Hi, my name is Justine Hollister, and I’m a binge series TV watcher. Let’s see. My all-time favorites: The West Wing. Grey’s Anatomy. Orange Is the New Black. House of Cards. Brothers & Sisters. Need I go on?
Back in the day, we watched an hour of series TV once a week and it was an hour of entertainment. But, we didn’t have a relationship with the show. We just dropped in for 43 minutes. Now, times are different and there are many of us that immerse ourselves in the show, watching hours and hours a day of it. We become part of the life they lead and when the series is over, when we have watched all seven years worth of The West Wing series, we are stuck with their ending, and we ‘feel’ as if their lives have gone on, but they broke up with us and we are no longer a part of them. It’s actually devastating in some strange way. I felt bereft when I watched the last episode of Brothers and Sisters and I had questions, and wanted to know what we were “all” going to do next? Oh my.
Each of the series I have dated had things about them that attracted me to them. I’m a discerning binger, which I guess is something, right? Those chosen shows are so safe, and interesting, and I can place myself where I belong in their plots and sit on the couch or chair and live my best life inside theirs. Not.
With Grey’s Anatomy it was that they were a family and could be competitive with each other and still come back time and again and work together. I loved their work ethic; it matches my own. I loved some of the women and knew they would be my friend. I would have married a few of the men, but not McDreamy. And, there was a consistency to the way they acted that meant there were no dark surprises. The worst in them mirrors my own shortcomings and also points out to me that they are not evil people because of those parts of themselves that exhibit behavior for which they do not wish to be remembered. So I’m not evil either, right?
Then there is The West Wing, where the dialog constantly sings with the kind of comebacks and repartee that I only achieve once a week with a certain kind of person and a perfect tee-up. I love the hope it gives me that politics just might accomplish something good and that elusive person in power that will determine the future of my child and her children might be a decent human being. I love the intelligence surrounding the plot. And I love that I learn things and that there are ugly crying moments that move me deeply. I love my West Wingfamily.
Brothers & Sisters is all about fighting siblings that support each other and the mother that doesn’t exist except in the recesses of our wishful minds. Orange Is the New Black is just for fun and House of Cards is a look/see into that which I would challenge were I transported into the plot and I love playing with it in my mind while I’m watching.
And then they are over and the pain of the divorce enters and I either try and find another show, or I re-watch it. I have rules though. The West Wing can only be watched once a year, so when all seven seasons are done by early February, I can’t watch again until the day after Christmas.
So, as you can see, I do need to regroup now and see if maybe, just maybe, it’s time to build my own life outside theirs, and limit my binge watching like I do Häagen Dazs ice cream. It’s not lost on me that none of the shows that I married have any character that ever sits in front of a TV. Damn.
-Christine Merser (AKA Hollister)