First-World Problems: I’m Falling Behind on My TV Viewing
I’m feeling stressed. I’m feeling overwhelmed. I am feeling like there’s simply not enough hours in the day for me to get through everything I’ve got to get through. And I’m not even talking about work-related projects; I’m referring to the backlog of TV shows that is growing exponentially by the hour.
In this technological, always-on, always-connected world, there have never been more forms of televised entertainment available to us. In addition to the sheer amount of television available to us, it seems to be getting better in terms of quality as well. The experts (TV experts, why can’t I have that job?) say that we have entered a new “Golden Age” of Television. Shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad on cable networks and new on-demand series on Netflix and Amazon such as Orange is the New Black are making television the new movie theater. Honestly, there’s so much good TV on today, and I’m so far behind in watching all of it, I rarely feel the need to head out to the movie theater to drop 50 bucks on the latest feature that I may or may not even enjoy. I’ve got more entertainment here at home than I’ll ever be able to consume.
So what’s my problem? Why am I complaining about having so many high-quality television options? Well… the problem is that I just can’t seem to find the time to watch any of it. Maybe my situation is unique, but my situation is this:
1: The Kids. My wife and I have two boys, one firmly entrenched in his teenage years and the other on the verge of becoming a teen. It’s amazing to watch them grow, and to see them develop into young men with very different personalities. I wouldn’t trade the parenting experience for anything in the world, but… BUT…. it’s wreaking havoc on my cherished television viewing.
When the boys were younger, we had the perfect world. They both went to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 at night with rarely any trouble. This meant that after 8, it was kid-free time! We could be adults… we could have adult conversations and watch whatever TV we wanted. I feel that these child-free hours in the evening allowed me to recharge, regroup, and feel like part of the adult community at large.
Now… the 8:00 night-night time is history. If they’re in bed by 10 it’s a good night. The result? What I want to watch on TV becomes meaningless. Because in the 21st century the TV networks feel free to provide more ‘realistic’ content and storylines (i.e. profanity, violence, sexual situations, you know, the things that make TV worth watching), most of these amazing new shows are off-limits with younger eyes in the room. Again, that’s fine. Spending time with the boys in the evening is great, but when that time involves TV, it means we’re watching family-friendly fare, or more likely, sports. I’ve watched more sports in the last 5 years than in the previous 39 years combined. So shows get unwatched, the DVR queue fills up with unwatched shows, and I resort to reading about plot lines online rather than watching the actual shows.
The other problem?
2: The wife. I enjoy spending time with my wife, and having shared television experiences. We tend to like the same kinds of shows (with the very real exception of her obsession with Law&Order and all other exchangeable procedural crime dramas) and like to watch them together. But while we share similar tastes in TV, we do not share compatible circadian rhythms. By the time the TV viewing window opens after the kids are asleep, she’s done. Bedtime. I can stay awake if I’m doing something I enjoy. She… cannot. If she’s tired, she’s sleeping. It’s in her genes. She can’t help it. So again…. I either watch without her (and feel guilty) or wait for the one, maybe two nights a week when we can squeeze in a half-hour or so of TV. And the shows pile up.
I fully realize that this is not what any rational person would consider a “real problem.” I just need to find a way to rid myself of the feeling of despair, knowing that pop culture is passing me by. And I know I can do that. Because the same technology that gives us unlimited access to everything will keep it available for the time, really not that far off now I hate to say, when my days and nights won’t be so heavily focused on my #1 job of being a responsible parent. Before I can blink an eye, the kids will be grown and gone, and I’ll be sitting here watching as much TV as I can stomach. And I’ll be looking back and reminiscing about these good old days. Hmm….maybe I have the right perspective on this after all. My “stories” can wait, but life can’t.