You know, sometimes I get a little nostalgic for the days with only three or four channels on TV. There wasn’t any recording or streaming. If you didn’t like what was offered, the TV went off. But what did that leave you with? Reading, board games, or your imagination. No, conversation was really not an option—at least not in my house.
And in that nostalgic fantasy I tell myself that if I didn’t have the distraction of five hundred channels plus Netflix and Amazon Prime, I’d be writing. Yes, the great American novel is only one off-button away.
Sure it is.
Now I don’t want you to think that I have anything against what’s available on cable or any of the streaming services. They are as good as the show you watch. And I must admit that some of the writing—especially for the British and Australian shows—is very good. Even binge worthy. Many of the American shows (especially commercial TV) leave me unimpressed. They are formulaic, simplistic, less than innovative. But they would have to be for a country that elected, well, you know who.
But binging, I mean just the idea of watching seven seasons of some show—any show—almost seventy hours of your life, immobile and semi-catatonic, in front of your flat screen is daunting. I mean, what a waste, and yet I do it anyway.
Yes, I admit it. My first binge was The Killing, 44 episodes back to back, barely taking time to eat or sleep. Then came another and another. My wife and I are currently watching The Doctor Blake Mysteries. And I want to finish watching Shameless.
But I also want to finish reading 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History by Jay Winik. And I haven’t even started Hung, Drawn, and Quartered: The Story Of Execution Through The Ages or Giants: The Dwarfs of Auschwitz.
And I need to finish the novel I’m currently writing. Have you ever considered what happened before the big bang? After reading this one, that question will haunt you forever.
So what do you do? Binge or not binge? Write or not write? Read or not read? Life is messy and complicated, and tomorrow I go see the Dark Tower even though I know it won’t be like the books and the ending will probably leave me disappointed like virtually every other Stephan King movie adaptation. And don’t even get me started on Under the Dome TV fiasco.
Well, they can’t all be Lord of the Rings, just as we can’t all be Ernest Hemingway or J.K. Rowling. But we can all watch Netflix and wish that the story we are watching is our story.
© Copyright 2017 by Kevin Fraleigh.