There are now more television sets than people in the United States of America. It’s true at my house, too, with my new empty-nest situation and 2 televisions for one person. I actually have three sets–one my son has left behind–but I don’t count it because it’s not connected to cable or rabbit ears. It just collects dust.
The main set, an older, clunky, pre-digital model, sits in the family room. That’s where I watch the evening news, PBS programs, Browns games, DVDs borrowed from the library, Rev Run on MTV, and the occasional HGTV home fix-up show. The upstairs TV, a new slim set, is in my bedroom and brings me Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and the first ten minutes of The Colbert Report before bed time, and sometimes a bit of The Today Show while I’m dressing in the morning.
When I was a kid, my parents had only one TV for the family. Our first set was black and white, and I was always jealous that my cousins had a color set–even though there were few color programs in the late ’50s. As we rolled into the 1960’s, we sometimes spent Sunday afternoons with extended family around that color set. With 10 to 15 of us on the sofas, chairs and floor around the room, we would watch the Saints lose, have leftovers for dinner, then watch Bonanza in the evening before we went back home. In a way, our family life was built around that tube in a box.
It’s easy to say that we, as a nation, watch too much TV. Anything in excess is too much, and there’s plenty of mindless junk to channel-surf through. But I do enjoy the variety of options we have today over the three channels we had when I was growing up. There are some really good examples of story-telling on the tube, great programs for children, and some wonderful documentaries, but you have to sift through the trash to find them. I guess I could say the same about a visit to the library.