Addiction is never a good thing. I’d like to thing that I’m a semi-balanced guy that is able to refrain from vices that might overtake my better judgment. Yet, if I’m able to mitigate most addiction, then why can’t I resist those damnable letters in red – Netflix.
I saw a recent tweet that related Pokemon to Netflix. The catchphrase of Pokemon is “Gotta Catch ‘Em All.” With Netflix, the tagline should be “Gotta Watch ‘Em All.” While there never seems to be series or movies that you want to watch, you still end up starting a random show that was recommended to you based on your interest in Red Dwarf. And that is where the addiction begins, at least for me. Once I start watching a show, I am not able to stop. I’m a completionist in almost every way. If I enjoy a band, I must own their entire discography. If I start a book, I must finish it. If I start a TV show, regardless of quality, I have to watch the entire series.
There are shows that I don’t even dare start because I know that I’ll hate them. I know I’ll feel compelled to watch every single tedious episode. That’s why I don’t dare watch The Newsroom, True Blood or any Law & Order. The following five shows are still on the air. I feel that I need to finish what I started, even when I could just as easily read a recap online. There are better shows to watch. Honestly, there are just better things I could be doing with my life. Until I decide to quit Netflix, here are the five shows that I can’t help myself but watch, even when I hate the experience.
5 – Orange is the New Black
I started watching this on a recommendation. I didn’t care for the women in prison angle, but was told that each prisoner’s backstory was compelling enough to make me empathize with them. Also, this was billed as a near-comedy as Piper Chapman, the lead character, goes from being entitled, then entering prison like a fish out of water and soon hardens to show a tough side.
This Netflix original show has been going for two seasons. With all of the praise it has received, it will surely continue for several more seasons. Critically, this show is very well-liked. I think it’s a good first effort for Netflix, but the concept is running out of steam fast. The first season focuses on Piper, but the producers quickly learned that her story isn’t very interesting. The second season focuses more on the complete ensemble. It’s a smart move, but is also wearing thin. Much of the show relies on flashblacks, very similar to Lost, but few of them carry any weight or add to the story. When all else fails, the writers usually resort to edgy scenes or gross-out moments. The reason I keep watching the Orange is the New Black is that I hope it eventually reaches the level of quality that everyone gives it credit for. Beyond one or two standout episodes, it does not.
4 – American Horror Story
American Horror Story comes from Ryan Murphy and Ryan Falchuck, creators of Nip/Tuck and Glee. So, clearly these guys know when to stop while they’re ahead. <sarcasm> If there’s anything these guys do well, it’s creating an interesting premise. Each season of AHS tells a different story with new characters, although they reuse many of the same actors. The first season puts us in the shoes of a family moving into a Murder House. The second season takes us into the Asylum, where people are being experimented on. The third season shows us how a modern witch Coven is run. And the fourth season takes us into the world of a traveling circus Freak Show.
At the beginning of each season, I somehow get excited. The show is actually good for approximately two episodes until it all falls apart for the remaining 11 episodes. Without fail, every season turns into a steaming pile of nonsensical garbage. My biggest grievance is that the show has few scares. If there is anything scary, they ruin it with a terrible reveal. Horror is replaced with a general feel of ickiness. As with most of these shows, I fly through the seasons as they debut on Netflix simply to be finished with them.
3 – Downton Abbey
I didn’t start watching this British soap opera until after the second season aired. I heard good things from everyone who had seen it. I started watching the first episode and immediately wanted to hate it…except that I couldn’t help but watch the next episode. This binging continued throughout the first season. I couldn’t help but root for Mary and Matthew. I wanted Bates and Anna to work out. And oh man, I hated O’Brien and Thomas so much.
I liked season two a little less and started to see that nothing actually happened on the show. If you read a show recap, it would look something like:
“The Dowager Countess chides Edith for using the wrong dinner fork. Matthew visits the Abbey during his leave from World War I.”
That’s it. Pretty much every episode.
The show really jumped the shark during season three. To add false drama, they started killing off characters.
This is one show that I’m actually okay not finishing. I may get back into it one day if I ever care to see how Carson disappoints Lord Grantham during a dinner party. Until then, I don’t care to see how the writers punish the only likable characters, Anna and Bates.
2 – Mad Men
I honestly think Mad Men was created to mess with critics. Showrunner Matthew Weiner must have taken a dare and created the 1960s drama, with no likable characters, where nothing of significance happens, just to see if critics would take the bait.
I started watching this show to fill in spaces for pop culture knowledge. Jon Hamm did a great job at portraying the arrogant womanizer, Don Draper. For almost a season, I cared about Don’s personal coverup. I wanted Peggy to succeed in an industry run by men. I wanted to see more about a critical time in advertising. It didn’t take long to realize that the writers had no great plan. Story arcs are nonexistent. I believe the only appeal of this show is the style. It’s decor over plot. No one, not even Peggy, is worth watching. They’re all terrible people. In other instances, terrible characters with a good writer can be captivating. The crew at Stirling, Draper and Cooper are just dull. I’m only watching to see Don Draper get some sort of justice. That, and watching January Jones try to act is sort of humorous.
1 – The Walking Dead
I’m sorry. I know this won’t be a popular choice. The Walking Dead is one of the most watched shows on TV. The money this show makes has to be astronomical. Yet we’ve never seen that money actually put on the screen. We see a lot of people argue indoors. It’s basically an indie drama with zombies that show up every third episode.
I’m at the point where want them to kill a main character every episode. I have no ties to any of the one-dimensional characters. Sorry friends, even Daryl Dixon is a bit hollow. The best thing for the show would be to have Rick die. I hate saying that, because in the graphic novel, he’s the best character. Whereas, Andrew Lincoln’s performance just seems sweaty and constipated (not mutually exclusive).
In full disclosure, I have not yet seen season five. Everyone tells me that I’m missing out on the best season yet. I would believe these people, except they’ve said that about every season so far. My level of trust can only be extended so far.
I continue to watch this show because I hear about “The huge Walking Dead shocker!” after every episode. The shocker usually has to do with another mediocre character getting bit by a walker (they never say zombie) or killed by crazy people. I have to keep watching this show because I’m already four seasons in. I’ve committed and I need to finish it now….because OCD.
This sense of completion is ridiculous, but also tough to overcome. Deep inside, I think I watch these shows so I can criticize them and have a leg to stand on. Dear readers, what shows do you hate-watch? What shows should I avoid. Let me know in the comments.