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October 13, 2015

TV on DVD: I'm an Addict

by Stephanie Earp, posted May 3rd 2011 3:00PM

Last Sunday night found me red-eyed and bleary, the first pangs of hunger finally breaking through the imaginary wall I put around my mind. I emerged from a two-day bender and found myself wrapped in my bathrobe, my hair lank, sitting in a well-defined groove on the couch.

You see, I just got the season 5 DVDs of 'Friday Night Lights' and I watched the entire thing in about 20 hours. I gorged on those episodes, ignoring all but the most pressing bodily needs, until the Taylors and the motley residents of Dillon, Texas had shown me all they ever would of their lives.

Thanks to my odd assortment of jobs, early spring often finds me with whole weekdays free of any true deadlines -- and it's the season where I often find myself falling down to my own peculiar addiction: TV on DVD. Several years ago, it was 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.' I re-watched all seven seasons over the course of a few weeks, sitting in the back mudroom of my tiny starter house in Toronto. My roommate, like any normal person, went to bed, and I would take my laptop, headphones and a pack of cigarettes out to the back and disappear into fictional Sunnydale for hours at a time. It was glorious and horrifying. I would stumble to bed in the wee hours and dream 'Buffy' dreams, and when I woke up -- eyes still squinting, frequently after noon -- I'd be greeted by the remnants of my binge: the stale smell of smoke, an overflowing ashtray, and often the dishes bearing the remnants of some bizarre midnight snack.

For a moment, surveying the devastation, I'd be mortified. I felt shame and disgust, and promised myself I wouldn't do it again -- but of course when evening came, I'd be back to it. The credits would roll on one episode and I'd find myself slotting the next disc, whispering, 'Just one more.'

You won't find read about this in the DSM-V and I'm pretty sure you'll never see it featured on 'Intervention' -- which incidentally, I've done marathons of as well and boy, is that an experience -- but there's no doubt in my mind that it is an addiction. It has all the hallmarks: the detachment from reality, the way time flows differently when you're in the midst of a high, the way real-world concerns seem hazy and hard to take seriously.

Of course there are also the after-effects: blurred vision, hunger, and the desire for more, more, more. Like most addicts, I prefer to indulge in this habit alone. My beloved and I have cruised through various series -- 'The Wire,' 'Battlestar Galactica,' 'Rome' -- but that's different. For one thing, we watch on our TV screen. When I indulge my habits, I prefer oversized headphones that block out all external sound and the warmth of my laptop on my knees. And I can never convince him to watch more than three episodes at a time. I guess I should be thankful to have such a rock-steady presence in my life.

Looking back, I realize I was primed and ready to fall into a DVD addiction. Books were my gateway drug. Like so many nerdy teens, I would read Nancy Drew and Stephen King under the covers with a flashlight only to blink my way through classes the next day. In fact, I'm still a sucker for this decidedly 1.0 delivery system. I love to read and I always have a book on the go, but certain stories have brought out the worst in me. 'The Hunger Games' series, the 'Millennium' series, 'Harry Potter' -- I read them until the sun came up. There really is nothing more delightful and inclined to bring on a wave of self-loathing than starting to read at 9PM and finishing up as the birds begin to chirp. You know your day is shot to hell, you know you should have slept, but you are also somewhat proud of yourself. You will not be spending another day wondering how Katniss will get out of this one. Unless of course, there are more books in the series.

What I'm really addicted to, I suppose, is storytelling -- long-format storytelling. Movies and short stories don't have the same pull. The more sprawling and epic, the better. Books and DVDs are just different ways of getting the same drug into the system. The filmed medium is like a lazy injection to the brain. It is, to stretch my metaphor as far as it'll go, my crack cocaine.

Are there any other TV-on-DVD addicts out there? We want to hear from you in the comments!

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Peter H

I am very jealous. I am a former DVD on TV addict. The Wire, BTVS, Firefly, Rescue Me some of my favs. Having 4 kids has forced me to give up my addiction for at least a decade. The only silver lining that keeps me going is all the great shows waiting for me to marathon once I am able to fall back into old habits, maybe with some of my kids along for the ride.

May 04 2011 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

what you have described is an addiction as deadly as heroin.
not getting enough sleep, excessive smoking, unhealthy eating habits, will slowly but surely kill you.
the root of the problem lies in the fact that you are unhappy, that is why you turn to tv shows and books to escape, for others its heroin or alcohol, but nonetheless they are an escape mechanism.
Luckily for you , there are no physical withdrawal symptoms, get help ASAP.

May 04 2011 at 2:35 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I completely understand where you're coming from I have found myself in that situation more time than I can count. I have also watched all seven seasons of "Buffy" in the span of a couple of weeks. It's so easy to convince yourself to "watch just one more" when all you have to do is press a button. I also get more into the story/show b/c I don't have to wait a week or weeks to see the next episode.

May 03 2011 at 9:32 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

One of the most underrated one year tv shows of all time is "Harper's Island" check out the DVD with all 13 episodes.

May 03 2011 at 6:15 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Jamie Moffatt

I'm with Rick, the ease at which I can now watch things on netflicks and other online sources, and video on demand has made it even easier to crack out on whole seasons of TV (I just watched all of Carnivale over again this weekend on Movie Central's ViD on demand!). I have always loved doing this though even back in the VHS days when I would devotedly record every ep of a favorite series and then use those tapes to sustain me through the dry spell that is June - September.

May 03 2011 at 4:57 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I feel like I'm at an AA meeting right now after reading this article (not that I've gone to real AA meetings, I'm too addicted to laziness and denial to do that). But seriously, my name is Rick and I too am addicted to TV on DVD.

Specifically, TV streaming from Netflix. It has, in the past year or so, consumed the majority of my free time. It has ruined romantic relationships I've had (in which I dumped women for infringing on my time to watch Jericho, Firefly and Pushing Daisies) and until recently, adversely affected my waistline. Still, I continue to be addicted.

I just now am watching Buffy myself for the first time all the way through (what an epically outstanding show) concurrently with a re-watch of all seasons of Angel so they synch up in their storytelling. I am also re-watching Jericho (another unbelievable series) and am soon to start watching the Shield again. Thank you for helping me understand I am not alone in this madness. While I love movies...it is storytelling (books and TV) that make me waste away the long hours of the night, the dawn, the afternoon and the next night, etc., etc.

May 03 2011 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Matthew Lazorwitz

Oh, I am always watching at least one season of TV on dvd, and half the time it's a rewatch to see things I missed in initial airings I have so many seasons stacked up to be watched, and I keep buying more. And I just go home and start watching, and share your mantra of "Just one more." Right now? Gargoyles Season 2 Volume 1. And alas, no Season 2 Volume 2 was released, so I'm going to be extra itchy after this one...

May 03 2011 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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