Where’s That Get Fun?

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.

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9 Comments

  1. Um, yeah, no. This is why I watched the first 10 minutes of Altered Carbon and turned it off. I’m cool with some discomfort for the sake of drama, but the older I get, the less I tolerate shock bullshit like this.

  2. I remember the “IT Crowd” take on this. I find more and more, my news comes from comedy sources. I grew up with the anthology shows mentioned as well as Outer Limits and Amazing Stories. I tried 2 episodes of Black Mirror and lost interest. I think reality is becoming too ‘grimdark’ for fiction of the same tone to be comfortable.

  3. I need my downtime to be less intense. We spent Christmas watching old holiday specials in YouTube – Lawrence Welk, Andy Williams, Dean Martin, the Carpenters. When all is punk, that stuff becomes rebellion.

  4. I’ve not been able to watch horror and such for a long time due to the fact that my memory is too vivid and it gives me nightmares, so this is all all too familiar to me. There’s just no need to bring more shock and horror into the world which, whenever you are not vigilant enough about filtering out the bad stuff from your daily environment, is going to richly supply you with actual real horror stories until you manage to turn it off and blank your mind.

    … the strength to change the things I can, and the fucking wisdom not to gawk at things in which i can make no difference.

  5. Yeah, the real stuff lately got scarier than most fictional stuff, and that’s where it just gets beyond any reason or sanity.

  6. The things I avoid are those where people are being unpleasant. Not just overt violence, but when they are being nasty and rude and shouting… or swearing a lot. Hate that…

  7. “Veronika says:
    Yeah, the real stuff lately got scarier than most fictional stuff..” – When did it happen? I know the 2016 election was the last straw, but it seems like it had been going this way for awhile. I tend to think when the Web became part of the Internet and it was opened to commercial use was a significant change. Perhaps that was the beginning and Sept 11 was the turning point.

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