About a month ago, we got rid of cable, yes, just as American Idol was getting into full-swing and just before the Top Chef season premiere. I was the person that had a "my show" for every night of the week. The reason was partly a cost-cutting measure, but also because J. and I found ourselves chained to the couch night after night watching TV. And that was starting to become...weird.
So how are we doing a month in? Even though we haven't gotten rid of TV completely—we have an AppleTV, watch DVDs, and I watch shows here are there online or on Hulu—I admit that I miss the ritual of watching TV at night. I miss flipping to Bravo (my favorite station, more on that later) or seeing what's on the DVR. It's getting better, but I'm being honest, I do miss it.
Watching AppleTV can be expensive since most of the shows are pay-per-view. This puzzles me because you have to pay to watch shows like LOST or Grey's Anatomy when they are free online. Why AppleTV can't just crawl the internet for free shows I don't know. I refuse to pay for shows I could watch for free (well, free + some ads). Actually, that isn't true. When MadMen comes back on I will be paying for that. But that's about it.
AppleTV is great for watching movies (content feels a little light right now but it's growing) since they are comparable to cable or satellite PPV and we can watch most in HD, but what I really love AppleTV for are the endless video and audio podcasts. I think I might have replaced my couch TV habit with a couch podcast habit. (Wait, why did we cancel cable again?)
Some TV shows have podcasts (like HBO's new In Treatment series), most news shows can be watched as a podcast though sometimes they are a week behind, but the real genius is being able to watch Wine Library TV or DiggNation (my current obsession), or language (I can brush up on my French or Italian or learn Japanese) or cooking show podcasts (love the NYT/Minimalist podcast) any time I want for FREE.
I think the key to not having cable is being creative and flexible about the shows you want to watch. Most every show can be found online in some form or another. The only thing that pisses me off is that Bravo shows are not anywhere to be found. (Or are they?) Hulu doesn't have full episodes of my faves Top Chef, Project Runway, and my guilty pleasure—the Real Housewives of OC and NYC, only snippets. No fair! And Bravo doesn't have a channel on AppleTV either. Why, Bravo, why? I actually would pay to watch those shows on AppleTV and would happily watch them on Bravotv.com or Hulu with ads. Hmph.
What do I like about not having cable anymore? I like that when I want to watch something I have to seek it out. Instead of 600 channels with nothing on, I can find (by being creative and flexible) 600 channels that I do want to watch. I like that it's changed the way we think about TV. It's something we program now—we are our own Brandon Tartikoffs, and that's kind of cool. I also think Hulu is pretty fun. I am watching old episodes of Fame on Hulu which are hilarious...and sweet.
I like that the kids play more and watch less TV. They don't think about watching TV as much and don't beg to watch shows. They are outside almost constantly and when they are inside, it's arts and crafts and puzzles and pretend-play more than ever. I like that they watch movies now and by necessity both girls—even the 3.5yo—have FINALLY learned how to work the DVD player. Oh, and that reminds me, there are lots of great podcasts for kids, too. Many of their favorite shows are available as podcasts in iTunes.
What don't I like? I find myself turning to the computer more for entertainment, especially when I don't have any good reading material in the house (like now.) I expected that—and it's not hard to be sucked in by the internet during an election cycle—but I'm easing off gently. I don't like that I am missing some of my favorite shows, but I figure if I keep writing enough letters to Bravo that will change soon. I also don't like that I can't watch some of my favorite political pundits, but that's okay. I listen to the radio more. I seek out information if I need it.
All in all, it's an experiment that is working out, but if anyone is having a Top Chef season finale party, let me know!