Perhaps you've heard that Pope Francis has not watched television since July 15, 1990.
TIME's headline read:
And yes, I agree. He's missed out on some excellent programming. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Office. The Sopranos. Game of Thrones. Breaking Bad.
But here's the thing:
When was the last time you regretted missing a television series?
From the ages of 18-21, I watched almost no television with the exception of The Simpsons and 90210, and from the ages of 21-23, I watched no television at all save live sporting events. I know that during those years, the shows that I missed seeing include Twin Peaks, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Blossom, Saved by the Bell, Quantum Leap, The Wonder Years, Northern Exposure, In Living Color, Kids in the Hall, and Freaks and Geeks,
I mention these specifically because they are occasionally referenced in popular culture, and I have heard people from time to time profess their love for them.
More recent shows that I have not seen despite the insistence of friends and family include Dexter, The Wire, Modern Family, and Downton Abbey.
All of these television shows have reported merit and have been strongly recommended to me in some way, and yet I am absolutely certain that if I never watch any of them, I will harbor no regrets.
Missing a chance to see Springsteen in concert or a Patriots playoff game or a Broadway musical may cause some lingering regret on my part, but a television show?
Never. And I suspect that this applies to many people, even though they don't realize it. Despite the way in which so many Americans schedule their lives - and particularly their evenings - around television, if they were to miss one of those beloved shows entirely, I don't think they would care very much.
Take away a show like Modern Family completely and everyone simply moves on.
The average American adult watches 33 hours of television a week, and yet I believe that most of it could be avoided without regret.
I watch far less than 33 hours of television a week. I probably watch about five. I know that I am missing critically acclaimed shows that I would most assuredly love. I feel no regret whatsoever.
On the contrary, I am fairly certain that the day may come when I regret watching any television at all.
The Pope, I think, is a smart man. He may have missed some outstanding television shows over the years, but I don't think he gives a damn.