I’ve been in an off and on TV watching slump for over two years now. At the end of 2015, my New Year’s Resolution was to watch more TV in 2016. My friends laughed when I told this to them. Wait, that’s not fair. Let me clarify. My non-TV obsessed friends laughed when I told this to them. My TV obsessed friends understood. See, TV watching has always been a central part of my identity since I was kid. Back when watching a lot of TV was something to be laughed at rather than a bonding experience at office or on social media. I watched so much TV and knew so much TV that my brother used to call me the TV guide. He didn’t have to look in the TV guide that came in the newspapers (remember when that was a thing?!). He would just ask me and I would accurately tell him what was playing that week. It felt good to be so well versed in that area, even if it was something trivial.
During and after college, I continued to keep up with my favorite shows. I went through some embarrassing lengths to watch equally as embarrassing TV shows during college -when TV access was limited- which I won’t get into detail now. The point is I went to enormous lengths to watch TV. I got onto binge watching when it first became a thing, thanks to Netflix adding shows. I still remember the first shows that were part of this new activity: Scrubs, The Office, and 30 Rock. I watched them so steadily that I had certain foods and or drinks that I had with each. With 30 Rock it was iced tea. With Scrubs, it was a fettuccini Rice-a-Rooni (sadly, I don’t remember what I ate or drank with the Office but I am sure it was as equally as gross and unhealthy as the other two.)
My TV watching – or rather, watching TV on the Internet- was pretty solid up until the last two years. Something happened where I didn’t feel like watching TV as much anymore. I would start watching shows on Netflix but not obsessively watch until I got caught up. I didn’t bother checking out the shows that most people recommended I watch even though I said I watched. I started reading and writing more than watching TV. Most people would think it isn’t bad that I was doing more intellectually stimulating things besides watching TV/streaming services. However, since TV watching was always a part of my identity, it felt like a loss. It also felt like a loss especially since TV watching suddenly became popular. Just as I stopped watching TV, others started watching and discussing it more. I was now on the outside on TV watching.
I’ve been trying to get back into my TV watching recently but have had some challenges doing so as I’ve gone through some life changes (all positive) these first few months. Here are some things that have helped me as I’ve navigated these weird waters. Yes, there are worse things that could happen than being in a TV Watching Slump. However, any slump with something you love isn’t fun. So for those who are in the similar boat as I am, these tips are for you.
Start re-watching the familiar shows: I realized that I might not be watching TV as much since there are literally millions of things to watch out there. I don’t know where to start. People critically praise practically every other show. If I were to watch all of them, I would never go to sleep or go to work. To reduce this overwhelming feeling, I started watching re-runs of my favorite shows. I’ve been watching a whole lot of The Middle and Gilmore Girls recently. Both these shows are light and familiar, and have zero commitment. The point of watching the familiar is it gets you back into the TV watching habit and remembering why you liked it when you watch shows you’ve liked. A journey to expanding your TV watching to diverse shows starts with the first re-run.
DVR/TiVo as much as possible: Part of my struggle with TV watching has been that I’m not always in the mood or able to watch a show when it is playing on TV. I’ve started recording the episodes for a later point. Sometimes, that later point has been a week later. A few times, it has literally been a year later. I recorded the first season of Mercy Street in January of 2016 and didn’t watch it until December 2016. However, when I watched it, I watched all of them pretty much right away. For some reason, recording versus watching on Netflix made me more inclined to binge watch. Sometimes, when the original mode fails you, you try something new. I had lost interest in binge watching on Netflix but had picked it up on another platform and still accomplished my goal to watch more TV.
Watch Late Night TV: Late Night TV is in a golden era right now given all the particularly odd news items as of late. I’ve been more inclined to watch SNL now than ever before because of this. I have something to look forward to watching, a feeling I don’t always remember given I only watch one show consistently. Like re-runs, Late Night TV is low commitment but always rewarding.
Attend ATX Festival: I attended the ATX Festival for the first time last year (see my recap here) and had a blast. It was just the thing I needed to increase my excitement about TV. ATX Festival is dedicated to all things TV, and gathers tv fans, actors, writers, directors, producers to talk about all topics on TV all weekend long. It was particularly exciting for me to be with people who geeked about the tv-making process, something I could never find anyone in real life to talk to about (Twitter I can always find). When you are surrounded by people so passionate about TV, you can’t help but being revived by their feelings. Sadly, I probably won’t be able to go this year, but will actively work on remembering last year’s excitement during my quest to be a better TV fan.
I hope by this time next year, I can tell you have overcome this TV watching sluggishness. In the meantime, Tweet me @classicsgal if you can relate to my problem but have no one to talk to about it.