Turn Off My TV

I like to watch TV.

I can sit and watch Rock of Love episodes of Masterpiece Theatre all night long. Then I might wander over to the History Channel where there's always some cool show about the total barbaric craziness that was Europe in the Middle Ages.

After that "The Breakfast Club" will come on and I'll feel compelled to watch it for the 1,406th time just so I can see Mr. Vernon yell to Bender, "Don't mess with the bull young man, you'll get the horns!"

Given all this, it may come as a surprise that I'm attempting to participate in Turn Off Your TV Week this week. It's not that I'm addicted to "American Idol" (I've only seen it once) or anything like that. But, it never hurts to put the brakes on the "idiot box". And I suppose I could read a book about the Middle Ages instead of watching a documentary, even if I sort of like those reenactments of the plague descending on Europe.

The week starts today and goes till the the 27th. My goal is to avoid turning on the TV at all, but I especially want to wean myself off of cable news and all reality shows on Bravo. Fortunately, the addictive train-wreck that was VH1's "Rock of Love" ended last night with the reunion show so I'm already finished with that. Whew, perfect timing.

I'm starting off strong since I did not watch the news at all this morning. That's probably a good thing because I can't take all the pre-Pennsylvania Primary hype. However, my efforts to not watch TV should get "interesting" because my husband is not participating with me. He said he doesn't see the point of it. I suppose I'll just go sit in another room when he turns on the TV -- and when I get really irritated with him, I'll just think about how he's the way he is because he's been a big TV watcher ever since he was a kid.

Hmm...this no TV thing can turn into self-righteousness in a heartbeat, can't it?

I suppose I have an advantage over him though. I didn't watch a whole lot of TV growing up and neither did my parents. My mom watched WGN's 9:00 morning movie if it was any good, then she'd sometimes watch the "Phil Donohue"show at 11. The only soap-opera I remember her watching was "The Young and the Restless", but even that wasn't an everyday thing.

We definitely watched "Masterpiece Theatre" -- I still remember the fabulous one about Lillie Langtry-- but other than that, the only shows we saw on a fairly consistent basis were "Fantasy Island" and "The Love Boat". Sometimes we had cable TV. Sometimes we didn't. Our lives just didn't revolve around TV. We could read, draw, paint, wash dishes or pull weeds in the yard, but we didn't just sit around and watch TV.

I figure not watching TV has to be a good thing for my kids. When I told them about this, they just wanted to know if they could still play video games. I think technically the week bans any kind of "screen time" but I'm trying to be realistic with this. I don't want a total mutiny in the house and besides, I'm going to see Kanye West tonight and I think the babysitter might freak if they can't play video games for a little while.

Another benefit of doing this no TV thing though is that maybe I can be totally honest next time I take my boys to the pediatrician. If you're not a parent, you may not know that every time you take your kids to the pediatrician's office for a checkup, they ask, "How many hours of TV a day does your child watch?"

I'm always the parent that says, "Um, ah, um, maybe one, unless it's Saturday and then they get to watch, cough, two hours." Nevermind that there are like six cable channels devoted to cartoons. Two hours (the maximum daily limit) is a good guesstimate of the time spent, right?

Parents claim that our children are barely TV viewers because we know that otherwise, we're on the "Irresponsible, Very Bad Parent That Lets Their Kid Get Babysat By TV" list. If you're on this list, you know your child will end up hyperactive, unable to concentrate and lacking in creativity. And then your child will be an all-around complete idiot as an adult.

I guess that's why when I go to the doctor, I never get asked how many hours of TV I'm watching. Maybe it's already assumed that my brain is fried and that I'm an idiot? Well, hopefully I'll be a smarter, more well-rounded adult at the end of this week and maybe my sons will be less likely to beg for Lucky Charms and the latest Lego Star Wars toys since they'll be unplugged from all the commercials.

So are you going to join me in turning off your TV too? C'mon, let's try to make it through the week together!


1969 said…
I love ya but LOST returns on Thursday. The week hasn't even started and I'm already out. Good luck on your quest!
Liz Dwyer said…
I used to be a DEVOUT Lost viewer in the 1st season. But then I couldn't get into season two and I just never started watching it again. It was very addictive while I did watch it though.
Anonymous said…
I couldn't survive a whole week without TV, there are too many programmes I just can't miss, but I do watch it very sparingly - some nights not at all. The trouble with TV is that it doesn't encourage independent critical thought. You have to keep watching so you don't miss anything, and there's no chance to stand back and reflect on what you're seeing. So we absorb all sorts of dubious messages without realising.
1969 said…
You need to rewatch Season two!!!! It is sooo good. (Uh, once the week is over of course).
none said…
I sleep to the science channel because listening to William Shatner narrarate a show about supernovas and black holes is better than any prescription sleep aid.
the walking man said…
Just wandered over from OG Claudia's very well written 'riting.

Naw the TV stays as does the PC Monitor and if I had one of those TV cards and was disposed to use my lap top I would probably never write again.

Baby sat by the TV pshaw, I was baby sat by Larry, Moe and, Curly with The Little Rascal's pitch hitting...Now I have put away childish things and stick to the death and destruction wrought on my mind by Soprano re-runs, with true crime mixed in. It is after all on A&E, which you do know means "Art & Entertainment, eh?

Can't deprive a growing mind of Art can we?


Liz Dwyer said…
You totally could do it . When I lived in China, I watched almost zero TV. And here in the States there have been week or two stretches where I've been so busy I had no time for TV so I know I can do it! Some shows I do miss, but increasingly I don't miss much at all because it's almost all reality shows. Speaking of messages, we do absorb a lot of them without realizing it -- and given how crappy I was feeling about myself last week, maybe some no TV time is just what I need.

Okay, I'll give it another chance. Maybe I'll see if they have season two on Netflix.

Oh wow, that's really funny.
Captain Kirk/TJ Hooker puts you to sleep! Maybe I should try that next time insomnia hits me!
Anonymous said…
I remember that Lillie Langtree one too! Thanks for joining in, and good luck! I am impressed that you are willing to give it a go despite spousal resistance (what is it with husbands and TV anyhow?).
Jameil said…
1) I work in tv so that's my job. 2) uhhh... top chef is new again this week even if i just did it at home!
3) lmao @ Rock of Love/Masterpiece Theatre.
4) breakfast club rocks!
6) watch out! no tv-watching quickly gets self-righteous! watch out!
Liz Dwyer said…
The Walking Man,
Welcome! So sorry I missed your comment earlier. I have been wondering if I watch some Fantasy Island reruns on my computer if that counts as TV. Or if I watch some Billy Idol videos on YouTube. That's also art! :)

Mom Unplugged,
I don't get what the TV thing is with some husbands. Mine will watch it all day if given the chance -- he admits that he's corrupted me since I watch much more TV than I did before I married him. That said, I'm always thinking that I wish I could buy that Lillie Langtree MPT. I was only 6 or 7 when it came on but I still remember the story.

Yeah, I watched Masterpiece Theatre and then turned on Rock of Love right after that. Psycho, I know. I'm not worried about Top Chef because of reruns. (It'll be on at least 10 more times in the next month)

Just imagine how well it would go at work if you came in and said you didn't watch TV anymore! Hah!
thailandchani said…
I really miss Masterpiece Theatre. I remember Lily - and I, Claudius - Upstairs/Downstairs - all those great shows!

Now TV is hardly worth watching so it's not much of a struggle to turn it off. However, I'm not willing to give up The First 48 yet. :)
Anonymous said…
We gave up our TV about 6 years ago and I don't miss it. I don't have any idea WHEN we would watch TV now. We barely get through our Netflix. We watch DVDs and stream some TV shows (Bones, Pushing Daisies) but not in a while.

I don't miss it. The biggest thing is that going to the market? Everything seems loud and chaotic. Weird.
the joy said…
Well the tv is always on at work, and lost is back and samantha who? is too. And bones. So... Sorry. I'm not addicted, trust me, I'd rather not watch CNN all day, but I have always had the tv on as background and a lil bit of security. I don't like the quiet.
the joy said…
Additionally, when I was lil I watched tv all the time, but I turned out great if I do say so myself, lmao. I do have an encyclopedic knowledge of nickelodeon/ nick at night shows, but I loved that channel!
Good luck with your experiment. I realized I def. had the TV on in the background when I lived in L.A. I hardly watch TV here and as a result have been spending more time with friends, writing and reading. There will be no TV in my new apt. I don't think I will miss it. I can watch movies on my Macbook.

It's probably a good thing I'm not a parent. My kids would not like me. I would not allow a TV in their bedrooms and they could not watch a lot of TV. Sorry. They can be brainwashed to desire toys and other things they cannot afford when they are older. :)
BlackLiterature said…
I, lik eyou watch way more TV now that I'm married than i ever did whie single. Plus we have this tivo thing which allows us to tape shows we would normally just miss.

The primaries are this week so I'm not sure I can make it THIS week, but I think we will pick a No TV Week soon and see how it goes. Maybe I should start us off with a no TV day. ;-)
Mamita Umita said…
The kids are not allowed to watch tv in the house on weekdays, period. Which leaves lots of time for me to watch, and this week is horrible - Grey's Anatomy is back on Thursday. But if I do decide to not watch tv the rest of this week, I have a dvr, so I can make up for lost time ;)
Jameil said…
(all 4 seasons of lost are online in HD btw on abc.com)
Liz Dwyer said…
Upstairs/Downstairs was sooo good! I miss that show. Sometimes I don't know if I would have gotten so into literature if not for Masterpiece Theatre. I can't say the same for TV today.

I keep hearing that Bones is a great show but I've never managed to catch an episode of it. Six years is a long time without TV. I'm not missing it too much on day two.

The Joy,
You're another Bones viewer! Hmm...I may have to track this show down! I think my husband likes to have TV on as background noise too. He'll have two TVs on and a radio in the kitchen playing NPR.

That's the thing, when you stop watching it, you come up with lots of other fun things to do, like spending time with people -- although I suppose the same could be say for blogging! :)

I don't want my boys to ever have a TV in their room. I didn't have my own TV until I was 23 and someone who lived across the street was being evicted. The cops said I could have this little 13 inch TV and so I took it home. I had it till last year.

I am just dying to go watch some of the coverage to see what's happening with the primary, but on the other hand I feel a little better not hearing all the spin and lying that goes on. My boys haven't watched any in two days -- they seem like they're still alive so it's easier than I thought it'd be! :)

No weekdays is a good policy. I have never seen Grey's Anatomy! I think I just have a hard time keeping track of more than one TV show at a time. Last year I was all over Heroes but this year I haven't watched more than two episodes. Now I'm just waiting for Robin Hood to come back on BBC -- Sunday's the day! I don't know how to run our DVR. I guess that's a good thing.

Oh thanks! Maybe I'll go check out if they are ever gonna get off that island, and if Hurley is ever gonna lose some weight.
I'm turning mine off this week. I messed up on Sunday because I forgot all about it until after they watched the morning junk. Oh Well. Monday and Tuesday we were playing outside with great weather so that's good. If it's nice weather we can make it.
Shai said…
I was reading about it and was interested until I saw all my shows are coming back with new episodes this week.

I had already proposed one TV-less hour a day. LOL. It is hard cause either I am on my DVDs or my fav shows. I am glad I have never had cable. LOL.
Kari Carlson said…
Hey there, L.A.

Thank you for bringing this no TV week to my attention. I enjoyed a whole host of HGTV and Bravo shows while housesitting last week. But, this week I've been feeling a bit assaulted by TV. So, I think I will go ahead and pull the plug, even though we're half-way through the week.

Hm... maybe a tv fast is even in order? 19 days. Yeah. I always have ideas like this one I never quite follow through on. But, it'd be a cool experiment.

Anonymous said…
oh my god, how do you avoid tv? I am an analogue addict, I could never give it up. I am too weak. Current obsessions are the UK Apprentice! On tonight, yay! 30 Rock was great too.
Liz Dwyer said…
I've been doing a lot of games and acting with the kids so it's been really fun to not have the TV on. And we took a long walk this afternoon. That definitely helped distract them!

I think any amount of cutting back has to be a good thing. I really feel much more active and mentally alert after just a couple of days!

A TV fast! :) Isn't it weird how when you first start watching TV, it's a really gratifying thing, especially when you're seeing the stuff you never get to see. But then after a bit, it stops being truly satisfying. I guess it's probably like drugs in that respect?

It's really not too hard. Much easier than I thought, mostly because so much of it is not that well done -- and I know reruns of the shows I do like will be on eventually. Or I can read what happened and not feel like I missed out. Plus, I'm having fun without it so that helps! C'mon, you can do it! Give it one day! ;)
Anonymous said…
oooo I love my TV. I will die without it. Love LOST and Supernatural.
Watch TV Online
Teachinfourth said…
Crazy! I do this with my class each year...Monday starts our 'no tv' week. Some of them are pretty nervous about whether or not they can do it...I have to remind them that it won't kill them and 7 other classes of 4th & 6th graders have done with and we've had no serious losses.

I commend you for taking the challenge!

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