Looking for a New Binge

| October 4, 2017 | 0 Comments

When I was in eighth grade my two favorite shows were The Big Bang Theory and NCIS, so don’t worry, we’ve all liked embarrassing things before. I’m just glad I grew out of the phase where I thought that a laugh track playing in the background was what made the joke funny, not the joke itself. (Have you ever watched it with the laugh tracks taken out? They just say unfunny things and then stare at each other for a few seconds in complete silence before repeating the cycle.)

photo credit: nickestamp Laptop via photopin (license)

photo credit: nickestamp Laptop via photopin (license)

Even Friends, which I marathoned in a couple weeks back before binge-watching was a cultural phenomenon, is almost unbearable. The humor seems tacky, the writing is often unoriginal, and the whole show seems to have lost the magic it once carried for me.

At first I was distraught when I realized this: was television ruined for me forever? Have I become too jaded for this storytelling medium? It wasn’t quite true; I still enjoy a lot of TV shows, some enough to watch them weekly when they air, but my taste has become much more selective in recent years. I’m not blindly satisfied with whatever airs on primetime. Finding a show that will grab my attention and keep it is a much more arduous process.

The thing that usually grabs my attention is a diverse cast and story; the last few shows I started to watch were brought to my attention because of their (usually gay) storylines that other queer people were freaking out about online. Then I had to slog through two or three seasons of boring, straight romance before I finally got to the gay payoff. It’s an imperfect system.

Being a communications student, another thing that grabs my attention is good writing – and you’d be surprised how many shows can make it on the air without any well-written episodes in the season. I hold my comedies to an especially high standard: if the dialogue isn’t impossibly quick and witty, I’ll get bored with the jokes halfway through season one.

Though I’ve become more selective, I’m grateful that I have; I’ve learned to think critically about the media I’m consuming while still enjoying it. I don’t think that you should stop watching something because it’s deemed “problematic” for not being diverse enough. On the contrary, watching those shows can be even more rewarding if you think more deeply about why the show is what it is.

My days of giggling along with a laugh track are over. Now you have to earn my laughter and undying devotion, because I won’t binge watch just anything. Especially now when we have more choices than ever as to what to watch, make sure you’re holding each choice to your own standards and not settling for something that doesn’t satisfy your mind.


featured photo credit: Sergey Galyonkin Breakfast in Berlin via photopin (license)

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Category: featured, Reflections, Social Activism, TV and Movies

Charlie Scanlan

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Charlie is a journalism major in the College of Communication.

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