Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Strange Crossroads

I am the first person to admit that I have always watched way way too much television. It's been like that for a long time, and I tend to get pretty emotionally invested in most (if not all) of the onscreen universes that I visit each week. While I suppose I have my definite preferences in genre or format, I also think I've got a pretty broad range of what I enjoy. I also just unilaterally stay away from anything "unscripted"* (generally considered "reality" television) unless it is Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune (which to me are much, much more real than anything that falls under the "reality" umbrella). I think overall the common theme for me when it comes to what I consider good (or at least enjoyable) television is the characters. I can handle a lot of different ridiculous plots if I care about what happens to the people experiencing them.

Probably a lot of people would still say I watch too much television, but I have noticed a steep drop-off in my regular programming over the last year or so. Probably a lot of that has to do with my daughter--she gets dominion over the television until after Sesame Street most days and I have been making a concerted effort to leave the television off for most of the afternoon. Spending time with her doesn't leave me a lot of time (or the luxury) of sitting around watching a lot of television during the day. So yeah, there's that. But I have also noticed that the shows I do watch regularly have been coming to an end with more frequency of late. Series I watch ending this season (that we already know of) include: The Closer, Eureka, and In Plain Sight.

Yet I am finding in myself no real desire to replace them. As new shows launch, each season, there just isn't that much any more that sounds interesting to me. I used to give many new series a try every season, checking it out if it sounded even remotely intriguing or had a actor I liked or a science-fiction flavor. But those things really aren't enough to draw me in any more. Even the stuff that does sound interesting from initial previews or descriptions, or that has an actor I really do like to follow, will end up being left off my viewing schedule because I just don't feel like trying to get invested in something new.

That isn't to say that I don't still try new shows. I absolutely loved both Terra Nova and Alcatraz this season (though I am pretty sure neither is returning this fall), and USA has a new cop dramedy coming out next month that looks kind of amusing to me. But still, there are a lot of shows currently on the air that I suspect I would really like, but just never got into and don't really feel like making the effort to do so now (examples: Community, The New Girl, True Blood). Part of this, I am sure, is that there is so much crap to wade through nowadays that finding those few gems without watching everything is just impossible. It's not worth the effort, and so you make your gamble and roll the dice. Sometimes you win, sometimes you miss out. Then, the internet people try to tell me "OMG you have to watch this show it is fantastic!" and I dig in my heels and just refuse (even though I also do this same recommendation flail to my friends about shows I love all of the time). I am getting cantankerous in my old age, apparently.

So I find myself wondering just what it is that actually convinces me to try a new show these days. Again, I think it is the characters more than anything else. When I first hear about a show or see that preview, there has to be something there in the people on my screen that grabs my attention and taps on either my funny bone or my curiosity nerve. Still, it seems like it is getting to a point where every season there are more shows going off the air (or that I make the decision to walk away from) than new series I decide to try watching. This is probably a good thing in the long run. As much as I hate that feeling of knowing I am missing out on some great stories and shared experiences, it's not like it's gonna hurt me to do so. My life is still pretty awesome. It's not devoid of meaning because I missed out on getting into something my personal or online community all loved when it was new and fresh (or ever).

It just feels weird to me. Part of me is really looking forward to not having to try to find the time to watch nearly so much television--maybe I can use that time to read the quite literally impossible** pile of books I have stacking up (both physically and digitally). But...I don't know. I am not even sure what the point of this post is, other than this is something I have been thinking about for a while now and I wanted to get it out there.

I think...I think I am just starting to realize that as a culture we are getting way too damned creative, in that we are creating so much stuff that there's no way not to miss something great.

It's a weird sort of problem to have, isn't it?

*That "unscripted" title is crap, by the way. That is such a huge lie. Those people are so coached about what they are saying. Gotta enhance the "drama" dontcha know?

**Impossible in that I honestly do not know when I will ever find the time to read all of them but oh my goodness I so do want to find that time. I want to read them all! Then read some of them again. Sigh. And I keep adding books to the pile.

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