Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Yin and Yang of Television

Television is often an insidious force in my life. Sometimes it brings me pure joy, like when I watched the beautiful Olympics opening ceremony on Feb. 13. But other times, it saps me of my time and mental energy until I feel too weak to even reach for the remote to turn it off. Pathetic!

For example, there are some TV shows that I know if I start watching them, my evening is gone — I simply can’t turn them off. Much to the chagrin of my fiancé, this includes reruns of Roseanne and That ’70s Show. Other shows pull me in with the promise of an intriguing plot and then, in the end, all they offer are predictable clichés — this happens in crime dramas like Criminal Minds, CSI, and Law & Order. Just about any sitcom will turn out to be lame and predictable as well. I'd be better off reading a good book. Or watching paint dry.

A few shining examples out there do redeem the television industry. I’m thinking of shows like The IT Crowd, The Mighty Boosh, Dexter, Battlestar Galactica, and Deep Space 9. The first two make me howl with laughter; the third one draws me with its compelling character development; and the last two created worlds so complex, so believable — even though they were set in space — that I became very invested in the personal and political dramas that played out there.

Despite how much I love those shows, however, I am constantly aware of a little voice, in the back of my mind, that says, "Instead of watching TV, you should be [insert any task or hobby or chore here]." I think it's because I know I watch too much TV, and that there are plenty of other, more fulfilling things I could be doing. I've thought about unplugging the TV for a week for a detox, but haven't quite worked up the motivation needed to do it yet. Plus, I think my fiancé might start a riot if I suggested it.

I believe that if everyone had enough room in their house for a separate TV room, it would be best to keep the TV as a special destination to be savored, like a movie theater, rather than as a continuous presence in our lives — always on, always tempting.

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