Monday, August 21, 2017

Why Do We Watch Shows We Don't Like?

I’ll never forget watching Napoleon Dynamite. It had already achieved cult classic status by the time that I decided I needed to see what all the fuss was about.  Vote for Pedro shirts were the fashion du jour and I couldn’t hear yet another person yell, “your mom went to college” without getting to the bottom of it.  But then something happened.  Twenty minutes went by, and I didn’t laugh once.  For what had been touted as the funniest film of the year, Napoleon Dynamite was seriously disappointing.  I couldn’t find a morsel of humor.  Maybe I’m watching the wrong movie, I thought to myself.  But no, it just wasn’t for me.  And for some reason, I suffered through all 95 minutes of it.

Fast forward to last weekend.  I watched the entire season of Friends from College, a Netflix original series written by and starring Keegan-Michael Key of Key and Peele fame, despite texting my friends, “Friends from College is horrible. You guys were right” after two episodes.  “It’s one bad episode after another,” one chimed in.  “Lol it’s horrid.”  The logical next step would be to turn it off, but nope. I had to see how this train wreck ended.  Hint? Badly.

Binge watching is nothing new. But recently, I’ve found myself bingeing shows that I legitimately don’t like.  And it’s not just me.  Trying to get into a show is the new norm.

Unlike television during my parent’s generation, in which programming was limited and TV stations would literally turn off at night, we’re in a golden age of television thanks to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBOGo, the list goes on.  Honestly, when an HBOGo login surpassed house keys as the newest form of romantic currency, I knew the tables had turned.

With streaming surpassing cable, we’ve lost shared viewing experiences.  Back then, everyone watched The Ed Sullivan Show at 8pm on Sunday night on CBS and talked about it on Monday.  Now, there are hundreds of shows, if not thousands, at any given moment and identification with one generates inclusion within its own subculture.

If you didn’t watch the Bachelorette on Monday, forget about elevator conversation at my office on Tuesday.  Not #TeamLawrence of #TeamIssa?  Black Twitter might as well revoke your black card.  And forget about Game of Thrones.  Half of your friends are unavailable every Sunday night.

But I’m here to tell you to RECLAIM YOUR TIME and pour one out for the shows that you don’t like but watched to be part of a cultural phenomenon.  So, let's start now.  What are you watching that just isn't for you? I want to hear it!


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