Now that we’re into a new TV season, I have a complaint. Why can’t I watch a television show in peace anymore?
I long for the good old days when there were only a few hundred channels and one gadget to watch them on. Call me old school, or even ancient school, but I enjoy viewing my favorite shows on an actual television–not a computer, not a tablet, not a telephone. Granted, our TV is connected to what seems like a dozen different boxes and cables, and you need four remote controls to operate the damn thing, and if my wife’s not home I barely know how to change the channel, much less watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix.
But my technological shortcomings are not what I want to talk about today.
I also don’t want to talk about all the commercials that go on between the commercials. Here I am, using our DVR, expertly hitting fast-forward the second the network logo fades off the lower right-hand corner of the screen (which signals the start of commercials), zipping through one, two, three, four spots while trying to guess which ad will be the last one in the block so I can press PLAY at exactly the moment the show comes back on. But then there’s always yet another commercial–it must be, like, the tenth in a row–and now each one just has to be the last one, right? But it’s not, so now I’m PLAYing and FFing, PLAYING and FFing, operating the remote like a senior citizen operates a car, and then I realize the FFing show has actually been back on for about 10 seconds, and I have to rewind.
Where was I?
Right, so now I’m finally watching the show again, and for the entire 10 minutes it manages to run between the commercial blocks, there are more commercials…on the screen…during the show…so I can’t FF through them. It used to be that these “pop-ups” would be for the channel’s other shows, or even to tell me what I’m watching now, for crying out loud, just in case I didn’t already feel like an idiot for getting hooked on House Hunters. (“NOW: You’re watching House Hunters! NEXT: Another House Hunters. In fact, we’ll be showing House Hunters all day because you’re too dazed to change the channel or, heaven forbid, get up from the couch and stop watching TV altogether.”)
But now these intrusive billboards tell me about movies that are “in theaters,” or pizzas that are just a half hour away, or other ways I can watch what I’m trying to watch at that moment (“On Demand! Online! On Your Mobile Device! On Donner! On Blitzen!”), something I’m having difficulty doing what with all the stuff they keep flashing on the screen.
But, as I said, I don’t want to talk about any of that.
What I do want to talk about are all the little interactive things they want you to do during the show. For instance, during The Walking Dead, I can have a “two screen experience.” There are some things I wouldn’t mind having two of at the same time, but screens is not one of them. I don’t want a two screen experience. I find one screen to be ample for seeing an ax chop through a zombie’s head. And if the show’s any good, why do I want to be watching other, albeit related, content on another screen? I mean, when I read a book, I don’t also have another book that tells me what the author was thinking when he wrote the main book!
Or maybe I want to “live tweet” with one of the actors of the show I’m watching. Not the star, of course, but perhaps the woman playing the star’s friend’s love interest. It’s amazing to me that this person would be desperate enough for acting work to agree to be on call to tweet with me whenever I decide to watch this show on my DVR. How does that work anyway? The studio calls her in the middle of the night because she’s in LA and I wake up early one morning in Connecticut and start watching? “@fatbaldguywithbeard is tweeting you about the sudden loss of your British accent during the sex scene,” the studio might say. “Wake up and tweet him back.”
Wait–this just in. I’m being informed that they only live tweet while the show is being broadcast. I guess that makes more sense.
And what’s up with all these hash tags? I’ll be watching, say, American Idol, and every time someone is on camera, they’ll super “#jlostush” or “#sadstorygirl, or “#reallyoffpitch.”
What am I supposed to do about those? Tweet my deepest feelings about J.Lo’s tush in 140 characters or less? Share my own personal tale of woe which, although not nearly as horrible as the performer whose cat was crushed by a tractor on her farm (and just minutes before she left for her audition!), was nevertheless traumatic?
My only conclusion is that all television viewers now have some sort of highly-specific ADD that prevents them from only watching a TV show. Even at the most dramatic moments, they need to also be tweeting or Tumblring, or Instagramming, or playing Candy Crush.
Can’t I just watch the damn show?
And, by the way, it’s a friggin’ number sign!
See you soon.