While living in Taipei, Taiwan, as a baby, toddler, and preschooler, my sister and I watched so much TV that we picked up enough Chinese to alarm our parents (who couldn’t understand a lick of it).
I have memories of a televised Kiss concert while living in Illinois, School House Rock mini-lessons between Saturday morning cartoons, beauty pageants, game shows (my mom especially loved Wheel of Fortune), award shows, soap operas, Benny Hill, The Three Stooges, sitcoms, and cheesy prime-time stuff like The Love Boat, Fantasy Island (“Da PLANE! Da PLANE!”), and The A-Team.
My family had a TV in every room — including a tiny one in the kitchen. I often escaped from the craziness of my early teen years and my duties as the oldest child in an Asian family by watching in my bedroom late night PBS fare like Alive from Off-Center, Masterpiece Theatre, Mystery, Connections, NOVA, and Doctor Who.
(Tom Baker was the Doctor when I first started viewing, but I admit I had a bit of a crush on Peter Davison. I even loved him on All Creatures Great and Small.)
My TV watching didn’t decrease when I got older. I once begged off a date from my high school boyfriend because Northern Exposure was on (I think that’s where I picked up my love of pie and coffee), and I would often get behind on my graduate school homework because I was binge-watching The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I deeply and most whole-heartedly LOVE watching TV.
Problem: I didn’t get much long-form fiction writing done. True, I did write this 100 page something, scrawled in pencil in a spiral-bound notebook, when I was in sixth grade and declared it a “novel” (which I promptly lost), but then — NADA, until my master’s thesis (a short-story collection).
As much as I learned about plot, pacing, dialogue, and characterization while watching all that TV, I would neglect my own world-creating as I got caught up in other people’s creations, vividly unrolling before my screen-reflecting eyes.
So that’s why I don’t have cable. My TV is only on for children’s programming for my kid and the occasional urge to watch something on Netflix or Amazon Prime. I just watched The Day of the Doctor on Amazon Prime, and I am fighting the urge to binge-watch every Doctor Who episode I had missed, from Chris Eccleston, to David Tennant, to Matt Smith, and now Peter Capaldi.
I stopped watching Dr. Who after 2006. I stopped watching Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother. I never watched Lost, Fringe, or Chuck.
I *want* to watch them. However, I can be a SERIOUS binge-watcher of TV when I allow it, spiraling into the vortex of OCD fangirl. For example, I once wrote an episode guide for myself, pre-internet-days, of every Robotech episode I watched when I was a middle-schooler.
When I got obsessed with Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes on Mystery, I read every Holmes story that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote, wrote a chronology for myself, and cross-referenced it to the TV series.
I even would compose fan-fiction in my head to lull myself to sleep (I did that a lot with Star Trek Next Generation and Deep Space 9).
Oh man, I can’t afford the time to do that these days.
So — sorry Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS reps. I just don’t watch that much TV.
I have a novel to write. 🙂