Do You Own Too Many TV Sets? A Cautionary Tale
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Do You Own Too Many TV Sets? A Cautionary Tale

Our columnist wonders what life would be like if she gave into her TV compulsion and installed a set in every single room (even her bathroom).

By Kris Frieswick
Wed, Aug 31, 2022 9:49amGrey Clock 4 min

HOW MANY TVS ARE TOO MANY? While the average U.S. household has 2.3 sets, according to recent Nielsen data, in some homes TVs hold dominion over every room, even the bathroom. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal profiled a couple who have four TVs in their 13-metret-long RV.

Nobody needs to own even a single TV set. We’re surrounded by screens, all capable of streaming “Amish Mafia”: cellphones, laptops, tablets, Nintendo Switches, anything connected to the interwebs. And despite too many viewing options, there’s still little worth watching including, sadly, “House of the Dragon.”

The Husband and I own just one TV and restrict it to the living room for one simple reason: If confronted with a TV, I can’t not watch it. My eyes are drawn to it like moths to a flickering, poorly written, casted and directed flame. If one’s playing anywhere within my view, I can’t even hold a normal human conversation about pizza toppings. My condition helps explain why our home is among just 19% of American households with a single TV. The temptation is too great.

Still, in my most private moments, I have flirted with the dark side. What would life be like if I gave into my compulsion and spent all my discretionary income on a bunch of Smart TVs with Universal Search, maybe one for every room? Would I become a slave to the 4K UHD demon?

Not if I brought intention and purpose to my viewing habits, using TV for good instead of mindlessly munching it like it’s a party-sized bag of mesquite barbecue potato chips.

Here’s how I’d do it:

Upon waking, I would lie in bed and watch 30 minutes of a horror movie to help me level-set my expectations for my day. Anything less life-threatening than zombies or axe-wielding maniacs would be a win.

Next, to the kitchen for coffee. While it brews, I’d turn on the “Today” morning show but mute it because my real objective is to evaluate the anchors’ outfits, hairstyles and makeup for inspiration. The Husband will weigh in—protesting a daytime smokey eye—thus ensuring at least some communication in our day.

Then, it’s off to a training session on my exercise bike in the Shed Mahal, the backyard horse shed we converted into my office/storage/gym space. I’ll flip on the TV beside my bike and select a movie in which stuff blows up and chicks kick butt. Options include any movie in the “Alien” franchise that doesn’t involve a “Predator,” “Spy” with Melissa McCarthy, or “All About Eve,” because it’s sweet to watch Bette Davis step back and let karma—the original bad bitch—kick Eve’s butt. Any of these will take my mind off my own aching posterior for 80 minutes while inspiring me to DOMINATE.

Off to the bathroom to shower. This could be challenging, since you can’t see anything on the screen while soaping up. My solution: the karaoke channel, but only tunes whose words I know. Fortunately, I am sufficiently fluent in the oeuvres of Patsy Cline, Little River Band and Shriekback to get through months of purposefully “watching” TV while wet.

Then to the bedroom to strategize the day’s outfit and stare at a TV above the bureau that would double as a mirror if it wasn’t always on. I’ll stream old episodes of the British “What Not to Wear,” with Trinny and Susannah, women who taught me that lady people with bodies like mine should never wear a scoop-neck anything and that it’s OK to stretch out the hems of overly clingy T-shirts.

Back to Shed Mahal to work. Lunch breaks are all about a brain break and that means soaps. Specifically “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Will Sheila Carter return, again, from the dead? (Spoiler: Yes.)

Cocktails on the porch start promptly at 6:15 p.m. Whereas I once basked in glorious sunsets, I’ll flip on that superwide, sunset-blocking, weatherproof outdoor TV we hung from the porch ceiling and turn to a true-crime documentary about murderous twins. It will highlight investigative brilliance, basically educational programming for journalists like myself. Also, it’s rare to find identical murderers.

After my professional development viewing is done, it’s dinner hour. The Husband and I will tune the dining room TV to a show that sparks entertaining conversation, a rarity during the day. By this I obviously mean old recordings on C-SPAN of “Prime Minister’s Questions,” a weekly hour in the British House of Commons during which members lob queries and insults at one another and the PM. If you have a Welsh husband who can translate slanderous British terms like “numpty,” “scrubber” and “poxy,” it’s the best comedy show on Earth.

Then to bed, where we’ll flip our bedroom TV to a show that’s none of your business.

OK, it’s “House Hunters International.” Watching the featured couples reject perfectly acceptable homes because they don’t like the interior paint colours makes us feel better about our marriage and ourselves.

That’s how I would channel my TV compulsion into personal growth.

Either that or I’ll spend every day on the edge of my bed watching whatever’s airing on whatever channel we were mindfully watching the night before. This will likely involve a lot of me yelling at the set “YOU CAN REPAINT!”

Now that I’ve gamed it out, perhaps, even one is too many TVs for me.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: August 30, 2022.


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Capri Coffer socks away $600 a month to help fund her travels. The Atlanta health-insurance account executive and her husband couldn’t justify a family vacation to the Dominican Republic this summer, though, given what she calls “astronomical” plane ticket prices of $800 each.

The price was too high for younger family members, even with Coffer defraying some of the costs.

Instead, the family of six will pile into a rented minivan come August and drive to Hilton Head Island, S.C., where Coffer booked a beach house for $650 a night. Her budget excluding food for the two-night trip is about $1,600, compared with the $6,000 price she was quoted for a three-night trip to Punta Cana.

“That way, everyone can still be together and we can still have that family time,” she says.

With hotel prices and airfares stubbornly high as the 2023 travel rush continues—and overall inflation squeezing household budgets—this summer is shaping up as the season of travel trade-offs for many of us.

Average daily hotel rates in the top 25 U.S. markets topped $180 year-to-date through April, increasing 9.9% from a year ago and 15.6% from 2019, according to hospitality-data firm STR.

Online travel sites report more steep increases for summer ticket prices, with Kayak pegging the increase at 35% based on traveler searches. (Perhaps there is no more solid evidence of higher ticket prices than airline executives’ repeated gushing about strong demand, which gives them pricing power.)

The high prices and economic concerns don’t mean we’ll all be bunking in hostels and flying Spirit Airlines with no luggage. Travellers who aren’t going all-out are compromising in a variety of ways to keep the summer vacation tradition alive, travel agents and analysts say.

“They’re still out there and traveling despite some pretty real economic headwinds,” says Mike Daher, Deloitte’s U.S. transportation, hospitality and services leader. “They’re just being more creative in how they spend their limited dollars.”

For some, that means a cheaper hotel. says global search interest in three-star hotels is up more than 20% globally. Booking app HotelTonight says nearly one in three bookings in the first quarter were for “basic” hotels, compared with 27% in the same period in 2019.

For other travellers, the trade-offs include a shorter trip, a different destination, passing on premium seat upgrades on full-service airlines or switching to no-frills airlines. Budget-airline executives have said on earnings calls that they see evidence of travellers trading down.

Deloitte’s 2023 summer travel survey, released Tuesday, found that average spending on “marquee” trips this year is expected to decline to $2,930 from $3,320 a year ago. Tighter budgets are a factor, he says.

Too much demand

Wendy Marley is no economics teacher, but says she’s spent a lot of time this year refreshing clients on the basics of supply and demand.

The AAA travel adviser, who works in the Boston area, says the lesson comes up every time a traveler with a set budget requests help planning a dreamy summer vacation in Europe.

“They’re just having complete sticker shock,” she says.

Marley has become a pro at Plan B destinations for this summer.

For one client celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary with a budget of $10,000 to $12,000 for a five-star June trip, she switched their attention from the pricey French Riviera or Amalfi Coast to a luxury resort on the Caribbean island of St. Barts.

To Yellowstone fans dismayed at ticket prices into Jackson, Wyo., and three-star lodges going for six-star prices, she recommends other national parks within driving distance of Massachusetts, including Acadia National Park in Maine.

For clients who love the all-inclusive nature of cruising but don’t want to shell out for plane tickets to Florida, she’s been booking cruises out of New York and New Jersey.

Not all of Marley’s clients are tweaking their plans this summer.

Michael McParland, a 78-year-old consultant in Needham, Mass., and his wife are treating their family to a luxury three-week Ireland getaway. They are flying business class on Aer Lingus and touring with Adventures by Disney. They initially booked the trip for 2020, so nothing was going to stand in the way this year.

McParland is most excited to take his teen grandsons up the mountain in Northern Ireland where his father tended sheep.

“We decided a number of years ago to give our grandsons memories,” he says. “Money is money. They don’t remember you for that.”

Fare first, then destination

Chima Enwere, a 28-year old piano teacher in Fayetteville, N.C., is also headed to the U.K., but not by design.

Enwere, who fell in love with Europe on trips the past few years, let airline ticket prices dictate his destination this summer to save money.

He was having a hard time finding reasonable flights out of Raleigh-Durham, N.C., so he asked for ideas in a Facebook travel group. One traveler found a round-trip flight on Delta to Scotland for $900 in late July with reasonable connections.

He was budgeting $1,500 for the entire trip—he stays in hostels to save money—but says he will have to spend more given the pricier-than-expected plane ticket.

“I saw that it was less than four digits and I just immediately booked it without even asking questions,” he says.

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