Goodbye TiVo, Welcome Back TV List

I grew up watching a lot of television. I watched soap operas after school and dramas and sitcoms at night. I love getting lost in the stories of other people and laughing at/with my television friends (the ones inside the box). When you are watching TV, you can cry with imaginary people without being REALLY vulnerable and go on wild adventures without leaving your couch.

In the early 2000’s I used to create recommendation lists for my friends at the start of the fall TV Season based on my extensive research of the reviews of new and returning shows.  (Really, I loved television!)  Those were the days of five major networks (and HBO) when the television season aligned with the school year and things predictably heated up during “sweeps” season when ratings were tracked by Nielsen four times a year (yes, only four times a year). A lot has changed!

When I lived with other people, I was always the one who knew how to program the VCR and I was all over it.  I had one of those special VCRs that would automatically fast forward though commercials.  I loved that VCR….until I met TiVo.

In my first year of business school (2001/2002), I learned about TiVo from a guy at a party. I must have been trying to impress him by talking about my cool VCR that fast forwarded through commercials and he one upped me by telling me about this magical new machine he had that would record things digitally that could be played back from a menu IN ANY ORDER!   This “DVR” did not automatically speed through commercials like my cool VCR (although a later model eventually would), but I could quickly fast forward through them myself with a cute peanut shaped remote that made a unique TiVo sound.  This magical machine would also let me start watching a show from the beginning, even if the same show was still recording!!

Before my first year of business school was over, I had my first TiVo.  In my second year of business school, I sewed a homemade TiVo costume for Halloween (shown below with my friend Toby who is dressed as himself.)

I have owned many TiVos since then.  When I had a corporate apartment in Chicago for work, I had one TiVo in NYC and one in Chicago. My TiVos got more cool features along the way like being able to watch recorded shows from my Ipad in a hotel room or set up recordings from my phone, which came in very handy while sitting at the airport reading about some new show in a magazine.  I could even record up to FOUR programs at the same time!  (This was HUGE before everything you wanted to watch was just waiting for you at all times, remember?)

When cable companies started building DVRs into their cable boxes, people didn’t understand why I still paid extra for a TiVo box + TiVo service + a special cable card.  It’s hard to explain if you’ve never had a TiVo.  If you have had a TiVo, I don’t have to explain. The TiVo remote makes that unique “ba-doop” sound I mentioned earlier that we TiVo owners know and (most of us) love. Maybe those “ba-doops” have hypnotic powers that makes it hard to part with your TiVo! Or maybe we just have mad, loyal respect for the company that invented the DVR.

The TiVo is the least successful, most significant consumer electronics device ever. – IEEE Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame  

In recent years, I did get frustrated with my Tivo because it would randomly not record things I had scheduled and the guide was often missing things that should have been there, making it challenging to set up recordings.  But I did not abandon TiVo until I finally cut the cable cord last summer and became a full-time streamer.  Even then, I held on to that TiVo box while it collected dust, unused, for almost an entire year because it made me sad to part with it.  I had used and owned a TiVo for almost 20 years!!!

Last month, as part of a massive apartment de-cluttering project, I finally dropped my TiVo Premiere off at Best Buy to be recycled and said my good-byes.  I later felt horrible that I didn’t try to give it a way or sell it.  I hope the TiVo gods (and the environmentalists) forgive me.

The name of this blog was inspired by my desire to spend less time with my imaginary television friends and more time in the real world, with real people.  The original sub-title of the blog was “City Chick Tries to Separate from her TiVo”.  I have officially separated from my TiVo (you may have noticed the sub-title has changed) and my world has gotten a lot bigger since I started this blog, but I can assure that I still watch quite a bit of television.

Granted, this was an unusual year (to say the least), so I have to cut myself some slack, but I am way above the 10 hours I was trying to limit myself to when I started this blog.  Pandemic or not, I feel like a shlub if I park myself in front of the TV before 8pm. But as soon as the clock turns 8, I allow myself to stop trying to be productive and just veg out until its time for bed (which is 10pm because that’s how I roll).  I clearly still have some TVaholic in me.

When I started the blog, I used to track what I was watching on the TV List tab which eventually stopped getting updated. This past year, many people have asked me what I have been watching and I keep drawing a blank when they ask.  It felt very weird to not be the person who helps people decide what to watch on TV and even weirder to not even remember what I was doing between the hours of 8-10pm all year!

After this came up again recently, I decided to spend an entire day reviewing my watch histories and writing down everything I watched in 2020 and 2021. (I did this in my bullet journal, using lots of colorful markers, as shown above.) It was like a walk down memory lane with all of my imaginary pandemic TV friends!

I am not sure it was the MOST productive way to spend my day, but I DO feel a sense of accomplishment.  And because I spent SO much time documenting what I watched, I decided to bring back the TV list tab ! Now that we can finally leave our houses and get out on the real world again, the you probably want nothing to do with your TV, BUT if you are looking for something new to watch, feel free to check out the TV list and maybe you will find something you missed this year that looks interesting.

My TiVo days may have come to an end, but the TV list is back…at least until I start having exciting adventures again and spend more time with real people. (Since I fractured my foot the day after my second vaccination shot, there has been a delay on getting out and about, which I have used to consume many seasons of Outlander on Netflix!)

I am sure that my imaginary TV friends will always be a part of my life and my TiVo doll is still hanging out in my television cabinet to remind me of the the old TiVo days.