“I wanna fly away… Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” When I was thinking about this post, that Lenny Kravitz song kept getting stuck in my head. Ok, let me back up and tell you how I got here.
So, I am a sucker for the drama shows…you know the ones: every episode you laugh, you cry, you love the characters, you hate them…It’s an emotional roller coaster! My biggest addictions were Parenthood, Downton Abbey, and now This Is Us. After watching the latest episode of This Is Us, I found myself asking, why do I put myself through this torture? Even more, many of my friends on social media haven’t seen the show or just plain don’t like it! How??
Then I got really thinking…why do we enjoy the things we watch? Why do some people enjoy action while others prefer comedy? Before I jump into my thoughts on some of the categories, I want to drop a disclaimer. These are simply my thoughts and feelings about each category. My conclusions and ramblings. There will always be exceptions to any and all ideas I put forth in my posts. So please take this as the lighthearted attempt it is meant to be, to dig a little deeper on why we watch what we watch…
- Action/Adventure: If I’m going to generalize, this genre appeals mostly to male audiences. Now don’t get me wrong, many women prefer the adrenaline rush that comes with an action movie. Me? I like adventure and can handle some action, but I don’t need to watch it all the time. I’ve gone camping and “roughed it” but I do not have a desire to make fire from nothing and catch my own food. I believe there is something innate in men that is wild. They crave the daring, the adventurous, the thrilling, all to remind themselves they are still wild. Because, much like the domesticated dog, society attempts to tame their wolf ancestry and squelch their wildness. Thus, they watch shows and movies that take them away from their humdrum jobs and whisk them off to places full of masculinity and things exploding.
- Drama: This one is all me. I get so sucked into the saga of other people’s lives because I want the show or movie to make me feel big emotions. Like I said earlier, why? For those who enjoy action and adventure, like my husband, they look at us like, it doesn’t make me cry, am I dead inside? Why would you watch something that makes you feel so sad? Here is my conclusion: just like society has taught men to reign in their wild side, society tells women to stuff our emotions deep inside. But I have a problem with that. See, I feel things, even normal, everyday things, very deeply. I’m a sensitive person so I often have big emotions that I’ve been taught are too much…even unacceptable. So I bottle them up and bury them deep. My shows are cathartic for me. A way for me to ugly cry, yell, and laugh out loud without being judged. If I can purge my big emotions on a show or movie, then I don’t risk exploding on my family.
- Suspense/Horror: For this one, I’m just going to touch on why I think people enjoy suspense. I can’t really delve into horror because it is the one category that I do not understand how people enjoy watching it. (Feel free to shed light on the subject in the comments if you are a horror lover). The times that I enjoy a suspenseful movie are because there is an amazing story, great plot development and deep characterizations. I only like suspense when it is truly a “I didn’t see that coming” kind of story. No, not like something pops out at you so you instinctively jump. That’s cheap entertainment to me because I scare easily. It doesn’t take a lot to make me jump, but you’ve got to have a great story if you are able to trick me in the end. I’m talking more like a plot twist, or a two-faced character that completely blindsided you. I believe we enjoy this category because we get tired of the predictable. For the most part, we all do the same thing every day. Whether you wake up, go to a job, come home and then sleep or wake up, shuffle kids around, nap, cook dinner and then bed…we all have a routine (some of us thrive with a routine). So it’s nice to escape and be completely caught off guard every once in a while.
- Comedy: This. This is my everything. While I’m a sucker for dramas, you will catch me watching something comedic nine times out of ten. I’ve watched Friends from beginning to end a handful of times for this very reason. Again, why? Because my brain turns to mush over the course of the day. Between taking care of the kids and working from home, my brain feels like it runs at warp speed from the time I wake up to the time I lay back down. So, at the end of the day, when they kids are FINALLY asleep, I don’t want to watch something suspenseful. WAY too much thinking involved. I want to watch something short and sweet, that takes no brain power, and that can help me wind down ASAP for my own bedtime. Friends on Netflix is only 20 min…if I’m exhausted I just watch one and I’m good to go. Earlier nights I let it roll through two. If I’ve got just a smidgen of brain power left I might watch a new episode of one of my many CBS sitcoms, just to change it up. Sometimes when I tell someone a sitcom I watch, their reaction is “but that’s so stupid.” Exactly. I’m not looking for smart people TV, especially on a weekday when my brain has been up and running before the sun.
Is this an exhaustive list? No. Is this a comprehensive, in-depth study of the human psyche by a professional? No. These are simply the musings of a stay at home mom who found a little extra brain power today and wanted to know…why do these shows have such a hold on us? My general conclusion: because we want to escape. Just like a good book or, even better, a vacation, everyone needs some time where they step away from their day-to-day selves. We want to get away, fly away, yeah yeah yeah. My mode of transportation just might look a little different than yours.
Lord, bless this busyness ~ Jenn