Wednesday, December 9, 2015

TV dramas always waste your time, Movie dramas rarely do

I like stories. I think everyone likes stories. The more stories you've heard, the more rounded and interesting of a person you become when encountering new things. To put it another way, a person that's read Aesop's FablesGrimm's Fairy-tales, and Dr. Seuss is going to be more interesting to talk to than a person who's only ever read Bernstein Bears books over and over. (Spoiler alert: All the BB stories are the same --> The cubs made a mess and don't want to clean it up. But they should, because of reasons. End of lesson).

There's no one right way to obtain stories. D&D players like to collectively create them sometimes, which is a practice I wholeheartedly endorse. But as adults, the primary way we get new stories to put in our brain-pans is by watching dramas on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or Cable (is Cable still a thing?). However, recently I've come to realize that there are far too many drama shows I'm being told to watch, and everybody has a list of favorite shows that they say: "Hey man, you absolutely must watch this show! You'd love it!"
Say Breaking Bad one more time, motherf#$%r. Say it. I dare you.

But in our age of binge-watching TV dramas, one could spend an entire calendar year trying to catch up on dramas like Supernatural, Dr. Who, Criminal Minds, the Wire, Eureka, Sleepy Hollow, the Blacklist, and whatever else. And if you did spend the time to watch everyone's favorite show, you may realize that the "[Time Spent Watching TV] vs. [Actual Stories Been Told]" ratio is actually quite low. And because of this letdown you'd subconsciously be desperate to suggest someone else to watch those shows, just so you didn't feel like you had wasted all your time watching it (and the infection spreads...).

This is because TV dramas are written with the intention for their stories to never end, so they can keep making them as long as possible (i.e. to waste your time). Only when a show is aware they get one more season that the writers actually try to wrap up their story. Usually they just get canceled and leave the plot hanging. So in the best case scenario you may have to watch something like five seasons of a show (thirteen one-hour episodes x  five seasons = 65 hours of TV) to get a single over-arc story resolved! And that's in the best case for a show that only has five seasons but still ended well. Okay, I'll admit it, I'm thinking of the five Seasons of Fringe. Have you guys seen Fringe? YOU'VE GOT TO WATCH FRINGE!!!11!!
It has a cow! And a crazy professor! And sometimes they do things!
And again 65 hours is the best case scenario. Usually a TV series starts out great (because the storylines are new to you) and then they peter out when the writers run out of ideas on how to stretch things out forever. Like the Dexter series ending with that LumberDex episode. What kind of resolution to Dexter was that? What a waste of time.

Both the last seasons' writing, and this fake beard, are catastrophies.
Compare this ratio of [Time Spent vs. Story Told] to movies and movie writing, which usually last ~2 hours to introduce, engage with, and resolve an entire unique story. They have to write a full and complete story from the outset, so you're guaranteed a more satisfying resolution. Yet we regularly think: "I don't have time to watch a whole movie, I'll just watch another episode of Psych on Netflix." But in those same 88 hours of television I was watching Psych over and over, I could've experienced 44 different self-contained and varied other stories if I'd been watching different movies. Stories that would make me a more rounded thinker and potentially smarter person.

"Smarter?" I hear you ask. "Why would experiencing more varied stories make a person smarter?"

For the same reason an echo chamber makes people dumber.

For example, out of the following two people, who would you guess is smarter:

1) Person A
; who spends all their time on Facebook posting and re-posting political memes and only watches reruns of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.


Person B; who could pretty much be anyone else in the world, as long as they went to a museum once and have seen a Hitchcock flick.

 --> If you picked Person B, you'd be right!

That's because echo chambers limit our perceptions of the world. If I only understand crime solving from 186 seasons of NCIS, I'm going to have a pretty narrow window of perception to compare to when trying to discuss a news story involving police. Because those stories are all the same, over and over. But if I've also seen The Departed and Donnie Brasco, then I'm going to be more open to layers of interpretation in the same police news story. That's a true opinion-fact I just made up.

"So what can we do? Movies are just too long to watch while we're eating dinner on the couch." someone asks me off-camera.

Agreed. So I've started splitting movies into two sessions. One hour one night, the second hour the second night. Done. Netflix will remember where you left off, I promise.

And Movies are SO MUCH BETTER than TV shows you guys! There's so many movies out there to watch, with self-contained stories, that you can catch references to in regular life. People regularly reference movies to strangers. Rarely do they reference specific episodes of shows. (Well, except for Whovians, but they're really too far gone already.)

Here's a couple movies on Netflix with cool stories I would've missed had I just re-watched Fringe over the last week (the links below go to the trailers).

These two movies are pretty darn good, and I never would've otherwise watched them had I staying in my TV show drama hole. I am confident in wholeheartedly recommending both of these movies to you on Netflix, because really if you don't like them I've only wasted 4 hours of your life. I'm comfortable risking that much of your life. Compare that to the time investment for any TV series any acquaintance at work has ever casually demanded you watch. A drop in the bucket.

Sure, some of the movies out there aren't the best, but they only cost 2 hours to get the whole story, so it wasn't a huge investment. And I think of bad movies as just fun MST3K opportunities, anyway.

"Yeah, but really good stories take a really long time to tell! The writers need those 68 hours of TV to explain what the hell happened to the Lost airplane!" says Johnny Gotta-disagree.

Okay, the Lord of the Rings movies, which everyone would admit is considered a long and truly epic story, only took about nine hours to tell in movie form. Nine hours. Only nine hours to watch the entire Lord of the Freaking Rings. That's less time than one disappointing second season of Sleepy Hollow.

Now not all movies are Lord of the Rings (or Star Wars!), but hopefully you can see my point. TV dramas are blatantly padding out their content solely to waste your time.

Ask yourself next time you look for a Drama to watch on Netflix:

"Are the 13 hours of one season of this TV show going to be as good as the 9 hours I spent watching Lord of the Rings? Or are the show's writers actually just wasting my time?"

I mean, why do I even keep watching this show? It. Just. Won't. Die!

So maybe Check out a movie instead of a TV show! It'll make you a better person. That's a VorpalCorp Guarantee(tm)! Oh, and if anyone's watched a great movie on Netflix recently that I may not have seen (that you recommend, obviously), throw it down in a comment so I can check it out! Thanks!

Game (and watch) on!
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