My sister and I weren't allowed to watch too much TV growing up. It could be because our parents were teachers, although maybe they just wanted to save money on the electric bill.
My parents weren't Amish about it or anything, they just had certain rules. No TV (except for the news or 60 Minutes) during dinner, and very, very limited TV during the daytime. Whenever I mention the "no TV during dinner" rule to people they act like we were from Little House on the Prarie days.
"So what did you guys do while you were eating?"
"I dunno, I guess we just talked. Argued. Passed food around. Whatever normal families did."
"But you didn't watch TV?"
"Not while we were eating, no."
"Were you one of those weird families who had to complete logic puzzles at the dinner table? Did you have to go around the table and give dissertations on current events? Did you share craft projects?"
"We weren't the Tannenbaum family. We just ate. Like normal people around a table. Only we weren't watching Wheel of Fortune at the time."
It's still weird to me when I go to someone's parent's house and they bust out the TV trays. "I suppose I shouldn't say anything," I think. "Maybe they're too poor to have a dining room table, or they've really been anticipating this hour of E programming. Best not to say anything and go along with it."
But if that rule freaks people out, not being able to watch TV during the day really blows their mind. I'm not sure if that was an actual stone tablet rule or anything, or we were just hassled into going outside or given work whenever we were caught watching TV during daylight hours. I do remember an exception was made for Creature Feature every Saturday at 2:00 if I got my chores done, so thanks for that one, Mom and Dad.
So did my parent's TV rules affect us? I'm not really sure. I do know that my sister has a TV in every room in her house, and I almost always watch TV while I'm eating. And I'm generally watching something that I first saw on Creature Feature.
If I'm not eating, I get sort of weirded out watching TV during the daytime. I've gotten over this feeling by eating constantly, but you know those lazy Sundays where you watch football for 5 hours or watch whatever crappy movies TBS decides to run on a constant loop? I can't do that. If the sun is shining, and I'm trying to watch TV, it just freaks me the hell out.
It doesn't help that TV knows that. That's why they show crap on Saturday and Sunday during the day. I don't know if they made a deal with my parents years ago or what, but those days are where they dump all those terrible movies made from TV shows or syndicated shows like Mama's Family that exist in their own phantom time; where the sets look like a high school play and it's impossible to tell if the show was filmed in 1987, 1996 or 2008.
This is TV messing with you. "Why aren't you doing something," The television asks. "We can play this crap all day. You know you can't win. You're not going to catch Jaws or an episode of Arrested Development or even a cool nature documentary. It's going to be episodes of Charles in Charge and Rob Schnider movies all day long. Now don't you want to go outside? Isn't there some work you should be doing?"
No matter how I try to fight, I realize TV will win, as it usually does.