Couch potatoes talk about how watching TV has changed over the years

Couch potatoes talk about how watching TV has changed over the years

Appointment television – that’s what it’s called, really? Or as we regarded it back then, “staying up late on Sunday night to watch Combat! (or on Fridays for The Night Stalker) so we could talk about it at school on Monday”.

As a working adult, I could not keep an appointment with Twin Peaks because I worked late on broadcast nights – thank goodness for VCRs. That’s “video cassette recorder” to you whippersnappers.

I do remember rushing home to watch The X-Files and Buffy, The Vampire Slayer in the 1990s when my work schedule was a little less insane in mid-week, simply because I couldn’t wait to see what new craziness Chris Carter and Joss Whedon had cooked up for us, so those two shows are perhaps my fondest memories of “appointment TV”.

In the Noughties, it was so excruciating to wait for weekly episodes of 24 that my parents and I waited for whole seasons to come out on disc before zipping through them over a few days.

These days, I can get every episode of X-Files off one the “flix” streaming services – and every Star Trek TV series too, even the animated one. Buffy I have on DVD, but only the first three (really good) seasons. Marvel’s Luke Cage? House Of Cards? Mr Robot? Heck, let’s just catch it all over one binge-y weekend, and still talk about the show(s) at the office the next day while tormenting spoiler-averse slowpokes at the same time.

We’re spoilt for choice and viewing options – I can watch the more “mature audiences” stuff on my tablet in my room, or even download episodes of the excellent anime Erased to watch on my iPhone at the gym to break the monotony of cardio work.

I did make it a point to be home for the six-episode X-Files revival’s first broadcast earlier this year, though, just for old times’ sake. And Kiefer Sutherland’s new show Designated Survivor is so gripping that I’m willing to put up with its one-episode-per-week schedule.

Bottom line is, viewing habits may change, but our appetite for good, exciting programming will always be there and we’ll happily adjust our lives to sate it. – Davin Arul


I love watching TV ever since I was young. I remember staying up way past my bedtime to enjoy sitcoms like The Golden Girls, much to the dismay of my parents. I would also cycle to the nearest TVB video store to rent the latest Jade Solid Gold. When I first subscribed to Astro in 1999, it was perpetually on the MTV channel as I loved watching music videos. In fact, the TV set was left on while I was asleep, just in case I woke up and caught a video that I like.

But seriously, who watches TV like that these days? In the era of Internet and spoilers as well as the FOMO (fear of missing out) culture, we need to get our TV fix as fast as we can. While some channels have expedited episodes with the “24-hour express from the US”, is that fast enough? Not to some of us.

I divide my TV shows into two categories – those that I need to watch ASAP and those that I prefer to binge-watch in one weekend. For the latter, the OTTs that are available in Malaysia (iflix, Netflix) are heaven-sent as you can just watch one episode after another without any interruption.

And who needs to just sit in front of the TV? While I still watch shows with visual spectacle on TV, with the tablet, I watch my shows everywhere – on the bed, while waiting for the next appointment, in the airport, the loo (oh, come on, you do it too!) and at anytime.

When they say it is the golden age of television, for me, it means TV has become more accessible, and that’s good news for couch potatoes like me. – Gordon Kho


In this age of instant gratification, I still believe in watching TV shows at their broadcast time, rather than on-demand.

One reason is my lack of discipline, I’m quite capable of binge-watching an entire season without stopping – aside from toilet breaks and food foraging; not an entirely healthy pursuit.

Watching something weekly also allows for anticipation to build up and time to think – and speculate – about the happenings in the show, especially for cult ones like The Walking Dead (Who did Negan kill?!) and Supernatural (Is Sam dead?!).

With repeat showings available, I don’t even really need to obsess over being at home at the exact airing time to catch the shows I’m following.

For example, if I wasn’t home by 8pm to watch the recent season of Masterchef Australia, which had new episodes every weekday, I could always catch the 11pm repeat.

And if I really missed all showings of the episode, there are always websites that do detailed recaps to read.

Sometimes though, for shows I really like, but have missed several episodes of for whatever reason, I do succumb and ask a friend to help obtain the missing episodes so that I can (binge-)watch them. – Tan Shiow Chin


We have cancelled both our pay-TV subsriptions at home. That decision boils down to this: The family doesn’t watch TV anymore … not in the traditional sense, anyway.

These days, I get my fix of K-dramas, American sitcoms and horror movies on streaming apps and sites like Viki and iflix. As for mum, she’s contented with video clips shared on Facebook. Dad’s daily dose of evening news? He’s getting it as it unfolds on online portals.

Satellite and cable television have lost their appeal in our home.

During my teenage years, I used to check the TV listings to see if anything interesting was showing. But the trend now – as a cosmopolitan twentysomething – is “right here, right now”.

Wait until next Friday night to find out if Charmed’s Prue Halliwell survived? Nuh-uh. Today, it’s all about finding out who Lady Gaga kills next on American Horror Story right after the current episode ended on a binge-watching weekend.

There’s also something quite entertaining about watching Americans react to Girls’ Genera­tion’s music on YouTube. Of course, all this is “mirrored” on our Apple TV from my iPhone. Technology is amazing. – Chester Chin


Being the youngest member of the family meant I had to watch whatever my elder siblings or my parents watched. Not that there were many things to watch since there were only two TV stations back then. Obviously, I could be found sulking most nights, especially when TV3 came along.

But as the elder siblings got too busy for TV (yay!), I would rush home from work by 8pm to watch all my favourite shows. There was at least one show I absolutely needed to catch everyday.

I never did get around to subscribing satellite TV – I went straight to purchasing TV series box sets. It didn’t matter that I caught it later than everyone else – after all, growing up, I watched shows at least one season behind.

Now, with a TV in my room, I subscribe to HyppTV, iflix, Netflix and other streaming services to watch as many shows as possible at my own convenience. The only problem I have these days is finding the time to watch everything! – Mumtaj Begum


Twenty years ago, I watched my favourite television shows on a weekly basis – it was torture waiting a week (or in the case of cliffhangers, a year or more later) for plot developments or to find out the fate of my (most/least) favourite characters.

When DVD box set was introduced, binge-watching became my new normal. Some weekends I wouldn’t step out of my house at all. Like the weekend I watched two seasons of Supernatural at one go and stumbled into work on Monday looking scarier than any of the demons the Winchester brothers battled.

After a two-season Gilmore Girls marathon, I trudged into work with a heavy heart and sunken eyes after Lorelai broke my heart for the very last time.

These days, however, I have reverted to watching my favourite shows in weekly instalments. It started out of necessity — it’s been a particularly busy year (I haven’t exactly figured out why) and I haven’t had time for TV marathons.

Even my bookmarked shows on Netflix — House Of Cards, for example — are watched on a weekly, if not bi-weekly basis.

But the strangest thing is that I have been relishing the weekly intervals. I actually enjoy the chance to digest the contents of a show properly before being hit with the next episode. What’s happening to me? — S. Indramalar


Growing up, our TV set was turned on all the time. I would come home from school in the afternoon and watch TV3 talk show Bincang Petang and when we later subscribed to Astro, I never missed an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show (yes, I had a thing for talk shows).

Then, let’s not forget the evenings that are filled with juicy telenovelas (Mis Tres Hermanas, anyone?). Nighttime viewing began with the compulsory 8pm news, followed by the addictive TVB dramas (Armed Reaction, Witness To A Prosecution and Square Pegs were some good ones). It’s a wonder how I found time to do my homework!

These days, although my mum still makes it a point to catch the 8pm news and my dad never misses his nightly TVB shows (don’t even think about changing the channel between the hours of 8.30pm and 10.30pm), the kids are glued to their laptops or mobile devices.

I hardly turn on our TV set now. It’s so much more convenient with the OTT services. You can watch a show wherever and whenever you want (even without WiFi!). And with so much to choose from, you’ll find one that’s tailored specifically to your taste, making the TV viewing experience a more personal and immersive one. – Kenneth Chaw




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