TV vs Film in the Privacy of Your Own Home

Currently there are four seasons of Mad Men on Netflix.

I’ve always figured it would be one of those series that would be fun to plow through hours at a time when the opportunity presented itself, and with my recent illness and end of my writing project, I thought the time was right.

I’m halfway through season two, and it has been fun, but I’ve discovered this:  Watching lots of television drama, even the shows I really like, makes me kind of depressed, while watching movies, even ones that I don’t think are particularly good, does not usually have the same effect.

I’m guessing it’s because television shows make one want a kind of arc for the characters, but as an audience member ones desires are always frustrated–always pushed into an indefinite future. Another way of saying this is that it is hard to watch the characters make bad choices episode after episode, and grow (if they do) at a glacial pace.  (If I want to see continued self-deception, I have ample opportunity in my real life.) In the past, a separation of a week probably mitigated my feelings–not so when I have four seasons  at my disposal.  No doubt there is a rush of satisfaction at hitting “next episode,” akin to being able to reach for another chocolate after the first–but in both cases, I fear the lack of portion control isn’t the best for me in the long run.

Which is why I have temporarily abandoned Peggy and Don for the movies, where, in most cases, people realize their mistakes and make changes, they live through their tragedies and move on. I understand that one might actually consider this a flaw, citing Hollywood’s penchant for happy endings, but I’m talking just about my own personal mood control here. 

The other night, when I felt the cravings for Mad Men, I substituted with an On-Demand movie…Larry Crowne.  Wow, if there was ever a movie made to go straight to video, this was it.  but even though I cringed at the too-easiness of Larry’s sudden relationships and life changes,  I was inspired in spite of myself…and as the credits rolled, I didn’t feel an uncontrollable desire to see another episode of Larry Crowne.  The experience was incredibly complete.

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