Thursday, May 31, 2018

"An Unhappy Addiction"

Imagine being hopelessly addicted to something you unequivocally don’t like.

Anchovy potato chips.

I know.  But it came to me and I’m going with it.  And actually, it’s not much of a “reach.”  AtWhole Foods, they have potato chips made from everything.  Including – though in minimal supply and only “organically grown” – potatoes.   

Anchovy potato chips. 

They have the size and shape of a potato chip.  They have the salt and crunch of a potato chip.  But at their indisputable core,

They’re anchovies.

The first sampling, not at all to your liking.  Still, you find yourself uncontrollably popping them into your mouth.

“So you likethem.”

“No!  I hatethem!”

“But you finished the whole bag.”

“I know!

Someone once gave me a great tip about priming the writer’s imagination.  They said,

“Everything’s like something else.  What is thislike?”

Well, in thiscase it’s like downing a big bag of anchovy potato chips.  

The “this” in analogical question?

Bingeing a television series whose original episode you did not in any way enjoy.

Is this a typical phenomenon?  You’re the first people I am asking about it.  It just feels desperately stupid to me.

I am relatively new to binge watching.  If you don’t count six consecutive hours of Law & Order, which is not the same, because it’s individualized episodes rather than a continuing story and because I sayit’s not the same.  (Although it may actually be the same.)

Our recently purchased new basement TV came with a “Master Remote” where we can access Netflixfar easier than on “hit and miss” previous occasions.  (We have a Master Bedroom TV where, due to a replacement DVD player, it now takes four remotes to operate three machines.)

Now that it’s easier to get to, I decided to check out a Netflixseries recently praised in the newspaper.  I will not mention the show’s name to protect its reputation, and to avoid conflict with viewers who actually believe its worthwhile.  (As well as public ostracism in case it’s a hit.)

Besides, the show itself is not the issue.  I am considering the “syndrome.”

The syndrome in which you watch one episode of an eight-episode series, decide you don’t like it, then you go back to it a couple days later to watch “Episode Two”, and before you know it, you’re in the basement, wolfing down seven unpalatable episodes in a row, your proximate family members wondering if you went out, fell asleep or were dead.

An English murder mystery. I usually lovethose things.  That’s the salty “potato chip” enticement.  As an objective assessment, however, it’s the things you judiciously extract from your Caesar Salad.

Notthat it’s ineptly produced.   It’s just not worth eight hours of my rapidly receding duration on this planet.  I can imagine the actors at lunchon this show, whispering, 

“Is this thing any good?”

“Don’t think so.  But the Old Vicwas hardly clamoring for my services.”

The series is replete with the standard dramatic clichés:  The teenage runaway.  The suspicious “foreigner.”  The long-concealed group “secret.”  The final product – hackneyed and pedestrian. But with a British accent.  (The irresistible “crunch” of this particular potato chip.) 

I am an acknowledged novice at binge captivity to programming I do not, in fact, actually wish to see.  I feel like a “Guinea Pig” in the classic Layspotato chip commercial, a victim of the physically impossible, “Bet you can’t eat one” experiment.

Are people with Netflix, etc. around the world irresistibly screening multi-part series while simultaneously thinking, “I’m sticking pins in my eyes and I can’t stop!”  Or do they actively disable their cognitive dissonance, believing, “This show is great!

It’s like the old joke:

“The food was terrible. And the portions were too small.”

Only here it’s,

“I hated the show I sat through seven hours of in one sitting.”

I worked hard crafting series viewers would want to return to the following week.  Never knowing the secret to certain success was airing numerous episodes in rapid succession.

I could have fabricated a hit.

The key being, notassiduous effort,

but simply mesmerizing hypnosis.

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