TV blues

2019-08-05 11:22
Stephanie Saville.

Stephanie Saville.

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So what’s on TV tonight and how do I wrestle the remote away from the guy in the house?

Talk about middle-class problems.

He likes sport and documentaries, and anything to do with engines and that sort of thing. I like news channels, health and medical stuff. We both like arty movies, some series (not the same type always), quality comedy (the British stuff mainly) and oddly enough, cooking shows. So you’d think there’d be enough to watch. But often there’s sweet blow all and I have to confess I get the sulks.

It’s a guilty confession that I enjoy a spot of mindless TV to unwind from the business of the day, especially snuggled up with a rug after supper and a shower in winter (what winter, hey?).

I don’t know why so many people are so anti-TV. I think there’s something so modernly Zen about chillaxing on the sofa with a cup of tea as you watch something engaging or comforting. Life doesn’t always have to be cerebral.

But lately, decent programmes are so few and far between that one finds oneself watching drivel sometimes just to fill the gaps. Repeats of series, movies and other programmes ad nauseum are the order of the day. And an innocent channel surf makes one lose faith in humanity. You never know what you’ll get.

The other night I was hopping around and found a big butt on the screen. What the …?! Naked and Afraid in all its glory is about survivalists who spend three weeks in the wilderness with a complete stranger. Oh, and they do this in the altogether. Yep. The full monty. Completely logical … Why do people want to watch it? They must enjoy it, because it’s always on. Every night. A quick look online shows that Naked And Afraid shares the Discovery Channel record for the highest-rated survival telecast at the network since June 2009. Oh, so some people rather like it. And there are 10 series of it and 118 episodes.

So, I guess we still have a lot more butts to see. Pass the remote please.

Then it appears that those who buy shows for DStv also have an obsession about wild, lonely, cold people. There are a host of programmes dealing with people who live in remote areas of ice. Arctic, Antarctic, Iceland, oh, how they love the doccies with heaps of snow, icy wasteland and plains of tundra in them. But they’re all so samey and formulaic that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

And what about the animal documentaries? Now, some I love. Give me a Richard Attenborough any day and I’ll be rapt. But, so many of these wildlife doccies are so full of seemingly gratuitous animal deprivation and violence that I shudder and am often forced to cover my eyes if he’s engrossed in the drama of it all. “Here are animals fighting,” the narrators say in their droning voices. “And here are some animals starving before the rains come. See how weak and miserable they are, so hungry and sad. Many will die lingering deaths.

“And just here, you can see some animals that were wounded by others who tried to eat them before they got away. Watch them too as they die slowly and painfully. Did you see that wound? We’ll show you a proper close up in case you didn’t. We’ll document every ounce of horror for you. Enjoy your evening.” Channel change!

Then there are the mindless reality shows that are pure hell. Cue The Kardashians, the endless series about grown people behaving worse than children, people competing for the attention of one person. Who watches The Bachelor or that one where everyone has to cook dinner for one man and then he decides who to take out on a date? (Do I sound old, I think as I type this. Most probably.)

Then there are the series that could be fairly engaging if only they wouldn’t repeat everything at each advert break. They introduce the show at the beginning, showing you all the best parts. Then at the first advert break they say: “When we return …” and show the spoilers for the next part. (Each show is interrupted every few minutes for these annoying long ad breaks.) When the show comes back after the advert they recap the previous five minutes, like their entire audience has some terrible brain affliction which means we have obviously forgotten everything that just happened. Then they preview the next five minutes. And so it goes on ad nauseum. If we added them up, we would have wasted months of our lives watching these repeats of what we’ve just seen.

And the honchos at the TV corporations wonder why people are switching to Netflix and Showmax and other ad-free streaming services.

Considering the amount of junk on TV, it makes me wonder, have we sunk so low as society that this is entertainment? Can’t we do better?

Probably. Hopefully. But thank goodness, when all else fails, there are still the paid online channels. And failing anything on those, we can switch the damn TV off and head to bed with a sigh, a mutter and a moan.

Until we start the whole ritual again tomorrow night.

(Note to the guy: Dearest, we need new batteries in the remote. I fear I’ve worn ours out. Again.)

 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  opinion and analysis
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