POP FILTER EDITORIAL
In which we step from behind the curtain to spout opinions.
“What’s right isn’t always popular, and what’s popular isn’t always right”- my Mom (and probably someone before her)
I’m not here to make friends. This isn’t some meet-up group where we’re all into board games, or homemade wine, or wicker dolls, or ukulele metal, and we all end up at each other’s weddings, or at least go hiking once a month. I’m here to talk about a trend I’ve noticed growing, spreading through the masses like the name of the only weed dealer left holding at Coachella. I’m here to talk about bingeing. Specifically binge watching, I could care less if you drink 30 beers in a sitting, or eat a whole Linda’s Fudge Cake followed by a pint of Cherry Garcia, all drizzled with chocolate syrup. There’s no detriment to those activities that I can see, except for maybe too much fun!
But binge watching is serious, and needs to stop. Look I get that you don’t want to hear that right now. You’re probably covered in the dust made of Cheetos, Doritos, Fritos and Funyuns, taking a quick internet break in between Felicity and Dawson’s Creek marathons, and the last thing you want to hear is some jerk judging your choices. I understand, truly I do. Those of you caught up with the podcast know we just watched all eight episodes of True Detective in a single day. And that’s just for work. The same week, I watched half of the Wire season 5 because I felt I deserved a “me” day. So I’m not lecturing about something I know nothing about, like some fuddy-duddy preacher telling you not to go screw. Screw away! But maybe don’t do it for six hours in a row. Wouldn’t you enjoy it more if you took (ample) breaks, refreshed with some juice and hummus, took a shower (you need it) and perhaps even a walk before jumping back into bed?
Your brain doesn’t want to sit still for hours on end, focusing on the shenanigans of your favorite characters all day. And this isn’t some “TV rots you brain” message. TV is a huge part of my life, and I (scarily) don’t think I would be who I am without it. In fact, I want you to get more out of your TV and movies. I guarantee that in my 8 couchin’ hours of watching True Detective I missed some shit going on. Maybe it was clues to the identity of the Yellow King, or symbolism in the background the director sneakily put in the show, or maybe just a sweet back and forth between Woody and Matty Mac. Did missing stuff completely ruin my experience? Not even close, but I bet catching those things would’ve made a great show even greater. I realized, in that week of two days binging two amazing shows, how much I’ve probably missed over the years of binging. The advent of TV on DVD and streaming on Netflix and Hulu has fundamentally changed the way we watch television. I’m sure you have a friend (or yourself) who waits for the current season of The Walking Dead to be finished so they can knock it out over a weekend. Netflix has even fully accepted this, and that’s why they just release their shows in one batch. It’s become the normal way of consuming TV shows, but friends, it’s a weaker experience.
Remember the days of waiting week to week (or even-gasp- a month or two for the holiday break) for a new episode? Whether it was Lost, or Buffy, or the West Wing, or whatever, the anticipation and fandom increased from that time waiting. The heated conversations of that week’s events, analyzing, wondering, hypothesizing, yearning, it all led to a deeper and more rewarding experience with that show of your choice. I’m a full believer in submerging yourself in the art you enjoy, but if you want the true experience, do it in bursts. Give your eyes a break, and your brain the chance to assimilate your shows. Say no to bingeing.-MG
*All that being said, I’m still gonna binge Smallville when I’m sick or depressed. But come on—not all shows are created equal.