I am watching the first season of The Originals, again. I am fairly certain I have seen most of the first season at least twice already. At certain points, however, I stopped. I fell asleep. Life got busy. I lost track of where I was so that, when I found myself spending an afternoon wrapping presents and I wanted something on Netflix to keep me company, I started on the very first episode, again.
Back in my teens, I could not understand how grownups who saw the same episode I did missed things. If our eyes were on the same scenes at the same time, should we not take note of the same things, pack them into our memories for ready recall when the discussion of the show began? As I grew older, however, as more and more adult worries crowded my mind, I began to realize that I was missing things. It was one of the reasons why I started a recap blog back in 2013; I wanted to force myself to pay attention, to actually understand what was going on the screen rather than have the images flash over me without touching me the way it did when I was young.
I am not yet old enough to accept a surrender to the ravages of time. I am, however, at a point in my life when, though I loved the first two and a half seasons of Teen Wolf, I was fine with skipping episodes of the later seasons that did not interest me. According to my Netflix queue, I am near the end of season five. I don’t think I will be able to contribute to a discussion in a meaningful way of seasons four and five. I hope, at least, that I some point I will watch the final season, and actually see how the show that I loved once upon a time ended.
There are times when I think that perhaps the sheer amount of material available on Netflix contributes to the surface impact of most of today’s shows. Way back when, there were only a handful of shows available at certain times of the day. Most school nights, I would not be allowed to watch them. Then DVD boxed sets became the norm, which was great, but I as a student could not afford to buy all the DVDs I wanted to watch. Now, shows are available for whenever we want them to be. The weekly anticipation to resolve a cliffhanger is gone. I could keep Netflix in the background while I’m doing something else, and I frequently do, with the thought that I could choose to pay attention some other less busy time. The thing is, there are hardly any “less busy” times for a grownup.
We live in a world of abundant distraction and an economic reality where most of us cannot afford to be distracted. I am a grownup, and I still binge Netflix. How much of it penetrates my crowded mind, however, is something kid me is sorry not to have understood.