TV Takeover

Kicking Television

Kicking Television (Photo credit: dhammza)

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:

Monday:

How I Met Your Mother (30 minutes)
Two Broke Girls (30 minutes)
The Bachelor (2 hours)* (Also known as my guilty, guilty pleasure show.)

Tuesday:

New Girl (30 minutes)

Wednesday

American Horror Story (1 hour)

Thursday

The Vampire Diaries (1 hour)

Sunday

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:

The cast of the US television show How I Met Y...

The cast of the US television show How I Met Your Mother at the 100th episode celebration at the Paley Centre. From left: Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan and Josh Radnor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

Splat!

Splat! (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)

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:

Good. Night.

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.

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About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on January 21, 2013, in American Horror Story, television reviews, The Vampire Diaries and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I love HULU because of the ability to watch whatever series are there in a row, without having to wait for the next week’s episode. Right now there are few shows that I feel like I NEED to watch… and even the ones I do TWD and Dexter, that feeling of anxiety if I’ll miss an episode slowly goes away after a while. I want to keep it that way. I still watch a lot of TV on Hulu, but a lot of times it’s like WHite Noise for whatever else I am doing (blogging, and taking care of the baby and all.)

  2. J. Michael Wright

    I used to be at this point: there was America’s Next Top Model, Desperate Housewives, and a buttload of other shows that honestly didn’t matter in the long run. I eventually made a schedule of all the shows and that’s how we ended up with a DVR. I love television and movies, but I found the quality of television poor over time. So I concentrate on the shows I really love: Archer, Game of Thrones, True Blood, etc. I am new to Lost Girl and Newsroom, but I plan on catching the new seasons (Lost Girl Season 4, Episode 1 down!). The only show I feel I should watch is Girls because I think it gives a great outlook of wtf is my generation supposed to be doing with ourselves?

    Back to the point, I have a bit of advice, and this can be used in any area of life, not just television: “If it starts to feel like a job, and it isn’t something you’re going to get paid to do, stop doing it.” You can also just put it on the back burner. With options like Hulu, Netflix, and other ways of streaming television anymore, you’re not stuck watching television on the Network’s schedule. You can do it whenever you want. I love crawling up in bed watching an entire season of a show over the weekend and wondering what will happen next. But during the week, that’s go time.

    I know this is time spent with hubby, and sometimes you need a past time. The books and television will be there another time. The important things are the things you believe are important. Make sense? So if you need the job, do the job. If you need to write, write. Spend time with the hubby, spend time with him. You have a long list of things to do throughout the day. I can barely deal with the few things I put upon myself. So I am proud of you for being able to keep up but remember not to stress yourself out, especially over trivial things. Maybe you and hubby could have a game night or date night where you two go out. Just a thought.

  3. Sing it, sister. I’ve been getting better about just saying NO to shows I don’t particularly care for, although that can be challenging when I’ve watched a show for several seasons and feel (possibly misplaced) loyalty to it. But little by little I’m whittling my shows down to a few favorites because it is definitely a time suck. And unlike you, who has the self-discipline to wait until AFTER you’ve reached your word goal, I often use TV as a procrastination tool. So, yeah. Kill your televisions! Or…y’know, just watch less. 🙂

  4. I Netflix and Hulu most everything these days. We don’t even have cable. But yeah, the more I’ve been working on my book, especially with Pitch Wars, the less time I feel like I have available for watching TV, especially when there are books to be read, plays to be seen, new restaurants to try, skiing to be done, etc. etc. That’s one reason I love later instant viewing. It works with my schedule, not some Hollywood fat cat.

    I have a lot of hobbies and interests, but I realized if I really wanted to be the kind of writer I’m hoping to be, writing will have to take heavy priority. I guess you just have to figure out how badly you want to do everything else vs. the TV—because the shows will always be there waiting for you later. Best of luck. I’m certainly not saying it’s an easy thing to do. I love my media too. 😀

  5. classywithatwist

    I watch a lot of TV. I tend to binge watch shows in a few weeks and then move onto something else. There’s very few shows I’m up to date with when they are actually playing. My top favs would be: ANYTHING Joss Whedon, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Supernatural, Merlin, HIMYM, Frasier, Glee, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, SNL, and I’m just now getting into Pretty Little Liars.

    I love good writing and great storytelling.

  6. I think you’ve hit on something most writers struggle with. I gave up cable back in July for the same reason – I was watching too much TV and doing too little writing (plus, it cost way more money that it was worth). Even with just network TV, I still watch a lot of TV (Once Upon a Time, Downtown Abbey – both of which are disappointing me this season – HIMYM, Castle, The New Normal, The Mindy Project, TVD, Nikita, Smash), but I DVR all of it. I can’t stand to watch live TV anymore and it cuts off about 10 minutes per hour not having to watch commercials. But I think I’m guilty of being lazy with shows that aren’t worth my time anymore, too. I’m not one to throw out the TV, but I think I need to be more judicious about what I watch. Thanks for bringing this to the front of my mind!

  7. I don’t have cable. On purpose. Instead, I watch all TV shows on Netflix. That way, I can watch the episodes when I want, and don’t have to watch all the commercials. The downside is that you have to wait until the current season comes out on DVD before you can watch it. But there are so many TV shows that I find that is not a big issue, since there’s not enough time to watch them all.

  8. i just don’t watch anything.
    the last TV show i actually followed was Dollhouse. i sort of followed TrueBlood for the first season and a half, then finished the 2nd season and just never got around to watching more. i’d rather read, honestly 🙂
    but, before then – what little i watched, i TiVOed. which would be a DVR today, i guess lol

  9. Television can be great inspiration, and a terrible distraction. I make sure to turn it off if I am going to work. But I will admit to being interested in several shows. I let the DVR record them and watch them while I take care of other tasks around the house, such as folding the laundry, washing the dishes, making the beds, those sort of things. I watched the first episode of Continuum and I may find myself tuning into for that each week. Sigh. I don’t need another show. I really don’t.

  10. Things like DVR, Netflix, and such help cut down the time wasted—er, spent—with commercials, don’t they? 😉 But I don’t watch more than an hour, two max. For me, they become too much of a distraction from the writing.

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