I make no secret of my appreciate for anime, cartoons, and goofy shows or movies in general but those are not the things I typically seek out to watch on TV when time permits. I love to watch things like SpongeBob SquarePants when I’m bored or love watching my favorite animes again like Vampire Hunter D or Ninja Scroll but these are things I usually do when I’m bored and can’t find my “normal” options to watch.
My wife and I record hours of shows through our satellite provider. Some shows we only watch together while others are for me to watch when I’m home alone or late at night while my wife is asleep.
For the shows we enjoy watching together, they are mostly true crime shows or TV drama series. We were lost when Live PD was canceled but understood the network’s reason for it. In its place, we watch old episodes of Cops, new episodes of Court Cam, and a lot of true murder shows like Snapped, Killer Siblings, etc. There is something about watching these shows about real people and real events that is more fascinating than any fictional scripted show or movie.
But this post isn’t about a focus on shows I watch with my wife. This is about MY habits.
Most people assume that because I like to write books that I don’t watch much TV because I must always be reading or writing but nothing could be farther from the truth. I love TV and watch it a fair amount. I love sports but rarely watch sports on TV. Pretty much I only watch NFL football and Formula 1 racing. Baseball seems boring to me on TV and I can only enjoy those games when watching them at the stadium. Basketball and Hockey are sports that I’ve never really watched but have found an appreciation for them when also watching them in-person,
So if I only watch anime and cartoons when I’m bored and watch only limited live sports on TV what do I watch when alone?
I am a HUGE fan of educational TV. PBS, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Science Channel, and Travel Channel are my jam! Historical documentaries, conspiracy theories, and scientific discussions are things I cannot get enough of. My wife hates these shows but I love ‘em. I love shows that educate me or make me think about things. I love learning and seeing things from different perspectives.
And believe it or not, these shows, theories, and discoveries have influenced my writing. I love to integrate history and science into my plots. The elements may not always be 100% accurate or may be found to be wrong later but these shows and their content are as much behind my inspirations as most anything else.
Shows about World War II, ancient civilizations, space travel, physics, exoplanets, and other cultures from around the world all interest me. Carl Sagan’s series about the universe really pulled me in and made me interested in the solar system. Josh Gates and his multitude of shows about the paranormal and archeology all make me excited to see and learn about new places, people, and stories. Don Wildman’s Beyond the Unexplained is great for introducing viewers to tidbits of history in countless museums around the world that might otherwise go unnoticed or overlooked. The NOVA series on PBS covers a wide variety of subjects from historic personalities to ground-breaking innovations and discoveries. Through these shows and shows like them I can learn about what was, what is, and what will be.
But it would be misleading for me to leave out my guilty pleasure shows, car shows! I was never a “car guy” growing up. I like fast cars and expensive cars like most people but I was never super into cars. My brother was always the gear head while I was more the tech junkie. But when I was older a friend of mine recommended this funny British show called Top Gear. The hosts, Jeremy, James, and Richard were super entertaining and the cars they drove were equally entertaining and amazing.
I was hooked. I watched every episode of Top Gear I could and the day those three left the BBC after a controversy I was in shock. I had grown to love that show and the idea of never seeing it or those three goofballs was saddening to me. Sure, there had been multiple attempts to create a spin-off in the U.S. market called Top Gear: America but they always seemed to fall short of the magic and chemistry of the British trio. When Amazon picked up the gang for a new show called The Grand Tour I was elated. My car show would not die, just be rebranded.
But that was not enough still. The BBC brought in new hosts and continued the Top Gear series. It took them a few seasons of trial and error to find the right mix of hosts but eventually landed on a new trio that brought almost a similar level of comedy and enthusiasm for cars to the shows that allowed me to enjoy it despite the new faces. Thanks to COVID though all such shows have largely been MIA for the last few years. The American version of Top Gear went to a streaming only show that I don’t think fared well in that arena. The Grand Tour suffered severe delays and cancellations in their recordings of new content that has taken us from an expected 4 shows a year to about 3 in the last 2 years. The OG Top Gear show has lived on and has continued to put out episodes but they only do a few episodes each season which leaves large gaps between new content.
While I love my car shows and would likely rather watch them than anything else, the lack of new content means that I either watch reruns of car shows, which I’m not above doing, or I watch educational shows to further my understanding of a variety topics. That greater understanding of subjects may not have much of an impact on my personal or professional life but it fills a desire to learn that I have never shaken and may influence and inspire my writing, which is always a bonus to me.