Maybe I am sounding like some sort of cultural snob, but I certainly don’t want to give the impression that I am knocking all American TV. America does do some marvelous documentaries, the ones by Ken Burns springs to mind. But American public television relies on donations, so quality documentaries are relatively few and far between, especially for a country of this size. In terms of comedy and drama, however, American TV excels and two of my favourite shows: Curb Your Enthusiasm and House MD are produced here. (95% of American TV is utter dross, of course, but that is true of British TV too, in my experience. But I find it generally doesn’t matter, as you can usually avoid the dross with a handheld device known as the remote control.)
Which brings me to my actual problem. My difficulty isn’t with the quality of the American TV programs that you get, it is with all the bloody adverts! They are loud and they go on for ages and ages. In fact, American TV can sometimes seem like one long series of adverts with occasional breaks for the programs. It really is that awful! I know now why Americans have a reputation for channel hopping, they are trying desperately to avoid being bombarded to death by all the endless ads.
Anyway, back to my beloved BBC (who incidentally, don’t show any adverts in the UK). After messing around with various free proxy servers and getting no joy, I found a free program that enabled me to get BBC iplayer in USA called Expat Shield, by tricking the BBC computers into thinking that my laptop is in Scotland, rather than Florida. We also bought a new flat screen TV with a socket it in the back so I could put my laptop through it.
But after all that, the irony is that I hardly watch BBC iplayer or live British TV that much. The truth is that I can watch the world news on BBC America, all my favorite British comedies like The Mighty Boosh and Never Mind the Buzzcocks are available on Youtube, and big events like the Royal Wedding and the European Cup Final are shown on American TV. Plus there is always Netflix to stream movies and the library to borrow DVDs from. Still, it’s reassuring to have the BBC option, I guess.