Television: friend or foe.

I have been thinking about the Television. The whole family wants cable and I am resisting. Other than Dvds we have no TV at the moment, it has been close to two years since we have any TV at all. The girls are both tucked into their Friends DVD set and we download Glee when we need to. I just prefer my home without the drone of television. I prefer not to see my daughters slumped in front of the Disney channel. Am I cruel? Am I right?

So it has got me thinking about television. In Tokyo where I spent my formative years there was only one TV show in English each week. We had a special machine that could reverse the Japanese dubbing and return the one and only show back into its original American drawl. The show was Little House on the Prairie and we would dash home from wherever we were every Sunday night at 6pm to watch it. Like dogs, parched after a long walk, we would lap at the bowl of TV with relish. When we were desperate for more we would sit, open mouthed and panting in front of a Japanese Soap, trying to figure out what the hell was going on, hoping that the foreign words would seep into our brains through some form of osmosis and click with meaning. They never did.

Then the era of VHS dawned and we could rent movies and watch them all summer long in a  darkened room, curtains drawn, the air conditioner humming.

Boarding school had a TV room, but it was primarily for Thursday night Top of the Pops and that was basically it.  Then my parents moved to New York and suddenly we had a TV in every room, we prayed to the altar of American TV nightly, starved had been, and we soaked it up, every last drop of it, soaps, trash, the lot. We became addicted. Early morning MTV would flick on, then the morning shows, then Family Ties and all the shows we had missed in our Tokyo years. Like deprived orphans we took advantage of the bounty.

When I moved to Montreal, in the early days TV was my constant companion while Handsome Husband worked at the bar nights and I didn’t know a soul. We had a tiny apartment on Jeanne Mance, with brick walls and a claw foot tub. Our futon bed doubled as our sofa and our TV was tiny, black and white and needed a spanner to turn the channel dial. I sat, spooning Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream into my mouth and watched bad TV in shades of grey. Finally on one memorable Boxing Day, frigid with cold and with sharp winds whipping our cheeks we heading out to part with some valuable cash. It was time for a colour TV and we splashed out on a 14” Mitsubishi. It even had a remote control! Now we could watch hockey in colour! The Habs in all their scarlet glory!  We didn’t care that we couldn’t afford cable; we we thrilled with the news in Technicolor and having no further need for the spanner we lost it behind a book shelf.

The love affair with American TV continued, through LA Law, ER, Chicago Hope, those medical dramas filling my Thursday nights at McGill.  But not until Winnipeg did we get cable and then came those long nights breastfeeding Trooper, when I would watch Law and Order, one after the other while she sucked in my arms.

The years went by and the interest came and went. Always my TV deprived childhood years a justification to my addiction to a few shows. I would only allow myself 5 shows a week. Anymore and it was TOO much. I would be a TV whore.

And here we are now. Handsome Husband and I sit with a lap top on our bed and we stream the few shows we love. The internet is sometimes shaky, we always have to start the process a good 20 mins or more before we settle down to watch, get the show downloaded before the power cuts at the very least.  Sometimes we head over to the well stocked pirated DVD shop to buy an entire series that we can watch in luxury, on the proper big screen TV from the comfort of our sofa. Mad Men is a current favourite.

But still the call for cable comes at least twice a week. Mainly from HH during some major sporting event. But the way it stands now, I have managed to weed out the junk and monitor the intake.

Still, I do love my American TV. Now more than ever, that I am so far removed from the culture of the Great Shiny West. I need my McDreamy, my House, my Donald Draper, my Hank Moody, my Sue Sylvester. We let these fictional people into our lives and they never want to leave.


Filed under Family Stuff, Great Big Shiny West

4 responses to “Television: friend or foe.

  1. Kim Drummond


    I absolutely loved yout post on Television and do feel it is more foe than friend ( only re connected cable in the last 3 years to watch Grand Slam Tennis events – my secret little addictin) . We had decided to unplug when the kids were smaller to get them reading tons which worked brialliantly and the teens now ,thankfully , seem rather disinterested in TV and most of the mediocre offerings found there.

    You are a fabulous writer !

  2. Ali

    You’ll never guess what! Next week’s year 6 homework is the big TV debate!
    I say don’t bother. I had DSTV for a few months here, and besides the news and a few good BBC shows, I spent most of the time flicking in frustration. Enjoy sitting outside reading a book in the everlasting sunshine instead and pick up DVDs when you feel the TV urge. x

  3. Terri

    It’s not worth the price. We pay $100 a month, which I’m told is a pittance compared to some, and mostly it’s all advertisements. Really it’s out of control, sometimes you’ll have to sit through a dozen or more commercials at every break. And I’m not going the DVR route … that’s my line in the sand. I’m going the DVD route with Netflix as soon as I can figure out which way to go with my internet connection. Love your site by the way.

  4. Christina & The Montreal Millers

    Hi Sam,
    I,like you, can’t tolerate too much stupid television but a few good programs definitely do carry me away from it all. My new favourites are Modern Family and Off The Map (a brand new show which is basically Grey’s Anatomy set in the jungle somewhere in South America). My HH has very little tolerance for TV, as you know, and would be happy to ditch cable altogether. I vote for getting cable but using it in moderation.
    Missing you, as always.

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