Operation Sky TV: Completed!

This morning I watched Will & Grace.

In English.

For the first time in three years.

Then I watched The Gilmore Girls, or as they call it here, Una Mamma per Amica. And now I’m watching some Ben Affleck Christmas film.

I’m finding that the voices I used to find so familiar now sound a bit strange.

Must be…all that English! Woohoo!

Now, is it wrong that I’m rethinking our New Year’s Eve plans because I’d rather be home with my Sky TV?

I know this probably isn’t very exciting for non-expats, but for those who have been or are in my shoes, you know what I’m talking about. I don’t plan on abusing my Sky TV privileges (after at least a few days of gluttony), but it’s nice to have choices.

To put this in perspective, let me describe what my television experience was like only yesterday:

There are 6 main Italian channels, three owned by RAI and three owned by the Former Prime Arsehole Minister Silvio Berlusconi. To say that these channels are overrun with game shows featuring scantily clad “dancers” is just the sad, offensive truth. And to point out that both sets of channels have extremely political slants as to what is shown on the news and other journalistic programs is a gross understatement.

There are occasionally decent movies, but a good six times out of ten they are blacked out so we can’t see them anyway. And then there’s the fact that they showed Legends of the Fall on Christmas night. But we’ve been through that.

Other programming includes political and soccer/calcio debating shows–sometimes together in the same discussion, always loud and obnoxious. The art of letting one person speak at a time and then waiting for a response is not practiced on RAI, Canale 5, or Italia Uno. And then there’s all the soccer games, many of which are blacked out anyway.

On the other hand, I must be fair. I do give props to basic cable’s travel and nature programs. They aren’t National Geographic or Discovery, but they’re not bad. I’ve learned about many little-known Italian locations and a lot of Italian history because of these. And Canale 5 does a few “fiction” shows that I like, such as RIS, which I mentioned yesterday.

But the biggest benefit to having only 6 channels all in Italian was that it *really* helped improve my language skills. Without Italian personalities like Paolo Bonolis and Maria De Filippi (oh, I’ll still be watching C’è Posta Per Te and Amici even though Maria kinda scares me), I just might be speaking Italian like Paris Hilton.

And let’s not forget that by watching only Italian-language television, I was truly immersed in a major part of the culture; I wouldn’t even know who Paolo and Maria are if I wasn’t forced by RAI and Berlusconi to bring them into my world. That’d be like an American not knowing Rosie O’Donnell from Oprah. Unthinkable, I know.

Quite honestly, without this invaluable cultural knowledge, I don’t think I’d ever truly feel a part of what’s going on around here. For better or worse, television plays a big role in many cultures, and Italy is no exception. In fact, television is often one of the only things around which I can build a conversation–especially with those who would rather discuss how to clean my stove than whether gay marriages should be sanctioned by the government.

Ah, bridging the great cultural divide one satellite dish at a time.

So, in sum, I don’t regret that I’ve gone three years without hearing Larry King’s voice (which I did finally hear this morning as CNN reran his interview with the late President Gerald Ford) as it made me the expat I am today. No doubt about it–drowning in Italian television helped me grow. But now I’m ready for Animal Planet, The History Channel, all the Fox stations, and, oh, so much more.

Welcome to my world, Sky TV. Baby girl’s all grows up.


[tags]sky tv[/tags]

8 Beans of Wisdom to “Operation Sky TV: Completed!”
  1. The Other Girl

    When I was in Japan, I became fascinated by an episode of “Full House,” just because it was in English, and even though I’d only been there for two weeks, I know exactly what you mean. And now “Gilmore Girls” will never not be “Una Mamma per Amica.”

  2. Gil

    It is sad that you can’t even escape “Larry King Partially Alive” even in Italy! Other than that I hope that you had a very Happy New year!

  3. Giulia

    Welcome to the worls of Sky! I have had it for the last two months and I don’t know what I would do without it! I think Will & Grace & Friends were the first two things I watched in english. I was so giddy! lol I hated watching voice overs for two of my favorite shows knowing that it wasn’t their real voices. Sorry, Karen speaking Italian just didn’t cut it for me.

    I know what you mean about the Maria person… when I first saw her on TV here, (embarassed to admit this), I thought she was a transvestite! :0
    After hubby laughed his ass off, he told me that she wasn’t!
    Hey, how would I have known?
    I had never seen her before in my life! LOL

  4. Sharon

    I am enjoying this post so much!! Maria and Bonalis….I cringe when my husband watches these shows. Who….would come on TV and put the family dirty laundry on prime time and think it is a good thing? I do watch some Italian Television. I find Rai3 has some good programs. However lately most of the stuff on Italian TV is Italian voiced American programs. Not nice. When I came here 14 years ago they had some creative stuff.
    Keep writing…you make me smile…laugh even!

  5. Loulou

    oh, am I jealous!
    We still have Canal Plus and are thinking of switching to Sky.
    Enjoy all the TV you’ll be watching in the new year!

  6. sognatrice

    TOG, come on. You know it was really Dave Coulier that intrigued you.

    Gil, I watched Larry again this morning. Weird the things you end up missing.

    Giulia, you’re not alone in your transvestite impression. I’ve been through this conversation *many* times with visitors. I particularly love the way she paces back and forth with the monotone voice on C’è Posta Per Te.

    Sharon, thanks for the support–on all levels.

    Loulou, I heart Sky. Really. Next to accepting my now OH’s offer of an amaro a couple years ago, getting Sky was the best decision I’ve made here.

  7. lango

    A bit jealous of your Sky, especially as I sit here watching 90210 on Italia 1, but allow me to tack on another type of show that I enjoy (totally agree on the nature/history shows being the highlight by the way – also Report on Sunday nights), and that is the trivia show (different from the game shows).

    Whether it’s been Chi vuol essere millionario?, Genius (Grande Mike Buongiorno!), or my new fave L’Eredita’, it’s always a nice feeling when you start answering more questions than your Italian friends, and the scantily clad gyrating dancers give my brain a nice rest now and then… :]

  8. sognatrice

    Well so long as you can find some bright spots in your basic TV viewing, good on you! Of course, I still *highly* recommend splurging on Sky. No, it’s not perfect, but at least there are choices 🙂

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

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