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Streaming spoiled
Sarcastically Southern
TV streaming

For a long time, my husband and I were too cost effective (aka cheap) to pay for Internet service. We had smartphones — why did we need to pay an additional fee to access the Internet? We used a regular TV antenna for a while to tune into television shows, but they had to be watched live on their dedicated days at their scheduled times. We also watched a lot of movies!  

When we finally got connected, we started utilizing streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, which were a lot less expensive to subscribe to at that time.

Now, I’m not sure what I would do without streaming.

Don’t get me wrong — I grew up in the ‘90s. I’m talking the time when you only took a bathroom break during the commercials. You stood in front of the microwave, rushing your popcorn to pop before the show started back. You fought with your siblings over the remote to see who got to watch their shows that night.

We were watching TGIF with Family Matters, Full House and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. On Saturday mornings, it was Garfield and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Afternoon television included shows like Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures and, once I got a little bit older, TRL (Total Request Live) on MTV. During the summer, my younger sister Abbie and I watched shows like The Big Comfy Couch, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Reading Rainbow and, one of our favorites, Wishbone.

Every evening, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Home Improvement were staples in our household. It seems like my Mama timed dinner and baths around those two shows because if you missed them, chances were, you wouldn’t see them again for quite a while. You had to rush home from softball practice, scarf down your dinner and hurry to get in front of the TV before “IIIInnnn West Philadelphia…” started playing, or you wouldn’t get to see what craziness Will and his family were going to get into that night.

I also grew up watching Disney movies on VHS — none of this Disney+ like we have now. And to watch the Atlanta Braves? No BallySports blackout areas to be heard of — you just tuned in. You hoped that a game-winning (or losing) play wasn’t made while you were in the bathroom or, even worse, after your parents made you go to bed. And during the World Series, if games were played across the country against teams with different time zones, you sometimes had to pout to convince your parents to let you stay up late to watch. 

My Mama and Daddy have been watching NCIS since it premiered in 2003. For more than 20 seasons, they’ve tuned in each week to watch its special agents try to capture criminals. Once my sister and I were grown and out of the house, if we called during the show, after she made sure we were OK, Mama would say, “I gotta call you back. NCIS is on.”

When she worked nights, she would have to catch the episodes on rerun, or my dad would give her a recap of what had happened. I mean, let’s face it — my parents only recently started streaming, and now my sister and I are not just daughters, we’re tech support.

I recently started watching NCIS, too — and thank goodness for binge watching. Mama finds it funny that I am just now watching a show that they’ve enjoyed forever and often asks me what part I’m at. There have been several episodes that have ended in a cliffhanger, like the season finales, and honestly, I don’t know that I could’ve waited months to find out whether someone survived an attack or a medical crisis! But that’s exactly what my parents have done.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done the same thing when it comes to shows like Grey’s Anatomy. The issue with that is if you have to work or run errands, or if your TV signal goes out because of bad weather, then you miss your show. There’s no rewinding it to the part where you left off; no starting it over the next day after falling asleep mid-show the night before.  

And there’s definitely no replaying on demand to see the game-winning homerun your favorite baseball player hit.

Technology has spoiled many of us, allowing us to enjoy little luxuries we never could’ve imagined back in the days when we were watching Tim “The Toolman” Taylor accidentally record over home videos of his children and getting in trouble with his wife.

Now that my parents are binging shows as well, I’m giving them recommendations on what to watch next. I love finding series that came on other channels at the same time as my favorite shows back when our only option was live TV. If I had to make a choice, I always chose Grey’s Anatomy — but I missed out on some good television! Now, I can now find entire seasons of those shows and, if I’m dedicated enough, watch them from start to finish in a weekend.

Thanks to streaming, I can sit down and pull up an old movie that brings back a flood of nostalgia, or one that was rated R that I was too young to watch at the time. (Mama might not have had parental controls on our old-school TV, but she definitely made me turn off TRL during certain songs so my younger sister wouldn’t go to school singing “Thong Song.”)

I wouldn’t change those nights in front of the television with my family for anything — but I do know that things might have been a lot easier for my parents if Abbie and I hadn’t always had to fight over the remote.