I remember as a kid encountering classmates who didn’t own TV’s. I pitied these forsaken children with their hippie parents who thought they were protecting their offspring from brain numbing rubbish. While instead they were unknowingly excluding their children from important cultural references for years to come. We felt it was our duty to invite them over after to school to catch up some mandatory viewing; otherwise how would they know which character to vie for during our lunch time Power Ranger playacts, or maybe it would be to our advantage, one less girl wanting to be Pink. I eventually became one of these kids. When I was just weaning myself off Barney and Sesame Street, ready for some harder stuff; to brave Goosbumps and maybe even test the waters of some dumbed down sitcoms, I was rudely forced into the company of those raw veggie eating, hand me down clothed, children of the Earth. But this wasn’t for any self-betterment on my parent’s part; it was, as usual, to save a buck or two. My father, always out for a long term deal, had made an investment in a satellite dish. This was not the satellite dishes that adorn the roofs of so many suburban houses; this was a satellite dish that sent messages to aliens. It was the size of a trampoline, and was probably why I was never able to get a trampoline; no room and no money. It scarred our backyard, despite my mother’s attempts to fence it off and disguise it in vines. Since part of the long term bargain was that we illegally picked up our satellite signal from our surrounding area, and everyone in the neighborhood was using cable our channel selection was limited and fuzzy at best. The only children’s TV I was exposed to being a promo for a Disney channel, which played the same episodes of My Little Pony every day, leading me to carefully rotate my viewing periods. Therefore, for the most part I grew up with the best of the oldies. When asked to make a personal profile in grade 4, I listed my favourite TV show as Green Acres. When we were given a colouring sheet of the Simpson family I mistakenly, and to the horror of the entire class, coloured Marge’s hair brown. A few years later, after we turned our house into a B&B, my parents finally conceded and got cable and I was eventually able to catch up with my peers, although mystifyingly Power Rangers was still off limits. My parents were convinced some poorly costumed villains fighting in broad daylight in a park was too frighting for me, little did they realize that it was in fact the martians from Sesame Street that haunted my dreams.
Nowadays, almost everyone I talk to chooses not to own a TV, and they say so proudly; they’ve been on the commercial-free wagon for 6 months and no low price cable package is going to tempt them off. I can understand, with computers you can watch what you want, when you want, and best of all, for free. (I just hope I’m not the only one prepared for this joyride to end abruptly any time soon.) The last time I was home and surfing the channels, after about, 3 years of being clean, I witnessed how far basic cable had degraded. I wouldn’t have thought it possible near the end of my TV viewing years, what with each new reality shows trying to top the others with ridiculousness and grotesqueness. I thought it couldn’t be beat after witnessing a bachelorette type show, where all the contestants wore wrestling style masks throughout, so the decision couldn’t be based on appearance, and it was hosted by Monica Lewinsky. Now the majority of the channels were devoted to shopping networks, there were a few more foreign channels and the few channels I was actually able to watch were ran the likes of Two and a Half Men, with whatever washed up cast they have managed to scrounge up at this point and dumb blonde bitches trying to tackle day to day tasks, breathing and so on. The only time I could stomach to watch was late-night.
Gone are the days of channel surfing, unless you constantly want to have your finger on the next channel button. And the sans TV option, is no longer the hippie family choice but the sensible one if you want to keep any wits about you. Let’s just hope that when our satellite finally does make contact with the outer realms, that it transmits Honey West rather than Honey Boo Boo, otherwise they may invade us for our own good.