A while ago my family got rid of cable. I wrote about it on Cut Cable Today if you want all the details, but basically the DVR queue was stressing me out and we never had enough time to watch everything that cable had to offer. Castle and Nashville back episodes were breathing down my neck on a daily basis. When we moved last summer, we kicked cable to the curb and now we watch a lot less tv and rely on streaming services for our must-see shows.
We kept our antennae for emergency live tv viewing on local channels. Yes, emergency tv viewing is a real thing. I’m talking about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or The Oscars, and not much else if we are focusing only on real tv emergencies. If you’re wondering why I didn’t include my beloved QVC, it’s because I stream it live on my laptop — though I do love to see my David Venable and Leah Williams in all their 42″ glory from time to time.
A few months back my husband and I heard that there was going to be a new season of Celebrity Apprentice. After going cable free for months, we decided we’d indulge and just watch it live via our antennae since it was on a major network channel. Right now, you may be wondering how 2 adults who appear to be hip cable-shunning people were working a season of really questionable reality tv viewing into their schedule. But guys, it was celebrity Apprentice, not regular Apprentice. It’s all for charity, which makes it acceptable viewing… also, it had a Jonas brother and Ian Ziering from Sharknado, so I didn’t really feel like I had a choice.
Anyway, this all seemed fine until we realized that along with the vanished cable was the non-existent DVR and any accompanying ability to make the show fit our schedules. Instead, Donald Trump made us his bitch for weeks on end.
The first night we were like giddy schoolgirls awaiting our special show until the hourglass of doom started to get out of control and we found ourselves unprepared to be AIS (ass in seat) in time for our show.
After a few weeks of 8pm fire drills, we started to get into the groove of watching tv minus the DVR (just like we did in the 80’s). If you find yourself facing the alternate reality of forced or consensual live tv viewing (ideally involving a Jonas, Hanson, member of Menudo or other must-watch reality train wreck), perhaps these strategies will help you as well.
And this is why I always say, “If I can help just one person with my blog…”
#1 Military Style Tuck Ins – This rule must be followed or else everything else on this list is moot. The children must be tucked in well before air time of your scheduled show. If they tend to call out for no good reason (i.e. ‘Can you watch me drink my water‘ or ‘My underwear is scootchy‘), build a buffer into your bedtime routine. March upstairs at 6:15pm if need be to get yourself kid-free for TV.
#2 Set Show Reminders – Television viewing is no longer at your whim. You need to be there BOC (butt on cushion) when the show starts regardless of your convenience. It is no longer 2015 in this live-tv scenario. You are one questionable step away from remotes that still have wires on them and TV Guide as your only source for scheduling information. Set the freaking timer or you’ll miss your show!
#3 Pee Early or Hold It – There are snacks to be gotten (see #4), you can’t waste valuable commercial time for bathroom breaks. Go before or wait until after.
#4 Practice Snack Fire Drills – As you sprint to the kitchen for snacks during commercials, it is best to communicate with your partner on specifics such as the size of apple to be sliced, who is bringing napkins, whether the smell of popcorn will waft upstairs and send your kids calling for it etc. Once the commercials start, it is imperative that you get your ass to the kitchen for snacks in an organized and efficient manner.
#5 Do Not Discuss The Show Until Commercials – If you start sharing opinions and asking questions, you might miss a key development like Kenya Moore hacking Vivica Fox’s Twitter account to send rogue tweets, or Shawn Johnson’s totes painful period cramps while shopping for props during a task. Like I said, vital info is at stake. Pay attention!
In a nod to the days when The Wizard of Oz was only on once a year and that was your only chance to watch it, and the days when the live Sound of Music showing was something you pretended to care about because your mom made Jiffy Pop, enjoy the nostalgia that is live tv and travel back through time occasionally by watching something the way people did in the olden days. Before you reach for your wired remote control and try to record it on VHS while ‘pausing out’ commercials, stick to my strategies and you’ll be conquering your first world tv emergencies just like we did.