TV Hell, Box Set Heaven: My Journey to Instant Gratification

Checking myself out in the mirror this morning, I observe that my eyes look a little tired, but they’re still functional. I can see the remains of yesterday’s mascara on my lashes, and in my periphery I can see what looks like Scafell Pike but what is actually the laundry I have neglected for the past few days.

Ok, so two things I was long ago promised would happen have not happened:

  1. I have not gone blind from masturbation.
  2. My eyes have not gone square from too much telly.

Fake news, folks!

Had there been any truth in either of these I’d be the original square-eyed, blind woman.

I’ve been on my own for the past twelve days while my husband has been away, and frankly, the laundry was less appealing than the other entertainment on offer.

I’m exhausted. I’ve completed the first series of ‘Top of the Lake’ and Season One of ‘Designated Survivor’.

I can’t wait for him to go away again so I can start ‘Narcos’.

This Netflix thing is a far cry from the ways in which we consumed TV in the past.

I read in the news  that we have become ‘Box Set Britain’, with a survey suggesting that more than half of British adults watch more than one episode of the same show back-to-back at least once a month.

Almost 10 million admit they have ‘missed sleep or become tired’ as a result, while a quarter say they have ‘neglected household chores’ (I am clearly far from alone in creating features of the British landscape from dirty clothes).

The term ‘binge-watch’ was the Collins Dictionary 2015 Word of the Year.

It never used to be like this.

I think back to my childhood and recall strict rules around the TV.

My dad wouldn’t have the telly on while it was daylight outside. Unless it was ‘Blue Peter’.

‘Magpie’ was a complete no-no and ‘Grange Hill’ led automatically to delinquency.

He would rather we spent time with our friends, playing outside.

We did play outside. We played smoking, sharing the contents of parental drinks cabinets and scrumping. Sometimes we played Shoplifting in Woolworths.

In weak moments, when we may have stuck the telly on to grab an illicit half hour with ‘Crown Court’ or ‘The Sullivans’ we ran the risk of his early return from work.

My dad worked with criminals. He knew that human beings are devious.

He might come home to find my brother and I apparently reading ‘Huckleberry Finn’ or ‘Anne of Green Gables’ but he’d know better. He’d thunder toward the TV with his hand out to feel if the set was still warm.

Ha! Caught in the act of enjoying the Criminal Justice System with Don Warrington!

Yes, TV viewing came with rules.

Mum had a less rigid approach to things. As soon as Dad had left the house, on would go the telly.

And it wouldn’t be ‘Tomorrow’s World’ we’d be watching.

My mum loved Benny Hill, Kenny Everett and Les Dawson. We loved them too. And ‘It’s a Knockout!’ (God alone knows why.)

Later, when I was boarding at my convent school for a spell, we’d be allowed to take a break from our evening study time to watch ‘Dallas’. The nuns loved a man with a big stetson.

In the Sixth Form, ‘Moonlighting’ started on our screens, starring super-sexy  Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis.

Mum and I would watch it every Monday night with a plate of Lean Cuisine on our laps. The wait was unbearable! Would they? Wouldn’t they? Glazed Chicken or Lasagne?

The nineties saw the DVD box set in the ascendant.

Thank God. Because I was late to ‘Friends’ and ‘Sex and the City’ and that was all anyone was talking about. Those DVDs ensured I had relevant conversation.

But DVD box sets were expensive and, when you’d got to the last episode on the last disc, you had to wait for the purchase of the next one.

I mean, actually WAIT.

And that’s why Netflix is the end point in this TV journey to instant gratification.

They say that good things come to those who wait.

In Binge-Watch Britain that’s just more fake news.

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  1. Oh the delight of the ‘binge-watch’, Wentworth, Blindspot, GoT, Zoo……….but the deflation when you catch up and have to WAIT for the next episode!!! Or Series!!!

  2. Box sets have given me the the opportunity to watch so much fantastic television that I missed, wasn’t interested in or was just too busy doing more important things when it was first screened. I’ve got a whole cupboard full of them.

    A dream coming true for me would be in the form of a “Sam Fraser Box Set” – all the early morning shows and sittings in for other presenters. That would be superb!

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