Tuesday, June 9

The Chosen

A few days ago a postcard came in the mail. I glanced at it casually, expecting another local politician's plea for my vote.

"It is my pleasure to tell you that your household has been chosen to participate in a Nielsen Household survey!"

A thrill of excitement went through me. Moi? A Nielsen household? I have grown up with the knowledge that it is the Nielsen households who control the destiny of television shows. My grandmother had a subscription to TV Guide, and I learned early on that entertainment was a competitive business. Audiences could be lost in the crucial early minutes of a show, and the Nielsen ratings reflected this. I wondered what it was like to live in a Nielsen household, where you had to write down everything you watched.

"In a few days you will receive a large blue and white envelope," the postcard read. "In it you will find a brief Nielsen Household survey. This is a special opportunity for you to represent your opinion."

I waited eagerly for my large blue and white envelope to arrive. While I don't think I am ready to make the commitment it takes to be a real Nielsen household, I was quite willing to fill out a survey. I couldn't wait to tell them about how I always watch the first few minutes of 30 Rock after The Office and rarely make it through a whole episode. Or about how the ABC online episode player makes Firefox crash. Or that I would watch The Amazing Race if it didn't come on on Sunday nights. Or that the spelling bee on MPB was one of the most entertaining things I've watched on TV in months. Yes, this little postcard was my ticket to influence the entertainment world.

And finally, the survey came.

Dear reader, I'm sure you've learned by now that life is full of disappointments. The Nielsen survey was very short, and the closest I got to sharing my carefully planned answers was in the single line after, "What types of television shows do you typically watch?"

Life does, however, pleasantly surprise us at times. The Nielsen Company didn't want to know what I think about 30 Rock, but they did enclose two dollars for my trouble. Two dollars!

If anyone else would like to give me money for my opinions, just let me know.