The inescapable stress of leisure

One of the stresses in my life is entertainment. A thing that is literally intended to be a break and distraction from the stress of everyday living is something that stresses me out.

Part of this is sports, although I am getting better about that. Sports is the worst. No matter who you root for, you will be disappointed in some regard by season’s end. Throw fantasy sports into the mix—which I do because I am apparently a masochist—and sports becomes one big ball of terribleness and unwanted outcomes. On the rare occasion that sports produce joy, it’s fun to say that all the heartache leading up to it was worth it, but that is totally not true. Also, everything I am saying is in regard to watching sports, like from a couch.

But, again, I am gaining more and more perspective and slowly removing the vice grip sports has had on me throughout my entire life. Yet I still have the issue of television to confront.

Indeed, television—more specifically the DVR—stresses me out. Recently we had many family members visiting the Valley for an extended period of time and as a result, because we felt obligated to “talk” to them and stuff, our DVR became full to the brim with our favorite shows.

My wife and I began having heated discussions about the DVR while getting washed up for bed at night. “But I have work to do tomorrow night!” “Well then WHEN are we going to watch the Parks & Rec from three weeks ago? WHERE are your priorities?” “MY priorities? PROJECT RUNWAYS ARE DELETING AS WE SPEAK!”

Indeed our DVR became so packed with shows that many were deleted and, even worse, we were forced to delete some ourselves to make room for episodes that had yet to record. Such difficult decisions, as anyone who has had to say goodbye to a loved previously recorded show can testify, didn’t come easily.

Wife: Are we “sure” we want to delete Fashion Police?

Me: I’m not sure of anything anymore. But we have to do it, right? We just have to. Downton Abbey is recording tonight and there's just …there's just not enough room.

Wife: Hits yellow triangle button, cries, drops remote.

Me: Comforts her.

We can often talk ourselves into cancellation with, “Oh, we can always watch it online or find it on On Demand,” but we know that’s not true. I mean, who ever finds anything worth watching on On Demand? On Demand should be called “Nobody watches you because you’re terrible and I hate you.” Boom, roasted.

Making matters more complicated is the fact that we canceled Netflix (again) and joined Amazon Prime, and have a bunch of shows queued up to watch. So now the decision becomes: do we ignore the DVR or not take full advantage of Amazon Prime? It should also be mentioned that when we’re streaming and the Internet connection goes funky and interrupts the show, my wife blames me because I invented the Internet. This adds greatly to my stress.

It’s all been so much that we’ve had some frank discussions about cancelling our cable entirely and becoming one of those streaming-only families that you read about in hipster magazines like Hipster Magazine. But I just can’t bring myself to do it, mainly because of—wait for it—sports.

Currently we are trying to plow our way through recorded shows, and it feels much more like a job than entertainment. With Valentine’s Day here, a night out is a risk I am unwilling to take, so tray tables and the 30 Rock finale may be my best romantic bet. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Note: This column appears in the 2/14 issue of The Glendale Star and the 2/15 issue of the Peoria Times.


tourist504 said…
This is truth. We live in New Orleans where it is Mardi Gras time. Parades every night and the DVR is dangerously full. I know some stuff got deleted, but in my drunken stupor I just allowed it to happen. The fact that I marked Puppy Bowl as "Keep until manually erased" didn't help things. That thing is long. At least we made it a point to watch the new Walking Dead in real time....

I forgot how much watching things in real time hurts the spirit. I instinctively hit the FWD button during commercials, it jumps BACK 2 seconds, thus my manliness and ability to control my own destiny come into question.
mkenny59 said…
Well look at it this way, tourist: at least you're missing shows b/c you're partying on Bourbon Street. We miss shows because my in-laws are in town and my mother-in-law CAN'T miss The Voice/The Biggest Loser/That Betty White Show/Every Show on TV.

I do the same thing when watching real time TV. The worst.