2016 TV Resolution: Feel Less Guilty About TV's Guilty Pleasures

Matt Roush
2016 TV Resolutions

The TV Insider / TV Guide Magazine team sets their goals for small-screen viewing in the new year. See more 2016 TV Resolutions.

I resolve: To feel less guilty about TV's guilty pleasures.

As we head into a new TV year, with barely a break from the old one—seriously, Amazon, you're dropping the full second season of Mozart in the Jungle on December freaking 30th?—it's becoming increasingly clear that no one, not even a paid professional, can see everything even if they so desired. And desire is what I fear will begin to fade amid the high anxiety of approaching another year of so-called "peak TV," following 2015's record-setting (according to FX researchers) deluge of 409 scripted series.

Faced with this kind of tonnage, and the prospect of more punishingly long binges with streaming services that have yet to learn how less can be more, it's worth remembering that watching TV, regardless of the platform or device of preference, isn't meant to be an endurance race. Whatever happened to the simple pleasure of just relaxing with the boob tube?

I'm reminded of this every time I take a step back, slow down and spend time with my family in the Midwest—it's like a less absurd version of The Middle—where a constant stream of HGTV house-hunters and antique experts on various channels provide a soothing wallpaper of below-the-critical-radar diversion. These may not be my guilty pleasures of choice, but they do provide a wake-up call to all the fun I've been missing lately.

No slight on the important (and sometimes self-important, you know who you are) shows I regularly cover and often champion, but my resolution for 2016 is to find more time for the shows I simply enjoy that aren't exactly headline news. Case in point: I just started watching the new season of Bravo's Top Chef after skipping the last few cycles because there simply wasn't enough time, and watching former player Richard Blais rake some of the new chef-testants over the coals was such fun I pledged to stay loyal. Same for my beloved Face Off creature-makeup design competition on Syfy, which I keep losing track of before a winner is crowned because the rest of TV keeps crowding it out. Never again! Even my daily Jeopardy! habit (my version of doing the crossword) gets continually disrupted because of the nagging presence of so much TV I feel I ought to watch as opposed to what I'd like to watch. No more! And next time I run across a M*A*S*H or Mary Tyler Moore Show repeat on one of those nostalgia channels, I'm staying put. For at least 30 minutes. (If it's vintage Law & Order, give me an hour.)

While there's no shortage of great TV, life itself is too short to deprive oneself of the very tangible joys that attracted us to this medium in the first place. Happy New Year!

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