Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Only Watch 5 Shows, Deal with It

I've mentioned to several people in the past that I only watch 5 television shows on a weekly basis. Most are fairly incredulous when I say it because they watch a lot more television than that. Trust me, I used to as well.

During the 90s I realized I was watching about 30-40 hours of television a week. I had 2-4 different shows each night of the week and caught up with other shows by watching the recordings on the weekend. I was coming home from work to watch specific shows. I was flipping from one network to another to watch different shows in different time slots. I had a "must-see" show for each night. It dawned on me that it was altogether too much. I needed to cut back and I needed to cut back severely. I decided to only watch 5 shows.

My 5-show routine comes with a few conditions. The 5 shows must be current weekly shows. One-shot specials don't count. Mini-series don't count. News programs, whether local or national, likewise don't count. Reruns of series that are no longer on the air in weekly production don't count. Since I don't watch "reality" tv this means my 5 shows are all scripted. Since I don't watch sitcoms it means they're all scripted dramas. My 5-show routine also means that if I add a show to my list of 5 I must also drop a show from my 5. This means if I'm going to start following a show on a weekly basis I have to be willing to give up something I'm already watching. In the past it was a strict rule. Lately I've been a little looser with it but adding a show means dropping a show. Occasionally the dropping of a show happens for me, especially with cable shows that have seasons of only 10-13 episodes. Once the season ends I can pick up another show to put in that slot. My 5-show routine also does not include tv shows that I watch exclusively from streaming on either Netflix or Amazon, although I'm mindful to not watch episodes from more than 2 streaming shows in a week. Currently my streaming shows are Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. I'm not doing marathons of either. I'm treating both as regular (roughly) weekly tv shows.

It all adds up to mean that between my 5 shows, various news shows, streaming shows, and the occasional documentary I might consume about 12-15 hours of television in a week. At other times the television set is turned off. I don't use tv to provide background sound while I'm doing other stuff. I'm perfectly comfortable sitting in silence. When I do watch something on tv I give it my undivided attention. When the show ends I turn the tv set off. I do watch movies, both on DVD and streaming, but that is separate from my tv viewing and I never watch more than 2 movies in a sitting and rarely more than 3 movies in a week. As a general rule I don't watch "live" tv except for the news. All 5 of my weekly shows are recorded on my TiVo and I usually watch them within a few days after they air. If I'm spending time listening to podcasts I'll save my tv shows to watch on the weekend.

Chances are fairly good that whatever show you're watching I've never seen. There are tons of popular shows that I've never seen. There are many shows that have come highly recommended by friends that I've never seen. Adding a show means dropping a show and a show has to do something unforgivable to truly piss me off before I decide to drop it in midseason to add a new show. It's happened before. I dropped House, M.D. in the middle of the fourth season after they aired 3 episodes in a row that I totally didn't like. I don't recall what I added in its place but I definitely dropped Dr. Gregory House and did not look back. When I heard the series was ending I didn't even tune in to see the finale. I dropped Bones for the same reason. They aired several episodes in a row that were boring and formulaic so I dropped the show midseason. Over it means over it, for the most part.

So, that's how I watch tv. As always, your mileage may vary.

Google+ Followers