You know that feeling when you embark on a new TV series. New storylines, new characters and the start of a new journey to become involved with. But it’s also the start of a new relationship, and like any relationship it takes commitment – time spent together, engaging in another’s emotions and entering into new stories. But what happens when the commitment starts to feel like a strain and the time starts to feel like a drag? Could it be a case of TV series fatigue setting in?
When it comes to reading books, many people will tell you that there is only so much time in your life and there are a lot of books, so why read a book if it doesn’t grab you in the first 20 to 50 pages? For some readers, they’ll dump and run on a book they’re not taken with. After all, life is too short to read a book that doesn’t grab you. Other readers, perhaps less commitment shy, won’t break up with a book once they’ve started it.
Now with so much TV to watch, the problem of what to do about a TV series that’s wearing thin is a real – if first-world – problem. The Broad has to admit that after talking up Orphan Black in one of the last monthly round-ups, she went cold on it soon after. The story just didn’t seem to move along enough and it suddenly felt a little low on the enthusiasm radar. And she sometimes wishes that a new TV show might only have one series because it’s not just such a commitment of time and attention staying with the series over many seasons. But perhaps it’s a case of it’s not you, it’s me. Our expectations have expanded with so much TV to watch and with the propensity to watch multiple episodes close together, a show can quickly feel stale and we can become bored with the characters and find the plot lines not sufficiently engaging.
Is streaming stifling TV?
It’s often said we’re living in the golden age of TV, with a plethora of series catering for most tastes and interests. When you look across the streaming platforms and free to air TV, there certainly is a lot to choose from for entertainment. Platforms like Netflix, in particular, are funding TV series with a better representation of diversity than we’ve seen on commercial TV. Having said that, there’s always room for improvement in bringing stories and characters to our screens from as many diverse voices as possible.
Yet some of these series can feel a little formulaic in how the stories are constructed and long-running series can’t always hold the tension, develop the characters and maintain engaging storylines. Sometimes it feels like they’re veering off into the crazy (Homeland anyone?) or repetitive (second and third season of Broadchurch), the plot becomes thin and a bit tired after the first handful of season (Orange is the New Black) or stuffed with unnecessary plot twists.
With binge watching common for TV shows on streaming platforms episodes can blur into each other if you’re watching more than a few in a row. And when not waiting a week or even a few days between episodes, it takes away the time you once had to digest the events of the episodes and build that sense of anticipation towards next week’s episode. Who remembers discussing an episode at a time in the office when there were a few of you watching the same series? Now we’re probably more likely to discuss the entire series we’ve binged on over the weekend.
With so many TV series to choose between, the first episode has got to grab the viewer to really hook them from the outset but this leads to front-loading of episodes in a series. It can take a lot of effort to engage in a new series and when the first couple of episodes are packed full of events and new characters, it can actually turn some viewers away who want some relief from it. Haven’t you watched a series where the first episode packs a punch only to find the tension dwindles as the episodes go on and become less engaging. Some series seem to be a unique idea but it’s not enough to sustain a full series and it wears thin. One of the Broad’s Desert Island Top Five TV series is Breaking Bad for many reasons. One of the brilliant things about this series is how it starts small and opens out over the seasons into a complex story with many interwoven threads that shows how the individual and their actions affect something much larger. Sometimes it’s the smallness and ordinariness of the events that give the show such resonance because it gives you time and story space to enter into the character’s life and their motivations.
So, dear Broad blog readers, are you suffering from TV series fatigue?
When too many flashbacks are more than enough
On the subject of TV, this article from DenGeek takes a look at the plot technique flashback and asks if we’re suffering from flashback fatigue because it’s overused in series like Handmaid’s Tale, Lost and Arrow.
So many streaming platforms but nothing on?
And like Bruce Springsteen said there’s “57 channels and nothing on” so why, with so many shows on offer, can we feel as though there’s nothing to watch. Hint: it’s got something to do with our current state of disconnection and the micro-niche effect of streaming TV so we’re missing the big water cooler like Game of Thrones or perhaps Breaking Bad that show we’re all watching and discussing together.
Do you hate-watch a TV show?
Do you binge watch shows you don’t actually like? Apparently some of us do spend our TV time on shows we really don’t like. Could be the guilty pleasure or trash TV you just need some nights. If you must, here and here are some suggestions , but there really are better things to do with your time.
This Mashable article takes a deeper look at why we might be hate watching TV and it’s got something to do with emotional engagement. It seems that when we get hooked emotionally to a show, even if it’s an emotion of dislike, we’re inclined to keep watching.
Finally, this might amuse you. It’s a rundown of some clangers when it comes to blockbuster movies with things out of place for the time or context.
Happy Birthday and Thank You
It’s happy 1st birthday to the Broad. That’s right, Some Notes From A Broad has just clicked over 12 months in existence. Hopefully blog fatigue won’t set in and there’ll be another 12 and another 12. Thank you dear readers for staying in touch with the blog. And if you want to share the love, please send to a friend who you think will enjoy the blog and encourage them to subscribe. Many happy returns. xx
Image credit: Photo by Enayet Raheem on Unsplash