Missing the Anticipation
March 5th, 2012

If you know me at all in real life, you know I’m a fan of Tivo.  (Or, more accurately in my case, DVR.  But as far as I’m concerned “Tivo” is to digitally recorded video as “Kleenex” is to facial tissue… But I digress.)  GAP was the one pushing it when we climbed aboard the Tivo bandwagon several years ago.  But today I am the bigger evangelist.  I love the thing.

Perhaps this has quite a bit to do with life as a parent of young children.  I’ve heard my parents say many times that they have no idea what pop culture was doing in the ’80s because they were busy raising children.  I suspect that the same lot would have befallen me were it not for the magic of Tivo.  (Because really, who has time to set a VCR to record anything that isn’t earth shatteringly important?)  It is because of the magic “record” button on our remote that I am even slightly up to speed on current television shows.  Nevertheless, I am about to bite the hand that feeds me.

I miss the anticipation of watching shows in real time.

I remember in college how we all looked forward to congregating in dormitory and frat house rooms to watch Friends after dinner.  I remember one sorority sister who amazed her suite-mates because she was able to shower within the time span of a commercial break.  (Remember commercials?)  I recall that in my early twenties I made sure to leave Wednesday nights open so that I could watch The West Wing as it aired, and phone GAP (we did the long distance thing for a couple of years) as soon as it ended to rehash it.  The only show that I’ve watched in real time since we got Tivo was LOST and that was only because the suspense from week to week was completely unbearable (and because it conveniently started well after IEP’s bedtime).

I started thinking about all this because it occurred to me the other day that I don’t even know which days of the week some of my favorite shows air.  I think How I Met Your Mother is still on Mondays.  But The Big Bang Theory may have been moved.  Thursdays, perhaps?  And my favorite show of the moment, New Girl (“… really any type of chut-en-y“)?  I have no idea when it’s on.  That didn’t use to be the case.  Even today, 25-ish years later I can tell you that The Wonder Years aired on Tuesdays and The Cosby Show aired on Thursdays.

I miss getting excited about a new episode of a favorite show.  I miss looking forward to it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love that I can sit down on nearly any evening and at least one of the shows I like is magically waiting for me to watch in my own time.  Because honestly, were that not the case, I’d miss most of it.  Still, though, there’s something a little isolating about it.

When everyone can watch a show at their own convenience almost no one watches it in real time.  (Sports are the obvious exception here.)  And when no one watches it in real time that collective, water-cooler moment the next day is substantially diluted.

None of this is breaking news.  But sometimes I notice little cultural phenomena and feel compelled to comment.  I have fond memories of looking forward to some of my past favorite shows each week.  A working mother of two young kids doesn’t really have the bandwidth to set her clock by the TV Guide anyway.  But I still miss the subtle excitement of the bygone time when I could.

8 Responses to “Missing the Anticipation”

  1. TheKitchenWitch Says:

    Ah, as a child, how I used to wait for The Love Boat to come on…SAD.

  2. Bridget Says:

    Wednesday Nights – sorority house Chapter Room – 90210 followed by Melrose. A quick run to DQ across the street between the shows. Great memory. I agree it was fun to plan for the event that was a new episode, but like you am now greatful that a DVR is in my life to know that I can watch any show at any time (even though I only follow 1 show – Parenthood).

    Somewhere I bet sorority houses still have weekly viewing parties for the hottest show, they just start 15 min after the show starts so they can fast forward commercials. And, they have a ability to pause for discussion at salient points. :) Technology is a good thing.

  3. Gale Says:

    Bridget – I just started watching Parenthood. (Now that I’ve finished Downton Abbey I needed something else to keep me occupied while I pump…) I’m only on the second episode, but I’m enjoying it so far.

    PS – Love your sorority house memories. I think part of my nostalgia is for a time in life when the biggest thing going on in a week was whether or not Ross and Rachel were going to get back together!

  4. Jane Says:

    My husband and I were just talking about this last week. We love Big Bang Theory (Thurs. nights) and when we were telling some friends about it we were stuck when they asked us when it was on. We had no idea. “We Tivo it,” we replied. (actually, like you, we DVR it now…but I still call it Tivo!) I had to go home and see what time it was on and then text them. When I was growing up, Friday nights were my favorite: Brady Bunch and The Patridge Family. My boys love Brady Bunch so for Christmas I purchased the series box set. Every Friday night we watch one episode, only one, and the boys look forward to it all week. I suppose we created this ritual in protest of the Tivo generation we participate in.

  5. BigLittleWolf Says:

    No such recording devices in this household… And I must say, I am waiting with extraordinary anticipation for Mad Men to come back on, and look forward to clearing the decks in order to watch it in real time, as it airs.

    I love a little anticipation… And I admit there were 10 to 12 total “blur years” in child raising when I don’t think I followed any sort of anything pop culture. And now? It’s very selective. Such a time suck otherwise.

  6. Anne Says:

    HAA!! Oh, Schmidt. “Any kind of chut-en-y”. Laughed out loud at that one. He’s the most quotable TV character to come out in ages.

    Anyway, I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid, and can still remember that Wednesday night was the Wonder Years, and Thursday night was the Cosby Show. Weekday afternoons…4:30…the Mickey Mouse club. 10:00 Sat mornings…Pee Wee’s playhouse…until it was Saved by the Bell. Friday nights…the TGIF lineup, kicking off with Full House, then Family Matters, then Pefect Strangers (lame) and finally, “Just the Ten of Us.” Later in life: Sunday nights…Sex and the City. Thursday nights…Friends. Some of those shows (SATC, Friends) I watched with other girlfriends, because it wasn’t the same without them. And I love how The Wonder Years was a family event each week. I wonder how it will be for my own daughter. We’ll have to do our best to build the anticipation ourselves, and make it special. And to be selective in our shows, so it’s not just empty viewing.

    Clearly, I watch too much TV. Less now, but it’s increased since we discovered “On Demand”. Still no TiVo here…

  7. Anne Says:

    Okay, was the Wonder Years Tues?? I swear Wed. I could be wrong.

  8. Gale Says:

    Anne – I looked it up. It was Tuesday. And what are you, a buttercup?