Confessions of a TiVoholic

07/10/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

I love television. I truly love it. I wept when TiVo was invented, because it meant I could watch even more of it.

Sophisticated people claim to be "soooo busy" that they don't have time for mindless TV. Or at least that's what they're all quick to tell whenever the subject comes up at cocktail parties.

But not me, I manage to park myself in front of the tube almost every day.

I even have a TV in my office, so I can catch up on Oprah while I exercise. Well, OK, a lot of the time I don't really exercise; I just watch and sit on the floor in my workout clothes thinking about doing sit-ups. But I'm sure Oprah appreciates my good intentions.

It's amazing how much television you can watch if you give up proactive parenting. I actually haven't given up parenting; I just find that it's more enjoyable with my electronic partner.

Yes that's right, not only do I love TV, but my kids love it too, and so does my husband.

I could lie and tell you that we watch documentaries on the History Channel and have meaningful discussions about the arc of human life and what lessons we can learn from the past. Or that we watch HGTV to learn new composting techniques for our organic vegetable garden.

But we don't.

We watch Ice Road Truckers and Wife Swap, and talk about how crazy other people are while we sit on the couch doing nothing.

I used to be one of those high and mighty intellectual types who thought of television as electronic fast food. One serving won't kill you, but a lifetime diet of it will make you sloth-like and lethargic.

When my kids were little, I felt it was my moral duty to keep our family from succumbing to perils of the idiot box. So I limited our viewing to 30 minutes of carefully selected public television a day, following the guidelines of pediatricians and other educational experts who clearly have never had to entertain small children for hours on end.

But about the time my youngest was able to read chapter books on her her own, I figured hey, their brains are already formed. What's the big deal if I let them watch a few sitcoms? So after a decade of taking the high road, I began to cut myself some slack. From there it was a slippery slope to reality TV, and the next thing I knew the whole family was eating pizza at the coffee table while we watched The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

People can poo-poo TV all they like, but a lot of work goes into creating those shows, and when you sit back and watch one, you're benefiting form someone else's creativity.

That's why I love it. I love the writing, I love the sets, I love the costumes, I love the acting, I love the excitement and I love the way it all comes together on that little screen.

Sure it's not Monet, but how else would we experience the grit of Dirty Jobs or the thrill of Dancing With the Stars without TV?

It's visual, it's emotional, it's technical, it's raw, it's gritty, and frankly, it's beautiful.

So to all those people who turn up their nose at television, I say, act all intellectual if you like, but do you really think you're smarter than a fifth-grader?

Lisa Earle McLeod is an author, syndicated columnist and keynote speaker. For more info: or comment on her blog