published Thursday, January 16th, 2014

City Beat: Option overload can ruin a night of television viewing

With all of the advances made in the world of electronics, I'm surprised no one has invented the his-and-hers television. It would come with his-and-hers remotes, a split screen and separate audio channels. This way, spouses could watch a movie or television program together, but not the same one necessarily. It would save a lot of hassle, really, and keep couples together, or at least in the same room.

Couples have quarrelled over the remote and control of the television for years, and most of us settle into a routine at some point. What that means is those of us who have stayed together for awhile have decided the smart course is to choose our battles and to choose them wisely.

The reason this comes up is because in our household the increase in the number of TV viewing options has risen dramatically, and with it has come some new battle lines. I love gadgets. My wife hates them. I like having options, and I think my wife would be happy to go back to antenna TV and its three channels.

It was simpler, to be sure. Back in the day, we watched what was on. Now, we can drive ourselves crazy by the idea that something better is on another channel and the never-ending search for it. And I don't want to hear any of the "There is nothing on TV worth watching" nonsense. There is a lot of really horrible stuff but a lot of educational and entertaining stuff as well.

On those nights when we don't have something in particular we want to watch, a big part of the TV-watching routine is deciding whether to watch satellite TV, Netflix, Hulu, something on Blu-ray or something we've recorded on the DVR.

I'm learning pretty quickly that one thing my wife does not deal with well is option overload, which is interesting because she can stare at a restaurant menu for long periods. With television, she has about a 15-second window of patience for scrolling through a menu. While watching on my own, I might scroll through the satellite menu and then flip over to the Apple TV. She will never do this on her own, and she isn't happy about it when I do it while we watch together.

Our new routine is that while she fixes dinner, I "get the TV set up." Obviously, turning it on takes about one second, so what she means is "just pick something."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfree or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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