Last week, I was talking to someone about how I could make the routines of my day more invigorating and more productive. In my unending quest to improve my life in arbitrary ways, I often find myself forcing new hobbies into my life. I should try yoga before bed, and maybe jog before I shower in the morning, and commit an hour a day at least to practicing piano and ukulele, join a hiking club, start knitting again, take up quilting, commit to writing everyday. I have been incorporating these activities into my days and weeks with various success over the years. There was the weekly knitting club at the first college, the yoga date with a group of girls for a semester, the biweekly morning jog/walk with a new friend. Here we are on day 14 of one of my more recent endeavors, this blog.
“I just want you to have more happy things in your life,” she said.
This surprised me. When I think about my day, yeah there is time spent beating myself up for not being more productive. Periods of self-doubt, boredom, frustration. But the overall tone of my day, most days, is not one of sadness. What am I doing all day?
Well, every night I watch TV for two hours…
I watch TV in the traditional way. My family has a weird kind of cable, where we get the networks and then a variety of channels: Univision, public access, CSPAN and CSPAN2, and a lot of syndicated re-runs. So while endless HGTV marathons call to the deepest parts of my soul, my cheap budget means I mostly watch network prime-time TV. Every night.
My love right now is focused on sitcoms. I feel so much more efficient having watched four shows in two hours rather than two, I love not having to have watched the previous week. I love the just-right amount of investment required. I love The Real O’Neals and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The Goldbergs grows on me more every week and my dad and I have a Tuesday night tradition of arguing about whether The Grinder is kidding or not.
At ten o’clock inertia keeps us on the couch and suddenly I have watched entire seasons of Dick Wolf’s newest empire: Chicago Fire, Med, and PD. Somehow I still know none of the characters’ names but have become very invested in the career of the female detective, though I am increasingly aware that this is very effective police propaganda packaged as a predictable procedural.
And that doesn’t even begin to cover my addiction to The Bachelor.
I love TV. This isn’t a passive activity turning me into a zombie like parents used to worry about. I look forward to my shows every week; I’m excited about the premiere of new sitcoms and mourn the death of dramas I don’t even watch. I love knowing what new shows are debuting on channels we don’t get. I love watching the cast livetweet episodes. I love knowing that thousands of people are also watching it right now with me. I love eating dessert on the commercial breaks and trying to remember actor’s names with my dad.
What I hate is feeling ashamed of my love of TV. I watch it every night, I occasionally have rearranged plans so that I can watch a show. It is not the only thing I like, but it is something that is regularly part of my day and something I can count on (except when news and football intervene). But somehow I don’t feel comfortable telling people “oh yeah, I watch a lot of procedurals and sitcoms, it makes me really happy”. Why should this part of my routine be less valid as a source of happiness than a regular yoga practice or playing an instrument?
I love TV, I watch it live everyday, it is important to me. I’m still probably going to try to get some downward dog into my life as well, but not if it conflicts with Fresh Off The Boat.
Tune in later this week to hear about how I watch The Bachelor and why I stopped watching Netflix!