The Ghost of TV Past

Old fashioned big-screen TV
Look how fat these things were!

Last year I wrote a blog post about how I love to shop in thrift stores. Well, the other day I was in a Deseret Industries in Salt Lake, which is the Mormon version of Good Will, when I noticed a humungous, 50-inch, old-fashioned, analog, tube TV on display among a sea of iPods and baby flat screens. What the hell? Who is going to buy that big-ass, ugly thing? It was so out of place it looked like somebody’s grandma had crashed a rave. You couldn’t even give it the “shabby chic” treatment and repurpose it into some useless ornamental doodad that sells at overpriced art festivals. Could you imagine this beast as a toilet paper caddy? Not unless your bathroom was the size of an end zone.

No, the best this relic could hope for is that some fraternity dumps it off a tall building in an effort to score a featured spot on Tosh.O. What an ironic, but fitting, send-off that would be.

Watching TV is No Longer an Event

How we watch TV today
The 21st century home theatre system

But that got me thinking. A TV is quickly becoming about as necessary as herpes. Yes, I have a couple hanging on my walls at home (flat screen TVs, that is, not herpes), but these days I have to admit I do most of my TV-watching on my iPhone or on my computer. And when I do breakdown and watch one of the flat screens, I view all my content over the Internet, and almost NONE of it on network TV. Which is kind of a betrayal, I guess, having once written for television. But quite honestly, I like the original programming on Hulu and Internet-only TV channels a lot more than the 150 cable channels I never watched when I had DirecTV.

Plus, it sure felt good to get rid of one more bill when I dumped satellite TV over a year ago. Now I just stream everything on a PS-3 game box. I knew that stupid gaming system had to come in handy some day. The only downside is the PS-3 also gives you access to a bunch of sketchy Internet video games that my teenage sons don’t need to be playing. You can’t imagine who (or what) you might meet while cruising “the forest” in one of those freaky, medieval, role-playing fantasies. They make Game of Thrones look like Sesame Street. Really, it’s nothing but Camelot porn.

TV versus Story

But getting back to TV, I never thought I’d be satisfied watching something like Gone with the Wind on a 3.5” screen, but really it’s not that bad. I prefer the flexibility of being able to shut out the world at will over seeing every minute detail of Atlanta burning. A story is a story. If it’s good I don’t need a ton of big-screen special effects to grab my attention. If I want to see crap like that I can just watch Yahoo News.

Old fashioned TV
Visionary kid thought it was touch-screen

So maybe THAT’s the key to these 21st century content wars and why big-screen TVs have gone the way of the mullet (and don’t tell me the mullet is coming back, I’m not buying it). It’s not the device on which you watch your programs that matters, it’s the stories the programs tell. Hell, gossiping over the back fence is entertaining as long as it’s good gossip.

Backstory Proof

When I was little my great grandma was addicted to the morning soap operas on TV. When they came on she’d say, “Stacy, you have sit down and be quiet while I watch my stories.” I don’t think she cared that they were on a grainy black-and-white TV with a 12-inch screen. She was in it for the story, and the adventure of watching it unfold on a new medium. I think we’re right back where we started. TV screens were little, got big, and now they’re little again. But the entertainment value of a good story has never waivered.

I looked at that 50-inch big-screen TV one more time before I left the store. What a lot of overblown technology and expense just to be entertained. The day I thought my phone would replace that monstrosity was the day I expected to see my grandma bumpin’ and grindin’ at a rave. I guess you just never know. (Which is why I steer clear of raves–just in case.)

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Stacy Dymalski is the host of the hilarious TV talk show “Mother Bloggers” on She’s also an award winning keynote speaker and stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.

For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in bookstores and on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.