Sunday, November 02, 2014

Watching TV is too hard

Despite spending a good portion of my childhood glued to the "boob tube", I haven't been much of a TV watcher as an adult. For a while, I was devoted to several sitcoms, but as those ended, so ended my interest in passive entertainment. In recent years, that has changed. I don't have cable or a dish, but I have Netflix, which allows me to binge watch all kinds of stuff, from the inane (e.g. "Desperate Housewives") to the excellent (e.g. "Damages").

I actually caught up on a couple of network shows and now try to watch them when they air (which requires I set an alarm on my phone to remind me to tune in). The first one was "Grey's Anatomy". In previous years, if I missed an episode, I could catch it the next day on Hulu. Last week, when I tried to do that, I discovered I would now have to wait eight days to watch it. Baffled, I complained to my daughter, who explained that the idea behind this eight-day wait is to get devoted fans to *pay* to watch a missed episode. (I don't quite know how this works because I am obviously dumb about these things.) The eight-day break put me into a quandary. Do I watch the next episode, then catch up on the missed one? That would be like reading chapters of a book out of order. Alternatively, I could stop watching in real time, always running a week late. Or go back to binge watching an entire season at a time, once a year. Halloween saved me this time - a holiday special bumped GA, allowing me to catch up.

Another show I decided to watch when aired is "The Good Wife". Usually I watch NFL football on Sundays, but I find I am losing interest. Football causes other problems, though. If CBS carries a late afternoon game, the evening shows get pushed back. If the game runs over, the shows get pushed back even further. Last Sunday, TGW didn't air until 10:00PM, way past my bedtime. So, again, do I stop watching in real time? If so, do I watch it online, week by week, or on Netflix, a season at a time?

Once upon a time, we collectively scheduled our lives around prime time TV. For one thing, television was a relatively new phenomenon. For another, there wasn't much else to do. Now there are *plenty* of alternatives. On a scale of 1 to 10 in importance, this dilemma rates a 0. But it gives me something to complain about other than Daylight Savings Time.

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