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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