The TV listings in my local paper, The New York Times, have 106 channels, including nine premium cable.
In the past month, I’ve turned the television on maybe four or five times. I wish I could say I miss it terribly, but I don’t. My TV fast began in June when I house-sat in Vermont, with a screen that needed three remotes, none of which I understood. Instead, I went to a barbecue, a minor league baseball game and read.
You know, books.
It continued at my Dad’s house when I was house-sitting in late September. I’d light a fire — a luxury we don’t have at home — eat dinner on the coffee table and settle in with a huge stack of unread magazines. I didn’t miss TV at all.
I normally watch NBC Nightly News every evening at 6:30, fully aware that it’s a narrow, slick, over-produced reduction of what’s happening in the world. Foreign news is almost unheard of in the United States, except for wars affecting U.S. interests and huge natural disasters. If you want a clue that the world beyond the U.S. exists, you need to follow BBC and consume on-line media from other countries.
I often follow the news with Jeopardy, (a quiz show in the U.S., for which I qualified in 2006, but was never called to appear.) My granny used to watch it, so it’s something of a tradition. I also want to stay in trim as I plan to try out again on my next visit to L.A. The host is Alex Trebek, a fellow Canadian, who once hosted a Canadian quiz show for high school students called Reach For The Top. I was on our school’s team two years in a row and helped take us to the quarter finals.
I enjoy What Not To Wear (which helps you figure out how to dress better) and Project Runway. I avoid all talk shows and political coverage, as I get plenty of that from my print and on-line sources already. How many opinions do I want to hear every day?
The TV stays dark most of the time right now because I’m burned out on the hyper-stimulation, the silliness, the repetition and its incredible time-suck.
I do watch movies, often, and eagerly await the January start, here in the U.S., of the third season of Downton Abbey.
I recently discovered “Wallander”, the original series in Swedish, shot in a town of 18,000 in southern Sweden, and loved it. I was so struck, in one episode, by the dominance of a very specific color, a deep teal — in clothing, wall colors, the evening sky, upholstery. I love the differences in every detail: the cars, the light, the landscape, even the electrical outlets. (I think I need to do some overseas travel soon!)
I had seen the British version, starring Kenneth Branagh, but much prefer the Swedish one.
But here’s a sampling of shows on offer — and why I’m able to resist:
The American Bible Challenge
Shocking Hip Hop Moments
High School football
The Real Housewives of Miami
I’m reading a lot more books. Talking to my husband and friends. Calmer and less distracted.
One friend, whose boys are two and six, limits their entire weekly screen time — including anything with a screen — to one hour every Friday night. Imagine.
Inspired by her discipline, I’m also trying to severely reduce the time I spend staring into any screen, whether phone, Ipad, computer or TV.
In the past few weeks, I’ve re-discovered a lost pleasure, that of diving into a book and disappearing in it for uninterrupted hours. I read, and loved two novels, “The Expats”, by Chris Pavone and Richard Ford’s newest, “Canada.”
Here’s a review of the season’s hottest three new shows, according to New York magazine. I haven’t seen any of them.
Do you watch much TV?
What are you watching these days?