Sunday, October 21, 2012

Decision 2012: Choice Programming

About a month ago, chez Sweetie & Me made a bold move - we cancelled our cable! Mind you, we only had the very really basic cable anyway, but still. No more. Nothing. Gone.

Like I said, this was a bold move, and a big family decision.

Our reason for doing this was two-fold. We wanted to save money and cut out excessive TV watching. We, who always seem to have the TV on, if for no other reason than for background noise. Why did we need the TV on all the time? We didn't, plain and simple. There are much better things to do. Cutting our cable ties would be a great thing.

Of course, we didn't want to go too crazy and drop all TV watching completely! We still wanted access to shows we liked. This way we could watch what we wanted, when we wanted, and not live our lives according to the TV schedule.

After much debating and free trial periods, we settled on Hulu Plus. For a minimal monthly fee, it gives us day-after access to almost all the shows we love and wish to continue watching. We've had it for the month now and it really is perfect for us!

One thing it doesn't have is most, if not all, CBS shows. No more "murder shows," as Hubby and I call them. No more CSI, The Mentalist and - the new, promising-looking one that we never even got to see before the cable went bye-bye - Elementary. Ah, but no fear... if we really want to see those, we can get them at It just may take a week or so before they're available. That's fine.

Now, as I was saying, we were such a TV watching household! The TV was on more than it was off. Reality shows in particular were great! The Voice, American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance. I loved 'em all! And when they were on, we all enjoyed seeing the performances or listening to the auditions.

Okay, okay. Maybe not all of us. Certainly Hubby wouldn't choose on his own to watch any of those. But if I had them on, no one complained. Yes, I chose the shows... and, in fact, I was the person who mindlessly watched TV much more than Sweetie or Hubby ever did. But when it was on in the evenings, even my choice of show, we all at least seemed to enjoy watching the various "reality" competitions. How was I going to live without all this?!

Never fear! Turns out that without cable and with Hulu Plus, I still have access to several of these reality shows. Dancing With the Stars, for instance. Every Tuesday morning before work, I have enough time to tune in to what took place the night before. And so, that first Tuesday morning, there I was, home alone, clicking into Hulu to queue up some Dancing! And with Sweetie and Hubby not there - they who never did really care - I was free to indulge my "junk" watching as much as I liked.

Aaaannnnddd... eh. Whatever.

That first time, yeah, I think I kept the episode on. But I was doing other things, not really watching. I think it even took me a couple days to get through the whole thing. But the next week? I tried again. Nope. It wasn't working for me. I turned it off way before finishing. I've tried once more, but that third time didn't even last 5 minutes and has been the charm to tell me, no. Amy, you really, really don't need to watch this stupid stuff. Let it go. Just let it go.

And the other reality stuff that I so faithfully watched before? The Voice, for instance. I've never even tried to watch it with Hulu. Even So You Think You Can Dance - I LOVE that show! And watched the whole season faithfully when we had cable. Only the finale was left when our cable went bye bye. And, lucky me!, Hulu has access to that finale, no problem. I put it in our queue... I still haven't watched it. Don't really care, it turns out. I happened to find out who won anyway. So no need to watch the whole program, right? Right.

Huh. Turns out we really were watching just for the sake of watching. Turns out all these contestants we thought we cared about and whom we were really rooting for, we really didn't care about at all. Or I didn't care about. Yes, me. Hubby and Ella didn't care. I cared. But, obviously, it turns out, I didn't.

Not to say there's not any "junk" I've taken a renewed interest in through Hulu. I'm back to catching up with Project Runway - a show we haven't had access to for at least a couple years now. And my real secret love that no one else in the house wants to watch - America's Next Top Model. But, lucky me, I have time everyday when I can indulge in these types of shows without bothering anyone.

And so, has canceling cable and introducing Hulu done anything to accomplish what we originally intended? Well, on the outside, maybe not. Canceling cable brought our internet cost up, and then there's the cost of Hulu. So we're only saving a few dollars there each month, not the bigger chunk of change we were at first envisioning. And the TV watching... yeah, it's still there. I'd say, in fact, that we still actively watch just as much as we ever did.

But that inactive watching... that having the TV on just for the sake of having the TV on stuff... the white noise effect of just having the TV on... That is gone for sure. Now, we really only do have the TV on when we purposefully wish to sit down and watch something. We watch with intention now. We make family decisions. We watch for a reason.

Sure, the reason may be silly every now and then. Obviously we're not watching only the most educational and informative shows of them all. But we do do that as well. Nova Science Now, for instance, is a great family favorite! And Sweetie loves to watch BizKids, a show that teaches kids about the importances of money and responsible spending/saving. And I've got several documentaries lined up to watch in our queue over at our Netflix instant streaming account.

Bottom line is, what we watch now we are choosing to watch, for whatever reason that is.

All in all, it's a very good thing.

Now, as someone who grew up with the TV always on as "company" - if only I could get used to the deafening silence when the TV is now off.

Alone with my thoughts. It's a dangerous thing.