I remember a time when there was a certain group of people prided themselves on the fact that they watched no TV, other than the McNeil/Lehrer news report on PBS, and occasionally something else on that same channel. Television was known as the boob tube, was apparently for the hoi polloi. Anyone with substance did not admit to watching TV. They had little sets tucked away in corners, and owners were secretly proud that they gathered dust.

Last week when I entered my apartment building, a delivery was being made. Someone in my building had bought what appeared to be an 80 inch screen. My 70’s era building is not known for its spacious interiors, and this particular TV was about to land in a studio apartment. I whispered conspiratorially to my doorman- “Is there a wall big enough to hold that thing?”

Television is having a moment.

As I find myself watching less TV, I find that others are watching more. Admittedly, there are so many options out there now. Not only do we have cable stations with 500+ channels, there are satellite providers and streaming services. And it seems as if literally anyone can produce a television show, and people will watch it.

Currently my home makes use of cable, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Oddly, we get Prime more for the free shipping: the extra shows are just a bonus. I admit to using the free option on BritBox, and I know my daughter is going to make use of the Hulu free option in December, but as of now, I am refusing to add another pay option. I was sorely tested recently when I saw the ads for “The Morning Show” a new program starring Jennifer Anniston, Reese Witherspoon ad Steve Carrell that is going to make its debut on AppleTV. I really was intrigued by that show until I saw the reviews, and all I can say is “Whew- dodged a bullet there”.

So in a world where home viewing systems are often more elaborate than what is in theaters, and there are now myriad options to watch televised programming, has TV become elitist?

I have had friends say to me- “How could you not watch ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Breaking Bad’?” What do you mean you don’t get HBO? You don’t watch Blue Bloods- well what do you do on Friday nights?” “You must be the only person in America who doesn’t watch X”.

Have people become entirely engrossed in the television industry to the point they can’t imagine that someone DOESN’T watch certain shows?

Or pay for a variety of channels?

Or own a huge TV set?  I do freely admit to owning a large set- maybe 55 inches- but the sheer fact that I don’t know the size, or that I don’t have surround sound, or that I don’t have a set in my bedroom is enough to make people look at me aghast.

Let’s think about the cost. Though sets have come down in price, they’re still not cheap. Plus you have all the accessories. Cable or internet provider. Streaming service. Pay for individual stations.

How much money does it cost the average person to watch TV?

Can the average person afford to watch TV?

Are people who don’t watch particular shows mocked for not being with the times?

Has TV become the pastime of the elite instead of the opiate of the masses?

What do we really think about television?

86 thoughts on “TV- Is it Still For the Masses

  1. I’m voting opiate. I don’t watch TV or any shows that stream. However, I feel the same as you: that everyone else does and that he is surprised that I don’t.

    The same could be said of cell phones and social media, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember back to when television had like . . eight to ten channels maybe? With the big three networks. And then there was VHF which was always a potluck endeavor. And the rabbit ears antennae . . . and how me and my sister WERE the remote control when my parents watched television.

    So yeah . . television truly is having a moment, as you said.

    I admit to getting into the Game of Thrones madness, although I didn’t watch Breaking Bad (except for the last episode). I’ve got Prime and basic cable and I am cutting the latter because I don’t watch enough to justify the rising (again!) prices. My son and his wife have Netflix and some app channels and that’s it. My daughter rarely ever watches TV.

    I don’t suffer from FOMO, so when I cut the cable ties, I know I’ll be just fine.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I would eliminate cable if it were up to me. My husband really loves live sports though, and won’t investigate the various streaming options, and frankly I don’t care enough if he doesn’t. But it’s as if you’re looked down upon if you’re not “in the know”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I watch less as I have gotten older but I still watch my fair share. The most interesting thing to me is how much the way that I watch tv has changed. My family cut the cable cord nearly two years ago so now most of the content we watch is streamed on demand. Great post (as usual), thanks for sharing!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I feel like it would have to end, but I don’t know if it will. You have all of these platforms rolling out their own streaming services (Disney, Apple, etc.) and they all tout their original content. Hours and hours and hours of original shows trying to pull you in and get you to subscribe. It really is mind boggling to me!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. And what about already established networks that have separate platforms with original content, like the CBS thing? I mean…..to me it ends when I just shut the tv

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi LA !

    Excellent topic for discussion !
    When a person is watching television, his/her/their brain is actually less active than when they are asleep. There are numerous publications on the internet available to support this.
    Anyone considering the health of their brain, and nervous system should avoid this passive activity. They don’t call it ” the boob tube “, for nothing !!!
    I feel sad when I consider that “The T. V. ” is the King/Queen of most homes.
    And yes, I laughed hysterically when “The Smart T.V. ” became available.

    If it’s health you wish to see,
    Please my friends, stay away from T.V. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m considered a dinosaur by most when it comes to TV. I do have cable but that’s only for the internet. I won’t pay the ridiculous prices our one and only cable company wants to watch shows live. I can stream from my computer to TV in various ways the shows I want to watch using my handy little Chromecast tool.
    People use TV as a babysitter, as white noise, even as a way to avoid life and those around them. For many it is literally never turned of in their homes.
    Mine mostly gathers dust.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I subscribe to two streaming services. One on purpose- Netflix, and one as a pleasant side effect to my public radio membership– PBS. I also watch YouTube and check out DVDs from the library. That said, I don’t actually watch that much in general. I rarely go to see movies, and I usually have so many other things I want to do after work that I don’t even turn on my 19″ television. If the television is on, then I am often doing something else, like housework or crocheting.

    I have a couple of friends who have all sorts of TV services, and usually just watch YouTube, so I always wonder why they spend so much on half a dozen streaming services. I am often baffled by people’s relationship to television, though.

    Like

  7. As you know I watch a lot of TV. I have cable, Netflix and Amazon. I’m annoyed that everyone is starting their own service. It will get to a point where it costs way too much to get what I have now. I feel like it is getting to the point that the average person won’t be able to afford TV.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. We used to watch several shows, but we just stopped. It has probably been at least 3 years or better since I’ve sat down and watched anything other than the weather during storms or a movie. My kids are the same and get so much crap from friends about it. They’d rather watch their favorite YouTubers than watch a TV show. Even movies are a rare thing for us.

    I will admit to having a decent size TV and a great sound system, but that is because when I do watch a movie, I want the full experience. That and my Blue Ray player can connect to my computer for music, so great sound is a must.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “Television” isn’t television, anymore. We can watch shows on our computers (or other devices) without even having a TV set. Personally, I don’t have cable TV, using a Roku (free once you buy the device) and adding Hulu, Netflix and Acorn for extra viewing. My favorites are British/Australian shows on Acorn. I don’t watch sports, and I think that’s what keeps many people hooked on cable, although some of those events now may be offered live on various streaming options. For me, cable was too expensive for what I got out of it. Every household is different in its TV use, and that can evolve over time (regardless of class or social standing:). In earlier years, I left the TV on most of the time and often went to sleep to it, as well. Now I only watch one or two shows each evening, more like a reward. Having grown up in a time when we had just one station that came in clearly on our black-and-white set, this method feels more like going home:)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I had a conversation with a friend recently, where he asked if I could give up tv. Though I have shows that I like, with the exception of This is Us, I don’t think I’d actually miss anything. Ok. I would have missed Downton Abbey, I’d be ok streaming stuff if I wanted to

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Right? It’s the whole way the show is done. It’s clever first if all….how they manage to make each week fresh is amazing. And yes….it actually makes me think because it’s real, it’s honest, and it doesn’t shy away from the comtroversial

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I rarely watch TV, especially when baseball season is over. We do have cable and an older Apple TV so I do watch some movies with the hubs as a form of date night. I never got into Game of Thrones but I do admit that I binge watched Downton Abbey when hubby was out of town for a while. Most of my viewing is repeats of Big Bang Theory in that hour before I go to bed to read.

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  11. This was perfect timing for me. Yesterday a friend posted looking for more shows on Netflix/Amazon/Hulu/whatever else is out there that she could binge because she’d already finished 3 shows I’ve never heard of.
    Every comment was met with a reply of “I’ve already seen that.” I’m not big on watching TV other than news, Jeopardy, Stephen Colbert, and a few sitcoms that I record. I’m amazed by people who watch so much. I’m not that interested and find myself multitasking during most TV.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I LOVE TV. But I tend to find a series and binge it all, bit by bit. I have a few shows I watch faithfully. I even have a few I choose to fall asleep to- like lullaby shows. 🙂 Out of my 700 plus channels, I probably watch less than 10.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. After the last election cycle I cancelled my regular TV service. I do enjoy movies on Netflix and Amazon but that’s pretty much it. Afraid no Game of Thrones for me either. Sadly, increased watching seems to reflect the need for increased escapism. People aren’t happy with their own lives so they watch imaginary ones. They forgot how to go outside and play 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We dropped Dish Network in the summer of 2011 and haven’t looked back. We still have our 32″ HDTV from sometime around 2006/2007, and are fine with that (sometimes hubby thinks we should upgrade, but me personally, I couldn’t care less). We watch DVDs on our TV via our DVD player, or stream them via our computers hooked to the TV (shown to us by my smart tech-savvy 20-year-old son), or sometimes watch random documentaries, old TV shows, and movies via our Amazon Prime accounts. That’s about it. We don’t miss regular TV and I don’t have any interest in any shows out. Haven’t in years. So, take heart…you’re not the only one. ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I admit, if I’m doing stuff around the house, there is nothing like hgtv in the background. It’s the perfect antidote to the tedium that is folding laundry, shredding, filing and dusting

      Liked by 1 person

  15. If the poor can’t afford TV, will they get smarter? And will the rich get dumber?

    We don’t watch TV anymore and don’t get a signal at our house – no cable is available either. We never used satellite, so that was a quickly failed experiment. We get DVDs from the library, mostly movies and documentaries, and watch a few each week. That’s about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I can still hear former co-workers aghast that I wasn’t watching “Twin Peaks” back in the day. I’ve always hated peer pressure about TV shows. I was only ever fanatical about two shows: “Seinfeld” and “The Sopranos,” but my fanaticism was limited to those who felt the same. Books, music, TV shows, movies, etc., are all very personal and subjective.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I’m certainly not elite, nor do I feel like one among masses. We have a TV in the house, but we rarely watch it. John reads, I read and write blog posts and grandson David does social media on his phone. How do people have time to watch hours of TV? Are their hours longer than mine?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. We have a tv attached to the child’s game system. We do have an antenna but it isn’t attached. I’m not sure what the last television show I watched because I can’t remember. I get strange looks all the time, but I mostly ignore them unless I see them when I turn the page.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. We rarely watch it. Our tv is so small! 32 inches. I have to sit close to see it with my old eyes. 😂 I do admit to watching Ozark in Netflix and Stranger Things. But after that it gathered dust except for using it to watch YouTube . But my husband gets in moods and watches Mystery Science Theater. We don’t have cable or satellite, only Roku and Netflix . No prime! Shocking huh?! I avoid buying from Amazon. I’m really amazed how much people spend on cable.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. After 40 years of marriage I finally gave in and bought a second TV. I don’t like watching all the shows my wife does and this gives me the option of watching sports while she watches the voice. I will never have a TV in my bedroom. Yes television is expensive especially the sports networks. Can you believe that now televisions are being sold with aAfter 40 years of marriage I finally gave in and bought a second TV. I don’t like watching all the shows my wife does and this gives me the option of watching sports while she watches the voice. I will never have a TV in my bedroom. Yes television is expensive especially the sports networks. Can you believe that now televisions are being sold with 8K?
    We do try to balance our television watching by mainly watching it in the evenings and I am still an avid library supporter and enjoy reading to relax. I also am involved as a volunteer and Toastmasters. I hear people say that they are too busy to exercise or read, and I wonder how much they watch tv. I know I watch more than I like to admit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The price of tv services is getting crazy! I don’t have a tv in my bedroom either. My daughter has a tv in her room, but really she used it more for video games than watching.

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  21. What a great topic!
    My husband grew up in a family of 4, he told me they had 7 (yes you read that right) televisions in their home. Now some were those teeny ones or whatever, but 4 humans had access to 7 TVs. He also told me his dad had one of those black market cable boxes that got all the channels without charging for them. When I first started coming around my husband’s home I noticed how much their life revolved around the TV. He and his boys are screen people.
    I am not judging, I am describing.
    I grew up in a household of 4 people where we had 1 TV. We did not have cable. If I wanted to see a new D2 vid drop, I went to a friend’s house to watch MTV.
    In my house when I was an adult, we were a family of 4 and had 1 TV. It was downstairs in our ‘rec room’. There was no television on the main floor of our house. We didn’t have cable for many years. My girls played downstairs, the TV was on PBS and they mostly had it on for background noise.
    As teens, they each got a TV in their bedroom. I didn’t love that, but it kept the gaming systems off the “family” television.
    Currently we have 2 TVS in a house where 2 adults live full time and one teenager lives part time. One of them is 80″ with surround sound.
    I pay for Netflix, my husband pays for Prime, my daughter pays for Hulu and we all share. We have a firestick that accesses all those streaming services in one place.
    We also have cable, but to be perfectly honest, that’s because it’s more cost effective to have television included with the internet. We talk about getting rid of the cable and just having internet.
    I watch HGTV and Food Network for the most part. Also, Preacher on AMC.
    However we do watch a few network shows, The Good Place, Will & Grace, and sometimes Young Sheldon.
    We don’t have premium channels, I’ve never watched GoT or Breaking Bad. And though I’m sure they’re great, I’m truthfully not interested.
    I like streaming services. I think most folks do, based on emmy nominations.
    I can go days without turning on the television. My husband turns it on the moment he comes into the room.
    We’re all different, and that’s what makes it interesting! I think it’d be cool if we stopped judging each other about our TV habits, I mean really, who GAF? Why do I care if folks love the Masked Singer? Why do folks care I haven’t seen GoT?
    Live and let watch, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Complete agree. But it seems like as people we have some biological need to judge others. If I had to guess I’d say it’s a survival of the fittest thing. If we can mentally “demean” a person, it makes us stronger. That’s the theory I informally came up with last week writing about different ways we judge. I’m going to keep over thinking it…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t understand why it has to be that way, but I completely agree.
        I guess I just don’t have the patience to judge or be judged. Or maybe I just don’t care enough…
        I’ve enjoyed catching up on your posts! You had a great week!

        Liked by 1 person

  22. When I lived alone, I watched no TV. I had an old CRT (I know, gasp!) to watch DVDs, and I’d sometimes stream the odd thing which sounded really interesting on my laptop. I didn’t miss it one little bit. When Himself moved in, he was horrified! 🙂 We’ve just bought a 43″ flatscreen, as the old one stopped working. We considered larger but, honestly, it’s a home not a cinema, and this is plenty big enough. We did go for the best quality screen image at that size though, which we are both appreciating. We use Chromecast (like Deb) and tend to watch stuff we’ve downloaded – some current, some old. I’d read if left to my own devices but it’s Himself’s way to de-stress at the end of the day and, as I like to stay in the same room as him, I tend to watch along. It’s pleasantly companionable. I’m pretty used to being viewed as odd by the public at large over this, so it doesn’t bother me. My daughter & her husband don’t have a TV at all. They have a projector and screen for watching films at home, but that’s it.

    I vote opioid. If I wasn’t busy keeping my brain active the rest of the day, I’d be opting out of the evening brain-snooze.

    Liked by 1 person

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