Watching TV

Watching television can be stressful in a multi-cultural home.
Many people argue about what channel to watch or whether a certain programme is enjoyable or rubbish. But if you add in different languages and cultural differences it gets more complicated.
I actually feel guilty for watching British TV.
I tend to switch it on when there is no-one else at home. I don’t like to impose it on others but on top of that I have my own judgements about watching English language programmes when I ‘should’ be improving my Catalan or Spanish.

If I am tired or stressed then it is such a huge comfort to watch something like Downton Abbey, or Have I Got News for You? or even Antiques Road Show.  But I notice a tendency to apologise if someone else comes into the room and catches me at it.

It is one of the things that I wouldn’t experience if I was living in the UK.  Perhaps if I lived here with another native English speaker it would be a shared guilty pleasure?  Or if I lived here alone I might still feel a bit embarassed with a slight sense of failure that I hadn’t adapted properly.  But I would still do it.

I do watch Catalan TV and late at night there are often good documentaries and films. But I have never discovered any programmes like for example, Last Tango in Halifax which was on a couple of nights ago.  I put it on after a friend alerted me by text and then had to grit my teeth and ignore sighs of incomprehension from the other end of the sofa.  Humour is the worst problem….it is so hard to shift it across cultural lines and so when I laugh, I often laugh alone. I notice that the longer I am away from Britain, the better I think the programmes are.  Is this some kind of exiled delusion?

At 11pm I can catch the news at 10 on the BBC.  Then we switch back to the Catalan news which seems to be all about politicians or Barça football matches.  No-one gets challenged or pressed for answers and I don’t hear the journalists making dry comments in their introductions or analysis.
TV3 is funded by the government so I suppose it is true that he who pays the piper calls the tune. 
It is really difficult when you live in another country to stop yourself making comparisons. Have I turned into one of those people who just gripes about things being better at home?
It is hard to know if I am just influenced by a love of the familiar or if I am really making a detached comparison.  Perhaps the answer is to have two televisions and for me to just enjoy watching what I want without apology?  And then I could enjoy the Catalan and Spanish programmes too.
I try to straddle two worlds trying to feel at home in both yet sometimes ending up comfortable in neither.
After thought
Perhaps I would find it easier if the ‘other’ language wasn’t Catalan. It is so easy to feel sensitive about silencing this language, even if only by switching the TV to satellite and the BBC.

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2 thoughts on “Watching TV

  1. I wish you didn’t feel like you have to silence that part of yourself. It is a part of you. And why not enjoy a bit of ease from time to time. You are immersed the rest of the time in Catalan language and culture. Give yourself a break and a little BBC!

  2. We could not get by without two televisions, cultural issues not linguistic but equally not free of guilt. Try watching Coronation Street in loftily soap-o-phobic company . . . or anything with a tinge of royal biography x

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