What’s your guilty cable pleasure?

So it seems like everyone who has written an inspirational personal finance blog about saving money or retiring early … cut their cable.  A LONG time ago.

Literally everyone’s “get rich list” reads like “1) Eliminate any credit debt.  2) CUT THE CABLE.  3) No more lattes.” Etc.  Every single list has a cable line item!

And so I, too, am considering cutting the cable.  Right now the consensus is for waiting until the contract runs out to avoid the fee.  So for now I am waiting it out and reflecting.  I really don’t care about cable at all.

The summer I lived in China teaching English, there were only 4 channels on the TV, and they seemed to play the same programming all night:

  1. Some sort of historical soap opera about those old Chinese warriors with their heads shaved into a semi-circle (yes I know, why would warriors have drama?)
  2. Asian Cup featuring Qatar’s soccer team
  3. A modern soap opera about a classy young Chinese night club singer and her earnest Chinese boyfriend, with occasional music video-type interludes of Jackie Chan singing Bryan Adams-type love ballads, sitting backwards in a chair with the camera close up (who even knew he sang, and if he does, why ballads??)
  4. “BBC International” news, coverage mostly on Sino-Japanese trade disputes

And it was all fully in Chinese.  With no subtitles, except for the news, which actually made it more boring.  So all things considered, the usual pick was the romance/Jackie Chan show.  And I, knowing some Chinese, would try to translate for my roommate: “She says.. she’s sorry.  He… I don’t know… sounds sad.”

All night, every night.  And this was before smart phones and before I even owned my first laptop.  It was just us, CCTV, and our imaginations.  I am pretty sure this type of experience will either cure you of the need for TV, or will turn you into a total addict for it.  It cured me, after the initial conditioning of Boston University electing not to have cable in the dorms.

So cable for me is pointless.  The cable shows I like most are the annoyingly Canadian HGTV shows which give me ideas about how to force equity in current and imaginary homes with value-added DIY jobs.

Anyway, something interesting happened the other day.  I was talking with some friends who are renting temporarily until they move to their next home.  They like cable but are skipping it for the 6 months or so while they are renting.  And it was funny to hear the shows they miss during this time of logistic austerity.  You can learn A LOT about people based on the shows they would/do miss without cable.

So please, please, pretty-please.. I want you all to share with me what you would miss from cable to give me something to think about while I wait.  Here are mine: HGTV DIY shows, and reruns of Frasier and Golden Girls (which seem to be aired only on cable Lady channels).  If Bravo still showed West Wing reruns, that would be on the list too.

Happy Monday!

6 thoughts on “What’s your guilty cable pleasure?

  1. If you’re canny with your internet and willing to wait a little while, you can find any show you’d want to watch. With that in mind, cable is definitely not a necessity, and the only thing you get that you can’t get elsewhere without paying for it is live coverage of sports events. However, while the actions I’m suggesting aren’t something you’d get prosecuted for in 2013, they aren’t legal, and sooner or later that’ll be in fact as well as name.

    As for shows, Jim and I have a long history of exceptional coach potating. Right now the reasons to still own a cable box are the HBO shows Game of Thrones and Newsroom, Showtime’s Homeland, FX’s Archer and Justified, and my latest guilty pleasure: NBC’s faux reality show Siberia, which plays out like Lost light.

    I don’t go in for reruns or syndicated shows. If I’m craving background noise, they’re fine, but if I’m dedicating my full attention to the TV it’s either a fresh show or a live sporting event. While it would be difficult to live without football every Sunday in the fall, I suppose it would just encourage you to find a nice sports bar and ingratiate yourself with the locals.

    • Oh see I don’t have the premium channels anyway, so the whole GoT/Homeland set is a wash. And whereas I personally have no need for the Sunday football, I do like fresh news…

  2. I’m also obsessed with HGTV! and I really like the cooking channels – it’s so relaxing listening to someone cook! And then there’s always the trashy MTV shows that make me feel better about my life (16 and pregnant, for example). Not sure if we’ll give up cable anytime soon- I know it would save a lot but I’m worried that Mike would hate me. ha!

    • That’s true! I have forgotten the peacefulness of listening to TV cooking.

      We’re considering just going to basic local networks. So you’d still gets news and most sitcoms and sports, but no trashy MTV.. 🙂 Even that would save like $50/month!

  3. Ben and I don’t have cable, and haven’t for the past year and love it! We’ve curated a nice little media-consumption underground ring in which we use my sister’s HBO Go account, his mom’s Xfinity On-Demand account, and my Netflix via the Roku box ($60 one-time price, and Netflix is $7.99 a month), and little HDMI cable to the TV from his laptop. It’s not as sophisticated as it sounds. We also bought a hi-def antenna when the presidential debates were on TV last year, and use that to watch our once-in-a-while Jeopardy and the news. Our total monthly “cable” bill comes out to $52.

    • Z, I love how you “curated” this collection of media sources. Only you… anyone else and it would be “we got a bunch of services.” You make it sound like an artful journey! Admittedly the other descriptions of the “netflix/roku/xbox/etc” system have sounded tedious to me.

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