My husband and I watch a lot of TV.
I work long hours at my day job and write long hours at home and probably clock in around 70 hours per week of work, so when I’m done with my word goal for the night and finally home from work, we settle in to watch our shows.
Lately, though, it’s been stressing me out. Here’s a look at our weekly schedule:
New Girl (30 minutes)
American Horror Story (1 hour)
The Vampire Diaries (1 hour)
The Walking Dead (1 hour)
Talking Dead (WAS 30 minutes, will be 1 hour when TWD returns next month)
Girls (1 hour)
Shameless (1 hour)
And somewhere in all of that are Breaking Bad (1 hour), True Blood (1 hour), Dexter (1 hour, was on Sundays), The Newsroom (1 hour), and gods help me if I’ve just remembered to add one to Monday*.
Watching television somehow became its own part time job.
While I love spending evenings with favorite people like this:
10-14 hours of TV a week is a LOT. And that’s not counting the rewatches we do fairly regularly, like seven seasons of Buffy or the three seasons of Veronica Mars. Oh, and I’m slowly plodding through Supernatural in my own time (pahahahaha, own time). AND Spouse asked me to watch Homeland before it returns so I’m caught up. Oh, and I keep meaning to watch Doctor Who.
My brain looks something like that.
While I’d like to pretend that I get through each week of day job, writing, taking care of critters, cooking, researching places to move, and the flood of television like this*:
…the reality is something more like this:
And yet I keep doing it, week after week.
Am I just a glutton for punishment, or do I lack the ability to say no? I’m not sure.
I even noticed this year that I’m continuing to watch shows I don’t really care for. American Horror Story has been a bit of a disappointment this season for me. Last season kept me in its grip and wouldn’t let go. In spite of the fact that this season has left me feeling “meh” throughout, I’ve still watched every episode.
I think that sometimes watching TV is good for writers. There are some phenomenal shows out there, and some incredible examples of good writing. It’s a way to see and “experience” things that we wouldn’t be able to come close to describing or empathizing with otherwise. You can use it to break down what makes good comedy, how suspense works, and learn your own limits for what characters can go through without losing your engagement. There are a lot of good lessons to be learned from people cramming stories into 30 or 60 minute blocks of time each week. Even reality television can show some larger than life human behavior for writers to exploit in their novels — because our characters need to be larger than life.
So how do I find a balance? I came to the realization this week that I don’t really go anywhere. I don’t really do anything. In fact, my next outing I’m planning weeks in advance. Not all of that can be blamed on television; I’m usually working when normal folk are playing. But I think a better balance can be achieved.
With DVRs and Netflix, there’s no compelling reason to force myself to be a slave to the network schedule. And gods be damned, I have a lot of books on my TBR list that end up gathering dust while I’m staring at the boob tube.
In the past year, TV’s taken over a big chunk of my life. I’m going to have to liberate myself.
How much television do you watch? Do you have a certain schedule of shows you watch every week, or do you wait till things are available on Netflix? DVR them?
*Oh, Gods, Andy Samberg, I love you.