To say that the nature of television is changing would be a massive understatement.
A medium that was a life-changing revolution to a generation is now becoming an afterthought when compared to the internet and, as a result, companies are scrambling to find ways to stay relevant in a cord-cutting world.
In my house, we have the complete cable package, but if it were up to my daughter, we wouldn’t need it anymore.
When you have an infant, you can watch whatever you want. Newborns sleep a great deal of the time and even when they’re awake, they’re not interested in the TV. They’re far more fascinated by their own hands. They’ve yet to be indoctrinated by our culture, so they aren’t begging to watch yet another show with a member of a royal family or a talking animal.
Of course, that all changes quickly.
At some point, the kid that used to lie in the crook of your arm as you held the bottle and watched a movie on Saturday night and the NFL and NBA on Sunday begins to ask to watch kids shows. Somehow, she saw Minnie Mouse or Daniel Tiger and was so taken that she wanted — no, demanded, as toddlers do — to see them again. And again. And again.
And so for the next few years, those were the visitors that invaded my living room on a daily basis: Mickey Mouse and his clubhouse gang, Sofia, Peppa, the Little Einsteins, and PJ Masks; later, it was Elena, Barbie, Strawberry Shortcake, and Alvin, Simon, and Theodore. And don’t forget the films. Tangled is her favorite, but if it features a Disney princess or was made by Pixar, chances are I’ve seen it more than once, perhaps even a few dozen times. And that’s not even mentioning Descendants.
We’re careful about screen time, though. When we’re home, we don’t just sit in front of the tube. I write, my wife is a crafter, and we’re both voracious readers, so we have gone to great pains to ensure that TV and movies are a treat to be enjoyed in moderation, like chocolate milk or candy. So when we do turn it on, we usually let her decide what to watch. It’s for this reason I’ve never seen an episode of Breaking Bad or The Walking Dead. If it’s not on Disney Junior or Nick Jr., chances are I haven’t seen it.
However, both of those channels have largely been left behind in favor of YouTube. Over the past several months, my living room TV has been increasingly taken over by disembodied hands.