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Binging on TV helps relationships? I'm skeptical

Thursday, September 15, 2016by  Jon Osterberg
I saw an article today in the Bellingham Herald with the headline, "Science says binge-watching TV together improves your relationship."
     Seems unlikely to me, but I continued reading since I'd recently binge-watched a TV show and felt guilty about it.
     Our daughter recently spent a couple days with us, and she and my wife had heard good reports on a new Netflix sci-fi show called Stranger Things. My son also recommended it to me, likening it to The X-Files, one of my all-time faves.
     So even though it was a warm, sunny day, I was somewhat housebound anyway, having set aside the time to enjoy visiting with my daughter and 11-month-old granddaughter, and to help my wife who's been under the weather.
     We spent eight hours watching all eight episodes of Stranger Things, which has drawn rave reviews for its nostalgic vibe that evokes iconic works like E.T., The Goonies, and Alien.
     I found the premise intriguing, the special effects good, and the production values top-notch. But I was annoyed by unpersuasive overacting, particularly by Winona Ryder, and a bad script rife with unlikely dialog.
     Looking outside afterward at the blue skies and my unmowed lawn, I felt guilt over spending so much time on a show that delivered mixed satisfaction.
     The news article acknowledges that socializing and sharing hobbies helps relationships, but it asserts that binging on fictional TV "allows couples to participate in discussions and gossip about the characters and fictional world, which creates an extension of their real shared social experiences."
     I'm skeptical. I think the "extension" is inauthentic and shallow, usually reflecting Hollywood's world view rather than the real deal. The "extension" is often skewed, a hollow facsimile that seldom reflects true life. Isn't it richer and healthier – a better use of time – to discuss real people, real experiences, real issues?
     Perhaps my perspective is as obsolete as my unease over how technology and social media seem to be displacing genuine, meaningful, face-to-face dialog and fellowship with an incomplete facsimile.
     But I was pleased to see I'm not the only person on the planet annoyed by Ryder. Here's a review titled, "The real mystery of Stranger Things: Winona Ryder's overacting."
     Judge for yourself. Check out this Stranger Things clip that only scratches the surface of her manic, stuttering, bulging-eyeballs delivery.

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