A funny thing happened in 2020. My streaming habits went from classy to trashy, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. As a family, our definition of quality, family-friendly TV was forever changed in the spring. This was especially evident for the two-and-a-half months of 100% remote learning in the spring.
Pre-COVID, my family would watch a family-friendly program together in the evening. Maybe it was a football game, a Disney movie or a TV show with a positive message. Now we catch episodes of "The Masked Singer" or watch mindless YouTube videos reminiscent of "America's Funniest Home Videos" with less spontaneity.
Pre-COVID, my husband and I might enjoy a good thriller or a deep thinking drama. Last week, we watched a Pauly Shore movie called “Guest House." (Spoiler alert: It was awful.) The worst part was that we paid to rent it.
Pre-COVID, I hadn’t watched a reality dating show since the first season of the Bachelor. Now I have seen several seasons of “Married at First Sight,” know all the ins and outs of the couples who were on “Love is Blind” and even binge watched “The Circle” on Netflix.
My daughter isn’t immune either. She's tuned into “The Floor is Lava” a Netflix show where contestants go through ridiculous obstacles without landing on the floor. She’s watched several teen/tween Hallmark-esque romance movies with me. I’ve even found myself clicking on the “More Like This” recommendations.
My TV-watching style has changed not because of the amount of time I have, but because I have new reasons for tuning in. The news headlines I see day in and day out are overwhelming. Watching movies or shows that seem to mirror real life just isn’t an escape, which is why I think I turned from classy to trashy choices. The ridiculousness of reality TV dating, 80s sequels — “Cobra Kai” is awesome — and Netflix romances have made life in quarantine a little less stressful.
Of course, it’s not as though I'm turning my brain off outside of streaming mindless episodes of the junk on TV. My days and evenings are still filled with school, writing and family, but when the work week is over and the rain starts to fall outside, my mind can’t take anymore COVID, Zoom or the next big thing.
Now that I'm back to work and my daughter is in school, our viewing habits haven’t changed much when it comes to what we watch. I am starting to think this isn’t such a bad thing. As long as we’re not binging a whole season of “Selling Sunset” — a reality show about selling real estate in Los Angeles — in a weekend, I am confident that my light entertainment choices aren’t rotting my brain...yet.
Jen Schneider is a local middle school teacher and mom to two children.