Marathoners Anonymous

From Teddi Castle:

I was talking to my husband about what to blog about for media marathoning class and he happened to mention that to him marathoning seems like an obsessive compulsive type of behavior.  According to Wikipedia, the definition of obsessive compulsive is, “an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety, or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions.”  Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t think of marathoning as an anxiety disorder, but I can definitely see it causing uneasiness, apprehension, fear and/or worry when the show or season is over.  When I was doing my journal on marathoning the show Strike Back, I felt all of these things, yet I was compelled to continue watching and because of the parasocial relationship that I developed with one of the characters. I now feel like I have to keep watching to make sure that he is okay.

Now that I think about it, I can definitely see marathoning as an addictive behavior with some obsessive compulsive behaviors sprinkled in for good measure.  The New York Times article ” How Viewers Grow Addicted To Television,” describes how some viewers turn to TV when feeling stressed and I think that is how some fall into marathoning.  Marathoning can be purposeful, but I’ve marathoned some shows I never intended to marathon. The TV was on and I just happened to see something that piqued my interest and as they say, the rest is history.

It seems pretty soon, we may have a need for a marathoning support group…..Hello, my name is Teddi and I’m addicted to media marathoning.



9 thoughts on “Marathoners Anonymous

  1. I understand what you mean when you say that you marathon unintentionally. Last year over winter break, I happened to catch the end of one episode of “American Horror Story,” and then was determined to find as many other episodes of the show as I could. I had zero interest in it before that vacation, but I was a full-fledged fan during the spring semester. Along with your analysis of marathoning as addiction, I would add that marathoning sometimes seems like odd or embarrassing behavior. I managed to push all my Christmas present-wrapping until December 24 because I was more preoccupied with the series than the joy of giving. And it is awkward for me to admit that I became so obsessed with a show in so little time. There’s something about fully committing yourself to a TV show—no matter how good it is—that just seems juvenile and weird. There is always the connotation of the couch potato that I think is implicitly linked to marathoning. Although I know that my series are high-concept, self-referential and complex, I still can’t deny the fact that I watch a lot of television, and that might signify some laziness. Not to knock marathoning—because I love it—but perhaps it is embarrassing behavior, as well as addictive behavior.

  2. Addiction to marathoning. I’m sure this is more common than anyone likes to think. Describing marathoning as an addictive disorder is interesting. I’ve never really thought about it being something an individual would need professional help for. It is certainly possible. Like being addicted to eating toilet paper (almost) it can be diagnosed. It makes me wonder about what the warning signs might be on a health pamphlet. I’d say that most people who do have a serious addiction to marathoning tv shows would never admit it, or they would never think it wasn’t normal to just watch some harmless television for hours and days on end.
    Like Rachel, I also can relate to unintentional marathoning. Tumblr has always been a good place to find a new tv show that I might be interested in. People that I follow will post about an episode of some show and another will re-blog a set of “gifs” from scenes and it will spark my interest. That is how I managed find myself marathoning the show Merlin. I get so wrapped up in being caught up to the rest of the Merlin community, I end up watching the entire series in less than a week.

  3. I remember the day my friend gave me her Netflix username and password and that was the end of that. I instantly became addicted to finding a show that I love and watching every single episode as fast as possible until the last season was completed. I received the account information the summer of 2011 and started watching 90210. I can clearly remember watching episode after episode until the sun began to rise. I was so tired that I was past the point of dozing off, I was so intrigued by the show that I didn’t care that I had work at 9 a.m. the next morning. I was definitely obsessed with some of the characters and the thought of leaving my laptop and not knowing what happened next made me feel very uneasy, which is a characteristic of obsessive compulsiveness, so I guess that Teddy’s feelings about media marathoning applies to me and my viewing habits.

  4. I find the relation and comparison between addiction and media marathoning because I feel as though I know this all to well. Though I am not a huge TV-watcher, once I get hooked on a show, it’s the only thing I can think about until the show has ended and I’ve finished all of the seasons. Though I can see where you are coming from with this connection, I do think the word “addiction” is a little harsh, or maybe I am linking the word to drug, alcohol, shopping addictions, etc. Like Sarah has mentioned, it would be interesting to see what the warning signs and indications of such addiction would be; perhaps radical acts like really thinking your a character from the show or not being able to maintain a job or friendships because you fiend for the television. It is an interesting to point to raise.

  5. Love it and completely agree. I connect with this concept in two ways. (1) I tend to develop strong OCD tendencies when I am marathoning. I have to hear every word, catch every detail, and view every episode and behind the scenes moment. On Netflix, for example, I don’t use the new feature that automatically takes you to the next episode. I don’t trust it and fear that I am going to inadvertently miss an episode. Because of the anxiety I get from this, I have to go back to the series main page to click on the next episode. I also have a strong desire to re-marathon several series in order to make sure I truly have a COMPLETE understanding of a particular narrative world. (2) I get anxious when I can’t be spending a great deal of time with my shows. Most times, an episode a day is not enough but my schedule doesn’t always allow for more. When this happens, and I have to pull myself away from the show and take care of my responsibilities I become agitated. That isn’t necessarily an OCD tendency but is directly linked to OCD’s Partner in Crime– anxiety.

  6. Just yesterday I almost had a nervous breakdown when my Dad didn’t pick up his phone. No, there was no medical emergency, I simply finished my downloaded episodes of Game of Thrones season 2 and needed to watch the rest, NOW. I knew that my family has HBO go, and the only way to get the rest of the episodes was to have that password. This was my first experience of obsessive marathoning.
    I agree with this blog post fully, and honestly believe that someone out there already has a problem with marathoning. It reminds me of the MTV show “True Life”, in which one episode was on “True Life: I’m a Fan Boy”, where it followed two kids who were obsessed with comics. I’m sure that sometime soon there will be “True Life: I’m an Obsessive Marathoner” (and we all know, not the running kind!). With all of the different factors we have learned about (like parasocial relationships) it’s easy to see how someone could make a whole world around the show they love! Thankfully, as of now, most people can tell the difference between reality and fiction.

  7. I think that “addictions” to TV shows are fueled by technology and nurtured media industries. With the internet being permeating in everything we do, it didn’t take a psychic to predict that media companies would take advantage of our newer lifestyles. In the 80’s and 90’s, before smart phones, twitter, online streaming, wikis, and message boards, there were conceivably fewer marathoners. But nowadays, I think it’s hard to come across someone (at least 18-35-year-olds) who hasn’t sat down and watched every episode of a series 4 times over. And it’s not just a one-time thing. Many of us use the phrase “the show I’m on right now,” meaning we have marathoned before or plan to again in the future. But I don’t necessarily think that people develop OCD tendencies or addictions because of marathoning. We, as a society, aren’t fundamentally different than society 20 years ago. We aren’t anymore OCD or addictive now than we were then. We just have easier access to entertainment and a desire to see complex narratives played out.

  8. I think shows these days are also designed to foster addictions. Most shows will end with such a cliffhanger that one has to go on to the next, and if they don’t, they risk feeling bad about missing out on something. I think for me, though, it is these cliffhangers that keep me addicted and without them, I can live without the show. If I don’t feel the pressure a dramatic ending puts on me to continue then sometimes I’ll stop watching a show for a while and come back to it or something like that.

  9. Pingback: Media “Loves” and the Seven Year Itch | Media Marathoning

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