TV, A La Carte


Mike: Logan, did you see this op-ed in The Los Angeles Times written by John McCain? Essentially, he wants cable TV to be unbundled—”an a la carte approach to programming rather than the take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum we have today.” This is a topic that’s actually been talked about for a few years now. Putting aside for a minute whether or not that kind legislation could actually pass, would you like to be able to, say, build your own cable TV and pick your own channels?

Logan: I saw some tweets about it. And now I just read it. He makes some points, obviously. I don’t subscribe to cable right now because subscribing to cable would involve monthly bills and set up fees and also buying a TV, ha. And that’s okay for my lifestyle. I mostly watch TV on my phone, at this juncture in life. One day it will be nice to have a couch again, a TV. For now that’s a luxury I enjoy at my parents’ house, mostly. My friend Rebecca has a nice TV. We mostly watch Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on Hulu and like, Beyonce videos. So me, now, no, the way I buy cable wouldn’t change if The Way We Buy Cable changed, because: I still wouldn’t buy cable. But yeah, I mean sure, of course it’d be better to pick your channels and only pay for your channels.

That’s basically how it works now, with upgrading to premium packages, except you have to pay for all the sports channels just because you want one sports channel, or all the movie channels if you just want TCM. Everything is going to get worked out like it should be, eventually, mostly, is my opinion on this and most matters.

Mike: The Surowiecki article in The New Yorker talks a little bit about how unbundling cable TV wouldn’t necessarily drive down prices for consumers. But yeah, I’m basically the same way. I get enough entertainment through streaming sites right now and don’t own a TV. But every now and then I’ll stay in a hotel or visit my folks at their place and see all the channels and remember. ESPN! National Geographic! The Food Network! There is always something on when you’re bored and that’s kind of nice. Okay, so if you could pick five cable channels to have what channels would they be? I guess mine would be those three I just mentioned, and HBO and maybe History.

Logan: Um hm. Well, the only time I ever wish I had LIVE TELEVISION is during national events like the State of the Union or the Academy Awards. What else. Various series finales and premieres. During BREAKING NEWS I sometimes bemoan not having the 24/7 news cycle coming at me from my living room, but I also recognize that it’s mostly a good thing to be unplugged from that—totally useless, really. So hmm. HGTV, because it reminds me of home. TCM and AMC, for the same reasons—my dad always has an old movie on, I love them. Al Jazeera when it launches for news I guess. And HBO, duh.

Mike: You can stream the State of the Union and presidential debates and such. I know because that’s what I did during this last election. It’s true about live television though—it would have been so nice to have during the Olympics, but it was also kind of fun watching it with friends or with strangers at a bar. But I guess the way we watch things and how we pay for it have been evolving and will continue to evolve. Speaking of: Will you be watching Arrested Development on Netflix this holiday weekend?

Logan: Oh gosh. I hadn’t thought about it actually. I really want to watch it with other people, so I guess I should probably make some plans to do that. When I first moved to Portland, they were replaying the first season in this cool old movie theater, and my brother and I went every week, and it was so, so fun to laugh along with a huge theater of people. It turned me off from watching comedies by myself, I think. Or maybe it was mostly that I loved watching it with my brother—he has the best laugh. You?

Mike: I want to, but will probably put it off. I sort of want to rewatch the other seasons first, because it’s been a few years. And, actually, everyone has been telling me the must watch show that I should be streaming on Netflix is Scandal, which I know you’ve been all over.

Logan: YES SCANDAL YES. Mike go home and watch it all right now. You won’t be able to stop. You won’t want to. It’s just that good. Then find some money themes and we can talk about it NEXT WEEK ON THE BILLFOLD.

Mike: Okay, one final thing before we take off for the weekend. Remember when we talked about which characters we’d be on a few TV shows, and Nashville was one of the shows we talked about? I am no longer Gunnar. He’s awful. And you are no longer Juliette’s junkie mom. She’s … well. Pick a new character. Maybe I am the vet.

Logan: That vet is pretty great. Pretty great vet. Good with animals. Just like you. I think I’m probably Rayna’s older daughter. She’s turned into a bratty little snooping tween, and while I’ve outgrown my bratty snooping tween phase, I still feel close to my roots.

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