The Seven Stages of Developing a TV Show Addiction

Drugs. Pornography. Either of these things can put you on the dark, dangerous path to addiction.

But there is one type of addiction that is much more subtle but equally dangerous. It can affect your brain just as drastically as drugs or pornography. And if you’re not careful, it could ruin your whole life.

Today I would like to address the very serious issue of TV show addictions.

Now, before I get started, let me just preface by saying that I don’t inherently hate television–not anymore, at least. Sure, when I got back from my church mission, there was a period of time when I would consistently refer to TV as “the devil box.”

But that’s not me anymore.

I am writing this post simply because I myself have suffered from the pains of TV show addictions.

You may scoff at the mere mention of a TV show addiction, but I urge you not to do so. Stella Dorby, president of national support group Television Addicts Anonymous (TAA), has this to say regarding frivolous attitudes toward TV show addictions:

“It’s no laughing matter. As a former TV show addict and the current president of TAA, it is my duty–no, my stewardship–to protect television addicts from those people who seek to mock and undermine the credibility of such addictions.”

As a struggling TV addict myself, I urge all of you to please heed the words of Stella Dorby. One look at her will assure you that she is an upstanding citizen of these the United States, a woman whose opinion should be taken seriously.

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Stella Dorby, President of TAA

If you don’t believe Stella Dorby (and I can’t understand why this would possibly be the case), believe me. I speak from personal experience: TV is a very real, very hazardous addiction.

Let me share what I have noticed to be the seven stages of developing a TV show addiction. If you recognize that you or somebody you know is going through these stages, I urge you to seek help before it’s too late.

Stage 1: Hearing about the show

Someone, somewhere, mentions that a show is good. You listen, but you are skeptical.

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As far as you’re concerned at this point, there’s no way a show can be as good as people make it out to be.

Stage 2: Watching the show for the first time

Despite your doubts, you decide to give the show a whirl. You watch an episode or two, and you think to myself, This isn’t bad. You might even think it’s a downright decent show.

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And you inwardly applaud the fact that the show isn’t horrible after all. Yay for life.

Stage 3: The show gets good

Either you get into the groove of the show, or the show finally gets into gear with its own groove. Before you know it, the show has become the best part of your life… which might not be saying much, but still.

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There is usually some point of the show where everything just clicks, and at this point, there’s no turning back. You may not be aware of an addiction at this point, but the seeds of addiction have definitely sprouted.

Stage 4: Binge watching

Hanging out with friends? Exercise? Meeting new people? No thanks. Just give me my stories.

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And thus the binge watching begins.

Stage 5: The secret addiction is no longer secret

Your show is definitely your top priority at this point. You spend hours isolated in your room, watching just one more episode… then another one… then another one.

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People start to notice that you’re spending a significant amount of time watching a TV show. Suspicion and mockery ensue.

Stage 6: You become too emotionally invested in the show

This particular stage calls for more examples from my personal experience with television addiction.

You have to know that, outside of the television world, I am quite the even-tempered individual. Tell me just about anything and I will almost always have the same reaction.

My reaction to a friend or family member telling me that they’re going to come visit:

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My reaction to finding out that somebody just died:

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My reaction to finding out my best friend is engaged:

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And finally, my reaction to a joke, even if I think it’s funny:

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Yes, you can say I’m a man of few emotions. Some might call me stoic, maybe even heartless.

Therefore, I can’t help but worry when TV causes me to have some irrationally extreme emotional reactions.

Like my reaction when somebody tries to talk to me while I’m watching my TV addiction:

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Or when I don’t agree with the direction the show takes:

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Some shows even make me… what’s the word? Laugh?

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And the worst reaction comes when I reach the end of a good show’s run:

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What will I watch now?

Stage 7: The most disturbing stage of all

When you have an actual dream about a TV show, you know your addiction is out of control. You might even dream about full episodes of your favorite TV shows. When you wake up and realize these dreams were not actual canonical episodes, you feel complete and utter disappointment.

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And such is the life of a television addict.

So yes, TV show addictions are real, and yes, such addictions are serious. TV is a means by which to waste away your own life in the process of becoming too invested in the lives of fictional characters.

To avoid developing a TV show addiction, please steer clear of the following shows:

Veronica Mars
Friends
The Simpsons
Scrubs
The Office
24
Lost
Parks and Recreation
30 Rock
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Arrested Development

On the other hand… more often than not, TV is a good alternative to life. Your favorite TV characters are probably more reliable than the actual people in your life. Also, when something bad happens in a TV show, you can just tell yourself it’s not real–which isn’t really the case in real life. So when I say to steer clear of the above shows, I actually mean that you should watch all of them immediately.

And to answer your question, yes, this article is a complete joke–probably in more ways than one.

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Meanwhile, Back in Reality…

Every once in a while, there comes a point where we have to wake up and smell the rancid manure that is real life.

Recently I have found myself in an awkward position. I am less than eight months from graduating college, and I have no idea what I want to do once I graduate.

Should I go to graduate school or just start looking for a job right away? Should I stay in Provo, move back to Arizona, or find somewhere else completely different to live?

Maybe I should just find a random woman on the street and demand that we get married at once! After all, everyone around me is literally getting married and having babies. The other day, I was talking to a girl who was sitting behind me in class. I turned back to the front of the classroom to listen to the lecture, and the next time I looked back, the girl all of a sudden had a baby in her arms! Where did that baby come from? Did she give birth in class while I was turned the other way??? Why are people so obsessed with getting married and having babies????! Admittedly, I guess it’s all a part of religious culture. Even I have been known to make a joke or two or six thousand about being pregnant. As a result, people often claim that I’m baby hungry. But I in fact have absolutely no desire to eat any babies!!!

I think the best thing to do in such a time of uncertainty is to make a plan and then go for it. I for one like to seek God’s approval after making a plan. Other people might not take that route: that’s completely up to them! But religious or not, it is best to work toward something, even if it ends up falling through. And who knows? Maybe in the process you will be taken down another, better path.

Unfortunately, no matter how much you plan, many aspects of your life are simply out of your control. I have learned that the hard way throughout the years. Sometimes there is a distinct and even painful difference between what we expect life to be and what it actually turns out to be.

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That’s pretty much the tune I was singing last year. (No, I did not literally go around singing like Fantine. Even though I can relate to Fantine–remember that one time I went into prostitution to support my child???–I do not feel the need to walk around singing about how difficult life can be. That would be a tad melodramatic.) There were a bunch of crappy things going on that were completely out of my control, and my life pretty much fell apart at the seams. It was awesome!

But you know what? Things change. And I’m doing much much better now. I still have a long way to go, but at least I’m in a better place now. That’s not to say I have died and am blogging from heaven–I mean a better place emotionally. In fact, if I were to pick a song to describe my transition from last school year to now, it would be this:

Is it embarrassing that I feel empowered by a Katy Perry song? Perhaps. But it doesn’t matter because it definitely captures my change in attitude over the past year. So even though life didn’t go exactly as expected, I can’t say that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Another example of unexpected outcomes was from my study abroad trip. (I know I said I’m done blogging about that, but I promise it’s relevant). I went on the study abroad just expecting to see new places and, I admit, to possibly… find love. Don’t mock me!!! There were eleven girls and two boys, OK?! The odds were definitely in my favor (like the Hunger Games)!

Instead, I left Europe with some unexpected outcomes, most of which had to do with connections. The first type of connections have to do with possible future jobs. In an economy where who you know is so important, it’s exciting to have a couple ins with employment opportunities. Even if those connections don’t amount to anything, I feel like the application process will provide me with valuable experience. And if these connections do amount to something, even better!

Of course, the main type of connection I was referring to earlier was that of interpersonal connections. I certainly have experienced that as a result of my study abroad. Even though the closest thing I got to finding love was a CONTROVERSIAL fake engagement, I established many close friendships–especially with my beloved study abroad roommate Jacob. I went to Europe looking for romance, but I ended up finding a BROMANCE! We are quite hilarious… like two peas in a pod! He is the Marcie to my Peppermint Patty… you know, minus the thick glasses and strong lesbian vibe. *

In fact, here’s a picture of us!

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Can you tell we’re best friends? Anyway, part of why I’ve been doing so great lately is because I have someone who I can talk to and just be my complete, unfiltered self around. That is really refreshing. So although I didn’t go on the study abroad expecting to find a brother, a brother I got, and I am very grateful!

That just goes to show you that our preconceived notions of life can be quite different from what ends up actually happening. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What does the future hold?

So what lies in my future? Well, if I were to choose, it would go something like this:

I will be a psychologist specializing in the study of child stars… but not in a creepy way. Instead, I will have won the Nobel Peace Prize for discovering what it is that causes child stars to eventually ride wrecking balls naked and set their dogs on fire. I will of course have come up with the solution. That combined with the prize money will enable my wife Emma Watson Gilliland and I to live in a beautiful mansion in Wales. My close friends and family will of course be living in our guest homes.

"Matthew Gilliland is the love of my life. I want to marry him IMMEDIATELY!"--Emma Watson, My Dreams, 1 October 2013

“Matthew Gilliland is the love of my life. I want to marry him IMMEDIATELY!”–Emma Watson, My Dreams, 1 October 2013

Assuming all that doesn’t happen, however, I’m willing to accept whatever the future has in store for me… come what may!

*This is a quote from an episode of Scrubs, as much as I’d like to claim it!