Monday, November 11, 2013

Daytime Television

For almost 20 years, I worked. When I wasn't working full-time, I was in school. Then, I had my son and decided I wanted, no needed, to be his full-time caregiver.

For the first year, we were able to give naps on the road, in the swing, in the car seat, etc. In fact, car naps and stroller naps seemed to work the best. It was during these long car-trips that talk radio became both my friend and foe. Then, my son started taking naps at home and talk radio all but disappeared from Boston radio.

These naps left me with anywhere from 2-3 hours in the afternoon, where I filled the time with my volunteer work, freelance work, chores, various projects, and, more often than not, due to the exhaustion of raising a toddler full-time, spending the time by my self vegging out to daytime tv.

Nothing makes you feel worse about yourself than daytime television. When I was home sick as a teen, I watched Soap Operas, but now the thought makes me feel like an 80 year old woman. When I was home sick as an adult, when I wasn't sleeping, I would watch Maury or Steve Wilkos. This felt like a guilty pleasure, at the time. Now, I'm left with court shows and Dr. Phil.

These shows feel exploitative. I realize no one is forcing these people to go on tv. They do it by choice, but dear god if many of these people are not deeply flawed. At first, it made me feel better about myself. Divorce Court gave me some good marriage tips, Dr. Phil provided me with some great insight into my own problems, and the court shows never let the skeevy people get away with things. Yet, being bombarded with commercials from ambulance chasers, people yelling at me to go back to school to learn a trade, and weight loss/diabetes products, started making me feel like shit.

I am definitely not saying people who are at home during the afternoon are shit. We are stay-at-home moms, people with illnesses, people who work nights and are just getting up, older people who can't leave the house... In reality, I could be watching CNN or reading a book, but that takes some brainpower that I sometimes don't have after 6+ hours of only dealing with/chasing/chauffeuring a 2.5 year old. Trash tv has a numbing effect, like a stiff drink or junk food. Neither is good for you, but that is not the point.

For all the mind-numbing, though, you do start to question why you are watching these programs. According to the commercials you are an underemployed, overweight slacker with multiple kids - even if you are a man - which, actually, they seem to assume you are a woman. The programming seems to show that you live in an urban area and like to try to pull scams. Either yourself or at least one of your family members has been molested, done drugs, and/or is in/has been in jail. You and your baby daddy aren't together and when you are, you cheat. Even if you are not cheating, the other person will always think you are and use it as justification to cheat. You will both verbally and, on occasion, physically abuse each other, use each others' cars without permission, and pee on your friends' laptops (that was a case - the "friend" was refusing to pay for the damaged laptop, because he was drunk when he peed on it).

I liken it to going to the freak-show expecting to gawk at the freaks, only to see yourself in a fun house mirror and, for a split second, think you are on display. Gobble gobble one of us!


I know it won't always be this way. In fact, my son is unfortunately starting to transition out of naps; and, hey, it beats repetitive children's programming! At some point, he will be in school and I will go back to work and I will most likely miss my afternoons of trash tv...Or maybe I will be so thrilled to put on makeup, do my hair, wear something besides yoga pants and a hoodie, and be able to have coffee in silence and converse with adults that I won't! We'll see...

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