Don Fried — Playwright & Author

Why is TIVO trying to turn me into a Cultural Wasteland?

Posted on: March 31, 2011

It wasn’t one of the reasons I subscribed to TIVO, but I always thought it was an interesting feature that it would monitor my TV-watching habits and automatically record shows similar to those I watch.

At first, of course, I would program the box to record things I thought would impress it —  the grand production of Aida from Cairo, PBS specials on the plight of the Brazilian rain forest, that sort of thing — even though I had no intention of ever watching them.  Eventually, though, I reverted to my preferred diet of old movies on TCM with an occasional UT Longhorns football game thrown in for variety.

But TIVO is constantly trying to dumb me down.  It records dozens of moronic reality shows about New Jersey divorcees and people in jail for driving without licenses.  Last night, I delete nine, count-em, nine Universal Fighting Championship shows!  Japanese anime cartoons for 5 year olds?  I’ve got them by the dozen.  Spanish language soap operas?  How in heaven’s name did TIVO conclude that I would be interested in them?

The worst part is that, unless I specify “Keep until I delete” for everything I intentionally record, TIVO will delete it to record 50 Most Embarrassing TV Moments.  Give me a break, TIVO, and stop trying to turn my brain into porridge.

To be fair, though, TIVO does occasionally blunder on something worthwhile.  I mean, how else would I have chanced on the special on Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue?

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