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While the media serve up daily helpings of downer economic news and folks worry about whether they’ll be able to keep their jobs, people have started hunkering down in their homes. Instead of going out to restaurants and live performances, they’re opting for a movie from Netflix or whatever’s on TV.

 

On a bitterly cold New England night recently, my husband and I cozied up under a warm blanket and took in a DVRed episode of 24 and then proceeded to watch the new Heroes installment, then openly toyed with whether we should go on to watch the House episode that had also been recorded that night. (For the record, we didn’t watch House.) But as we debated, I got to wondering: What are other moms watching during a time when people are going out less and staying in more? What kinds of shows are they watching and why? So I conversed with nine moms who have children ranging in age from 2 to 10, some of whom work and some who don’t, about what they’re currently watching on TV.

 

Not surprisingly, there was no one particular show that the women all watch. Their tastes run the gamut from dramas like Grey’s Anatomy, Friday Night Lights, Private Practice and Brothers & Sisters to comedies The Office, 30 Rock, The New Adventures of Old Christine and Desperate Housewives, which, by the way, were the only shows named by at least three of the moms. But one thing on which they did concur was that entertainment escapism is very much in their minds.

 

“I’m still hooked on Lost,” said a mom of two who works full-time as an editor. “It’s my one break for the week and an awesome distraction from day-to-day life since it takes every brain cell in my body to figure it out. Loving that this season is beginning to reveal some of the mystery.”

 

For a teacher and mom of three, laughter is what she’s seeking when she turns on the TV. “I have to tell you that the only shows I’m interested in right now are shows that make me laugh,” she said. “. . . I don’t need to be depressed. I don’t need to be sad. I have enough drama in my life.” So, not surprisingly, her current favorites are Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, The Office and Saturday Night Live. “If I’m watching TV, I need to laugh or it’s not worth it,” she said.

 

Laughing and satire is why Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ divorced, working mom sitcom The New Adventures of Old Christine made three of the moms’ lists with one saying, it’s “so effing funny lately” and another saying, “I like how imperfect Christine admits she is.”

 

Two of the moms said they only watch DVRed programs because they’ve had it with live TV. A stay-at-home mom of three said she uses her DVR to speed through commercials so she can watch her favorite shows, the various incarnations of Law & Order and CSI (Miami and New York), as well as House. “I guess I like solving the mystery,” she said. “I like The Mentalist, with the new spin on solving crime.” She’s also still watching Grey’s, Private Practice and Desperate Housewives for “simple entertainment,” plus, “I can fast-forward through any boring story lines.”

 

MuseumMama
03.01.09

I am all about the half-hour comedy, preferably DVR'd so that I can save more time by fastforwarding commercials. Big Bang Theory, the Office, and 30 Rock are the must-sees. Big laughs in a short time frame--I have the option to crash and fully devote to the fun, or fold laundry and laugh while being productive.

I loved the hourlong dramas before baby, but just don't have the time or energy to keep up with Heroes and Lost anymore. Only enough DVR space and brain power to follow 1 hourlong drama, and that has been Mad Men.

angstmom
02.25.09

I feel like such a loser. I am usually so brain-dead after a long day with my household and work responsibilities that I often resort to reality TV. On a good night, it's Top Chef. On a bad night, I'm eating chocolate chips and watching Real Housewives!
Jennifer
http://angstmom.com

karianna
02.21.09

When I list the shows that I watch, it seems as though all I do is watch TV; but the truth is that I use TV to multi-task: Biggest Loser when I am working out, Hell’s Kitchen while I’m creating shopping lists, Lost while I relax before bed, and Amazing Race (and Survivor) with my kids because they swear they will be contestants someday.

 

I used to avoid the “medical dramas” because since I was a neuroscientist, these things hit too close to work, and were thus not entertainment. But now I gobble up House and Grey’s Anatomy.

 

But there are conflicts, like how I love Grey’s, but was repulsed and angered by the Dr. Dixon character’s (inaccurate, highly stereotypical) portrayal of autism (played by BSG’s otherwise fabulous Mary McDonnell.) I should boycott the show, but instead I watch, because it is entertainment after all.

 

Much of what I watch is fluff, but it is needed to balance out the “serious stuff” that I deal with during the day. I think that is true of many busy parents – it isn’t that we’re all stupid (a la “boob tube”) but that we genuinely need a way to decompress.