Watch TV You Hate for Someone You Love

As I write this, the Super Bowl is just a couple of days away, and once again, two factions have spent days preparing, planning, and calculating. The mighty titans will face off against each other in a pitched battle to answer one question:

Do you want to watch the Super Bowl, or do you hate watching it?

That's really what the Super Bowl is about each year. It's not about team versus team, player versus player. It's about loving football versus hating football.

It's about whether or not people will be forced to watch a championship between two teams they don't care about, being played by rich athletes they couldn't name, playing a sport they hate. Or it's the culmination of every sports fan's dream, something they've waited an entire year to see.

Some of my married friends both equally hate football, so both of them won't watch it with an equivalent level of delight.

But let's say only one of you loves football and the other hates it. Will the football hater watch the Super Bowl? Or will the football lover later be forced to rewatch that episode of Downton Abbey where Lady Mary rejects a suitor?


Yes, because Americans watch four hours per week of TV or movies they don't like for their partner. That's 208 hours per year of movies and TV shows you never wanted to see in the first place. And it's true for both people in the relationship.

That number quadruples for every child you have, as the next ten years of your life will be spent watching the same three Disney movies over and over.

According to a recent survey commissioned by SkinnyPop popcorn, 2,000 Americans were asked how long they watch TV they don't like with their romantic partner. The average amount of time was four hours per week.

For all you football haters, that means you only have to suffer through the Super Bowl on Sunday, and then you're good for the next seven days.

For the other 51 weeks, everyone will sit down with their partner and watch something they dislike, if not outright hate, for roughly one hour per day.

That's 10.5 episodes of Friends, without commercials. Or a hockey game plus the post-game wrap-up. Or Kenneth Branagh's 1996 version of Hamlet. Or watching Bob and Doug McKenzie's Strange Brew — which is based on Hamlet and features hockey — two-and-one-third times.

The study didn't do a breakdown between men and women, husbands and wives, or whoever had the remote first. In fact, it sounded like each person in the relationship equally suffers for their partner's happiness.

I like to think they do it for love.

So do the participants: Nearly two-thirds of them thought their willingness to sit through an unwanted show was a sign of true love.

That ratio is a bit distressing, though.

Not that two-thirds of people will sacrifice their happiness for four hours in the name of love. Rather, it's that the remaining third will watch unlikeable TV for any other reason.

Why would they do that if not for love? Are they so lazy, they can't get off the couch? Do they have nothing else in their lives? Is it a form of self-torture?

Or does their own suffering make them happier?

According to a separate study, we feel better when we do nice things for other people.

Researchers at the University of Rochester found that people who did something nice for their spouse boosted their own emotional well-being, even if that act went unnoticed by the spouse.

So you can boost your emotional state if you make them coffee without being asked, say "I love you" for no reason, or watch documentaries about potatoes.

The SkinnyPop study was a little more cynical. They found that two-thirds of people would rather watch something they hate to avoid an argument.

Admittedly that's less romantic than "I love you so much, I'll watch anything just to be wth you," but sometimes you take what you can get.

Still, who says you have to watch something you hate in the first place? Surely there's something — anything — else you could do.

If you won't sit there for love, why are you even there? What has your life come to that watching TV you hate is preferable to literally any other option? Is there truly nothing better you could do?

"Honey, I love you, but I'm not binge-watching 'Fuller House.'"

Read a book. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Watch videos on your phone. Watch TV in another room. Vacuum the house passive-aggressively, but when you're asked if anything is wrong, say, "No, just watch Space Force."

But if you truly love your partner so much that you'd rather sit through a terrible show than be apart from them for even a minute, take satisfaction in the fact that you'll be able to get them back with something more heinous tomorrow.

Because that's what real love is all about.

Photo credit: Mohamed Hassan (, Creative Commons 0)

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.