I remember a time when there was a certain group of people prided themselves on the fact that they watched no TV, other than the McNeil/Lehrer news report on PBS, and occasionally something else on that same channel. Television was known as the boob tube, was apparently for the hoi polloi. Anyone with substance did not admit to watching TV. They had little sets tucked away in corners, and owners were secretly proud that they gathered dust.
Last week when I entered my apartment building, a delivery was being made. Someone in my building had bought what appeared to be an 80 inch screen. My 70’s era building is not known for its spacious interiors, and this particular TV was about to land in a studio apartment. I whispered conspiratorially to my doorman- “Is there a wall big enough to hold that thing?”
Television is having a moment.
As I find myself watching less TV, I find that others are watching more. Admittedly, there are so many options out there now. Not only do we have cable stations with 500+ channels, there are satellite providers and streaming services. And it seems as if literally anyone can produce a television show, and people will watch it.
Currently my home makes use of cable, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Oddly, we get Prime more for the free shipping: the extra shows are just a bonus. I admit to using the free option on BritBox, and I know my daughter is going to make use of the Hulu free option in December, but as of now, I am refusing to add another pay option. I was sorely tested recently when I saw the ads for “The Morning Show” a new program starring Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon ad Steve Carrell that is going to make its debut on AppleTV. I really was intrigued by that show until I saw the reviews, and all I can say is “Whew- dodged a bullet there”.
So in a world where home viewing systems are often more elaborate than what is in theaters, and there are now myriad options to watch televised programming, has TV become elitist?
I have had friends say to me- “How could you not watch ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Breaking Bad’?” What do you mean you don’t get HBO? You don’t watch Blue Bloods- well what do you do on Friday nights?” “You must be the only person in America who doesn’t watch X”.
Have people become entirely engrossed in the television industry to the point they can’t imagine that someone DOESN’T watch certain shows?
Or pay for a variety of channels?
Or own a huge TV set? I do freely admit to owning a large set- maybe 55 inches- but the sheer fact that I don’t know the size, or that I don’t have surround sound, or that I don’t have a set in my bedroom is enough to make people look at me aghast.
Let’s think about the cost. Though sets have come down in price, they’re still not cheap. Plus you have all the accessories. Cable or internet provider. Streaming service. Pay for individual stations.
How much money does it cost the average person to watch TV?
Can the average person afford to watch TV?
Are people who don’t watch particular shows mocked for not being with the times?
Has TV become the pastime of the elite instead of the opiate of the masses?
What do we really think about television?