This one is all about movies and TV shows, so if you don’t care about those sorts of things, then may I suggest learning about the latest board games?
Anyway, I’ve found myself thinking a fair bit about the shows I watch. I suppose that’s partly because I have more time than I used to for watching shows. But it’s probably also a stage of life thing. Maybe. I dunno for sure, so bear with me.
Over the last while, I’ve mainlined the first 3 seasons of Homeland. Netflix has a bunch of seasons now, so it’s easy. Plus, I found the first 3 seasons to be pretty compelling even if they were rather unrealistic. I liked the characters (except for the angsty, self-important teenage girl) and had fun seeing the whole thing unfold.
Now we’re into season 4, and I’m just not sure anymore. Basically, our main character has just abandoned her baby. The main character, who I sort of need to be sympathetic toward, has just done something I have zero forgiveness for. Let’s not dwell on why – let’s just understand that she’s fully capable of not abandoning her child, and I’m finding it hard to sympathize with her at this point.
So, what do I do?
Similarly, the latest season of The Walking Dead has riled a lot of people up. I haven’t seen it because it’s not on Netflix yet, but the first episode was by all accounts a complete brutality fest. Basically televised torture. And not surprisingly, there were a fair number of people who didn’t enjoy watching that. I suspect I’ll feel the same.
So do I even bother watching it?
This uncertainty is compounded by the fact that I tend to watch “gritty” shows. Y’know, serious subject matter, frequent violence, people being bad to each other. In general, the stories behind these shows are the most compelling to me. But…
I’ve come to realize that there’s such a thing as too much. I find myself surfing the Netflix queue for something lighter. Something with laughs. Something fun. Something that can cleanse the palette and let you go to bed feeling okay about the world.
Surprisingly, those things are harder to find. Too many of them are just plain stupid. And it’s real easy to burn through the ones that aren’t, and then have nothing left to watch.
I’ve watched Brooklyn Nine Nine and Last Man Standing, and basically enjoyed them. I’ve tried to watch Kimmy Schmidt and The B**** in Apartment 13, and have just not been entertained.
Then there’s the rare gem that is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. This is a movie that strikes just the right chord. A quiet movie about everyday hope. Not life and death hope, not world changing conflict. None of that. Just the simple hopes of one person, and a strange adventure he goes on.
I admit to being very surprised by it. I sort of like Ben Stiller in his more serious roles, but this one caught me by surprise. It has an unexpected depth.
So, where am I going with all this?
Well, first, I guess there’s a question behind the first part.
When do you just plain stop watching a show? The simple answer would appear to be “when you don’t enjoy it anymore,” but I’d say it’s not that simple. We tend to stick with things we know. We tend to hope they’ll get back to what we enjoyed about them. It turns into a harder decision than it should be. What if you miss something you would have enjoyed?
Deeper than that, I suppose, is the question of why we choose certain shows in the first place. Do I choose gritty shows because I think they reflect real life? Do I like all that pain and misery? Do I somehow think it expands my thinking?
I’m thinking no, but there’s obviously something behind that regular choice I make. Maybe it’s just that they have better stories. More intricate, less stupid. I’m a big reader, and I’m compelled by a good story. Always.
As a bit of an aside, one of my guilty pleasures (that I tend not to feel guilty about) is Anime. And sometimes these shows are ahead of their time. For instance, Sword Art Online explores the idea of what happens when VR is good enough that people log into Fantasy worlds for real. And then they get trapped there by the hardware they’ve got strapped to their heads. It’s a fascinating exploration of the potential problems of advancing technology. And it’s sort of a fun story, ’cause it’s all hack ‘n slash swords and sorcery, which I like.
But some of these shows have started to bug me, too, because of the scantily clad females. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a guy. I don’t really have anything against scantily clad females per se – I think there might be something biological at play there. But as the father of a growing daughter, I have trouble imagining being comfortable watching some of these shows with her.
Which brings me back to guilty pleasures. ’cause honestly, I don’t mind watching them so much, but I think they send the wrong message to people who don’t know any better. And sadly, there’s far too many people who don’t. So how do you reconcile that?
Well, honestly, I don’t have the answers today. But this is what’s been bouncing around my head these days.
Anybody know any good, light-hearted shows that I should watch?