9 problems faced by those who play by the rules when watching TV.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

When I watch television, I do so in my lounge room, in front of a television set. The television programming I access is either free-to-air broadcast picked up by an antenna on top of my house, or DVD box sets that I purchase at my local suburban shopping centre.

I – like the vast majority of Australians – do not have Foxtel. I do not illegally download or stream content. If a television program hasn’t aired on Australian non-subscription television, or been packaged up onto discs and sold at JB Hi-Fi, I haven’t watched it.

So, I became a little bit confused when the series final of How I Met Your Mother became Australia’s top entertainment story this week. Because… we’re kind of not up to it yet. Nowhere near. Channel Seven actually can’t give the media a date for when it will air, that is how far away it is.

Whether a television program has aired in Australia has sort of become irrelevant to our cultural dialogue surrounding it. We talk about an episode when it is available to torrent, not when it appears on our screens.

Last year, the Mamamia office was wrapped up in intense discussion about a certain episode of Girls. I watched it over the January break, after tracking down the DVD. I thought it was interesting but, alas, the conversation had come and gone.

My decision to resist the world of online streaming is a basic and moralistic one: Things are illegal for a reason, so we shouldn’t do illegal things. While Neil Patrick Harris might not need your dollars, the person operating camera four on the HIMYM set does, so we should pay for the entertainment content we consume, be it through watching advertising or buying DVDs.

My decision to resist the world of Foxtel is also basic, although perhaps less moralistic: that shit is expensive.

I refuse to believe that I am alone in my state of by-the-book television consumption. So, if you wish to join my club of legal – and frugal – television consumers, here are our membership requirements:


1. You find yourself deeply engrossed in Showtime/HBO shows four years after they were originally released, because ABC2 has a free slot on Friday nights.

The Tudors is one of my absolute favourite shows. I would not have known it existed if ABC2 didn’t have that crappy time slot to fill.

2. You still don’t know who died in the Red Wedding.

Look, a nice spoiler-free picture from Season One. That Khal Drogo is one cool dude.


3. You spend the day of The Eurovision Song Contest avoiding ANYTHING that could tell you who won.

I will never forget when I found out that Russia won back in 2008 after I walked into my lounge room to a television playing the Channel Ten evening news. It was the fluff story at the end. I cried.

4. You can’t follow any of your favourite reality TV shows’ Facebook pages, because they are a source of constant spoilers.

You mean… the game that she’s still in? Right?

However, sometimes this is okay, because Australian TV is two seasons behind the US, so you’ve basically forgotten the spoiler by the time it becomes relevant to your viewing experience.

5. You give people disapproving looks when they exclaim: “I’ve got Breaking Bad/Pretty Little Liars/Girls for you on a USB.”

6. You do not know a single plot point from the current seasons of the shows listed in number 5.

The girl sitting next to me on the bus the other day had Pretty Little Liars playing on her laptop. It looked a lot like poorly acted soft porn set in a pony club.

7. You tell people that you watch a show, and within five seconds of discussion three major plot points of said show are ruined.

I lied. I don’t watch Downton Abbey. Now, don’t say anymore!

8. Your sense of newsworthiness is totally thrown out by Graham Norton airing four weeks late.

Wait – Kate Middleton had a baby again?! No. No, this is just old.

9. You don’t understand how people who watch television illegally on the internet aren’t in constant fear of the police breaking down their door in the middle of the night and dragging them to the station.

These are just a few of the shows that have had major plot lines spoiled illegally.

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