Netflix is Depressing

Netflix is making me depressed.

Ok, I can’t in good conscience blame all of my troubles on on-demand television services, but I can make a good case for their use attributing to my condition.

I’ll be the first to admit that I find cable television seasons highly annoying. You wait an inordinate amount of time for a show to start up again, only to watch it whisk by in five to six weeks. Each episode ends on a ridiculously frustrating cliffhanger, leaving you lunging at the TV for more, an urge you must tamp down for the following week. This manipulative cycle of desire and gratification has got us viewers trapped hook, line, and sinker.

Enter the world of on-demand services.

They don’t solve the week’s wait between new episodes, but glom onto a show just past its prime, and all the episodes are there for the taking. Want to see what happens next? No problem, my addictive friend. Binge away.

Such binges lead to a glorious few days or a week, depending on how long you stretch it out, but leave you – at the end of it – in the ubiquitous showhole. My kids don’t get that commercial. I find it eerily accurate. The fact that I recently learned to knit adds to the effect.


But choose a show so popular, there are scads of episodes, and the showhole never becomes an issue. I’ve recently fallen under the spell of Criminal Minds. I never watched it when it initially aired on network television. I missed that highly popular boat. I discovered it on one of the four over-the-air stations we were left with once we cancelled cable – the only one not airing paid programming or home shopping. However, the marathons I loved so much on Mondays and Tuesdays gave way to other crime shows I enjoyed much less the rest of the week. I searched Hulu to no avail. When we added Netflix a few months later, I was so excited to see all seasons represented. I could watch whenever I wanted and start from square one.

I would settle onto the couch with my pregnant morning snack or lunch or under the afghan when I needed a rest, my BAU friends entertaining me while I vegged. I could rationalize sitting there vegetating as long as the episode continued. Just until this episode finishes, just until they find the unsub, just until they solve the mystery.

However, when motivation is not high to begin with, and I haven’t been sleeping through the night, and I’m growing a child, and whatever low-level mental health issue is ailing me come together and Netflix plays their shows on a constant loop, it’s easy to stay on the couch for the next episode and the next and the next . . .

About half way through the third episode, the show isn’t even that scintillating anymore. It’s the construct and the comfort that leave me there, rooted to the couch, all semblance of productivity drowning in the abyss of my mind and pool of my guilt.

There is definitely a pleasure seeking/reward system at work with any media viewing. We seek solace, relaxation, a treat in our favorite show. But just as that huge bowl of ice cream eventually empties out, so our show ends, leaving us wanting and needing more to fill that reward center. With the overzealous access of on-demand services, it can become very easy to remove oneself from time, place, social connection in search of an elusive endgame – whether it’s escape, entertainment, distraction, avoidance, or happiness.

Holding Netflix responsible for my lack of mojo and self-control is about as ridiculous as suing McDonald’s for getting fat. I need to set up fail-safes and proactive measures to keep me from swirling ever closer to the rim of the showhole. But it’s so easy to drift along on the gentle current of complacency, detachedness . . .

At least I only have ten more seasons to go.

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  1. Danielle

     /  March 24, 2016

    The problem I have (with House of Cards and Game of Thrones) is that I binge on a season and finish it in a week, then have to wait a year for the next season, and I forget what happened all last season! Before I can start a new season, I have to watch the last two episodes of last season or I have no clue what’s going on. But then, I rarely have a clue about anything anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  March 24, 2016

      Yes, there is that. You end a season so invested and obsessed, but a year later, all that momentum is gone! Irritating!

      At least on-demand can help you get a clue!


  2. Okay, who let you climb into my brain and how do I get out?

    I have to agree that a dysfunctional relationship is just waiting to pounce. I enjoyed “The Borgias” (Jeremy Irons, a super-hot guy whose name escapes me playing the oldest son, and the adorable blonde playing Lucrezia – she could kill or cheat on any man and you believed in all your heart that they deserved it – really the whole cast was great) with all their sex and intrigue, and yes, there’s the Vatican angle, so if this were 1960 I’d be getting admonished from on Sundays. . . But it’s not like it’s claiming historical accuracy, and it’s not like it’s about the Vatican as much as the sex and intrigue. . . And okay, now I feel like I should go talk to my priest.

    In any case, I enjoyed it so much that when I got through I watched all of “The Tudors” (even though it was not good, because the guy who played Henry VII was just so. . . ridiculous is the word), and moved on from there to “Reign”. The last was completely ridiculous and obviously developed for teenage girls, but I somehow ended up missing it. Now I’ve run out of historically inaccurate shows set in the 1500s. “The Borgias” I will watch again.

    Now I’ve written a blog post in your comments, I will say Netflix has gotten me through some really awful times, both mood and migraine, where getting through an hour is a victory. But I still know I use it as a crutch way too often.

    But maybe let yourself rest a bit now, because soon you won’t be able to. Also, maybe mention to your doctor your low-level/underlying mood issue. I’m sure you have a good plan in place for the postpartum, but you may have something valid going on now. Of course it’s just as likely I’m reading way to much in. But only because I love you and can’t actually sit down with you and talk.


    • Okay. . . So that remark about “The Tudors” ought to have read Henry VIII. That screw-up is one of the most glaring examples of why I ought not to be allowed to write and/or comment from my phone.


  3. ppdisland

     /  March 25, 2016

    the ending got me!! “at least I have 10 more episodes to go” 🙂



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