Building off the last post, I want to make a distinction: I watch television, but I don't often watch TV. Let me explain.
I love TV, because there are several programs that I enjoy and follow and discuss. I honestly believe they make my life better. I also enjoy the ritual of watching TV, but I've ritualized it to suit my schedule--I often come home late, get some food, and wind down with one of my favorites, pre-recorded and ready to roll. So, I watch TV, but I rarely just sit and watch live television.
I break all TV shows into Four Tiers:
1) The Season Pass.
These are the handful of shows that I do not miss. I've set the DV-R to record them every time a new episode airs. These are my favorite shows, and I feel a void in my life when they aren't around.
(Note: Some shows have Season Pass status, only I've turned off the actual Season Pass. They re-run constantly during the week, and the DV-R goes crazy (its "record only new episodes" feature doesn't work at all). I turn off the Season Pass for these shows and manually record the new episodes. Example: Top Chef.)
The exception to the "rarely watch live television" rule. On Saturdays and Sundays, when I have time and feel like I've earned it, I will watch hours and hours of football. There are few things I enjoy more. Some people watch all television the way I watch football: the act alone is enough, and the specific program is a bonus. I don't like to just watch TV--I'd rather sit in silence than plow through a Bones marathon. But I'll watch nine hours of football when none of my teams are even playing. I love it.
3) It's On.
There are a few shows I like but haven't promoted yet to Season Pass status. Basically, they're in an extended audition; either I haven't liked them enough, or haven't liked them long enough to bump them up to permanent rotation. Sometimes this is a show I've only recently started liking, but not consistently (How I Met Your Mother). Sometimes this is a show I've Season Pass-ed before, but demoted depending on the season (Laguna Beach/The Hills/basically all MTV programming). If the right show catches me at the right time, I'll give anything a shot.
Watching all TV out of boredom stopped working for me several years ago. I don't know why--I can't do it. I'll tell myself that I want to veg out, relax, and let my brain die in front a Bond marathon--next thing I know, I'm vacuuming my bedroom. Like everything else, I guess, TV has its purpose on the daily schedule. I get in, get out, move on to the next thing.
Or, like Michael commented Monday, moderation is the key.
So, what does this look like on a weekly basis? Just for fun, here's everything I watched before I killed my TV:
By the way, hit up the comments below and tell me:
What do you watch? What made the cut for your Season Pass? What would? What could you live without?
Mad Men - One of the best shows I've ever seen. I can't get enough.
How I Met Your Mother - Last season made a jump for me. They realized Barney's the draw, and wrote accordingly. The plots are tighter, the jokes less derivative, and Jason Segel's more involved. All good signs. To boot: a "date" sequence last season featured Big Star's "Thirteen." I never had a chance.
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations - Suddenly, I'm a big fan of the Travel Channel, and all Shows-About-Food. Weirdly, I don't like this show consistently (some episodes are really dull to me), but I never miss it.
Tuesdays stink. I have a memory of some Laguna Beach/Real World/The Hills/RW/RR: Challenge combination highlighting Tuesdays on MTV, but I'm at least one season behind in all of those now, and never cared enough to catch up.
The Middle - I'll be honest: I wouldn't have found this one if one of my good friends didn't work on the show. It's brand new, and targeted mostly to families, and I'm in the TV-dark as it is. Having said that, I think it's great. It's much quirkier than I expected, the acting is on-point, the youngest son is outstanding, and I always want more. It's just a tight, smart, endearing show.
Top Chef - The best reality show I've seen, and it gets better every season. It's the only one of its type that doesn't base its drama off the lunacy of its cast. Pretty much everyone on the show is a talented, reasonably normal adult. If chefs finish their dish early, they help their competitors finish before the buzzer. I've seen people in elimination plead to be sent home instead of someone else. It's unique. Also, it has Padma Lakshmi, who should win the Emmy for Outstanding Hair and Nobel Prize for Stealing My Heart.
Man vs. Food - It's the Travel Channel/Shows-With-Food power combo, but substitute "Bourdain in Asia with some noodles" with "Tubby Dude in North Carolina with a mountain of fried stuff." I watch it if I think to, but I don't miss it when I don't. Fun fact: Adam, the host, once won a food challenge by eating the hottest curry in America (it's so spicy the chef has to wear a gas mask while cooking it). When I moved into my place in New York, I realized that I'm on the same block as that restaurant. And if you think for one second I'm not eating that curry, we clearly haven't met yet.
And of course, I'll get video of the whole episode and post it here. Way ahead of you.
Parks and Recreation - Alright, P&R: I'm listening. You have my attention.
30 Rock - I realized sometime last year that Tracy Morgan is one of my favorite humans. If he's onboard, I'm onboard. Also, Chris Parnell's semi-recurring "Dr. Leo Spaceman" makes every episode better. In terms of laughs-to-lines ratio, he's nearly untouchable.
The Office - Still my favorite comedy on TV, though it makes me nervous. Also, Creed's laughs-to-lines ratio hovers near Spaceman's. They're like McGwire and Sosa in '98, without the gigantic heads and banned substances. Actually...
Real Time with Bill Maher - When it's on, which is almost never. Maher vacations more often than Congress. Actually, that makes sense. Nevermind.
Friday Night Lights - When it's on, which is never.
Some of my favorite shows now were shows I missed at the time. I came along late in the game--friends recommended I wait until the finale, then start from scratch with DVDs. So, here are the shows that would've both been Season Passes had I watched them at the time:
And yes, I feel guilty about two of those. Like, really guilty. Like, if I could go back in time, and sign up for Americorp, and somehow Americorp gave me a monthly stipend to work in Los Angeles and do internet marketing for those shows, I would definitely do it. I'd also put a lot of money in Google stock. And buy a trampoline.
So what do you watch? And what could you do without?
Way down in the hole,