Once upon a time, or at least up until the 90s, you could have seemed mysterious and high-brow if you said you didn’t watch TV; now you just look like a bit of a killjoy if you choose to opt out. The huge range of channels on offer, not to mention the devices you can watch them on, are undeniably tempting. However niche your interests, you’ll find them covered by the not-so-stupid box. Whether you relax with a dose of structured reality (see ITVBe) or history documentaries (Yesterday), there’s no excuse not to indulge. Yes, you’ll probably spot a few repeats in the listings as you flick channels (ahem, Dave), but you’ll also find new programs to enjoy.
Being a TV fan isn’t something to be sneered at now – with streaming services like Netflix delivering sharp box set dramas, such as Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards, many modern shows are designed to be binged on. Want to watch the whole series in one go? Sure. Just don’t apologise for being addicted. Home-grown seris like Sherlock and Broadchurch, or American imports like Breaking Bad and Homeland, have delivered some seriously good watercooler moments over the past few years, with the kind of production values and budgets you’d expect from a blockbuster movie.
TV’s big rival has always been the film industry, luring people to the local multiplex in droves. However, with the ever-increasing cost of cinema trips, an empty wallet can make you retreat home to the TV. But is this entirely a bad thing? Instead of being confined to a crowded cinema with an errant child kicking the back of your seat, you can relax on the sofa and access a whole range of film channels at the touch of a button. Alternatively, ditch a film for a must-watch evening program and tweet or Facebook your response as it unfolds (something you definitely can’t do in the cinema). Even if your night isn’t exactly action-packed, it’s pretty satisfying to make a pointed comment about a bizarre act on Eurovision or a TOWIE scandal, then see your social media street cred soar.
Great British soaps are another major talking point and something of an institution for many of us. Love triangles and family tiffs aside, soaps do raise awareness of key issues such as HIV, eating disorders and domestic violence, as a character’s problem hits home with viewers. When a Coronation Street storyline saw Hayley Cropper battling pancreatic cancer, the charity Pancreatic Cancer UK recorded a marked increase in people asking for support. Tons of research goes into shaping these storylines to ensure they reflect reality as much as possible, so don’t go assuming they’re trivial.
If you’re a secret telly addict, now’s the time to embrace your love of the box. Whatever you’re into – bad-ass crime dramas, finely tuned soaps, failsafe entertainment shows and everything in between – it’s not stupid, just truly compulsive viewing.