Excuses for Amusement?

For our entire adult lives, Emily and I have not had cable. It’s expensive, and there’s rarely anything worth watching. But every once in a while, we find out about a show that we really like and have a good time watching.

One such show is How I Met Your Mother. We like the show a lot; it’s actually really funny (a rare thing for a sitcom). The premise is pretty simple: 25 years in the future, Ted is telling his teenage children the (often inappropriate) story of how he met their mother, and journeys down every rabbit trail that comes up as he shares his life in his late 20’s & early 30’s with his roommates Marshall & Lilly, and womanizing “bro,” Barney (played by Neil Patrick Harris, better known as Doogie Howser, M.D.). 

It’s very much a show of it’s generation—the search for love and meaning in a world of relativity and subjective morality. For example:

Now, while this is funny, sometimes I have to wonder: Do I watch simply to be amused?

Emily and I have asked this question a lot, particularly since Abigail was born. We have definitely seen how what we watch can and does influence us and what limited television (usually in the form of Dora or Lady and the Tramp) Abigail watches influences her. And while we rarely don’t discuss what we’ve watched, because we’ve seen very negative consequences when we don’t, I occasionally find myself wondering about ideas like “missional TV watching”—the idea that we can and should watch TV to better understand our culture to engage it.

Specifically, is this idea just an excuse for amusement to make ourselves feel better about what we watch?

I don’t have a problem with watching television; like I said, I quite enjoy How I Met Your Mother, although I don’t think I would quite as much if Emily and I didn’t talk about it together, and engage our minds while we watch.

But, I don’t want to make excuses for amusement. I want to engage my mind and listen to the Holy Spirit and my conscience as I watch, read, and listen to anything.

I hope you will join me in doing the same.

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