I really hate television these days. There are so many series, specials and movies on my list to check out that I get frustrated simply trying to keep up with it all. As soon as one of my favorite series announces a new season, there I am scrambling to catch up where I left off the previous season. Or due to the fact that most of the shows that I watch take at least nine months to a year to air new episodes, I have to refresh my mind by re-watching the last few episodes in order to be prepared for the new ones. If it’s a series or movie on a streaming service, which in my case is usually the situation, I must consider my budget for the month and decide whether the service is an option to add.
Before my husband was diagnosed with breast cancer, I never truly considered how much money we spend each month on streaming service subscriptions. Now that I am handling more of the ﬁnancial side of things in the home, my perspective has greatly adjusted. Like so many Americans who supposedly “ditched cable,” I found myself in a conundrum.
Thinking that we would be saving money but getting rid of cable television, my family subscribed to almost ten different premium channels. This was not all at once. It was a gradual type of progression. There was of course my big three trifecta: Netflix, Hulu, and Prime. Prime had a special during the height of the coronavirus pandemic where I could lock in a low streaming service fee for BET+, Brown Sugar, Starz and Paramount+.
This was a good deal for me because I love “Outlander,” 50 Cent’s “Power Universe” and “BMF.” BET+ has the exciting “The Family Business,” and Brown Sugar is where I can get my ’70s Black movies groove on every Friday night. Paramount+ was strictly for “Star Trek: Picard” and “Star Trek: Discovery.”
Are you following this? “Godfather of Harlem” with Forest Whitaker is mustsee television, when I remember to watch, so I added Showtime. I heard that HBO Max was acquiring the entire catalog of the classic Saturday morning cartoon series “The Super Friends,” and I am an “Insecure” super fan, so subscribing to this premium service was a no brainer. I almost forgot that the mammoth bingers “Succession” “Industry” and “The Gilded Age” also stream on HBO Max. I’ll get back to “Succession” in a second. Then there’s Disney+. We are a “Star Wars” and Marvel family so when Marvel released all the standalone Avenger series such as “Wanda Vision” and then the Star Wars family grew with series such as “The Mandalorian,” we gathered each week with popcorn and other goodies in the living room to enjoy them. Not to mention I supported PBS streaming subscription services like “PBS Documentaries” and “PBS Lifestyle.” My husband subscribed to the NFL Network and Sling TV for sports news and games.
Here’s the issue in a nutshell: we “ditched the cable” and its increasingly high cost and exchanged one major headache for another. So, what was the answer? If I were you, I would surmise that my family and I watch a lot of television, when the truth is we do not. We are weekend television viewers. During the week, we consume news and sports channels in the evenings, and YouTube. On the weekends, we indulge in our premium streaming services. The television is rarely on during the day.
I decided to do an analysis of how my family watches what my Grandmother Ophelia used to call “the idiot box” and “the boob tube.” At the end of a month, I was shocked to discover that we watched as a family a total of eight hours of premium subscription channel content from Friday to Sunday. That comes to 32 hours a month. What premium channels were we watching the most? Disney+ and Starz. The least? Paramount+, Hulu, and BET+.
Guess what? I had to make the executive decision to “ditch” everything else. I ended up canceling everything but Disney and Starz. Even though I was able to save some coins, a lot of coins, there is another challenge lurking on the horizon. When the new season begins for our favorite shows on the premium subscription channels, because I am super frugal, I wait until whatever we are currently consuming on our present premium channels has ﬁnished, and then I add channels.
This all sounds good in theory until social media trashes my plans with spoilers. For instance the spoilers for HBO Max’s “Succession” ﬁrst three episodes are all over Beyonce’s Internet. Or how about Mo’Nique’s special “My Name Is Mo’Nique” on Netflix. My Facebook timeline was full of reviews and commentary. My plan was to ﬁnish “The Mandalorian” on Disney+. Cancel. Add Netflix. Wait for Tariq and the Tejadas season to end on Starz “Ghost,” and cancel. Add HBO Max. But with all the spoilers, I had to hurry up and subscribe. I added Netflix last weekend. This weekend I will be adding HBO Max. Fortunately for me, Disney airs the season ﬁnale of “The Mandalorian” next week, so I can cancel that subscription shortly after.
Are you juggling these premium channel subscriptions and streaming services like I am? And these streaming services are climbing in costs too! HBO Max is basically $18.99 per month! But I will get a chance to binge season two of “Industry” while I have the channel. So, there’s a win. However, I was excited to watch “My Name Is Mo’Nique” this past weekend. I must be honest though. I have the same criticism of Mo’Nique that I had for Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock. The profanity usage is off the charts! The throwing around of the N-word was intense and a bit much for me. Maybe it is because I am a middle-aged Black woman and I have, should I say, grown out of that kind of obnoxiousness. I reserved my judgment of Chris Rock’s “Selective Anger” because let’s face it, dude was angry and had every right to be. He was B-slapped on global television!
I understand that this is on brand with what these three amazing legendary comedians do, yet I was uncomfortable watching Mo’Nique’s special with my grown daughter who is 36 and divorced! Go figure that one out. My sister friend told me the other day that since we subscribed to Netflix for the month, to check out “Beef” and “Love Is Blind.” I’m scared to get back into “Love Is Blind.” The series is a slippery slope. Soon I will be watching a new season of “Love Is Blind: Brazil,” “Love Is Blind: Japan,” and “Love Is Blind: UK.” Then before you know it, I have fallen back into the trap of premium channels and streaming services, again spending all my coins. Make it make sense.