Cheating Eyes

My wife is cheating on me.

I found out the other night when she finally broke down and told me everything. It was a Thursday night, she said, and she was feeling lonely and a little neglected.

As the confession began, she didn’t seem the least bit humbled; in fact, she said it felt good. She had broken an implicit agreement in the TV-watching partnership known as our marriage: she had watched a show without me: ABC’s Black-ish.

I was confused, then hurt. “Black-ish? Black-ish? How could you?”

She stammered. “It was funny.”

“Is this the only one?” I demanded to know. “Are there more?”

This was her first time, she said.

Our tastes are wildly different, and those differences lie almost evenly along the fault lines of gender and cliché. I’m more Game of Thrones, and throw in some comedy and action; she’s more The Good Wife, leaning to drama and romance.

But we have some overlapping shows on our Venn diagram of entertainment tastes, shows we had agreed implicitly to watch together: Ray Donovan, Modern Family and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I mistakenly thought Black-ish was on that list.

We live in a Golden Age of Television, no doubt, with more dramatic series on TV than ever before, more Hollywood talent behind and on the screen, and the technology to capture, store and rewatch it on a whim.

TV is the touchstone of civilization (or at least dinner party chatter) in this digital age, and we feel left out of the cultural conversation if we haven’t seen every episode of Breaking Bad or House of Cards or True Detective, or at the very least, binge-watched to catch up. My wife was feeling starved, as if she wasn’t watching enough.

The TV audience is so splintered today, and viewing on increasingly smaller screens has made it such a loner pastime, that it’s a rare pleasure — consoling, really — to share the screen time with someone else.

My wife? We talked it over, and she has renewed our watching vows. I’ve already forgiven her. She had a weak moment.