How to Watch TV [2011 in Review]
Oh my gosh, guess what we just sent out to all our FaN bloggers. That’s right, the end-of-the-year survey. You know I’m just crazy about our bi-annual BOOK WEEKs, but my second favorite two weeks of the FaN season is when we take time out to round up our favorite and least favorite books, movies, TV shows, songs, and moments of the retiring year. I so can’t wait for the 2011 round-up, which kicks off on Dec. 19.
13 More Days to go!
Til then I’ll be going over all the stuff I learned this year in my personal blogumns. First up: How to Watch TV.
Last week, I watched the final show of my Fall 2011 TV watching challenge, I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER, with a sigh of relief. And though, I’m grateful to no longer have to watch a new show in order to get in a timely review of a new one, I realized that I’ve become a way better television watcher over the course of the challenge. Here’s what I’ve learned.
1. Put Television in Its Place: Don’t watch it unless you either have to, or there’s something you really, really want to watch on. Otherwise, work on your side hustle and dream projects or read a book. I got an insane amount of reading done this year. And one of my sidehustle projects paid off big time — tell you about that in January.
2. If you really want to quit TV, write about it. It’s funny, once I took on this challenge, TV became work. Suddenly I started procrastinating with other stuff (like books and side hustle work) in order to avoid watching TV. Actually getting involved in the process makes you watch less TV. Kind of how the guys cooking and selling the meth are rarely as addicted to it as the people who are buying it.
3. Have a couple of television shows that are all yours — especially if you’re a mom. It gives you an excuse to do something just for yourself, by yourself for a couple of hours every week.
4. Never Veg in front of the TV. Specifically multi-task or fully engage with the program. Otherwise, you should just turn it off. I do my hair and/or paint my nails while watching GREY’S ANATOMY and PRIVATE PRACTICE. And I clear my Google Reader while watching slower shows like THE WALKING DEAD and HELL ON WHEELS. Everything else I give my full attention. If I find myself looking for something to do while watching a show, that isn’t on my specific multi-task list, then I take it off my DVR.
5. Limit your TV watching time. When our daughter started preschool in the Fall, we decided to cut her TV time down to a couple of shows in the morning on weekdays. Otherwise, if she’s in the living room, the TV is off. I’m not going to lie, this was way hard at first. At the end of a long day, having to rev up your mind and body to keep a toddler entertained is extremely difficult. And I’d grown used to watching WHEEL OF FORTUNE and JEOPARDY at 7PM. It felt like abandoning a comfortable friend who hadn’t really done anything wrong. But after a few weeks, I found that watching less TV was actually benefitting me as much as my daughter. There’s something very meditative about playing with legos and play dough for an hour every day. I also get in a second round of exercise in, playing running and tossing games with her. And I’m so tuckered out at the end of the evening, that I usually only have enough energy to read and watch about an hour of TV with my husband before going to bed at a reasonable hour. So of course, I don’t waste my hour on stuff we don’t want to watch. Lately, it feels like TV is soooo good — and that’s basically because I’m watching way less of it.
6. Have a horror show. This brings me to my review of I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER, a show that is, in two words, not great. It’s about two single mothers who used to be social outcasts in high school (one was fat and the other was a fundamentalist Christian). Both their daughters have turned out beautiful and popular and mean as the day is long. One of the daughters is biracial. They walk all over their mothers and treat them like dirt, and the mothers don’t have the emotional wherewithal to fight back. As a nerd raising a daughter who will one day be a teenager, this is basically my worst nightmare. And, though, many of the jokes fell flat, and there’s so much fat, mom, and slut shaming I didn’t quite know what to do, I realized what had been missing from my TV watching schedule: a true horror show. This show makes me pay attention and sets me on edge the way THE WALKING DEAD would if it weren’t so freaking slow. So do I think most of our readers will enjoy it? No. But will I continue watching it just to be horrified and ridiculously judgmental week after week? Oh yes, I most certainly will.
So that’s today’s lesson. Let me know if you have any additional advice in the comments, and come back tomorrow for my post on “How to Get Stuff Done When You Have Like No Time.”