So after spending the last decade mostly tv-less, I started watching the boob tube again on the regular. And boy is that name a most appropriate synonym for the idiot box in Germany.
There are two big reasons for the return of the squawk box:
1. I’m a single mom and an immigrant, which means I have zero idea of the pop culture references my kid comes home from kindergarten with and when her friends start talking about Yakari and Ritter Trank, I don’t want her to feel as much an outcast as I did once MTV launched and my parents couldn’t afford basic cable. So my ban on any television that isn’t Sesame Street has been lifted. For thirty minutes a day, max. Except for days when I’m too tired to wake up at the crack of dawn. So, basically every day but Tuesdays.
and 2. My doctors told me I need to chill the fuck out and there is no more mind-numbingly better way to spend your time than by watching television in a foreign language.
Also, did I mention a friend of mine gave me her television because I could never in my life fathom spending money on one and I got really tired of fighting my kid for my iphone so I actually took it? I guess that makes three big reasons.
Also, a producer friend of mine keeps asking me to pitch a tv series to her and I figured, you know, I’ll research the market while I’m chilling the fuck out. The only research I’ve been able to do these last years was from the tv on the treadmill at the gym and there, I usually turned it to the sports channel and hoped the football players would take off their shirts because the pensioners toiling away on the ellipticals nearby weren’t about to bless me with a flash of their six-pack abs and crazy tatts while I was zoned out mid-run. Btw, can anyone please tell me what the fuck is up with calf tattoos all the muki-bros are sporting? What is that awfulness? I digress.
Anyway, I started watching tv for the first time since moving to Germany eight years ago and you know what? I haven’t been missing a thing. It’s horrible. Forget the terrible voice-overs of crap American sitcoms that not a single person in the US would ever watch. Like The King of Queens or How I Met Your Mother. NO ONE in the US watches those shows. But Germans love Doogie Howser and that fat misogynist dude.
Forget the English-language 24-hour news channels, which make me full of rage which goes against doctor’s orders to numb my mind. Forget the sports channel which shows ski jumping on repeat even in July and forget Viva, which is a horrid mix of music videos and the badly-dubbed shit cartoons like American Guy. Forget, too, the German news shows, which seemed to be solely comprised of the day’s stupidest scandal in German politics and some footage from something going on in the US that affects absolutely no one in Europe, like cold weather, and is only on at noon and 8 p.m..
Forget all that and there isn’t much left. Arte’s okay but only if you like documentaries (not mind-numbing enough, thanks). There’s that one channel that always has black and white footage of something having to do with World War II (not mind-numbing enough either). There’s RTL, aka, the Idiot Sendung which gets public funds and instead of using them on several really great low-budget films or series, blows it on films that include helicopter stuntwork and exploding volcanoes and then buys the rest of their slots from the US. There’s a local channel that seems to be non-stop Carneval warm-up parties.
And then there’s Kika, the kids channel, where we learn about how the post office works and why our boogers are sometimes black. Genau richtig for our purposes. The kid and I have, in the last months, become Kika-addicts. Not because it’s good per se. But because the quality of German television is sheer and utter crap. I’d say something similar about television everywhere but even the Germans I know who work in television here admit that the quality for the money is sub-par. Even Kika, which I don’t mind supporting with my GEZ fees, is terrible after dark.
It’s so bad that I tried out streaming options for my laptop — Watchever, which had movies in English but very very limited selection and Love Film, which has an awesome selection of dubbed movies but virtually zero in German and if I’m going to waste two hours of my life watching Bridget Jones’ Diary for the millionth time, you’d better believe I’m doing it in English. Besides, streaming is totally against the point. I’m supposed to be getting off my computer — i.e., chilling the fuck out — and at this point, my stress levels are so high that if my laptop is on, you’d better believe it’s because I’m procrastinating writing that god damned advertorial that’s due tomorrow and not to watch Til Schweiger try and get into some blondine’s panties.
So I’m back where I started: watching Die Kleine Prinzessin with the kid and the Muppets auf Deutsch on a Saturday night. Chilling out.
But enough about me. What do you think I should be wasting my time watching?