In March this year during a week in Los Angeles I discovered binge-television watching. Perhaps it was being in a city where tv magic and tragic is made, perhaps it was sharing our place with an actor friend, or perhaps it was having time to indulge. Probably a little of each. It’s a sloth-ish but glorious activity that I find to be both a mental break and stiumulating for my over-active imagination all at the same time. On one hand I get to visit fantasy lands. On the other, my mind is ticking over absorbing new characters, storylines and looking for the brilliance that keeps me (and so many others) enthralled.
I’ve revelled in the depths of Homeland and Lie to Me, been shocked by the over-reaching plot of Scandal, cringed but delighted in every episode of Weeds, and wondered why I was still watching Dollhouse. During my darkest days in this addiction I’ve found myself making deals with myself. My inner monologue vowing to watch just one episode before doing something more virtuous. And then finding a reasonable excuse to watch another. Nek minnit it’s mid afternoon or the wee hours of the morning so I vow to be more productive with seeing some sunshine the following day. Another deal made and broken and made again.
After diving eyeballs first into ‘my shows’ and spending time with ‘my friends’ whom I feel a weird nonsensical connection with, I’ve come to experience fandom, something I happened to study at uni twelve years ago. I was never really ‘into’ anything back then so the study of fan culture and mass hysteria was so interesting to me. I’ve always been interested in people and culture and communities. Now I’m enjoying being part of the conversation about said shows with other binge-watchers who eagerly recommend their vice.
In all my viewing hours I’ve learned just how important strong characters are to keep a show alive and connected with the audience. Providing different personalities is also a must because you don’t know who you’ll feel ‘closest’ to, who will incite the most rage and who you see yourself in (the shame of admitting such feelings!). And these relationships will change over time. Also crucial to keeping interest of the fickle viewer. Suspense is a must. One episode must end with a cliffhanger of an unanswered question. If you can create all the feels every time in the first season, I’ll come back to watch the next and the next and the next, even when it gets ridiculous.
I’ve learned to give in to my cynicism of fandom If a show can make me feel.
I have my addiction well under control but, any suggestions?