My earliest memory of TV was when I was 5 years old and living on the South side of Chicago. My mom and grandmother were watching “The Secret Storm“, which was a soap opera on CBS back then. My sister and I would sit in front of the family TV (‘cuz there was only one) and watch Diahann Carroll in “Julia” or whatever the grown-ups were watching. If you missed an episode, you had to rely on friends to tell you what happened or catch reruns over the summer. I can’t tell you how many times getting an update on “All My Children” or “Dynasty” helped me make friends in high school and college.
Today I can watch whatever I want whenever I want, including those series I lost track of (The Shield) or always wanted to watch (Frankie and Grace). There are so many places to watch shows too. For years, I would gather with co-workers at lunchtime to watch the soaps. These days, you have communal watching parties on social media.
Thanks to on-demand, There’s no such thing as “appointment television”. I now find myself blowing off shows, knowing I can binge watch whenever I want. The exception? Syndicated and shows on smaller networks. If I want to watch Ellen or Aspire, I have to dvr it or catch the highlights on YouTube.
YouTube is a treasure. When David Letterman retired last year, I found many classic comedy bits of his easily on the site. Classic commercials, music, tutorials for just about anything, YouTube has it all.
I have Netflix but I don’t use it as much as I could. I can stream it on my TV but there is something comforting about turning on the TV and seeing what the networks are offering. I like channel surfing so I can stumble on interesting shows or veg out to reruns.
The way we watch TV provides flexibility and presents opportunities to talented people who wouldn’t have gotten a chance 10 years ago. Look at Aziz Ansari’s Netflix series “Master of None“. When have you ever seen an Indian American starring in a comedy series as a full, realistic person? Issa Rae’s series “Awkward Black Girl” is another example of this. She’s premiering her HBO series “Insecure” soon.
I’m still adjusting to all the ways I can enjoy TV. I mean, I still don’t own a flat screen. My fat backed TV’s work fine and I believe in using things until they die. *smh* I’m getting there y’all.