By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
It’s not culturally sophisticated to admit it, but I love TV – always have. I loved it ever since I was a kid and Fred Flintstone heard the whistle blow at five o’clock and slid down the back of his dinosaur bulldozer.
I loved speculating with my mother during the summer of 1980 about who shot J.R. I loved watching Bill Cosby raise the Huxtable kids. And thanks to TV, I’ve met great characters like Flo from Mel’s Diner, Frasier Crane, J.D. and Turk from Scrubs, and Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. Oh, they make me laugh, even in reruns that never seem to get old.
For TV lovers, the last decade of technological advancements have meant huge changes in the way we cozy up to the tube. The game-changer invention has to be the DVR, which is easily the best thing to happen to television since the remote control and microwave popcorn. The DVR lets you record shows and skip all the commercials, which reduces an hour-long show to about 40 minutes or so. It saves time and helps keep annoying commercial jingles from getting stuck in your head.
But lately, one of television’s new conveniences is wrecking me. I’m suffering from the “Netflix effect.” In case you’re not afflicted yet, Netflix is an online service that lets you watch almost any show at any time and in almost any place where you can get a Wi-Fi signal. For example, if you missed the boat when the show “Mad Men” first started, you can go back and watch back-to-back episodes online for all seven seasons. Want to know if the hype about the show “Breaking Bad” is justified? You’ll find the answer on Netflix, along with more than 30 million other subscribers.
The instant, easy access is a wonderful, terrible thing. Otherwise rational people who KNOW they should go to bed already find themselves desperate to watch a story unfold just a little bit more. We’ll say, “Well, maybe just one more episode..,” and then we kid ourselves into thinking we won’t pay the price for it the next morning with under eye bags large enough to hold all our regrets.
If your friend or co-worker is shuffling around in a bleary-eyed haze, it could be a drinking problem, or it might just be a bad Netflix hangover – one too many episodes that stretched into the early morning hours. With just the push of a button, the closing credits of one episode morphed into the opening scene of the next. They got drunk on the power to keep the story going. (Tom and I may or may not have watched four or five hours of House of Cards the other day – just because we could.)
Television binge-watching is like eating Cheetos. Once you’re halfway through the bag, you know the responsible thing to do would be to stop. But then again your fingers are already coated in that orange Cheetos dust, so you might as well just finish it off, right? (Trust me, that line of reasoning makes perfect sense around 11:30 at night.)
Netflix should start posting a public service announcement at the beginning of the really juicy episodes that reads: “Just because you can watch an entire season at one time doesn’t mean you should. Watch responsibly. Friends don’t let friends become Netflix zombies.”
Of course, I don’t have a problem. Not me. I know when to say when. I can put down the remote any time I want – unless the last scene was really good and I need to know what happens next: “Well, maybe just one more episode.”
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.
Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography