No, The Backlog of TV Shows On Your DVR Is Not a Sign Of Failure
Look, I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just going to be as blunt as possible: It’s just not the same between you and me anymore.
I don’t say this lightly. This isn’t fun. None of this brings me any pleasure, and the frown on my face won’t disappear when I leave. But I think we both know this has been coming for a while. It happened like it always happens: little things start to slip, almost imperceptibly, and before you know it, there’s a yawning chasm where once there was an almost inextricable bond.
The old “it’s not you, it’s me” phrase is cliché, but don’t clichés exist for a reason? You’re the same as you’ve always been. You’ve been steady. Patient. Waiting for me to get my life together so we can get back to the relationship we used to have. Even just thinking about it now brings me pain, and if I could figure out a way to magically make things the way they were, then I’d do it in a heartbeat. But I just don’t see that path anymore. It’s closed off to me, as if it never existed in the first place.
So I come home every night, and you’re there, and we see each other, but we barely interact. We go through the motions, but it’s perfunctory, and at least on my end I’m doing the bare minimum to keep this relationship going. There are times when it feels so hard to even do that, and giving up altogether feels like the more feasible, even sane option. You sit there, and you wait, and you don’t say anything, but I know you feel abandoned.
And that’s why I publicly apologizing to you, my DVR, for letting so many shows accumulate on you.
I used to be so much better! By Sunday afternoon, you were clean as a whistle. I was watching more shows, but I also wasn’t doing much else but watching TV, in that I was straight up broke and didn’t have money to do anything else. (Yes, I bought the most expensive TV package. Yes, that’s part of the reason I didn’t have money to do the other things. Yes, I’d like you to stop looking at me like that. This is hard enough as is.) I used you more as a same-night commercial-skipping device, knowing almost to the second when I could arrange my viewing habits to watch six half-hour comedies in the span of two hours instead of three. I was like a ninja: a bald, overweight, pasty-white ninja covered in dusted cheese.
Now? Life has intruded, and life’s kinda nice, and even though I’ve cut down on the total number of shows I watch to just those I love, it’s still a huge commitment to keep up. Jane The Virgin has been in the top 5 of my year-end lists since it debuted, and I’m four episodes behind! I was a few weeks behind on The Americans until last night, and I’m on record calling that the Peak of Peak TV. And even though I knew I’d enjoy it, the idea of watching two episodes after an extremely long day at my day job felt like work. Did I actually fall asleep during the last episode? I plead the fifth.
Here’s a fun thing no one tells you about entering your 40s: Staying up late is almost impossible. I used to be able to work a full day, come home, eat, review two episodes of TV sans screeners, catch up on 1-2 more shows by 1 am, and then wake up the next morning not feeling like I’d been run over by a truck. It was faaaaantastic. Cut to today, in which I slept 10 hours straight after falling asleep before 10 pm. I used to review Scandal every Thursday when it aired in the 10 pm slot, which involved writing until well after one am. Now, I can’t even stay awake to watch any program in that slot, nevermind turn around a review immediately afterwards.
Even when I do have time to catch up on my DVR, I tend to go for the less mentally-taxing programs on the docket. Jane isn’t exactly a dour show, but often leaves me a sobbing mess. So there are times I’d rather watch that week’s episode of This Old House, which is the TV equivalent of ASMR for me. When the world sucks, sometimes it’s nice to see crown molding applied correctly. What can I tell you? I think I actually hate this season of The Voice, but I can knock out a 2-hour episode in about 30 minutes.
Throw in the FOMO of realize there are dozens of shows I should also be watching because they are in my wheelhouse, and you have another impediment to a O%-filled DVR. Such was the case recently with Into The Badlands, and now is the case with Wynonna Earp. Both are super entertaining and God bless them have 40-minute episodes, and “40-minute episodes” is the sext of Peak TV. Most streaming dramas run in the 50-58 minute range. Just as every band thinks they have a Sgt. Pepper in them, so too does every showrunner think they have a standing 58-minute episode running time in them. And let me tell you: those bands and those showrunners are almost always incorrect.
But ultimately, this all boils down to doing things like “going outside once in a while” and “not letting my body turn into a Jabba The Hut-esque shape” and “hanging out with friends” and all the things I’m supposed to be doing but don’t because TV’s much easier. I ran a half-marathon last Sunday, and I run a Dungeons & Dragons game that happens every other week, and I’m writing here, and all of these things are positive and great and also mean I’ll get to Jane The Virgin when I get to Jane The Virgin. It’s silly to look at a stacked DVR as a failure when it actually represents something akin to healthiness.
But I also think that Abuela’s looking at me with a disappointed expression from inside my cable box, and that makes me feel about three inches tall.
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