My TV Habit

For Lent in 2014, I gave up television.  (With a few exceptions.) Television has been a habit of mine since I was very young. Even without cable, I would spend hours watching PBS in the mornings, napping after lunch, and then watching hours of UPN and the WB. (Looking back on it, it is a little strange that I watched so much Barney & Friends and Martin! I guess.) My entire day was structured by my shows, and maybe that is where my intense need to stick to a schedule comes from.

At the back of my mind, I knew I watched too much television. (My parents would tell me so. Often.) In college, my TV consumption was reduced because I didn’t have a TV to mindlessly watch in my dorm room. My TV habit changed. I found myself furiously “catching up” on my shows on the weekends. Given that I spent a lot of time with campus organizations, this meant late nights and stolen nights to myself spent with my headphones on and streaming shows.

So. Many. Shows.

It was overwhelming and got to the point where I was begging for shows to end. (I’m so grateful that How I Met Your Mother finally ended, even though I was infuriated by the ending.) (But can Big Bang Theory stop already??) Catching up on shows started feeling like a chore, but I am so bad at quitting things that I kept watching. “I hate this stupid show!” I would shout while angrily tuning in to ABC every Sunday at 7PM EST.

Today… I don’t watch too many shows. I watch three HBO shows, which is definitely very different from how I used to watch television, given that I used to watch exclusively network television shows and thought paying for a premium channel was bonkers. I occasionally watch a Netflix show. (Have you watched season 2 of Master of None yet I really want to talk to people about the achievements in film that Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang have accomplished with it!) (But I haven’t finished yet…)

I feel so free. And a bit unfamiliar to myself. Who is this person who isn’t watching shows every day, or a week’s worth of shows in a day or two? I’m not sure, but I think I like her better than who I was before, watching hours and hours of television every day. I know that I don’t watch as much TV now because I just have other things to do with that time, and I’m really glad for it. I have never been one for idle time, but that is how my parents often saw my TV time – valuable minutes and hours that I was wasting away with my eyes glued to a screen.

In any case, if you want to talk to me about any shows, the ones I am keeping up with at the moment are:

  • Master of None season 2 (still working through this one, as its nice to savor and easy to not-binge)
  • Silicon Valley
  • Westworld
  • Game of Thrones

There are shows I want to revisit and catch up on, but honestly, since Ash Wednesday 2014, I am really behind on most of my shows. I never finished The Legend of Korra! But I get so overwhelmed even thinking about going back and trying to pick up where I left off, and even more overwhelmed thinking about starting from the beginning. And that’s just one of the unfinished shows I have.

Maybe part of why I see everything through rather than cut my losses is partially because how I watched TV. But I’m different now, and if I can watch less TV and be happier for it… I am hopeful about the other positive changes I can make in my life. Like exercising more. And eating fewer potato chips.


What shows are you keeping up with right now? Anything I should start getting into?

Are there any shows you actively quit watching? There is a show that I complained about all the time but kept watching, week after week. Ben had to tell me to just stop watching, but I still feel myself getting pulled in… It’s been hard to resist!

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