TV tunnel-vision

So I absolutely already broke my sort-of resolution this year to post here at least once a week, but there’s a reason for that. Apart from being absolutely knackered after Chinese New Year celebrations last week, I’ve sequestered myself in a House marathon as I completed the show. Yes, I actually finished a show that’s longer than five seasons! That’s some kind of miracle in and of itself.

I’m a binge-watcher. I’m someone who watched all of Netflix’s Daredevil in 13 straight hours. I saw most of Breaking Bad in a single week, leaving my apartment only to get more DVDs and food. I could do the same with movies if I’m in the mood, but with television this is almost exclusive if I adore something. It’s even rarer for me to watch, finish, and love such a long show as much as I do House as well. I’ll most likely write a proper review of the show at some point; I just need to stew a little more over the two and a half seasons I ravenously consumed to get to the end.

But I definitely watched it so fast that it’s taking awhile to take effect, in a way. I can’t imagine watching this show week by week – particularly with some of the cliffhangers and dramatic tension in the later seasons. I also can’t fathom leaving any of the characters alone for too long (JAMES! REMY! PARK! MY DARLINGS!!). In fact, I took months off House in the middle of season 6. However, it was so easy to get back into the rhythm of it when I wanted to, almost like coming home and sinking into an inviting couch. Now I’m very sad it’s over.

TV tunnel-vision has only happened to me a handful of times, and never for such a long-running show. I’m incredibly picky when it comes to actually giving hours upon hours of my time to long-form storytelling. I’m far more likely to start a show, watch three episodes and dump it immediately, even if I liked it. I also cannot deal with watching things week by week. Maybe it comes from being too used to watching contained stories in films and seeing them as whole packages with endings (good or bad doesn’t matter much). Maybe it’s because every time I’ve made an effort to do this it seemed like the quality of show was suffering (Doctor Who season 6, Game of Thrones season 4).

That’s not to say binge-watching is always beneficial. I become so attached to characters I sometimes start to think or behave like them. I dream about these shows. It makes me inordinately cranky if I’m pulled away from them as well, even if I have other responsibilities. Juggling the obligations of CNY – undoubtedly a time to socialise with relatives – while taking on the mindset of a misanthropic unethical medical professional was… interesting to say the least.

But that feeling of connection I feel to characters who are like family – almost as though they were real people in my life, flaws and all… I think it trumps so many other things. I’ve always been a character watcher, and what House has given me are perfectly flawed ones to root for. I don’t think there’s any other fictional character who’s quite as much like me as James Wilson is. I’ve never wanted to be in the company of honestly irritating co-workers as much as I do with House’s team, all of whom exhibit extremely admirable and abhorrent traits – sometimes in the same episode. I even like the cases they solve sometimes.

Overall I’m not sad that these binge-able shows find their way into my life. If done right, they can be incredibly fulfilling. They become unquittable to me, and all I want to do now is rewatch everything.

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