Media “Loves” and the Seven Year Itch

From Carissa Risucci:

Throughout the course of this semester we have undoubtedly and comprehensively covered the addictive tendencies of marathoners and their compulsion to obtain as much information as possible about a narrative world. We haven’t, however, uncovered where the breaking point in this process lies. In other words: when does so much exposure become too much exposure?

I have been a loyal Grey’s Anatomy viewer from the start of the first season in 2005. I watched the episodes weekly with my mom and marathoned multiple seasons during every school vacation with my sister. Seven years and nine seasons later, I am still a loyal viewer and still making the effort to engage with the world but I am beginning to feel a disconnect. I am starting to question whether this long-term, committed relationship has run its course? Am I ready to break up with Grey’s?

My rationale of course tells me I never will. As long as Shonda Rhimes continues writing, I will continue watching. As we have discussed in class, I have invested far too much to turn back now; I need to see it through for closure purposes as well. But I do see myself developing a greater critical distance over time (particularly when it comes to my disbelief over the amount of internal tragedies the hospital faces). Our “puppy love” phase has sadly come to a close and I have to examine the show for what it truly is: my good ol’ ball and chain.

An interviewee of mine has a similar perspective on his relationship with Harry Potter. Having marathoned the series so many times, he finds the characters “dead to him”. My analysis tells me that our love for people in the real world grows over time, but our love for fictional characters in a narrative world has the potential to become stunted. Can we have too much of a good thing when it comes to marathoning?

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7 thoughts on “Media “Loves” and the Seven Year Itch

  1. I. know exactly what you mean. Sometimes certain shows, that we have historically loved, can start to rub us the wrong way out of the blue. I have had a similar experience with How I Met Your Mother. I started to get annoyed with the show and the characters when Lily and Marshall had a baby, and when it was revealed that Robin and Barney eventually will be married. That’s when I seriously started thinking about ditching HIMYM. Babies are wonderful in real life, but they have a tendency to ruin good shows. And Robin and Barney are a terrible couple. They make zero sense. But I haven’t left the gang yet; I still tune in every week hoping Ted will finally get it together and meet the love of his life. And yet something is missing. Today, I saw a classic episode called “Slapsgiving,” which is simply hilarious. Compared to “Slapsgiving” and other older episodes, HIMYM is just not the same. I don’t laugh as much now when I watch it, and I am starting to wish Marshall and Lily would divorce just to rock the boat. All the cute happiness is starting to get boring. It seems that I have grown tired of the show, and it definitely is my ball and chain. Maybe it’s time for a parasocial breakup?

  2. It’s so funny that this ball and chain concept is the topic of your blog post because last night I was re-watching Weeds for the third time as my boyfriend was marathoning it for the first time. I actually got up in the middle of an episode because I could not stand to watch the drama of Nancy and Esteban for a third time. I absolutely love the concept of the show, but once it gets to season 7 I begin to feel like the show should have ended at season 6. I kept watching only because I felt like if I did not continue, my third re-watching would not count as marathoning. I will most likely watch with my boyfriend the next time he is marathoning the show, but I’m sure that I will get bored of watching in the middle of an episode, once again. I wish that Weeds wasn’t boring me, but unfortunately Jenji isn’t as creative as she was in the beginning seasons for my liking.

  3. This is a very interesting concept because for my marathon paper I am discussing the para-social breakup and how individuals feel after a character leaves a show or a season/series ends, but the concept of a viewer open handily breaking up with a series is definitely something interesting to look into.
    I completely agree that one can grow tired of a show as it no longer fulfills that void that it once did. I had a similar experience with the television show “What I Like About You.” I ended up walking away from the show only to find myself watching reruns of it and eventually marathoning the show. I found myself liking the cast and whole story a lot more after I gave it a second shot and because I was older I was able to really relate to some of the real life experiences expressed in the show. I grew to really love the characters and see my personality in particular characters which made it that much more fun to watch and immerse myself in. However, when the marathoning process was over I felt that void again which caused me to continue watching rereuns of this show. I seriously do not think I will ever get enough of it!
    Overall, I think it takes a very strong storyline, creative writers, and a good cast in order to maintain their loyal viewers and make sure they do not breakup with the show, but if you are truly invested in a show I think the only way to breakup with it is when it finally comes to an end.

  4. It’s funny because I also tend to think of a marathoned text as a relationship of mine. For instance, the Harry Potter movies itself took up enough years of my life where it’s almost met its match to my actual real-life relationship with my boyfriend of four years. As I actually write that out I find myself laughing and almost embarrassed to admit that; yikes, I have a relationship with a fictional world and it’s characters. Also, this summer I spent an entire month reading the book series 50 Shades of Grey. I gave the story and its characters an entire month out of my life where I invested at least a few hours each day dedicated to their world. It amazes me how easily we are drawn into these fictional worlds where we can still maintain our own loves outside of these texts. But, come the third book, it became harder for me to stay focused and as invested as I was in the begining of the series. Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele’s relationship were becoming obnoxious, irritating and uninteresting. I started to notice that each day I was spending less time with their world and more time with mine. It was like I was ‘breaking it off slowly’ with the book to the point where I almost felt guilty, like I was cheating on 50 Shades. I started resenting the book and its characters where ’til this day I have a sour taste in my mouth. I had to face it, I just wasn’t that into it anymore. That’s when I knew it was time for a parasocial breakup, and it felt so good!

  5. I feel exactly the same way about Law and Order. It doesn’t matter which one, pick one. I loved Criminal Intent with Goren and Eames but as soon as they doubled on up on main characters (Jeff Goldblum & Julianne Wheeler) I kind of stopped watching. The new characters would be on every other week and at first I found myself watching on that schedule; when my fav characters would be on, then I would watch whenever I thought about it, to now, I don’t even know when or if new episodes come on anymore. There was a time when Law and Order came on, I would not take phone calls, or go anywhere for fear that I may miss an important clue to solving the crime or a break in the case. That was my relationship at the time….it’s weird because I didn’t have a parasocial relationship with any particular character, I think it was with the show in general, crazy I know!

  6. I think that for a lot of people, the breaking point is when a character leaves a show. For example, Game of Thrones killed off Ned, which turned everybody’s world on its ear. But for me, it was when Michael left The Office. Up until that point, I could deal with an annoying Jim/Pam, the increasingly ridiculous office antics of Dwight, and the fact that a tiny paper supply company could survive a bankruptcy and multiple corporate takeovers. But once the heart and soul left the show, it was like I wasn’t even watching the same thing. I think that once a text totally departs from what made you fall in love with it in the first place, not even a longing for closure is enough to make you stick around. Its already dead to you. Some shows deserve to be put down (for our sake and theirs).

  7. I can definitely see how characters lose their touch after a while and I think it may be because we only have limited access to their “depth”. With a real person, who is hopefully more deep than a fictional character, he or she has multiple layers that could keep a person intrigued by this individual. However, characters on shows can only be developed so far and in a limited time frame. Even a show that has been on for a while can go only so far with depth, because in real life one can keep a relationship going by interacting in regards to typical day-to-day things, whereas a show simply cannot do this on the same scale.

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