I think I finally reached my capacity for watching television series. I just can’t seem to keep track of things anymore. I never thought I would say this, but there is way too much television out there.
While I have always considered myself a TV junkie, I just can’t seem to focus on anything anymore. For me, too many choices often mean I don’t choose anything. As kids, my friend Bruce had a record collection of more than 600 albums. I always marveled at how he would quickly select something for our listening pleasure and it was usually something that I had never heard before. Even if I had that many records to choose from, I would probably still pick the same 10 or 15.
In social situations, conversations invariably get around to what TV shows you have been watching. Back in the day, that usually meant network shows like Melrose Place, Seinfeld or Cheers. Everyone could participate in the conversation because even if you weren’t engrossed in every story line, you knew the gist of the program and could bluff your way through it.
How do you participate in a passionate conversation today about a television program you never even heard of? People get indignant if you admit to never having watched their new favorite show.
“Dude, you never watched Blueprint for Murder? I can’t believe you! Season six starts next week, so you gotta catch up, man.”
Season six? I’m behind five seasons already?
“Don’t worry man, it’s so worth it. There are only 10 or 12 episodes per season, you can catch up over the weekend.”
How do you catch up on 60 hours of television in one weekend?
When the three major networks offered primetime programming every weeknight, VCRs worked overtime to help you keep up with your favorites if they were on at the same time. Then FOX joined primetime TV and now you had to watch TV on Sunday nights too. Once the premium cable channels, like HBO and Showtime started broadcasting programming, you suddenly needed to squeeze in Dexter and The Sopranos.
Then all hell broke loose on the non-premium cable channels like AMC and A&E and before you knew it, virtually every channel was promoting their new series. Soon, you needed to start making room for Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Just when you thought it couldn’t get more confusing or saturated, Internet services began offering original programming you could watch on your computer. Services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime now added things like Black Mirror, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Man in the High Castle.
Watching television programs on demand is no longer just an option, it’s a way of life. Network television used to adhere to a strict schedule and moving a program from one night to another was a big deal. There might have been shows that you didn’t watch, but there certainly weren’t any shows that you never heard of. This new era of television, where you can watch whatever you want whenever you want on demand, has paralyzed people like me.
I sometimes feel like an aging baseball player who has lost his fastball. TV was my life, but too many choices lead me to aimless channel surfing, switching channels every time a commercial comes on. I’m a creature of habit, I like what I like.
Oh wait, it’s The Honeymooners. Looks like I’m watching Ralph try to hit that golf ball again. “Hello, ball…”
Paul DiSclafani has been a contributing columnist to Anton Media Group since 2016. He has called Massapequa home for 50 years.