I watch a lot of TV, but I haven’t actually switched on my TV in ages. I watch mostly American and British shows, but don’t live in either of those places, so most of my TV watching happens on a laptop. The actual TV stopped being a part of my life when I started university, but I hope it hasn’t gone out of my life forever.
My early memories of TV all revolve around fighting with my father over channel rights, back when we didn’t have cable and only had two channels (DD1 and DD2). On Sunday nights, I’d want to watch Superhit Muqabla and my parents would want to watch Surabhi, and we’d spend the entirety of the hour trying to switch back and forth between the channels during commercial breaks.
During my teenage years, I discovered American shows, but this was also the time when studying was becoming a thing I had to do, so TV time was limited. Also, this was before TV became accessible through other means, so the only way I had of keeping up with a show was watching it when it aired. This was particularly frustrating during the exam periods, when TV was almost completely banned, so during the hour that one of my favourite shows was airing, I’d sneak into the room periodically to watch whatever I could on mute. I remember, once, turning down an offer to go to dinner with relatives on the pretext of having to study, but really, because I didn’t want to miss the glorious once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of watching an episode of Roswell with no one else in the house. (This was also the time I started understanding the concept of being embarrassed about the things I liked. It’s so funny to me now that teenage me was too embarrassed to tell people I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when it’s considered a cult classic these days.)
When university and free internet happened, my TV consumption went up by leaps and bounds. I watched EVERYTHING. Not only that, I read online discussion boards, wrote my own little think pieces, and participated in what they call the “fandom”. I got deep into the TV-watching culture, and I loved every minute of it. Though a lot of my TV friends remained the online kind, I even managed to convert a few “real life” ones. My friend Macho Girl and I watched a truckload of stuff together during our four years in university, the quality of which ranged from terrible to legitimately decent. We didn’t really care – being able to watch stuff and then talk about it (whether that was complaining or praising) was enough fun in itself.
Possibly the worst transition for a TV-lover is to go from being a sporadically busy university student to a round-the-clock busy working woman. Within my first month of working, I knew that all my old habits would have to go – most days after work, I had strength only to eat my dinner and hit the sack. I fell behind on everything I was watching, and it was when that situation didn’t seem to have any hope of getting back to normal that my addiction slowly went away. I dropped shows I was watching only out of some weird sense of obligation, I started getting picky about starting new ones (I only went in if it felt like there was a chance for me to stick around on a long-term basis) and I simply stopped caring for a lot of the ones I’d fallen behind on.
I now watch my shows at a far more manageable level, but surprisingly, I’ve found a lot more people in real life who are as into TV shows as I am. Maybe I got on the bandwagon early, which is why I felt like the odd one out in university, but now, practically everyone I know follows at least a few shows religiously. I still watch quite a bit now, but I wouldn’t be as confident in saying that it’s more than the average amount. It’s funny to me – I spent so much of my life being secretive and feeling guilty about my TV-watching habits, and now, it’s slowly becoming a major catalyst for socialising. How much conversation revolves these days around the latest Game of Thrones episode?
Much of my TV-watching experience has been solitary (except for those few years in university). I watch my shows in bed as I’m having dinner, and later, read forums and discussion threads as a way to be part of a conversation. Some day in the future, I hope I’ll have actual people watching TV with me. I hope there’s fighting about what to watch (even if things like DVR and online streaming have made them non-issues) and I hope there’s something that the whole family likes to get together for at a certain time on a certain day and discuss afterwards.
Some day, I hope watching TV on an actual TV becomes a thing in my life again.