I am an unapologetic lover of pop culture and so this isn’t an anti-TV tirade. I stumbled on this only because we couldn’t afford multiple TVs with cable when our kids were little.
Life is weird.
From my own experience growing up and what I’ve observed since, owning several TVs may cut down on arguments, but I think it tends to separate everyone. There’s no discussion. No bonding. TV watching tends to be a consumer experience. I may be wrong, and feel free to tell me so in the comments, but this is what I’ve noticed.
In our family, we either all agree to watch something together or the majority rules and has control of the TV. Simple as that. Yes, that does occasionally cause a squabble between Thing1 and Thing2, but arguments often lead to banishment from the TV. It’s amazing how quickly agreements occur with that threat looming.
Unexpected benefits to owning only one TV:
Trans-Generational Communications. We discuss what we watch, sometimes disagreeing, of course, because we aren’t all “peace and love and rainbows” or solve the world’s problems in 30 minutes like The Brady Bunch (which I’m happy to say, my kids have never watched).
We’ve had conversations about why people act the way they do, how to handle certain situations (because what we just watched on The Big Bang Theory was the wrong way to go about it), and how times have changed. History is much more interesting and thought-provoking when watching something like Gone with the Wind, The Great Raid, or Mississippi Burning.
We’ve talked quite a bit about what the kids see on commercials, the targeting of particular age groups, and how they play on your emotions. It’s been a tough road, but they are learning.
Eating out is an entirely different experience since watching Deadliest Catch and Bar Rescue together. We know where those king crab on our plates come from and appreciate the dangerous hard work of guys like Sig & Edgar, Johnathan & Andy, Keith & Monte, Phil (may he RIP) & Josh. We’ve been watching them so long they’re like family. And each time we go to a restaurant, one of us always says something like: “Ewww, look at the spots on this spoon!” “The server doesn’t even know what an ale is!” “This stuff was nuked not cooked.” “Jon Taffer wouldn’t be pleased.”
Quality family time, indeed.
Since Thing1 wants to be a filmmaker some day, we break down the movies and discuss the artistic choices made. She’s a walking encyclopedia of movie making trivia. Interestingly, she likes old movies better and by old I mean at least 15 years older. She likes the storylines better than much of the uninspiring, unoriginal stuff Hollywood is churning out these days. That’s my girl! Of course, we all agree that the visual elements today are way better.
Our kids relate well to adults. Ever notice how many kids don’t voluntarily speak to adults and when asked direct questions, only speak in single-word monotones? I often wonder how on earth they’ll get through a job interview or work with all kinds of different people.
I watched Thing1 speak animatedly to several adults at a cookout this summer. Know what broke the ice? Talking about movies.
Year after year, we get wonderful comments from teachers at Open House about our daughters. The girls are strong academic and artistic students, but are also liked for their personalities. Several teachers have said the girls are the only ones who get their jokes or recognize a particular movie quote.
More than ever these days, people connect over something so simple as a shared knowledge of pop culture.
We also have a lot of fun. There are times when we just don’t care about the “meaning” or “message” of a show or movie and that’s ok.
We spin out convoluted theories about how those really long beards on reality tv show guys like Aaron on Fast and Loud are actually the source of their knowledge and skill – “To destroy the beard is to destroy the source of their power.” Hmm. Maybe we’ve been watching a bit too much Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. No. Nevah!
We love throwing around movie quotes: “Inconceivable!” “Sorry don’t get it done.” “Run, Forrest, Run.” “We’re on a mission from God.” “They’re coming for you, Barbara.” “It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.” “Beuller…Beuller” “It’s so fluffy!” And in a nod to Rain Main, the following can often be heard in our house: “No, we definitely have to have turkey and salami in the sandwich, not ham, and definitely have to crumble the bbq chips on top. They have to be bbq, not regular, and they definitely have to be crumbled.” Yeah. There may be a little OCD there.
To be perfectly honest, now that our kids are teens, they each have their own computer and could easily skip family TV time. But they often don’t. In fact, now that I’ve been trying to cut down on TV watching to write more, they nag me to watch with them!
We spent their formative years steered them toward appreciating a different way of watching TV and now they’re ours forever, bwa-ha-ha-haaaa!
Watching TV as a family has, I think, developed a (hopefully lifelong) habit of paying attention and thinking while watching. Now that they’re older, it’s often the kids who start the conversations, which I think is pretty damn cool.
What do you think? How does your family view TV? Do you think my ideas are right on or off base?