Remember the 90s? That innocent time? The days before everyone had a cellphone in their cubicle? When your co-workers would glance furtively over their shoulders, hoping not to get caught playing Solitaire? When Solitaire was, well, a radical innovation in time-wasting activities during office hours?
Those days are long gone. Television, it turns out, is not just for prime time anymore. Which is a shame because it was the last defense in the line distinguishing work and play:
Watching television is so much the opposite of work, in fact, that it’s hardly even a purposeful act: If you spend Saturday and Sunday watching television, you can credibly say you spent the weekend doing nothing at all.
With technological progress (look, Ma, I can watch TV while driving!) comes the natural American inclination toward productivity. So if you’re watching television at work, then you’re surely watching something relevant.
No wonder, then, that the latest programmers — people trying to create sustainable, popular, commercial Internet television — are incorporating workday attitudes of diligence, can-doism, detail-orientation and, above all, procrastination into new shows.
Or not. AOL has created a series of programs that meld self-improvement books with live action. Called AOL Coaches, the series of workshops (it’s the oughts, no more episodes for us) helps you deal with life’s little problems in an interactive way. Though the actual workshop reviewed sounds horrific — that could be a result of my natural reaction to Star Jones Reynolds — the idea is worthy. AOL has been moving toward original programming for quite a while. Self-help programming was just a matter of time.
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