A few weeks ago I sat down to watch the latest episode of Room 104. I’ve always loves anthology shows, from The Twilight Zone to Alfred Hitchcock Presents to Boris Karloff’s Thriller. I have a deep affection for the latter two because they’re not always genre stories. That’s why I initially enjoyed Room 104. Unfortunately, it’s one of the things I think I’m done watching.
The premise, if you haven’t seen it, is that every episode takes place in the same motel room. While most of the stories seem to occur in the present, it’s been redressed for different time periods. We have no idea where this place is. People come and go, but except for a few shots from outside looking in, we never see anything but the interior of the room.
All of the stories are essentially one-act plays, usually with only 2 or 3 actors. While there have been science fiction, fantasy, and horror elements, the bulk of the episodes are really just human interest stories. Many have been weird, or experimental, but I liked that. Increasingly, though, a lot of the episodes have begun to jangle my nerves. Which brings me to “Hungry”.
I’m not going to tell you what the episode is about. You can watching, or go Google it. To be fair, I didn’t finish the episode, but looked it up online to confirm that yes, this was headed where I thought. I’m not a prude, this isn’t a call for censorship or good taste or anything like that. This just wasn’t something I personally wanted to watch. Given that the show has been pushing the envelope, and that half the fun has been not knowing where it was going…. I can’t any more.
Where’s That Get Fun?
Katie and I have a running in-joke for when we see something that makes no sense to us. It might be a news story, a character on a TV show, or an actual person we see out in public. One of us will look at the other and say “Where’s that get fun?“. It’s line from the movie Serenity, spoken by the amoral mercenary character Jayne Cobb.
“I just don’t get it. How’s a man get so wrong? Cuttin’ on his own face, rapin’ and murdering — Hell, I’ll kill a man in a fair fight… or if I think he’s gonna start a fair fight. Or if he bothers me. Or if there’s a woman Or if I’m gettin’ paid. Mostly only when I’m gettin’ paid. But these Reavers… last ten years they show up like the bogeyman from stories. Eating people alive? Where’s that get fun?”
That’s the heart of it right there. I can watch a documentary, even if the subject matter is rough, because I want to learn something. The news might be hard to take, and the fact that I have to sit through the cultural horror to be informed is a contributing factor in deciding how to spend my free time. But entertainment? A lot of these things aren’t entertaining to me any more.
Things I Think I’m Done Watching
There are a bunch of shows that I think I’m done watching. I’m not going to list them all, but I can provide a common denominator: they’re all too plausible. Not necessarily the specific situations presented (hello, Black Mirror), but the human behaviors and reactions depicted. I watch these shows and think, people really believe those sorts of things. They act like that. There are people who actually do things like that. I find it terrifying.
Everything comes with an opportunity cost. Spending my time watching this means I’m not watching that. I could be writing instead of watching anything at all, or reading a book, or taking a nap. In creating filters for what could be the best use of my time, shows that punch my anxiety are no longer on the list. I have done a massive purge of my Netflix and HBO queues recently, not just to cull things I’m likely never going to get around to watching, but of things that are violent, disturbing, and potentially traumatizing.