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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Skeletons in My Closet

I am currently enrolled in a positive living class. It’s basically a class about how to be positive in a negative world. So far it has been quite enlightening, especially for this cynical, pessimistic blogger.

Each week in this class, we focus on a different quality that will enable us to see ourselves and the world around us in a more positive light. This week we are focusing on character strengths. For our assignment, we are supposed to pick one of our top five character strengths (which were determined by one of those annoying online surveys where you decide if different statements describe you a lot, a medium amount, or not at all) and focus on that strength for a week in an effort to improve it. The “character strength” I chose was authenticity.

To be completely honest, I was a bit surprised to find that authenticity was one of my strengths. I have been told that I am a very “real” person, but what does that even mean? Isn’t everybody a real person? Or are some of you people out there a figment of my imagination??!

I guess, in all reality, it’s a bit more complicated than that.

I try to be real, but the truth is that the person people see is not quite the person I actually am. I hide behind a facade of boredom and apathy toward life, but in reality I am quite strange and quirky, and I actually care a lot about people if they give me the chance to do so. BUT I have been hurt enough that I feel the need to hide a lot of my personality. It’s kind of sad, but for now, that is the way things are.

There is also that irrational but all-too-convincing fear that, if people actually got to know me, they wouldn’t be able to look past the skeletons in my closet–you know, flaws, shortcomings, past mistakes… the whole kit and/or caboodle! So yes, I hide.

Mayhaps it would be best for me to keep everything inside for now and just pull a Liz Lemon, allowing my inner demons to come pouring out of me while facing imminent death.

Or… maybe I should just start being more “real” now.

In my efforts to be more authentic, I might not be able to break down 10+ years of defenses I have built around myself, but I can take small steps to uncover those aspects of my life that I have kept hidden for so long. Therefore, I have decided to make a list of some confessions and post them here for the general public to see. In doing so, I hope to authenticate myself even just a little bit.

This, my friend, is a list of my deepest, darkest secrets.

……

……

……….

Sorry, I’m really nervous. But I have to get these things off my chest. Oh, forget it. Here we go.

I watched a whole season of Desperate Housewives on Netflix!!!!

I once went to a Twilight midnight showing. It was disturbing.

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I think clothes are the worst! If it were my choice I would never wear them!!!!!!

I’ve seen the Katy Perry documentary! Twice!!!!

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I have over 45 Nelly Furtado songs on my iTunes!!!!

I have a man crush on Brandon Flowers, lead singer of the Killers!!!!!

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A beer commercial once made me cry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I used to write Harry Potter fan fiction!!!!

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In middle school I wrote a song about having a crush on Elizabeth Smart!!!!!

I listened to the new Miley Cyrus CD and didn’t completely hate it!!!!!

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OK, so those weren’t really my deepest, darkest secrets. Did you really expect them to be? Do you honestly think I’m going to reveal all my secrets through a blog post? That would be a bit too much.

It would probably be better if I just took small steps in order to be more “real.” The real me isn’t as strong or positive as I have made myself out to be in this blog. I have weaknesses. Sometimes I have days where I feel downright hopeless. I even have a bit of an…edgy side. Of course, that last part shouldn’t come as a surprise. Everybody has a dark side, as Kelly Clarkson once sang.

So I want this blog to be less fake and more… me. No more disgustingly cheesy posts about the more serious sides of life. Those posts served a purpose during a difficult time, but I feel much stronger now and more confident about who I really am! The real me is sarcastic, cynical, and yes, even a little imperfect.

You might have even noticed that I made a slight change to the title of my blog… again. No longer is it called Musings of a Silent Guy. I don’t want to restrict myself to being silent all the time. What if one day I wake up and decide to be the life of the party? Granted, I hate large crowds of people with a fiery intensity hotter than a thousand blazing suns, so the likelihood of me becoming the life of the party is slim to none, but that’s for me to decide!!!! Instead, it’s going to be called Musings of a Sarcastic Guy. I’d rather be known as sarcastic than silent.

So here’s to the start of a more honest, authentic blog: a glimpse into the real me. That means opinions both popular and unpopular. And if I ever talk about a serious issue, you’d better believe that blog’s going to be chalk-full of sarcasm. Because I’m a sarcastic guy. Deal with it.

And if this works out well, maybe I can even start being more authentic in person, rather than just through the internet. But this will do for now.

Watch out, world. The craziness inside is about to be unleashed!!!! You have been warned.

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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!

Television: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

old-televisionWhile I was serving my two-year mission in the Philippines, I was not allowed to watch TV. After I finished my mission, it took me a while to accept TV back into my life. In fact, I might even go as far as to say that I still thought of it as being that “devil box” until just recently, when I realized I could watch Netflix at work (I have a simple and tedious desk job that allows me to do this).

After watching hours upon hours of TV on Netflix, my love for TV has officially been reignited. I still don’t watch much network TV, but internet TV has become a saving grace as far as keeping me entertained at work.

In watching so much TV online, I have come to rediscover that not all TV is bad… however, some of it still is. And some things about TV are just downright wrong. So this post is dedicated to the good, the bad, and the ugly of television.

The Good

When I see aspects of my life reflected in a show, it enhances my TV-viewing experience and makes me enjoy the show more. Call me vain if you must, but I like shows that mirror my life.

In rare cases, a show takes a mundane part of life and enhances it. Parks and Recreation achieved this recently with its recent wedding episode, where Ben and Leslie tied the knot. I’m pretty sure I got much more excited about that wedding than I ever have for an actual wedding (no offense to anyone whose wedding I attended), which is more a reflection on how pathetic my life is than anything else… but come on, what isn’t to like about a good TV wedding? You get to witness a memorable (albeit fake) moment without actually having to be in the couple’s presence. And let’s be honest, couples are the worst, so it is best to stay as far away from them as possible (just kidding to all my friends who are part of a couple, which is most of them!) The only downside is that you don’t get any wedding food.

The Bad

As much as I love online TV, I am concerned that the internet is actually killing the television industry. Shows don’t get nearly as high ratings these days because so many people (including me) just watch TV shows online the day after they air. As a result, certain shows suffer. I have noticed that some of the greatest shows out there get the short end of the stick because they are aired at such awkward times that the majority of people have no choice but to watch online. Either that, or the cursed networks keep changing the airing schedule so often that viewers cannot possibly keep track.

Some shows, like Community and Happy Endings, are hilarious, but they have been in danger of cancellation. How can such good shows struggle on network television? How have funny moments like these gone virtually unnoticed to the general public?

I just don’t understand how such good shows can struggle while other lackluster shows do so well. I won’t mention any specific shows because I do not wish to offend, but there are just some shows that I feel do not deserve to do as well as they’re doing, and then there are shows like Community and Happy Endings, which struggle despite their undeniable brilliance. Luckily, these shows are still on for now, but the injustice of past shows that were canceled too early (Freaks and Geeks, a show that only lasted one season, comes to mind) still causes rage in my small, black heart… or maybe it’s possible that I’m getting a tad too over-dramatic.  And speaking of over-dramatic, that segues perfectly into the next section…

The Ugly

Maybe it’s best for some shows to get canceled in their prime, because it beats one alternative: a show going on so long that it becomes stale. Some shows just don’t know when to end. I’m sorry, The Simpsons, but you really do need to quit before you get too much further behind. And as for Scrubs, did you really need that ninth season? The eighth season finale was the perfect series finale!

But let’s focus on what used to be (in my opinion) one of the best sitcoms of all time: The Office. It hasn’t been so great as of the past couple seasons. They really should have ended the show when Michael left. Again, that would have made the perfect series finale. But they just had to drag it on, and now the show is more like a soap opera (Dwight is in love with Angela, who has a baby with a gay senator who’s having an affair with Oscar? What is this, Days of Our Lives?) than the comedy it once was. Honestly, it’s like watching a train wreck–I want to look away, but I just can’t. But the worst part is what they’re doing to Jim and Pam. For anyone who hasn’t seen the show lately (and I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped watching long ag0), they’re starting to set it up like Jim and Pam are going to end up getting a divorce or something horrible like that. Jim just up and decides to take a job in Philadelphia without consulting Pam, and then he yells at Pam for messing up the recording of their daughter’s recital? That is so out-of-character for him. And now one of the cameramen is supposedly in love with Pam, causing an even stronger gap in the Jim-and-Pam relationship, since the cameraman is there for Pam more than Jim is now. And then you realize that this is all a waste of time because you just know that they wouldn’t break Jim and Pam up after everything they’ve gone through.

And yet… as ugly as the whole thing is, I have to admit it’s not all that far-fetched. People change; often they regress instead of progress. Honestly, people are the worst. I’m just kidding, but it’s not uncommon for someone to act completely different from the person you thought them to be. So I guess the creators of The Office can’t be completely discredited for choosing to take their characters in this direction, but that doesn’t make the whole thing any less ugly. After all, comedies are supposed to be an escape from real life, not a reminder of just how depressing real life can be.

My Fictional Alter-Egos

Fiction is a wonderful thing.  Whether it be in the form of a book, movie, or TV show, fiction has the ability to take us to places and situations we could never experience in reality.

Yet there is something to be said about relating to a story.  I personally am a sucker for any sort of fiction that I can relate to my own life.  For example, even though there were times when I hated school with a fiery passion (mostly in middle school), I always like TV episodes where the characters were at school, because I could relate to it.  Perhaps that’s why I love watching Boy Meets World so much whenever I’m living at home.

Call me vain if you must, but if I can’t relate to fiction, I eventually lose interest.  I can maybe enjoy it for a little while, but it will not have the same lasting impact for me as other more relatable fiction.  24, for example, is a show I really got into in the past; however, since I have not recently faked my own death or saved my daughter from a rogue cougar, I cannot really relate to that show on a long-term basis.  No offense, Kiefer Sutherland.  (Please don’t kill me.)

The point is that when I find fiction that makes it easy to relate to the characters and their experiences, it’s almost like I’ve made new friends in those characters… which is a depressing glimpse into how few real-life friends I have, but I digress.

If I’m being honest, the characters with whom I relate the most are those in half-hour sitcoms.  And every once in a while, I find myself relating to a character so much that one of two things happen:

  1. I genuinely see myself in that character, or
  2. I’m filled with admiration and wish that I could see myself in that character.

And now, after what has possibly been the longest introduction ever written… like, ever

… I will get to the main point of this post.  Below I will list some fictional characters, exclusively from half-hour TV sitcoms, who I have deemed to be my “fictional alter-egos.”  Some of them might be wishful thinking, but I think I’ve done pretty well in picking characters who I feel genuinely embody one or more of my main characteristics.

Chandler Bing–Friends

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This one is a no-brainer for me.  Sarcasm?  Check.  Fear of commitment?  Check.  Seemingly eternal bachelor status?  Double check.  Luckily, Chandler eventually left bachelorhood and found himself a wife.  I can only hope that someday soon I’ll find my own Monica… though hopefully she won’t be as neurotic and controlling.

Ben Wyatt–Parks and Recreation

CIN8aHmm, let’s just quickly break down the qualities that Ben and I share:

  • He is extremely awkward in certain social situations.  Sound familiar?  Don’t answer that.
  • Again, there’s the sarcasm.  Lots of people are sarcastic, but only Ben’s constant sarcasm can come close to matching mine.
  • His nerdy obsession led to him writing a Star Trek fan-fiction.  My nerdy obsession led me to write a Harry Potter fan-fiction (or seven).  This was back in high school, but the nerd wounds still sting.
  • There’s a scene in one episode where Leslie touches his shoulder from behind, and he jumps so much that he hits his head against the wall.  Anyone who has caught me off-guard will know that I have similar reactions when people even lay a finger on me unexpectedly.

Jim Halpert–The Office

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I’m almost afraid to include a character who is so universally loved, but I can genuinely relate to him.  It’s hard to say how because I haven’t watched the show for so long, but if I remember correctly, he is the token nice guy with a knack for jokes, often at the expense of others.  I love telling jokes at the expense of others!  Nothing brings me greater joy.  Plus he has priceless facial expressions… just like me!  Actually, I wouldn’t know that, since I never see my own facial expressions, but the way I imagine them is hilarious.  But I, like Jim, would be upset if any of my jokes went too far and actually offended another person.

George Michael–Arrested Development2x02_The_One_Where_They_Build_a_House_(017)

As much as I’d hate to admit it, yes… I see myself in George Michael.  A lot.  And more people have compared me to him (or even Michael Cera in general) than to any of the above characters.  He’s extremely awkward but good-natured, much like yours truly.  And though I have never been in love with a cousin, I can’t help but relate to George in many other ways, especially in the scene where he watches his father’s company gets robbed and barely reacts to it.  My lack of emotions and slow response time would probably cause me to react the same way in such a situation.

So there you have it.  Those are just some of my fictional alter-egos.  There are many more, I’m sure–not only from TV shows, but movies and books as well.  What fictional characters do you relate to?