In a story on a new video-streaming guide that combines listings for Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+, Hulu and Amazon Prime into a single unified application on TV and mobile (HBO Max, Quibi and Peacock will join next year), I read this startling stat: “Studies suggest the average person in America spends over 23 minutes every day just scrolling for something to watch.”
I realize we are an imperfect nation littered with Trump supporters and others whose mental acuity could be called into serious question. But if in fact you spend that much time deciding what to watch on TV, then your life is essentially devoid of meaning, and you should move to the nearest state that supports euthanasia.
This stat suggests you enter each search for programming without any memory of what you learned the day before that ultimately informed your viewing decision, such as you should never watch a “reality show,” anything on Fox News, cooking shows with ill-tempered celebrity chefs, or a talent competition that thinks Sean Spicer is an entertainer.
There are informal but nearly universal best practices on picking shows that should be memorized: Such as: Don’t bother with anything that runs between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. That’s called prime time and is reserved for the most inane network comedies, all of them knock-offs of knock-offs reaffirming that there hasn’t been anything really funny on TV since “The Honeymooners.” And if you can’t find “Seinfeld” reruns within five or 10 seconds, you need to buy a bigger cable package.
While the premium channels have some original dramas (like “Watchmen,” so original you haven’t a clue who is doing what to whom and/or why), the major “free” network dramas are all written by either Dick Wolfe or Shonda Rhimes, so you need to only see one every 12 or 13 months to be totally caught up.
These shows do remind us that no matter how complex or unsolvable a crime, with the right CI or fact suddenly derived from CCTV footage, the most heinous criminal can be brought to justice in just 42 minutes (if there is a part 2 you have to wait a week to watch, you should not be watching that show to begin with — because the finale inevitably conflicts with a live college sports event that should take precedence over all other things on TV).
Never trust recommendation engines. Since the get-go, I have only watched Netflix programming that features gratuitous violence and/or full-frontal nudity, yet they try to get me to sample new shows that have neither. What in my profiles suggests I would enjoy a cozy rom-com? Nothing, I assure you.
If you can’t figure out from the name of the network what kind of programming they feature, you can skip over it with little fear that you have missed quality programming. Chances are it’s a Christian fundamentalist station urging you to donate so the pastor has a Boeing 747 instead of a Gulfstream (Hallelujah, praise the Lord!!).
Basically, 23 minutes a day is almost 140 hours a year, or nearly six days. Think of what more important things you could do rather than confirming that TV is still a wasteland. You could help Felicity Huffman perform her community service (be sure and get a selfie). You could read every lie Trump has told in his three years in office. You could call your mother and tell her you love her.
Use the time wisely. You don’t want to answer Saint Peter with “Not much, watched a lot of TV.”