When kids talk about “binge-watching” a TV show, it’s hard to grasp that concept. How can you possibly sit and watch seven episodes of the same show in a row?
Of course, “watching TV” is just a saying at this point. Most people consume television on their computers and phones through Netflix, and not actually on the television. But do you remember when we actually had to work for our shows? Those were the days…
1. You were the remote control.
Whoever was closest to the TV was effectively the remote control. One of your family members would chuck a pillow at you when the volume needed to go up or down or if they wanted the channel changed. None of this “channel flipping” nonsense.
2. Commercials couldn’t be fast-forwarded.
Crazy, right? You actually had to sit and watch the ads in between segments on your favorite show. There was no fast-forwarding or pausing. You either got up to get a snack while they were on, or you sat through them like a champ.
3. Tin foil was your best friend.
Those bunny ear antennas weren’t just for decor, they affected the picture on the screen as well. “High-definition” in our day meant wrapping more tin foil on top of the antennas and hoping for the best.
4. “Watching it later” was hard.
DVRs were something we could only dream of. If you missed an episode of your favorite TV show, well that was just too darn bad. You either had to wait for re-runs over the summer, or just ask your friends for a play-by-play of what happened. On Demand and online watching weren’t an option. You knew when your shows were on and you made sure you were planted on the couch in time to watch.
5. The rain was a big issue.
How many times did you year your dad yell “I’VE GOT TO GET UP ON THE ROOF AND FIX THE ANTENNA!” Too many times to count, right? If there was a storm or, let’s face it, a strong gust of wind, it could totally knock out your reception. The antenna looked like a metallic oak tree, but it got the job done…after a little wiggling, of course.
6. Adjusting the vertical hold was a science.
When you turned on the TV, the picture didn’t just magically show up perfectly on the screen. The V-Hold and H-Hold had to be adjusted in order to get the image to fit properly on the screen, and if you were in charge of changing the channels, then you were probably in charge of this, too.
7. Stations would “sign off” at night.
Now, any and all channels run content 24/7, but around 1 a.m. (depending where you were and what channel it was), stations would sign off for the evening by playing the national anthem. Then those colored bars would show up on the screen until about 5 or 6 a.m.
8. Secretly watching your favorite show on a portable TV.
If you were lucky, you had a portable TV that ran off of D-cell batteries. You had just enough time to watch your favorite 30 minute program before the batteries died. They weren’t a great option, by any stretch, but many late night sporting events were watched on these things, as well as kids watching shows when they were supposed to be in bed.
9. Having a cord for your VCR remote.
As technology advanced, we got VCR remotes. However, they required a 10-foot cord attached to the machine, which means countless younger siblings were “accidentally” tripped. But we weren’t complaining…we didn’t have to get off our butts.
10. Moving the TV was not an option.
Today’s TVs are so thin they almost resemble a piece of paper, but back in the good ol’ days they were giants pieces of furniture. When you put the TV in a certain spot, it was there until you moved or it died. And it certainly couldn’t be mounted on the wall. That thing weighed more than the couch!
11. Your VCR was the devil.
The VCR was your only hope at catching a TV show that you had missed. You could do everything right: set up the recording, add extra time, make sure the tape was in the slot, but you still held your breath whenever you set it up. Sometimes tapes just got totally destroyed and the recording was gone. Or worse: the tape would start recording at the wrong time and totally cut off the other shows it had on it. THE HORROR!!