The TV Program

Think of it as a different kind of abstinence-only education. One that works.

By Jessinta Smith, Suffolk County College


In my first semester of college I tried to juggle everything: social life, studying, reading, writing and keeping up with my favorite television series.

While manageable in the beginning of my first semester, I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with everything. Homework, essays, presentations and tests were all piling up and becoming daunting tasks, tasks that I didn’t want to do so I didn’t.

I found that if I had the option to study or watch American Horror Story, my ass was watching the show and forgetting about my English assignment. And while I never procrastinated enough to ruin my life, I was causing myself a lot of unnecessary stress. So my second semester, I decided to do something intense—I would no longer watch television while in school.

The plan worked for me then, and it still works for me now. I no longer watch shows that require me to sit down at a certain time each week and stay updated on past episodes, and you shouldn’t either.

Why You Shouldn’t Watch TV in College

College is weird because you’ll have nothing to do for a month, and then all of a sudden you’ll have five essays and four exams and need to study incessantly. Wouldn’t you know it though, that’s exactly when Game of Thrones comes on. You decide to study later and watch an episode.

Next, because you really don’t want to study, you decide that you need to research the characters. Then you realize that you need to reacquaint yourself with past episodes so you can better understand what’s going on, so you begin re-watching old episodes. Suddenly it’s midnight and you realize you have a test tomorrow at 8am and you haven’t begun studying.

Still, even if you can watch TV without procrastinating or feeling guilty, it’s not really important anyway. Getting hooked on a series can discourage you from doing better things, like going out with your friends or picking up an extra shift at work.

With the exceptions of documentaries or edifying shows, spending your time watching TV is unproductive and fails to improve you in any way. When you’re in college productivity is essential, and spending your valuable time watching inane programming is a waste of that time.

If you need a release or a mental break, there are plenty of more effective, less stagnant options than television anyway. Yeah it sucks, but so does failing.

I will say that one unanticipated repercussion of cutting the television cord was losing the ability to use fictional characters as emotional avatars. Without TV I’m forced to emotionally invest in real people, which is a terribly dangerous thing.

When I call Hannah an asshole for belittling Marnie it doesn’t affect my life. But if I call a real person an asshole, that greatly affects my life.

When you forgo TV you lose an outlet, specifically an outlet for drama, an emotional field that is definitely better from a distance. TV drama is riveting; real life drama is scary.

If I do decide to watch TV, I only watch superficial shows that I don’t have to keep up with. Minimally engaging affords me all the benefits of decompression while still allowing my brain to engage with more pressing thoughts, such as how many words are left on my essay, what I’m going to eat for dinner or where I’m going to move if Trump is elected.

Not keeping up with TV also means I also have to constantly dodge spoilers. Because of my choice (I know, I know: It is my choice), I can’t talk to my friends about the unbelievable thing that happened in American Horror Story, and by the time I can, no one is interested anymore. They move on to the next big thing and the cycle continues.

But even though my favorite shows get spoiled, I lose my emotional pincushions and I can never put my mind on auto-pilot, the pros far outweigh the cons.

I don’t get distracted, waste my time and or procrastinate, all of which allow me to focus on my school. So while avoiding television is difficult, given how expensive tuition and how important your education is, I think it’s definitely worth the sacrifice.