Sophisticated readers of the New York Times are well aware that the most—and sometimes only—worthwhile section of the weekend paper is the “Sunday Routine.” We would like to alert you to an noteworthy occurrence that may signal a sea change in the “Sunday Routine.”
The “Sunday Routine,” as savvy media consumers know, consists of a nearly hour-by-hour recap of what someone does on a typical Sunday. Scientists have never definitively established why the section is so hypnotic and fascinating, yet the fact that it is is accepted as a basic truth of New York journalism.
In our in-depth statistical analysis of the “Sunday Routine” section last year, we established that all of the people featured in the section that year went to some form of brunch on Sundays, and the vast majority (71%) went to the gym or did some other form of exercise on Sunday. These, you might say, were the reliable twin pillars of the foundation of the “Sunday Routine.”
Yet it has become apparent that this foundation is being shaken. To its very core? We shall see. What we know is this: on May 8, the Times ran the unprecedentedly lazy Sunday Routine of SNL cast member Vanessa Bayer, the first person in recent memory who neither goes to brunch nor exercises on Sunday. Lest you think that this break in pattern is “just a fluke,” this past weekend saw the publication of the Sunday Routine of 90-year-old Stanley Turkel, who does go to brunch but does not exercise on Sunday.
What we are witnessing is a departure from all we have known.
Is this two-week break from precedent just a statistical anomaly? Or are the editors who pull the strings of the “Sunday Routine” sending a message to close readers that things are changing? Does this newfound portrayal of outside-the-box Sunday Routines represent a true shift in the public’s routines on Sunday, or is this an example of the media subtly imposing its own brand of “virtual reality” upon us all?
It is too early to say. For now, we must watch, wait, and analyze in the weeks to come. All I know for certain is that I will be waiting on tenterhooks as the situation develops, and that I remain, as always, available to the editors of the New York Times to share my own Sunday Routine, when and if I am called upon.