I just got a smart TV.
It’s an oxymoron (a combination of words that have contradictory meanings) like jumbo shrimp and a little pregnant.
Years ago life was simple. There were three national networks – NBC, CBS, and ABC. Trusted names like Harry Reasoner, Barbara Walters, and Howard K. Smith maintained broadcast news standards. Fake news and alternative facts were not on the program.
True fiction, tragic comedy, and new classics entered the airways. Popular hits like The Twilight Zone, Bewitched, and I Dream of Jeannie were collective fantasies. A new subculture emerged – dominated by wealthier Americans who could afford to buy a TV and their neighbors who came to watch.
My father was an electronics engineer. He hand-built the first TV in our middle class New York neighborhood. Everyone came to watch the tiny black & white screen as if Marshall Matt Dillon and The Lone Ranger lived down the block.
People obsessively followed quiz shows and their scandals like The $64,000 Question and Twenty One. Captain Kirk, Barney Fife, and Fred Flintstone were visited more often than relatives.
Viewers tuned in to sing along with Mitch (Miller).
Please don’t just sit there
C’mon and sing!
People sat, watched, and sang. Regular broadcast news entered the picture with compelling names like Meet the Press and Face the Nation. 24-hour Cable news joined the genre in 1980 with Mr. Trump’s beloved CNN. The news brought us everywhere – from Civil Rights and Viet Nam to outer space – all in the comfort of our living rooms.
We’ve come a long way from 13 television networks. Now it’s all about the numbers.
Nielsen found that 95.2% of U.S. homes watch TV via broadcast, cable, or internet.
My 75-inch smart TV receives over 1000 channels from networks specializing in areas such as entertainment, kids & family, movies, news, and sports. It streams programs and movies from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and others. There are premium paid channels like Cinemax, Showtime, and Starz. If all else fails, my DVR preserves shows for the days when there’s “nothing on.”
With all those choices, the average American regularly watches only 16 channels – less than 1% of what’s available.
“What do you want to watch?” my husband asks as we settle into our home theater recliners with built-in cup holders.
Where do I begin?
Documentary or drama? Reality or talk? Comedy or thriller? Finance, cooking, shopping, tiny houses, travel, or sharks? I can binge watch, episode watch, DVR, or go back in time to old movies and cancelled shows.
So many choices so little time.
My husband eyes me impatiently. His favorite is Law & Order. There were 6 different Law & Order shows since 1990; only one is still going strong (SVU). The original ran for 456 episodes. You can get new (or old) episodes, watch on demand, or spend the day with a Law & Order marathon.
Is it law, order, or fiction? Which episodes are really plucked from the news?
We have fake news, breaking news, funny news, conservative news, liberal news, financial news, entertainment news, international news, and my favorite, Real Time news. There are news celebrities like Anderson Cooper, Matt Lauer and Rachel Maddow on a constantly growing list.
Is it overkill?
Ask Mr. Trump. He labels any news he doesn’t like as “fake news.” Our Commander-in-Chief maintains that it’s “the enemy of the people” – echoing the words of the honorable Russian despot, Joseph Stalin.
Rush Limbaugh offers some very Trumpian advice. “Turn off the TV and don’t read the news. Avoid the crap that pollutes the daily so-called news that comes from left-wing news organizations.”
Maybe my Smart TV isn’t really that smart? Maybe big doesn’t mean better?
Good luck. With people like Nancy Grace, Sean Hannity, and Geraldo Rivera that may be an oxymoron too.