Monday, May 2

TV Month 2016 - The Season Premiere.

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My name is Ryan Zeinert, and I am hopelessly addicted to Television.

When I began kicking around the idea of an entire month devoted to my favorite pastime, it boiled down to asking myself a (seemingly) simple question: Why do I love TV so much, anyway?

The answer was a bit deeper than I realized.

When I was a child, there was no Internet. With the exception of radio (a somewhat antiquated medium to kids even in the 80's thanks to the uprising of video games), Television was the only window into a world different from my own. I lived in a rural town with no cable until I was a teenager. I had insomnia. I had no friends within biking distance. I spent a lot of my time in my own head (still do). Nintendo was fine, but it wasn't like you could log on and play Metroid against everyone in the world. It was still a solitary experience unless you had a friend over, which I typically did not.

So I watched TV.

When I couldn't sleep, I watched TV shows. When my shows were over, I'd watch TV shows I didn't like. When those shows were over, I'd watch whatever channel hadn't gone off the air yet. When that was over, I'd watch the National Anthem. And when that was over, I'd watch the Test Pattern. And then maybe, maybe, I'd fall asleep.



My parents tried to police this, I can assure you. They set timers and hid the remote. I didn't have a TV in my room for most of my childhood, but I would sneak downstairs into the living room after everyone had gone to sleep (my only advantage as an insomniac). I spent as much time outside as most well-adjusted kids, but as soon as I went back in, I knew what I would be doing.

It's for these reasons and more (which we'll get to throughout the month), that it's never been about just the shows for me. It was everything: The static, the terrible local networks, the scheduling, even the hardware itself. Everything that goes into getting those images to my face, and what it represents. A pre-Internet way to make yourself known to the planet in ways never before dreamed of. A companion when you're lonely. Even now as an adult, I find myself recording and watching more TV in conjunction with spikes in my anxiety and depression. This is not a coincidence. Sad as it may sound, TV was my friend when I needed it, and I am loyal to my friends.

As the late 80's morphed into the 90's, I moved to the city, we got the Internet, I had more friends around, I became slightly less introverted and I entered my teenage years. But my appreciation for TV never wavered. Cable was exploding into everyone's home. Marketing and advertising was geared specifically to my age group (and as weird and hyperactive as ever). Channels became 24/7. MTV still played music. The Learning Channel was still educational. Right when TV faced becoming antiquated parallel to the Internet, it was to me the richest moment in its history.

And that's when everything changed for me.

TOMORROW: THE BIG UGLY DISH.

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