For three years I haven't owned a television. Helen and I had one. When I moved out in March 2009 she asked me if I wanted it; I said no, and she eventually sold the huge box we'd bought in 2002 before flat screens were cool.
Until July 2010 I was both TV-less and car-less, probably placing me somewhere among no more than 5% of Americans (although my status is not nearly as unique in the SF Bay Area.) In July 2010 I bought the Prius, a lovely car that I strive to operate as little as possible. For me a great week is when the car sits parked outside for several days, as I enjoy the amazing luxury of walking to work. Driving is drudgery, although I do find myself at more far-flung parts of the Bay than I would without the car.
Post-car the TV drought continued. Pi Wen also did not own a TV, so after we moved in together in August 2010 no television was available. I didn't much miss it, as my main interest is current affairs and there are countless ways to stay informed without watching the tube. As soon as I downloaded the Politico app to my iPhone my nerd quotient rose in tandem with my knowledge of the minutiae of Washington politicking.
Pi Wen and I went to Malaysia in November 2010, got married in March 2011, and moved into a bigger place in May. Still no TV, but I knew all about Donald Trump's ludicrous claims that President Obama is not an American citizen.
Meanwhile my Facebook page hummed with news of what my friends were watching. "Breaking Bad" claimed the stage for a while, before that "Friday Night Lights," right now "Downton Abbey" is sucking up all the oxygen. What are these shows? Are they worth watching? The New Yorker seems to think so, as evidenced by the "Is Television the New Cinema?" panel David Remnick hosted last month.
That panel reminded me that many people claim we're in the golden age of television. Well-written, complex stories that plumb the depths of the human experience. It's not just American Idol and Jersey Shore, thank goodness.
Meanwhile Pi Wen was noting how she missed the morning news, how it used to be her background noise as she got ready for the day.
And so we found ourselves at Best Buy this President's Day, buying a fancy flat screen. Cable arrives next week. We still plan to walk after dinner, not plop right down on the couch. That's what the DVR is for, so when we can watch the shows when we want to. And maybe I can finally get myself to stretch if I have something else to do at the same time, like watching "Downton Abbey."