My blog recently died so I vowed to write daily, comment on other blogs and get things moving again. But then, as the title of this entry implies, I was swallowed by a giant black hole of Netflix bliss/despair. Bliss because I just spent five days watching episode after episode of commercial-less TV for free (well, not really for free…I think we pay $8 a month for our subscription); and despair because I just spent 1,342 minutes watching TV this week. That’s about 22.5 hours. And it wasn’t even the whole week. This all happened between Tuesday and Today.
This happened before with House of Cards…over the span of a few days, I got sucked into the dog-eat-dog world of Francis Underwood’s Washington. It also happened with HBO’s Girls.., but these “TV binges” weren’t so bad because I only had a dozen or so episodes to watch. This time, however, I decided to start Parks and Recreation and after 61 episodes, I still have half of season four to go. The saddest part is that I’ve watched all 61 episodes on my iPhone, which looks like it was run over by a monster truck. Not only were all the characters miniscule, but I was addicted enough that I watched almost 23 hours of TV on a seriously cracked iPhone.
Usually I’m not much of a TV person. Yes, I can get sucked into eight-hour marathons of America’s Next Top Model or back to back reruns of Friends if the TV happens to be on and I happen to be around, but for the most part, I don’t need TV. Except for real-life murder mysteries and documentaries about serial killers a couple of times a week, there aren’t any TV shows I watch on a daily/weekly basis. But every few months, Netflix sucks me in and I can’t stop until I’ve finished however many seasons Netflix is offering me. Basically, I apply the same philosophy to food and TV: If someone gives me a box of chocolates (actually, no one’s ever given me a box of chocolates…kind of sad…but I’m just using this example to paint a picture) I think the best strategy is to get temptation out-of-the-way so you can start tomorrow off on a better foot. That means I think it’s best to consume the whole box of chocolates in one day so they’re not around to tempt me the next day. And I apply this same philosophy to TV. You might as well get the entire show out-of-the-way so you can concentrate on more dignified/important/productive activities later. The problem with this philosophy, of course, is that there are always more boxes of chocolates/TV shows. This is probably why I’ve been (pleasantly) plump my whole life.
Anyway, over the last few days I’ve stayed up until 2:30 in the morning watching Parks and Recreation, haven’t gotten nearly enough sleep, barely left my house (except for work) and spent all non-work hours curled up in bed getting my Netflix on. Even though I’m kind of ashamed, this did get me thinking about how much TV has changed over the last decade. Shows like Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond and Will and Grace are funny, but they’re also lowest-common-denominator-type shows meant to appeal to a mass audience. Nowadays, TV shows can be funny AND smart. Yeah, shows like How I Met Your Mother, New Girl and The Big Bang Theory still exist and adhere to traditional sitcom prototypes, but cable TV and Netflix have opened up a whole new TV world that doesn’t need to appeal to a mass audience. There are shows to appeal to every possible niche and interest. I liked House of Cards because it exposed me to this ruthless, political world paved with ambition and self-interest rather rather than good intentions. I like Girls because part of me would have liked to be Hannah, living and writing in New York City right out of college. And as a local government employee, I can relate to the goings-on of the Pawnee City Government. If you work in government, you’ve probably run into your share of Leslies, Rons and Jerrys. Nowadays, we have so many choices in front of us from what we eat to how we dress ourselves to how we dress our smart phones to what wine we buy to what TV shows we watch. If you actually still own a TV and subscribe to some kind of cable package you know there are like 2,524 channels. I don’t know when or why the availability of options and choices became so essential and expected but here we are, living in a world (well, those of us lucky enough to have expendable income) where we demand high-quality choices. So while many of us may say we wish we could go back to a simpler time (really, is hunter-gathering/Bubonic plague/30-year-life expectancies/ typhoid fever/child labor/survival of the fittest really the simpler time we want to go back to??) a lot of us probably aren’t willing to give back even some of the choices we’ve come to expect. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I do know that I would feel much, much worse bingeing on 24 hours of Friends than I do after 24 hours of Parks and Recreation or House of Cards. I’m just glad the laugh track is nearly extinct.
Categories: Me, Me, Me