TV Binges

Jim Pagels is against them:

Our best friends are the ones we see every so often for years, and TV characters should be the same way. I feel like I grew up with Michael Scott, because I spent 22 minutes a week with him every Thursday night for seven years. A friend of mine who recently cranked through all eight seasons of The Office in two weeks (really) probably thinks of Carrell's character like someone he hung out with at an intensive two-week corporate seminar and never saw again. Binge-watching reduces the potential for such deep, Draper-like relationships. While the Grantland piece argues that binges are the only way to forge “deep emotional connections,” in fact, the opposite is true.

I've moved toward more binging actually – because of on-demand TV, Netflix, Apple TV etc. That way, you can allow others to be the wine-tasters, as it were, and if a season or two vindicates a show and makes it a must-watch, we tackle it. In full. But that's more for the Battlestar Gallactica/Game of Thrones/The Wire category of material. Others require more care.

If I watched all of the Real Housewives of New Jersey in one sitting, for example, I think I would sink into the oblivion that happens to all those who watch their souls being torn slowly, shred by shred, into nothingness. That show's emptiness, hollowness, vacuousness, its transformation of children into products for a self-sustaining celebrity industry, its revelling in human manipulation in the midst of wanton greed, its venomous vulgarity and moral cesspit: it's truly the most appalling, cynical and morally disgusting display of doucherie on the box, which is saying something. And, yes, at its core it is a form of pornography of female spite for gay male misogynists. In this Millennium, some gay men don't need to invent the dialogue of vicious, hateful networks of women (that would require some creative effort); they dangle celebrity in front of the faces of the desperately needy and then tape their every pettiness to squeals of Bravo delight.

I know there are far trashier reality shows. I watch The Soup religiously. Toddlers and Tiaras may be morally even worse. But watching bitter, angry people hurt one another needlessly hour after hour after hour, with not even a scintilla of wit or intelligence to redeem it, is so foul and disgusting, well, I feel a little better for venting.