I'm a little worried about Jeff. Having purposely avoided last
season's "24," Jeff recently bought the DVD of the entire season and
has been watching back-to-back episodes nearly nonstop.
guy chooses to watch TV is his business. But I've noticed something
about him, the way he holds himself, the way he walks. He's skulking a
little now. Like any minute, he could get a troubling call from Chloe
and have to commandeer a helicopter.
I know what this is: Jeff
is TV-binging. The aesthetic and pace of "24" are bleeding into
everyday life, and it's messing with him.
TV-binging is an ugly
and relatively new disorder that can strike anyone, though it usually
affects people who have DVD players but no cable. Jeff is hardly alone.
I've completely lost Lisa Bee to "Battlestar Galactica." Jean has taken
up residence with Monica and Rachel. Even Hubby is slowly going over
A few years ago, Hubby brought home the entire
"Twin Peaks" TV series. I had never seen the show but was hooked from
the first episode. Because we had the whole oeuvre in our living room,
there was no waiting for commercials, no waiting for next week, no
waiting for summer hiatus – nothing. Just the complete series,
available whenever I wanted it.
Problem was, I wanted it all the time.
shows are designed for maximum addiction. Is Jack just going to let Ben
die? Are Tony and Christopher going to go head to head? Will Danny win
over Jordan? You just have to tune in next week to find out, and in the
meantime, the suspense is going to kill you.
But what if the
answer to last episode's question is just a remote-control click away?
Who really has the willpower to turn the TV off?
Hubby and I
gorged ourselves on two "Twin Peaks" episodes a night – sometimes
racing home early from work so that we could fit in three. We were
"Peaks" fiends. In less than two weeks, we had digested all 29
episodes. That's nearly 24 hours of TV viewing in under 14 days. Any
doctor will tell you that's not good for the brain. But when the show
is as intensely weird as "Twin Peaks," the effects are particularly
My world became a menacing and shadowy wonderland.
For two weeks, I lived in fear of ceiling fans and milk. A simple cup
of coffee seemed significant. I constantly wondered, would cherry pie
actually kill ya? What's worse, I worked with a freakishly tall
gentleman at the time; I half-expected Peter to lean over the cubicle
wall one day and tell me, "The owls are not what they seem."
thing about TV-binging is that there is no purging. You just have to be
odd and twitchy for a while until the show leaves your system and you
can resume real life again.
In time, I stopped obsessing over
who killed Laura Palmer and began leading a relatively healthy and
productive life. But I know that at any moment I could fall off the
wagon and join the ranks of Jeff and Lisa and Hubby – bug-eyed and
I've come to believe series DVDs should be kept
locked behind a glass counter at the pharmacy, with warning labels on
them: "The small screen should be taken in small doses. Use only as
In fact, I recently saw an ad for a DVD of a TV
series that I haven't seen, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." I
found myself thinking, "You know, I heard that was funny," and then I
shuddered, imagining myself trapped in a quirky sitcom for the next
couple of weeks. So far, I have resisted buying the DVD, but I've been
checking it out online, comparing prices. Daydreaming.
worried that I'm going to slip, that my resolve to be good is going to
completely crumble. Of course, if it does, I guess I could just call
Jeff to come save me. Jack Bauer-style.