The pressure to watch television is now higher than the pressure to eat vegetables, and I have to say, I’m a little concerned about getting the proper serving. Between network and cable channels, on-demand providers and digital streaming services, there are so many shows to watch! More importantly, there are so many shows to watch if I want to be a healthy, social, productive member of society.
I mean, how does one even greet someone if they’re not caught up on Breaking Bad, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Girls, Homeland, Mad Men, Louie, the entire 11-year span of Frasier, etc. et al.? The standard “Hi, how are you?” doesn’t cut it. No one cares if you care how they are! A poignant reference to television at the top of a conversation is what matters. “Hi, you know Don Draper’s pants size is 36?”
The conundrum, of course, is how one stays current with the globs of television while still living a relatively normal lifestyle. Lifestyle is everything and I’m not bringing my couch and television with me in some van. That’s why I need my television on-the-go, like my Go-Gurt. And I’m not talking about monitors installed in the dashboard of my sedan like the guys on MTV Cribs and Pimp My Ride. (See how I worked those references in?) I’m talking about televisions becoming a part of us, like fingernails and body hair.
Unfortunately, I’m not a doctor, so I’m not installing televisions into my skin just yet. But I have started sewing television-watching devices into my clothing, because clothing is the closest thing we have to a second skin. I did this in the most obvious way: I cut rectangular holes in my shirts with seams sturdy enough to hold an iPad. I’m a good enough seamstress that there’s just enough of an angle that when I look down at my shirt, I can watch “shirtevision” regardless of what else I’m doing, like talking to someone or watching another television.
My issue with “shirtevision” is that it’s limiting. When I stare down, I realize pretty quickly that I’m only watching one screen. This is straining. (Mentally on my brain, physically on my neck.) I developed a simple solution: I cut rectangular holes above the knees of my jeans to hold iPhones. This means that when I’m looking down at my “shirtevision” screen, I can lift my neck ever so slightly and watch two “jeanevision” screens. This is good, but I can do better.
I’m not much of a baseball hat guy (except when I’m watching baseball on television), but I will be for the sake of adding more screens to my second skin. I think you see where I’m going with this. With the right bend of a brim, and the right amount of strings and pulleys, I hang a small flat-screen television from a hat right in front of my face. “Hatevision.” This obviously makes driving and walking a little burdensome, but it also gives me a great excuse to sometimes wear my hat sideways. Cool dad alert! (And I can still watch peripherally!)
While watching television via “shirtevision,” “jeanevision,” and “hatevision” is important to my success as a television watcher, I haven’t ignored my regular television at home. Since I’ve made televisions part of my second skin, it’s only natural that I become part of theirs. Yes, I’ve installed televisions on my television. I call it “teletelevision.” I’ve got a 53-inch flat screen in my living room, so I’ve installed numerous smaller televisions around its perimeter. Seventeen to be exact. This means I watch one show on the regular television, seventeen shows on “teletelevision,” one show on “hatevision,” one show in “shirtevision,” and two shows on “jeanevision.” That’s 22 television shows via crazy custom ‘visions! And if I want to take my “teletelevision” on the road, I just grab the wagon that I have it sitting on and the industrial-length extensions cords it’s hooked up to and roll it down to the end of my driveway.
Keeping up with television watching is no longer the challenge for me as it is for my peers or was for my ancestors, all due to my custom ‘visions. I only hope that future television technology allows us to buy a paint from a paint store that dries into televisions so we can paint our walls, bodies, inside our eyelids, and other people with more televisions. Surely then none of us will have an excuse about which show we watched or didn’t watch from any period of history, because we’ll have no choice but to only be constantly watching them all.
Alex J. Mann is a writer, director and comedian living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter here.