Remotely Possible?

Jun 11, 2023by tracey Comments

The TV in the photo above may look very antiquated to you.  I suppose it is. It’s not 89”, with HD and surround sound, access to millions of TV shows and movies from here and all over the globe.  However, it had several terrific things about it.

The first one is, it came with all the channels. I mean you took it out of the box, you plugged it into the wall. You fiddled around with the rabbit ears and boom you had every channel available.

That would have been three.  NBC, CBS, and ABC, plus around seven local stations.

That may sound like entertainment deprivation compared to the plethora of content out there today.  But honestly it felt like a perfect amount. There was always something to watch. Well, no- after one in the morning there was just static.

The other advantage was the remote.  Yes, remote controls have been around as long as TV has.  But they were easy to use.  You did not need a PhD in electronics or engineering or your child or grandchild to be in the house to get the TV on or change channels.

My grandmother and I used to watch a lot of TV together.  And grandma and I both knew how to work the remote.  She did not need me to walk her through twenty complicated steps just to see Laurence Welk.

When I went to sleep, she would go into her room, where she had another TV and use her own remote and do just fine.  She was a bit of an insomniac and sometimes I would wake up very early and find her sound asleep with the static still on in the background.

I know this was decades ago and we have come a long way with tech developments and cable. But like with many things it was easier.  And the idea of turning on the TV did not make you a nervous wreck.

I am not a stupid person, nor is my husband, but I cannot tell you how many nights we are sitting there, three remotes in hand, having pushed the wrong button on one and ended up in the bowels of TV land where we can’t get back to a picture.  We find ourselves staring at static or a choice of channels we have no access to.

The fact every TV is now different makes it even more difficult. We are renting a house this summer where the TV is not broken down to HDM1 HDM2 to get back and forth from cable to streaming.

No, this TV has HDR and somehow you have to find yourself at a spot (I swear to God) called Unknown. And Unknown is network on this TV.   Which is perhaps more descriptive of the situation than anything else. But it does not help if you planned on watching four episodes of Season Three of Ted Lasoo that night.

Our first lifeline when this occurs is to one of our daughters. But if they are not around or available, we indulge in a half hour or so of extreme frustration that can end up in calling each other names until we eventually we give up and go to bed.

I have a harder time giving up than he does. I worked in TV and film for most of my life, I should be able to turn the damn thing on.  But nine times out of ten I can’t.

Why three remotes? Why can’t they all be the same? Why does the Apple remote run out of power so fast? Have you ever tried to use one while you are charging it?

I have a lot of questions. And there seems to be no answer to most of them.

Except kids can walk into a strange house, pick up a foreign remote and it instantly works for them.  They speak TV 2023.

People our age don’t. It’s not intuitive. We grew up with on, off, up down. Any age can work with that. My grandmother didn’t have to move from Source to HDML2 to Apple TV, to Netflix.

Like with many things one often thinks it’s just you. You’re the only deficient person when it comes to getting the TV on and off.

You picture your friends and neighbors cuddled on their sectionals, happily watching Yellowstone while nibbling on low fat, pink Himalayan salted popcorn while you are hurling one of your three uncooperative remotes across the room screaming, “I hate you mother fucker.”

Last week I was talking to Chip, a lovely man who works at the Shade Store. It was the night after I had a total meltdown over not being able to access MAX formerly known as HBO and historically part of the cable package, we clearly pay too much for.

All I wanted to do was watch the Sarah Silverman Special. Despite the fact my oldest child Taylor spent close to an hour and a half guiding me through the labyrinth of HULU plus, and Amazon Prime, and several other apps, she eventually gave up, and ended up watching it on my computer.

Between picking shade fabrics and blackout options, I was telling this story to Chip, who confessed to having the same problem and said he spent more nights watching TV on his computer than his giant screen TV because he too got locked out by the tempestuous remotes and endless channels that lead to nothing.

Last night a friend admitted she stands in front of the TV trying to work the remotes for twenty minutes, before she yells FUCK YOU to the TV and goes to bed- TV less.

And my favorite is my friend Michele, who when asked if she too had issues with her TV and all the remotes said she never turns her living room TV off. She leaves it on all the time.  And she just turns the sound down if she doesn’t want the noise. She fears once she turns it off she will never get it back on.

While this is all annoying and confusing and I think a waste of time as there must be a less complicated way of getting the TV to work for people born after 1990, it’s doubly distressing as we all know, TVs no longer come out of the box with the channels included.

No, we pay. And  we pay more for less each month.

I will say when I relied on my Cable package combined with Apple TV, once I got the hang of the remotes, it I was in OK shape.

But suddenly the $222.00 a month we pay for Verizon no longer supports any of the premium channels.  Not to mention our cable was also $170 a month, until the last two months. They took away HBO and decided to charge more money?

It feels like overnight everything has turned into some streaming plus that really feels like a minus as they all cost way too much for what you are getting.

For instance, Taylor thought if I upgraded to Hulu Plus I could get Max Plus. Well not so fast, only for four weeks, then it will cost $16.99 a month, plus I am stuck with Hulu Plus, which I have no interest in.

Who makes these executive decisions? Overpaid executives who haven’t a clue what people really want.

They all need to be fired. But they are getting raises while the writers are on strike just to make a livable salary. STRIKE ON!

Until recently it didn’t matter much as with many premium channels you could bundle it into your cable package and then stream it through your Apple TV or whatever device you use. But now, nothing comes with cable, and everything is an add on.

I have been so frustrated by all of this, the coup de gras being my Sarah Silverman meltdown episode, I have been adding up what we spend and researching what we might need to add on to get what we actually want.

Like I said, we have cable. Verizon FiOS. Someone is going to say why do you bother with cable? It’s so 1995. Well, first off, we like local news. We like some of the networks.  My husband needs sports. Plus, we get our internet through them. And hold on to your hats, we have a landline. Do not tell me we don’t need a landline; we love a landline.  You ever drop a call on a landline? Exactly.

So, until tomorrow when I get them to adjust my bill, we are paying between $179- $222 dollars a month for this service, that used to give us access to all premium channels except Netflix and Amazon Prime.

I think when I started getting Netflix I was paying $7.99  a month.  I have not changed from minus to plus but the tab is now $15.99. The Hulu Plus is $14.99 a month. And then the tacked on MAX coming in at $16.99.  We get Apple Plus which adds on another $7.99 a month.  I think everyone in the family is paying for their own Amazon Prime, which used to be a great place to buy shows you could not find on other services but now not so much. However, I just logged on to find I am paying $129.00 a year for that.

I have no desire for Disney Plus, but once one of the girls has a baby, I will get it and God knows what it will cost by then. Now it’s $20.00 a month for the top tier.  Peacock, excuse me for the last 60 years Peacock was called NBC.  It was channel four across the country.  It came in the box with the TV. Now, it’s a Streaming Service Plus.  I call that a major minus.

This is a lot of money and a lot of bullshit considering if you are over 50, chances are you end up unable to access any of this much of the time.

 It’s not fair because the average American is trying to make ends meet and to charge them these amounts for things that were once either free or came bundled with your cable package is just robbery.

And it’s not working. The creators and writers outside of a handful make no money, thus the strike. On top of which, nobody watches 9/10 of what is on all these channels.  People watch Succession, Yellowstone, Ted Lasso. Curb Your Enthusiasm.

HBO, sorry MAX, and Netflix still have the best programming.

Like with Network TV most people tend to watch the same shows. The popular ones. But in the olden days if they show wasn’t working it was yanked. Now they live in the Starz Plus.

Look at this list.  Outside of Fargo and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, do you watch any of these shows?  You notice not one was produced after 2020.

Top 10 Hulu Shows

  • Difficult People (2015)
  • Fargo (2014)
  • Harlots (2017)
  • It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (2005)
  • Justified (2010)
  • Mrs. America (2020)
  • Ramy (2019)
  • What We Do In Shadows (2019)

A big part of me longs for a TV that comes out of the box, all the channels right there. If I must pay a little more for a few of them, I’m OK with that.

I want to be able to turn it on whenever I want to watch.  I do not wish to be tossed into TV purgatory because I happened to not be wearing my glasses, picked up the wrong remote and pushed the wrong button.

I also feel like an additional $100.00 a month, which is what you pay if you subscribe to the eight main streamers is unacceptable.

We don’t want to lose technology, but we also don’t want to be abused by it.

Though I fear turning back is not remotely possible