Of all the different people I have met on this trip so far, Hungarians seem to be the least attached to their TV. Greeks seemed to have one for every few square meters in the house, with the one in the kitchen preferably switched on all day. Some Portuguese housewives ? so I was told - could easily spend entire days watching Brazilian soap operas. Hungary is a little more moderate in its TV consumption. The local way of setting priorities does not leave Hungarians much time to stare at the black box.
Friends, ER, Desperate Housewives, Lost, Prison Break and Grey`s Anatomy all exist in Hungary, but their names are hardly decipherable. Sz?lletett Feles?gek definitely sounds a lot different from Desparate Housewives. Neither does Joboratok resemble its original name, which is Friends. The names are not the only parts of the shows that a foreigner will barely be able to recognise. Hungarian TV also enjoys filtering out the original American voices and replaces them by Hungarian ones.
..likes to watch German TV
Korn?lia (20, photo) prefers to watch programs in their original version or with subtitles. `I watch about two to three hours of television a day. Most of that is German programs which allows me to practice my language skills. We capture RTL2, Pro7 and Sat1. Actually, I prefer downloading programs for the internet or to buy DVDs with entire series. That`s also the best way of finding programs in their original version, instead of having to listen to the Hungarian voices that hides the English ones.
`A few years ago, I used to watch one of Hungary`s best known soap series called `Bor?tok K?zt`, Korn?lia explains. `It`s a program about different families living under one roof and going through all kind of trouble. The major part of the program consisted of them gossiping about one another, some jealousy and not too much serious content. It`s the kind of program teenagers watch, or people who have nothing to do and spend entire days at home.`
Dora (23) thinks that replacing all dubbing by subtitles would be quite nice for young people, but she adds that it would make watching TV almost impossible for somewhat older people: `It`s not very easy to read and watch at the same time. It makes you miss out on what`s happening and it can be confusing. My parents probably wouldn`t watch anything that involved having to read along.`
Dora doesn`t watch a lot of television, because she lives in three different cities. `I study in Sz?kesfeh?rv?r, my boyfriend lives in another city and my parents in yet another one. You can imagine that I don`t have much time left to watch television`, she says. Dora does care to mention two different talk shows which are quite popular in Hungary. `Fabri is a talk show that is broadcast every second week. A comic host welcomes politicians and talks with them in an amusing way. Then, there`s the Monika Show, which is some sort of ridiculous local version of Oprah Winfrey. It hosts people with problems, gypsies with no teeth screaming at each other, showing everybody how you are not supposed to lead your life.`
Istvan (30) has another opinion about the Monika show. As a social worker, the program forms a good basis for him to start conversations with the youngsters he is supposed to look after: `They laugh at it, because it is so obvious that everything is going wrong. And that`s how it helps me make certain taboo subjects discussable for them`, Istvan says.
In the same way, Istvan watches ER to have something to discuss with his family. `That happens about once a month. I more often watch a lunchtime program that has no specific purpose. It`s a state TV program showing a green location in Hungary, called Talpalattnyi Z?ld. On the other rare moment I watch TV, it`s Champions` League football. I support different teams. Juventus sometimes, or also at one point Palermo because my girlfriend liked the outfit they were playing in.`
Fruzsi (30) is one of the many Hungarians who prefer reading a book over watching TV. Her current favourite writers include Southern American authors like Marques Garcia. `I also like the Central European ironical writers. Lots of their work is about daily life under communist time, but written in a very indirect and sarcastic way. Personal characters are chosen in such a way that they represent the various different tensions that existed during communism. The style makes you want to laugh at how it all makes little sense, but it equally makes you want to cry when you realise that it`s all based on the reality of those times.`
Fruzsi tells me that one of the authors of Central European irony used to have a TV program, which was quite popular until the guy himself decided to stop producing the show. `His name is `Mikl?s Vamos`. He is not really a celebrity kind of person, but his program was very interesting. He invited just one guest at a time, usually writers or poets, and then just talked for an hour and a half. He would sometimes act or react in unusual ways, sometimes even remaining silent or keeping a straight face. Somehow, he always managed to get interesting information out of his guests.`
Riko (31) prefers to spend time windsurfing and sailing rather than watching TV. `I usually can`t even be bothered to walk to the other side of the apartment to switch on the TV, so it mostly stays off. I wish I had more time for reading, because I think that`s more worthwhile than watching TV. I am currently reading a French book to prepare for my upcoming French exam. I am working as a dermatologist in a university hospital in Hungary, but I would like to get to France after this summer. Reading this book - `Vous revoir` by Marc L?vy ? is helping me prepare for the test`, she says. Riko also watches TV5 if the opportunity presents itself, but she thinks the coverage is quite boring.`
Tomas (25) and Erszebet (25) watch watch G?lv?lgyi, which is a funny yet somehow serious show presented by a comic and broadcast once a month. Tomas says: `We also watch Este, a program that presents the daily news in a bit more detail. It has reports about the economy, about current politics and about social life. Most of the TV news is not much more informative than what you get on the internet or in newspapers, so that`s not a reason to switch on the TV.`
Istvan (24) occasionally watches action movies before going to bed, but otherwise prefers amusing himself surfing the internet. `The combination of Youtube and DVDs is much more interesting than the TV offer. Almost everything is available online nowadays. No more need to wait until Hungarian TV is finally broadcasting something interesting.`
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