On Pop Culture Deferred

By Kel Morin-Parsons

I don’t have cable. I don’t really “get” anything--oh, a couple of local channels, I guess, if I bothered to check. But I don’t really consider that I “have” television. What I have is a television set, along with a DVD player and a VCR (remember those? I bought it off eBay for twenty-five bucks when my old one checked out).

Why do I deprive myself of the ability to watch what other people are watching, when they watch it? Well, frankly, the cost appalls me. Not that I’m in any way sensible about money--I’m happy to drop a load of it on other crap I don’t need. But the price of TV-watchin’ just sticks in my craw for some reason. Aside from that, though, is the more important consideration of time. That is, if I did receive actual television programming on my television set, I’d, you know, want to watch it. Which would mean making time to do so. I barely have enough time to live as it is, in my state of television-programming-less-ness. Thus, if I sprang for cable, I’d either never get my money’s worth because I wouldn’t have time for watching--or, much worse, I’d start stealing time from other things (like, say, writing for this blog) in order to watch TV. You see the dilemma.

The set and DVD player get a constant workout, however. I rent a tonne o’stuff. In particular, I am the reigning queen of deferred television gratification. I will get deeply into popular, highly regarded series after they’re well on their way and I’ve both read and heard enough great things about them to feel that they might be worth an investment of my time. I began watching The Sopranos a mere eight seasons after it debuted (counting the programme’s hiaitus and the writers’ strike in there). Er, yes, that is, I began watching it right after it went off the air. But then I hoovered it up. I started with 24, that great junk-food series, just about a year ago, and the same with Lost (on which I am a little behind--must make a note!), and Dexter. Currently I’m hooked on The Wire, another series that had wound up before I ever got to it. So I can speak knowledgeably about all of these things, and others--just a little later than the rest of you.

Are there any advantages to this approach, aside from not having to shell out for cable (which isn’t really a saving if you love tv and watching it is a thing you can actually do regularly)? Well, I think there are. The biggest one is that I can spend a day devouring an entire season if I want, without having to wait a week for each installment. I can also watch everything without the annoyance of commercial interruptions, which means this approach is at least better than waiting until these shows break on network TV (as The Sopranos did). So does anyone else do this? Is this sort of pop-culture consumption like eating stale potato chips, or does it simply allow you to enjoy shows when they’ve mellowed with age, like good wine?

I should say that I’m almost breaking my own mould by being only a season behind on things like the fantastic Canadian series Durham County. And I’m dying to get my hands on Mad Men, which seems constantly unavailable at my local Blockbuster. Sigh. Well, good things come to those who wait. Without commercial breaks.

-Sopranos photo, http://futuregossip.blogs.eplay.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/sopranos.jpg
-The Wire photo, http://www.film.dc.gov/film/lib/film/wire.jpg
-Dexter photo, http://casinader.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/dexter-season-two-promo-picture.jpg


  1. My husband and I watch shows like that all the time. It's more fun to devour a good show all in one sitting. Or a few days' worth of watching, anyway.

    We do have cable now - we didn't until we could afford it. But my husband gets a big kick out of Drive-In Movie channel and Scream, and we inhale all the HBO and BBC Canada programming.

    But for example, he's now watching Supernatural all at once. I'm watching it out of the corner of my eye while I'm on the computer, so I don't really count it as having been watched properly. Because I have to keep TV at bay like you do. No time.

  2. I think this is one of the best ideas ever - TV shows on DVD and it's great to take advantage of the buffet! There are shows that we don't get on TV but are available on DVD so that's a plus! There are shows that you don't have time to watch when they're on or you miss eps so catching up on DVD is great. There are shows you loved when they were on TV and you want to savour them again - so it's a great way to do that. I have Seinfeld, Sex and the City - hoping to add more. PS although I watched the Sopranos - I missed a lot of it - I'm now watching it again on A and E - and loving it! no shame in that! ;d

  3. One cool advantage of shows on DVD is the deleted scenes! I caught up on the first two seasons of The Office, after a casual glimpse one night grabbed me. Loved seeing the scenes not included. *grin* You're right also about the beauty of no commercials and watching as many shows in a row as you please. Hotcha!

    I use to have some resistance to hit movies for some reason. The more people insisted, the more I resisted. Hah! Must be the rebel in me. Someday I swear I'll watch Saturday Night Fever and see what the heck people are talking about!*heh-heh*

    We do have cable and watch so much it's hard to keep up. True Blood slipped past the radar and I keep promising my hubby to stick it in my Netflix que. Heck, it's only season two, I have time!!

    Kel, don't forget to rent Deadwood. A big thumbs up there. Hope you love Mad Men as much as we do!

    Great post!



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