TV, or not TV? That’s the question

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Am I mistaken, or wasn’t watching too much television once considered to be a bad idea?
Didn’t people lie about how much time they spent watching Dallas?
Can we not recall that once there was a golden time in America when “couch potato” was an insult?
Now? I’m ashamed to be among decent people because I have nothing to say about Survivor.
I craftily dodge the issue by saying with just the right air of false authority that I think “the jerky one” will win. Generally, that gives me pretty good odds on this show.
Nonetheless, I am deeply ashamed to further confess that I have no knowledge (or interest) in American Idol, and the only Desperate Housewives I know are my PTO peers who realize, in the 11th hour, that they have completely failed to bake three dozen cupcakes for the class party.
Old prime-timer. Still a spring chicken in my 30s, I’ve become some kind of marginalized citizen. Too young for reruns of Murder She Wrote, and too old for Fox and the WB with their characters who worry about pimples and dating with the same fervor previous generations reserved for concern about nuclear holocaust.
How do I describe the sensation of being out of the television cultural loop? Of being the Luddite of pop society?
What does this mean about me? My life? My hipness to geezer ratio?
I’m a mother, I’m not single, I’m not in my 20s. Am I even allowed to watch The OC?
Out of it. I’m so out of it that I wasn’t even outraged when American Idol had that voting snafu.
I am, however, nerd enough to worry that not nearly enough of us got as excited about the voting problems encountered during the 2000 Presidential election.
Obviously, what the presidential race needs is less town hall meetings slogging on at a boring snail’s pace and more Paula Abdul. And, if we all voted via cell phones, hanging chads would be a thing of the past.
Free. Are my pop culture cares too frivolous? Certainly.
But the threat of Martha Stewart holding court on her own reality show has receded for the moment.
Thus I’m free to fret about lesser things like, say, my own family, world peace, and puppies (particularly mine – who will ingest the patio set if you turn your back on them for a minute).
Nonetheless, I don’t know if my failure to do time with prime time is a sign of intellectual growth or social retardation. How do I know if CSI: New York is going to be the next Friends or Ally McBeal that I need to get in on right away?
Or can I wait for, say, CSI: Toledo and just fake it?
Can I risk missing one of those so-bad-it’s-good shows a la Cop Rock and remain forever unable to claim I witnessed the horror firsthand?
Perspective. Desperate for perspective, I called a levelheaded friend who’s opinion I value mainly because she watches Regis and Kelly and, as a result, she knows things.
Sadly, the new season has gotten so much attention -conversationally, it’s more important to watch Idol than to know where the Supreme Court stands on state’s rights – that even she was feeling the pressure.
“I thought TV was supposed to be relaxing,” she said.
“Instead, I have to put my life on hold and threaten my family simply to carve out an hour for Desperate Housewives,” she said.
“I’m not sure if it’s must-see TV or a must-do chore, like laundry.”
“As it is I already feel inferior,” she said. “I don’t get Showtime, so I’m missing Fat Actress. Now I feel like if I don’t get into the action in these two weeks, I’ll be culturally illiterate until they start reruns and I’ll have the opportunity to catch up.
Already I don’t ‘get’ half of what Jay Leno is yacking it up about on The Late Show, or, um, The Today (Tonight?) Show, or you know, whatever that is

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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