There are a few different kinds of ways people watch TV. As an avid TV-watcher myself, I have fallen into probably all these categories at some time or another, or even multiple at once. But I was just thinking about it: not everyone watches a TV show for the same reasons. Which explains, partially, why some people watch shows quickly, while others don’t. Just some musings, I guess. Don’t read much into it; all methods of TV-watching were created equal. 🙂 Also, these reasons extend to books quite nicely.
Ways to watch TV:
- For entertainment
Probably the most obvious reason to watch a show. You want to laugh, you like the story, you like the actors, whatever. You watch it while eating dinner, you watch it with friends, you watch it before bed.
This kind of viewing may mean you tear through a show at breakneck speed, if you are engrossed in the story and desperately need to find out how it turns out, or it might mean you watch it once in a while, as a treat when you have time.
- For the fuzzies
Sometimes there’s a certain show that just makes you feel all fuzzy inside, for whatever reason. It doesn’t even have to be all that good, but for some reason, it makes you happy. Watching it, then, is for that lovely experience. It’s kind of a cross between watching for entertainment, making life better, and escaping reality.
- To make life better
Some people watch shows as a way to understand their own lives or to make their experiences better. Does anyone besides me do this? There must be someone, though I haven’t met them. TV in this sense is used as a way to rejuvenate yourself, to put some more color into your everyday life. It isn’t so much about the show as it is the way it makes you feel and makes you see the world around you.
This type of TV watching is very slow and methodical. Watching only a little bit of it at a time so you can savor it, sometimes watching your favorite parts and episodes again and again, even if you haven’t finished the show. Shows usually don’t get finished, watching this way.
- To kill time
Maybe you’re just bored. Maybe you have a few hours before you have to be somewhere. Why not live someone else’s life for a bit, laugh a little, cry a little, while nothing is happening in your own life? Seems fun. Shows usually go quickly when you watch to kill time.
- To escape from reality
This kind of TV-watching gets a bad rap and is labeled as unhealthy or obsessive, but it isn’t always so. Sometimes escaping into a fictional universe is just what you need to cope. Sometimes you just need to live in ancient China or 1800s England for a while.
Shows can either go quickly or slowly, depending on which method of watching most envelops you in the fictional world. Personally, it goes either way, depending on my mood: whether I need to burn through a few seasons or just watch the same few episodes over and over.
- For the noise
This type is kind of like escaping from reality, but I put it in a different category because while escaping from reality values very much which alternate reality you are escaping to, watching TV for the noise does not, necessarily. This kind of watching is when you’re restless and you can’t sit still in your own mind. You just need something to happen, to blow off steam and think about something else for a while.
This is one of the fastest types of TV watching, since the show is usually streaming in the background of whatever else you’re doing. Sometimes I stream a TV show while playing a game or even while reading a book.
- For a character
This is more a “why” people watch TV instead of “how,” but this kind of viewing has been growing on me lately, so I thought I’d share it. Sometimes, TV shows have nothing you like except one side-plot or character. The rest of the show can be garbage, but if a character is intriguing enough for me, I’ll watch it. However, I don’t watch it all the way through: few characters are worth that kind of commitment. I’ll skip through and only watch their scenes.
The MTV series Teen Wolf is famous for this sort of thing, where the best part of the show is the character named Stiles. There’s a saying circulating amongst the Teen Wolf fandom that goes something like, “Come for the beautiful people, stay for Stiles.”
I love Stiles, but I don’t really enjoy the rest of the show, so I skim. This type of watching goes even faster than watching for the noise, because you’re skipping a large part of the show.
For what it’s worth, I’m glad TV was invented. There are a lot of naysayers, talking about how TV rots your brain, but in my experience, it has enriched it.
I really only watch shows on the internet these days and I’m partial to adventure cartoons and anime. Even so, if it weren’t for shows, I would not have seen many of the stories that have touched and changed me. I would be less social, and my thoughts would be much narrower.
I think keeping your brain from rotting is very much your responsibility and has little to do with TV as an art form. Film is just another medium in which to convey information and tell stories.