seen (sorry if you like it – different strokes for different folks and all that). As I was watching it, I marvelled at just how dreadful the stories were, how wooden the dialogue, and how bad the acting. (Again sorry if you like it, I’m done bagging on it now. I hate it when someone trashes something I love but in this case it’s in aid of making a point).
Did I turn off the TV and, I don’t know, pick up a book, go out and enjoy the sunshine, go see a friend? Did I hell. It was a Saturday GCB marathon, and I watched the lot. A whole day watching a show I thought was so bad, I’d probably dropped a few IQ points by allowing it to slosh around in my brain.
It was a low point. I felt like I was on of those weirdos who wear adult nappies so they don’t have to interrupt their TV watching / game playing.
So I staged a little intervention for myself and convinced the Husb that we should do a TV free month in January. A TV detox of sorts. I t was actually pretty liberating. Having it there, available is just to tempting to say no to, but once it was switched off, I didn’t think about it too much.
When we never got around to switching the channel box back on, I cancelled the subscription. All we had left was a DVD player to watch films / shows on, or the laptop through which we could stream programs.
Now, we’ve moved the TV into our bedroom, so that we can have a more sociable layout for our furniture: namely having the sofa facing the room, rather than turning its back to it so it could face the wall (and TV). I’ve almost done a full 360, from no TV to constant TV and back again.
As of yesterday, instead of a TV in the living room, we have a gorgeous reading chair. I’ve given it a few road tests, and it’s every shades of awesome. (The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed the book on the chair. It’s The Princess Bride. It’s funny, silly, and disappointingly not as good as the film – which is such a rarity!)
I don’t think I’ll go back to being fully TV-less – there is after all too much joy to be had from listening to the mellifluous tones of Kevin Spacey’s Southern drawl in House of Cards (who knew American politics could be this interesting to a non American?!). But having gone from TV starved, to TV glutton, I think I am finally TV mature.
And about time too, now that the big 3-0 beckons. In the words of Danny Glover: I’m gettin’ too old for this shit.