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New York Times  Bestselling Author

Life Without Television

Okay, the title of this post is a bit of an exaggeration. Our 60″ TV died, rather dramatically, and now we’re left to realize just how much TV we  watch. We’re not completely lacking: we do have a small TV in the bedroom and we watched Mad Men last night and will watch Smash tonight. Plus, we have a new big screen due to arrive Thursday, so we will survive.

Here are our usual TV habits: Assuming neither of us has a meeting, we start our TV watching at dinner time. We begin with the news and political shows—just great for the digestion! Then we move on to either a TV show we like or a movie (we watch TONS of movies). If we’re still up at 11, we watch Jon Stewart. Then we retire to read until the wee hours of morning.

Now that we are (almost) TV-less, things are different. For the first time in many years, we sit at the kitchen table for dinner. John and I always talk to one another even while watching TV so conversation during dinner has never been lacking. But how strange it feels to face one another instead of the TV. I kind of like it.

Then we have to figure out how to fill the evening. John is a much bigger reader than I am (that sounds treasonous coming from a writer. I always have at least one book going, but I’m an in-bed reader. Otherwise I feel as though I’m goofing off—I can’t remember the last time I picked up a novel in the middle of the day). So reading for pleasure is out.  I’ve considered going back to my work-in-progress in the evenings, but I will be working round the clock soon enough as my deadline approaches and don’t want to resort to that yet. So I’m blogging, Facebooking, balancing my checkbook—in short, all the things I usually do in front of the TV, only I’m now giving them my full attention instead of fitting them in during the slow parts of a movie.

I have no guilt about our TV habits. Movies are not only entertainment to me, but an opportunity to study storytelling, structure, pacing and characterization. We’re only addicted to a few weekly shows (Mad Men, Smash, Downton Abbey when it’s on, and that highbrow entertainment, American Idol). It’s the dinnertime political talking heads I’d like to ditch. We’ll see how I do with that on Thursday, when the sixty-five incher arrives.

How about you? How big a role does TV play in your life?

7 Comments

  1. Debbie Ions on April 3, 2012 at 7:22 am

    I seem to always have the television on, but it is more for company I think. Even when it is on I am mostly reading. But I have to confess, I recently became a huge fan of the Law and Order, SVU series. Since I haven’t watched it for all these years now I am always looking for it to be on television. Luckily there always seems to be a marthon of old shows going on. I am obsessed with this at the moment.

  2. Margo on April 3, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Diane, TV is a big thing for us, in the evenings only. We never have it on during the day as we always are involved with things around the house…Gary loves working outside in the yard during the day, weather permitting…when he’s indoors he’s a huge reader and has music playing. I work at the office Mon-Fri and have music playing at my desk and when I’m home afterwards, I’m usually in my studio painting and listening to music. Our ritual is to turn on CNN News at dinnertime and we watch the news as we eat…usually keep the news, political talks, documentaries, history channel and discovery on until bedtime unless there’s a good movie on..the only regular show we watch is DANCING WITH THE STARS but we do love movies. Many times we are both reading in our TV room while the news and things are on. We also have a TV in our bedroom and many times watch documentaries, etc. late into the night (weekends only for me). I quess you could say TV plays a large role in our life, but only at night.

  3. Margo on April 3, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Diane, just received your Spring Newsletter and read the excerpt from THE GOOD FATHER.
    All I can say is wow, wow, wow!! I can hardly wait to get this in my hands and read till the wee hours of the morning…the cover is beautiful and the story has grabbed me as usual. Cannot Wait!!

  4. Sheree Gillcrist on April 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    The older we get the more choosy we get about what we watch on TV. Each night seems to have one or two must watch shows( oh the excitement). For the most part we like the same shows, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, things like that. I find myself searching for sleep every night so while himself snoozes beside me, I watch what he would rather not..lol. Crinimal Minds, Anything on the Discovery Channel, Greys’a Anatomy and The Big C which I love and he cannot stand. I am a big Laura Linley fan. She makes me laugh and she reaffirms my faith in women of a certain vintage still being vital and beautiful without being America’s Next Top Model:} My dad and mom used to have wee tv trays when they got their nest emptied that they ate their dinner on while watching TV. While we still eat at the table, we can still stir from the stove while keeping one eye on the prize.

  5. Diane Chamberlain on April 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Margo, glad you liked the excerpt. For a change, I used an excerpt that is not the first chapter of the book and am glad to hear it still works. Debbie, Law and Order sure can be addicting. I think we’ve seen them all. Sheree, we do watch a lot of the same things, except we gave up on The Big C. We’re also huge Laura Linney fans, but I was so mad at her character for not telling her family about her C. It deprives them of the opportunity to support her, to say goodbye, etc. I’m still too much of a therapist to get past this point and enjoy the show, I guess!

  6. Margo on April 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Lol with the TV trays Sheree…as a little girl I remember my parents setting up the TV trays in front of the TV so we could all watch a movie or a series while having our dinner…this was usually on a Sat or Sun nite only…the rest of the week we sat at the dinner table as a family.
    It strikes me funny because now my husband and I do something very similar…no TV trays, but we do have lap trays and eat in front of CNN news most nights. Weekends we have breakfast together at the table and have great conversations so the evening ritual is ok with us. (-:)

  7. krystal on April 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    I can’t believe how much tv I seem to watch but there all night shows. Ok so maybe one morning show. I mostly watch tv on the computer and there have only been a few times when the computer was not around for repair. So now that I’m done school. I watch Price is right in the morning if I can get up to watch it. Then i have errands to run in the afternoon. So I rarely get to watch The Chew which I like. So I watch The Young and the Restless daily,then on certain days of the week. I watch my weekly shows. I use to watch The Secret Life Of An American Teenager but school got in the way so I don’t know what’s going on. Since Make It or Break It has come back I’ve been watching that. Then when Law and Order: Special Victims Unit(SVU) is on I watch that but i forgot on Wedesday so I ended up watching American Idol because I only like one contestant. So in total here are all the shows I watch when I can. oh and on Monday’s half an hour after the orginal aired I’d wait to watch Switched At Birth because it’s about deaf people and I’m HOH.

    MY List
    The Young and the Restless
    The Secret Life Of An American Teenager
    Make It or Break It
    Law and Order:SVU
    Switched At Birth
    Price Is Right
    The Chew when I get the chance.
    American Idol

    I was a fan of Canadian Idol when they were on I’m Canadian so I had hopes of making it on there one day.

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