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Letter to CBS and TWC Part II: HDTV Antenna Comes Home

Huffington Post Blog by Lynn Isenberg

August 13, 2013

Per my first official Huffington Post on August 7, I received a comment with a simple solution, “Go to Radio Shack; get an HDTV Antenna.” So I did. The trip was smooth and painless. Behind the counter, Jose was cheerful and reassuring that this will work as long as my digital TVs were fairly new; the flat screen downstairs was, the one upstairs not so much.

Back home, the HDTV antenna in the living room picked up 83 channels! I sat back to explore what new worlds lay behind the same screen with a different carrier: the local airwaves. I was amazed! There was Martha Stewart cooking. There were movies playing. There was a U.S. Armenia channel with a cute guy on guitar playing lively music. I kept going and landed in Saigon TV with news from Vietnam concerning a dispute over chickens and eggs. I flipped again, skipping into Little Saigon TV from Westminster, CA. There I watched a group of retired Vietnamese men in uniform singing in unison. It appeared to be a reunion of sorts. It was quite heartfelt. The music moved these people and it moved me too, evoking a deep resonance in the universal soul. They finished singing and shared a poignant moment of true camaraderie. I realized THIS was real reality TV. I felt honored to be a pair of anonymous eyes allowed to share in their humanity. I kept going. I learned about the raging fire in Riverside in Japanese. Who needs Rosetta Stone? I might learn a ton of new languages now. I popped in at a Chinese station where a handsome Chinese guy carefully brushed make-up on a pre-adolescent Chinese girl. Though the bottom of the screen was blocked by an ad for make-up, I gleaned this was a TV show and studied their gestures to interpret the dialogue. It appeared as if the make-up artist was the girl’s older brother meting out make-up while parsing out life’s lessons regarding boy-crushes and how to handle, or rather ignore, mean girls at school. I was getting hooked and lusting for that unique heart-shaped blush-brush he gave his sister as a gift. Then I accidentally hit a button that swept me inside a Spanish Tele-Novella. There was some serious drama going on. It was intriguing to watch the men–so animated and alive! Though I have to say the women held the upper hand clearly unafraid to “lean in” and exercise their executive leadership skills. Sheryl Sandberg would be proud. Plus, the men really listened! Maybe the answer to creating a balanced corporate gender culture is in having more Latino women in corner offices.

Several commercials came on and I discovered that if I bothered to drive in a different direction like east to Garden Grove instead of north to Santa Monica, I could save an enormous amount of money the next time I need a new queen mattress. Totally impressed by the funds I’ll be saving from new merchants and charmed by the encounter of new worlds in a variety of cultures, I was informed that the upstairs TV rejected the antenna. At least one antenna would return to its weigh station.

With only one TV receiving channels, now came the big decision. Go for the full cable drop (a.k.a. cord-cutting) and release the temptation for TV in the bedroom (which isn’t feng shui to begin with) or ban the project, return both antennas and pray for the cable-network battle to cease. After all, Suits was on and the quality of acting and sophisticated dialogue was impressive. Could I figure out the real motivation behind the characters’ decisions? Would they continue to allow their personal objectives to cloud the ethics of their practice? I kept wondering if next week’s episode would find justice for Eva, whose law firm, to whom she paid a fortune in representation, actually swindled her allowing her to be ousted by her own board. I know they set the stage for a fine line of ethics but it was much too fine a line. I was stunned to discover how ruthless a firm could be even behind the most confident and coiffed faces. I kind of missed watching the Vietnamese singing-soldiers. I had seen a glimpse of true community and it was refreshing. They weren’t pitting themselves against each other in overly dramatic faux competitions with overly dramatic music to emphasize faux life threatening decisions.

Suddenly a commercial appeared from CBS encouraging TWC subscribers to demand the return of the “superior” network. Hhmm. I flipped the channel again and there was the CBS evening news delivering that “superior” programming. All was right again. The reassuring voices of Scott Pelley and Nora O’Donnell provided a comforting familiar vibe. Although the coverage of the Riverside fire on Nagamaki TV had the best footage of all.

The decision came down to economics, lifestyle and principles. Keep the status quo and wait out the war while continuing to support pay packages of CEOs who dare I say, seemed to think of me as a day player like Eva. It didn’t matter that I was innocent or that my ethics were noble. I’m just a pawny subscriber in the bigger game at the top. Or, I could embrace feng shui in the bedroom (save for movies on Netflix via a wireless laptop) and keep the HDTV antenna downstairs embracing 83 new worlds that once again included CBS… AND save $1,000 a year.

The trailer for Suits came on and Eva wasn’t in it. The characters no longer cared about the repercussions of their actions. The decision was clear. There were new and simpler universes to embrace. And who knows, maybe I really will learn to speak a new language from the comfort of my couch! And when it comes time to get a new queen mattress, I’ll have the savings for it and know just where to go.

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