Why I want to watch more television

Old fashioned television set

I have decided that my new year’s resolution is to watch more television. It may seems odd, since most people’s resolution necessitates getting off the sofa.

There are a couple of drivers for my desire to become a couch potato.

Views of the news

One reason is that I have come to realise that I have surprisingly little knowledge of pivotal visual news events. I get almost all of my news from the radio or from reading articles on the web. In fact, if I’m honest, a lot of it is gleaned from Twitter.

This is easily enough to have an idea of what’s going on in the world. But I don’t have the full picture because, well, I don’t see the pictures.

This hit home when I was watching some of the end-of-year review programmes and realised I was basically about to see everything for the first time. For instance, I knew all about the footage of Muammar Gaddafi’s capture, but had never seen it. I had no idea what Paul McMullan looked like, even though I knew all about what he was saying. I hadn’t seen much footage of the London riots. And so on.

Feeling detached

The other motivation is the increasing sense that I am detached from society. I just can’t take part in those water cooler conversations.

It may be no bad thing that I have never seen an episode of The Only Way is Essex. But my lack of popular culture knowledge means I am veering dangerously close to the territory inhabited by the mythical high court judge who asked who the Beatles were.

The problem is that I stopped watching television for a reason — mainly because I don’t like it very much. There was a point where the only programme I regularly watched was Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe, a programme about television. When I thought about how ridiculous that was, I gave that up too.

I didn’t stop watching TV completely. I mainly used it for watching motorsports. Apart from that, there were just be a handful of TV series that I would watch.

I’m not terribly sure how to watch more without ending up watching crap that I can’t stand. I stopped watching TV because I didn’t want my brain to rot. Is there a way to participate in water cooler conversations without your brain rotting?


  1. I suppose it depends on what water cooler conversations you want to get involved with.

    Some of the shows I like have started featuring these nobodies from Essex, Chelsea, and whatever other ones are around. I have absolulely no idea why I should care who they are or why they are popping up on things I want to watch (or end up watching).

    There are some good things around. Have I Got News For You is still good, as is Mock The Week. The modern take on Sherlock is worth watching. It’s often worth keeping an eye on BBC4, some gems pop up there.

    My TV isn’t on very much either, these days.

  2. My understanding is judges seem so ignorant of current pop culture because they know the case my be studied at some distant point in the future, when people may be less aware of the references.
    That and they’re people who’ve spent years studying and practising law, and probably don’t get out much.

    I don’t watch much broadcast TV at all. Never watch current affairs, extremely rarely watch the news. Don’t watch reality TV. And any series we watch is usually downloaded, so we’re watching just after it’s been shown in the States, or left until a load of episodes have built up (like Terra Nova – watching it all this week).
    I don’t really care that I don’t have a clue what’s happening in Strictly Britain’s got X-Factor. Just can’t be bothered with it at all.