My Mom is a self-confessed TV snob. She absolutely refuses to watch any kind of “trash” TV and to her a lot of TV is trash, especially “Reality” TV. She prefers PBS and programs like The Great British Bake Off, which isn’t trash at all apparently even though it involves a lot of bakers in a big tent dumping a lot of failed baking into the trash! As for me, I still haven’t mastered how to PVR anything or sign in to our Netflix account so I tend to avoid the TV altogether unless someone is home to help me figure out which of the three remotes on my coffee table is the one that actually turns on the TV! These days, I’m not so sure watching TV is good for my health when just trying to turn the damn thing on causes me high blood pressure.
I’m actually quite serious. As a member of the 50+ community who only got to watch TV on Tuesday nights when it was Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley back to back, I have no real idea how to operate my TV. I’m now that age when I say to my kids, “back in my day” TV stopped broadcasting at midnight after playing the national anthem and there were only about 10 or 12 channels to choose from. Watching TV was easy: you turned it on by walking over to the TV set and clicking a button or turning a knob and then you stood there, switching channels (again with knobs or buttons) until you found the program scheduled to be on at 8pm. How did you find that program my kids asked? Well, once a week a TV Guide was delivered to your door and all the shows were neatly printed out by day of the week, time of day and the channel the program would be on. Easy! These days, I’m convinced TV and all it’s related technology has become more complicated than the technology it took to put man on the moon! Looking for a show? First you have to figure out how to turn on the TV. Next up is to click button after button til you find the one that actually changes channels and then click through the 300 options available for your viewing pleasure. By the end of the list of choices you’ve already forgotten the first 200 of them and you’ve spent so much time channel surfing that you’ve run out of time to watch an actual program!
TV is just so much hard work. Even the low-end budget model TV’s these days offer HDMI (whatever that is) and ask you whether you want to watch in High-Def., with or without captions, and all while simultaneously cooking dinner for you. If you happen to have any special features like additional networks, movie channels or a service like Netflix, chances are you’ll have at least one or two MORE remotes and you’d better know how to both type AND spell because you’ll be spending a lot of time typing in the name of the movie or show you want to watch. Even though you’re pretty positive you clearly typed Good Karma Hospital, the TV decided you meant The Price is Right and now some idiot is jumping up and down on the screen in front of you because they just won a new toaster oven. I know there are some seniors out there who are pretty darn savvy but as for me? I won’t lie, until recently I had kids at home and they did things for me so before the last one left for university I had her write down all the instructions for how to PVR a show and label each of the remotes and what they did. My grandmother used to occasionally call my mom to come and “fix” her TV whenever the remote didn’t work and more often than not it was simply a case of replacing batteries – not a problem with the TV at all! We used to make so much fun of her. Guess who’s laughing now? Sadly, my Nanna is long gone but I’m pretty sure she’s pointing a finger at me and deservedly so!
My own senior Mom (TV snob or not) DOES know how to manage her TV and good for her. Me – I’m not a TV snob at all, I just don’t know how to work it! If I am lucky enough and the stars align, I might catch an episode of Survivor so I can laugh at the fact that somehow even after 20+ years of this show, some folks are still dumb enough to fall for all the usual tricks, sneakiness and deviousness. When my daughter was home we would watch the Food Network convinced we would become master chefs by watching people slice and dice an onion. She’s actually pretty good – me, not so much! Any other TV watching done by me is pretty much purely by chance. I did indeed find myself enjoying a British production based in India and recognized at least one of the main characters from her days on Downton Abbey. I enjoyed it immensely until I tried to find it again. Beginner’s luck got me hooked but it was only my daughter’s handwritten instructions that have helped me watch the remaining seasons!
When I think about my blood pressure and TV, it also doesn’t help that there are currently about 35 different channels purely devoted to news networks. Actually, it’s probably more. Each one has a different opinion about the exact same event so if turning on the TV didn’t cause you pain, chances are listening to any one of the 35 talking news heads and then trying to decide which is actually reporting “real news” will. I long for the days when your only option on a Sunday night was watching “Wild Animal Kingdom” with Marlin Perkins and you knew it was real because they would track the cheetah stalking the zebra from start to finish – the grisly outcome plainly filmed for all to see – it might have been gross but that folks – that was reality TV “back in my day.”