We were one of the first families among our friends to get a TV back in 1950. It was a dinky little thing with a tiny screen and rabbit ears and knobs you had to get up off the sofa to turn. Programming was all in black and white, of course, and there weren’t enough shows to fill up 24 hours a day, so everything would just stop and we’d get to watch what they called a “test pattern” — after the national anthem, of course.
My sister Bertie and I grew up with shows like “Kukla, Fran and Ollie,” a puppet show that was really ahead of its time because it was entirely improvised; the “Steve Allen Show” (noted for its great jazz guests); “Lights Out,” a really scary, creepy mystery program; and “Your Hit Parade” with live singers performing the popular songs of the day in really corny, weird settings, among other shows, which were live in those days. My mother absolutely loved the new TV and there were never any restrictions about how much we could watch it. We didn’t watch much during the day, but we were glued to it every night of the week.
I don’t have a TV any more. I haven’t had one for three years. After television being such a major part of my life, it was strangely easy just to let it go. And it came about it a very natural way. I had left Rio de Janeiro to go back to the USA in 2007, thinking I was going to stay. But that idea didn’t work out, so I came back exactly one year later. During all this upheaval of intercontinental moving, I had to give up virtually everything I owned except for what I could stuff into a big suitcase. So naturally a TV wasn’t part of that plan.
When I got back here I lived for six months in a couple of temporary apartments that had small TVs, but I found that I rarely watched anything. I also checked out what the local cable plans had to offer, and it was only marginally less awful than what I’d seen in the USA and expensive, so I decided to pass on getting a TV when I finally moved into a more permanent, unfurnished place. Meanwhile, I had already discovered the wonders of YouTube and downloading films from iTunes, so I certainly wasn’t without home entertainment. Then I found a site that streamed national soccer games, so I figured I was set. I could even catch up with some of my former guilty TV pleasures on YouTube, like “America’s Next Top Model” and “American Idol,” not to mention great BBC dramas and obscure films that I couldn’t find anywhere else.
So who needs TV? Do you?