In recent years I have covered more film than television, but don’t mistake that for my not watching TV, it’s just that my viewing habits have changed. This change stems from a number of factors, but I think that chief amongst them are my having kids who want to watch TV in the evenings and the rise in streaming programming.
So much of what is seen as “quality” or “prestige” TV these days carries a more mature rating. While my daughter is old enough to be watching TV into the evenings, she isn’t old enough for some of the themes and discussions that regularly occur on such television programs. Consequently, I have less time to watch them – it simply wouldn’t do to have my daughter sit and watch “Orange is the New Black”* with us.
*As a side note here and because I just finished the season of it, I don’t think the most recent season (which, yes, I grant you isn’t all that recent), the prison riot season, of “Orange is the New Black” is very good. The size of the cast seems like more than the show can handle, and this season the producers appear to lose track of characters, including, most literally, during the finale when there is a count being done on the prisoners. The series offers a number of prisoners not present during this count, but the number is wrong because the producers appear to simply forget a character exists. That’s not great.
I have written, although not recently, about watching TV with my kids and my daughter’s spate of shows is still ever-increasing. Right now she’s big into The CW’s Flarrowverse, watching “The Flash,” Supergirl,” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.” She hasn’t done “Arrow” yet because it started before she was watching such programming, but eventually she may decide that she wants to catch up on Netflix over the summer.
Those CW shows I’m definitely willing to watch, and I actively enjoy “The Flash” and some of “Supergirl,” but when she puts on something like “Tiny House Hunters,” I’m less amused. I completely understand the potential for such a series, but I can’t help but feel that it’s carried out badly. Over the course of 30 minutes of show, it feels like there’s something approaching 10 minutes of content. Obviously there are the commercials which take away a decent amount of time, but even after that, each episode constantly repeats itself, showing us the same moments from the same houses over and over. Every time I watch, I’m more and more convinced that they could show five or six houses an episode instead of three. Of course, that would cost more money, wouldn’t it? When “Tiny House Hunters” goes on, I tend to wander off into another room. My daughter though, she loves it.
And then there’s the other half of the discussion that I setup above, the half about the rise in streaming programming. Netflix and Amazon dumping tons of programming all at once has led me to care less and less about it. It feels like—and I’m not the first person to say this—if you can’t watch the whole season the weekend it launches, the buzz is soon gone from the show, the discussion has completely moved on, and there are three or four dozen newer series out there. That is why I just finished “Orange is the New Black,” it got buried under a mountain of other shows.
I find it significantly more easy to keep up with eight or 10 series each week than to sit down and watch a full season of a single show in a week, even if the amount of time required to do either task is roughly the same. I wonder if that’s simply a viewing habit of mine that will slowly change over time or if my children won’t find it an issue at all. Right now though, seeing 10 or 13 episodes of a new show on Netflix or Amazon has the same effect as me seeing 10 or 13 episodes of a show stacked up on my TiVo – it’s a little daunting and unless I’m loving the series (in which case that many episodes wouldn’t be waiting for me on my TiVo) it begins to feel like a chore to watch it all. TV watching shouldn’t be a chore, it should be fun.
Where then do I end this piece? What is my final (brilliant) summation of it all? How about this… there is a lot of good (and bad) television out there, and although our viewing habits and tastes may change over time, there’s a hope that the televisual universe is large enough that those varying tastes can always be accommodated.
photo credit: Netflix