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.

The World We Live In

2011

In light of the recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon, I can’t help but take some time to reflect on the state of our world.

One of my major goals in blogging is to uplift (hence the blog’s theme of turning life’s lemons into delicious, thirst-quenching lemonade), but while I come off as generally optimistic in most of my posts, there is something I must admit: I am a closet pessimist.

used to be optimistic… when I was little. But then I was introduced to something called the world. Unfortunately, it was as soon as I went out and saw the world that I started losing faith in it. The church mission I served in the Philippines was a great learning experience, not to mention a character-builder, but unfortunately it opened my eyes to the frightening state of this world we call home.

While looking through some of the emails I sent home while on my mission, I came across a letter I had sent during what was undoubtedly the most difficult time of my mission. Something I wrote stuck out to me:

“Working in this area has really opened my eyes to the state of the world right now, which in some ways is hard to accept. Even in the lives of [those I love], I’m seeing this harsh reality. A woman… showed up to church late yesterday saying that she was late because her husband had attacked her…. But the harshest reality hits us when we’re out and about trying to [help people]. The other day, we [met] a… family whose father was stoned to death two years ago by twelve men who were drunk…”

And therein lies the answer to my pessimism.

Later on in my mission, I remember getting wind one night of a man who had held several tourists hostage on a bus. The man ended up killing many of the tourists before the police were able to stop him and rescue the survivors. As I walked home with my mission companion (side note: a mission companion is comparable to a business partner, though neither of us got paid), he was uncharacteristically quiet. Eventually he said to me, “Nakakatakot ang Pilipinas, ano?” Which is to say, “The Philippines is a scary place, isn’t it?” My response to him was this: “Nakakatakot ang mundo“–meaning, simply, “The world is a scary place.”

Who can forget September 11th? I was only 11 at the time, but I will never forget. It seems like the world has taken a drastic downturn since then, and in light of the Boston Marathon, the shootings in Connecticut and Colorado, and other terrible events, it doesn’t seem like the world is looking to improve anytime soon.

It seems that I am not the only one who realizes the tragic state of things. The entertainment industry–which admittedly can be the cause of the world’s problems at times–also seems to be calling for a solution. Here are a few quotes (some more inspirational than others) that have come to my mind over these past few days:

“Sometimes everything is just the worst.”–Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

I decided to start with the least inspirational quote of all. This quote is not exactly what you’d call uplifting, but it certainly is true at times. Luckily, the key word in this quote is sometimes. Not always. So that’s definitely something.

“How we deal with tragedy defines who we are.”–Chris Traeger, Parks and Recreation

Though the world as a whole may be taking a turn for the worst, we as individuals are not defined by the world we live in. We can rise above all the negativity that surrounds us… Admittedly, I’m still working on that myself. Any advice on how to go about doing that?

“The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.”–Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This post would not have been complete without a few words from our favorite vampire slayer. The girl died twice, for crying out loud! If anyone knows how to overcome the odds, she does. Granted, she’s a fictitious character (but is she, really? There’s a little bit of Buffy in all of us), but the lesson remains the same: it might not be easy to live in this world, but it’s definitely possible.

So how do we stay sane in a crazy world? There’s no sure-fire answer, unfortunately, but peace can be found amidst all the chaos. I personally find peace through writing, listening to music, communicating with God, and being with those I love. Other people may have different ways of coping, and that’s completely fine–the important thing is that we cope somehow.

While the world falls apart around us, we have to ask ourselves: Are we simply surviving in this harsh world, or are we actually living? It’s all terribly cliche, yes, but it’s true. And while I may have lost my faith in mankind as a whole, I still have just a smidgen of faith in the individual.

I’m sorry, did you want some macaroni with all that cheese? Sorry if this post was too cheesy. It’s just something that came to my mind when I was about to go to sleep, and I knew I had to write about it right away. I probably should have slept instead, seeing as I’m starting to work full-time tomorrow and have a number of finals coming up, but I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead. And on that depressing note, I’ll end this depressing post.

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?