A few months ago, I began subscribing to Netflix. After watching a few movies, I was reminded of the fact that you can get boxed sets of television shows on DVD. I then proceeded to spend the next three months getting caught up on all those Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes I had missed over the years. And that was only the beginning: Sex and the City, 24, Farscape, Six Feet Under — nearly every series that I might want to watch is out on DVD these days. Pretty soon, there were more television series than films in my queue, even accounting for the multiple-disc factor. That’s when I started wondering: how have I missed all these shows? What have I been doing with my time, reading books or something?


I watched a lot of television as a child. According to my mother, I learned to speak english from Sesame Street, and I don’t doubt her on that, because a sizable chunk of my childhood memories are of things happening on a TV screen: Duke and Destro fighting it out over whatever it is they were supposed to be fighting over; the two Julie Browns, Downtown and West Coast; buckets and buckets of green slime, falling like rain on anyone foolish enough to admit ignorance.

Over time, though, my watching habits dwindled, especially after I went to college, where I didn’t have my own television set and didn’t really have time to regularly watch any shows, what with all the studying and drinking. By the time I graduated, there was little left of the tube junkie in me; I didn’t even know what the network stations were in Minneapolis. Even after getting a TV set, I used it strictly for playing games, ignoring all the incoming signals. With all the other media competing for my attention — video games, radio, film, books, the Web — I just didn’t have the time or desire to sit around staring at blow-dried news anchors or tracking the ins and outs of Ross and Monica’s relationship.

The funny thing is, I never managed to do a very good job of shutting television completely out of my mind. I would read reviews of fall premieres in the newspapaer, eat up whatever snarky comments TeeVee.org and Television Without Pity were offering, and nag my friends for summaries of what was happening on The X-Files or ER. And any time I visited my parents, I would spend as much time as possible mooching off their cable connection, soaking up as many shows as I could so that I’d be reasonably caught up with what people were watching and talking about.

Then came Netflix, and the flood of boxed-set DVDs, and no matter how hard I had tried all these years, no matter what NPR-listening, new-media-extolling facades I had erected in front of myself, there was a simple fact I had to face: I like watching television. (Apologies to those of you who read this far expecting a less trite revelation; I did give fair warning in the title of this post, y’know.)

Now I have a TiVo sitting next to my television set, cheerfully beeping at me and recording shows for me to watch. Netflix sends me a steady stream of DVDs to catch up on shows I’ve missed. I tried to get cable put in, but after Time-Warner sent three different people to my place, none of whom could pull their heads out of their asses long enough to actually install anything, I gave up. In the last week, I’ve watched the season finales of Gilmore Girls and Joan of Arcadia, and the series finale of Angel; the fact that I missed most of the episodes leading up to these finales doesn’t bother me as much as it might. Right now, I’m watching a random Simpsons rerun. It’s like catching up with an old friend.

Just don’t ask me to watch any of those reality shows. Seriously, those things are ass.