The Beauty of Not Binge-Watching

Entertainment seems to be swarming over us, surrounding us on all sides, and pressing in on us in a relentless pursuit of our time. With YouTube, Hulu, or Netflix, if ever a person had a few free minutes, he surely doesn’t anymore. Whether it is the old black-and-white I Love Lucy reruns, the shoot-them-up Westerns, or modern TV shows, there is always a way to find something online. With new shows coming out all the time, the pressure to watch all the old episodes before a new fad comes in is ever increasing. However, is this the best way to go about it?

I have a confession to make. I am a Smallville fan. Now for those of you who aren’t familiar with this classic, it is basically the story of Superman’s teenage and young adult years. Clark Kent goes through the typical struggles of  fitting into high school, being part of love triangles, and figuring out his identity. Along the way, he learns to use his superpowers, fights off meteor-infected mutants, finds mysterious caves with alien-writing in them, develops evil nemesis, and tries not to be killed with Kryponite. Typical teenage stuff, right?

What struck me about the show is that I watched it for TEN YEARS! From 2001-2011, my family and I were in front of the television every Thursday night, Friday night, or Sunday afternoon–whenever the show was playing. From the time I was ten to the time I was twenty, Smallville was a part of my life. Each week, we’d pile on the couch with popcorn and lament loudly at each cliff-hanger. We’d gird ourselves for the season finales and rejoice at each season premiere. While the days and sometimes weeks between episodes seemed long and painful, there was always something to look forward to.

Thumbnail for version as of 15:23, 19 June 2009
By The CW Network ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Last night, my sister and I rented the pilot episode of the show and watched it again. The memories of the show and the intricacies came flooding back. While some of the seasons weren’t the greatest and some of the episodes probably weren’t appropriate for preteen girls, the sense of nostalgia and connection we shared with the show were still there. We emphathized with Clark. We understood Lex. We rooted for Chloe. As we watched Clark and his friends grow up, we grew up as well.

Watching six episodes of Doctor Who in an afternoon or two episodes of The Wild Wild West a night for weeks on end is fine and dandy, but there is something about spending years with the same characters and sharing in their adventures. I’m thankful for the option available today, but I do miss those good old-fashioned series.

How about you? Any thoughts or shows that became part of your family’s culture?

Taking a Stand

When my family moved from Texas to Michigan, we knew that we didn’t have enough room. Going from a four bedroom house to a three bedroom just wasn’t an option when you had two teenage girls and one more on the way. With that being the case, we made plans for major construction. Our house had potential for expansion–my mom saw the finishing the garage as the perfect bedroom adding alternative and my dad saw finishing out the basement as Plan A. Somehow, my dad got his way, and the basement became my bedroom and a family room and the garage became home for my dad’s tools.

While a finished basement seems like a perfect alternative to no place to park a car, you must understand something. We have a wrap around porch. This porch makes for perfect sunset watching, wind-tickling-the-trees gazing, and story imagining, but it also makes for a lightless basement abode. The only window that provided evidence of a world above ground was a small one in the back of the furnace room. My bedroom was not privy to this snatch of light so once the lights went out, night descended no matter what time of the morning, afternoon, or evening it was.

Once the basement was finished, I was given my options: A.) Move into the windowless basement bedroom that I would share with the subpump and various other pipes that squeaked and whistled or B.) Share a 10 x 10 bedroom with my younger sister. With growls and grumbles I chose the former.

As the days clicked by, the choice between eternal darkness or endless florescent light took its toll. I barely ever caught glimpses of my friend, Mr. Sun. No sunlight tickled my nose to wake me up in the morning; no beam of warmth comforted me during a nap; no patch of light kept me from using up electricity. My options were limited.

So one day, I decided to take a stand.

As evening approached, I gathered my belongings. Finished or not, I needed sunlight. I wanted the joy and contentment that a clear day brings a stuffy room. I wanted to know what time it was without needing an alarm clock. I wanted to watch the world and see life happening. For all these reasons, I did what any normal, intelligent teenage girl would do.

I moved into the garage.

Though my family teased and doubted me, I persevered. Thought my family warned of the mosquitoes, I just pulled the sheet tight up to my neck.   Though my family warned of robbers and marauders, I just brought the dogs to share my room with me and plugged in a nightlight. I survived an entire night in that cement floored, pegboard walled, tool coated garage. The following morning, the marvelous sunlight woke me up at 6 am.

Though my stay in the garage was only one night long, I showed my true colors. I stood up for my values and proved to everyone my commitment to my ideal. While I spent the next 8 years in that same basement bedroom, I had my one night of ecstasy where I stood behind my convictions. I didn’t just complain about my lot; I took a stand.

My family still makes fun of me for that evening’s adventure, but I am rather proud of sticking out with what I set out to do. Have you ever had a similar experience? I’d love to hear about it.