Ranking amongst the greatest oxymorons of all time, likely somewhere between airplane food and peace force, is television marathon.
TV marathons are probably the furthest from actual physical activity marathons that they can possibly get. Sure, in both cases your vision probably gets a bit blurry, your muscles begin to ache, and you are somewhat closer to death, but the similarities end there.
Personally, the blame falls on Netflix. To me it is the root of all evil. The greatest catastrophe to hit already pop-culture satiated plebeians of all time. The plastic shopping bag in a tree to my personal Liz Lemon.
Netflix is the type of evil which reels you in with the promise of all five million seasons of such and such with the simplest click of a button. Then it… delivers. And soon enough you’ve opened the Pandora’s Box of media overstimulation and you’re being uncannily accurately suggested programs you forgot and/or never knew existed and your Netflix Instant Queue is in the triple digits.
Some British TV program you vaguely remember enjoying years ago? Seven seasons of god knows how many episodes? Sure. Whatever. Let’s go.
I should mention that there should really be a large flashing neon sign of some sort presented to you when you press play on a show of 5+ seasons that reads no stop it’s a trap. Because that’s what it is. A trap. A sort of self-imposed prison of conveniently instant amusement that pushes you more and more towards maximum security every time you press “next episode”.
Before you know it “just a few episodes” has turned into “all the episodes”. You’ve become one with your sofa. A box of gorgonzola chips probably meant for 10 or more party guests is nearly empty and you’re sipping from a plastic bottle of ginger ale like it’s one of those gerbil cage drinking bottle things.
Eventually your net physical movement is reduced to the trifecta of sofa-bathroom-fridge. You actually begin to practice one of the three songs you know on ukulele in a futile attempt to restore your depth perception because rubbing your eyes isn’t helping anymore. The narration of your thoughts is suddenly in David Mitchell’s voice. You shut your blinds to the world because the glare is ruining your picture. You’ve reached the ultimate stage of hermitude. Netflix has won.
In this state you can almost feel the sun’s rays desperately grasping through the gaps in your blinds whispering come back I miss you and the glaring lack of real social contact enveloping your black hole of a soul. There’s this vague incipient sense of shame gnawing at you like a mosquito bite on the back of your thigh that won’t go away.
And yet, you continue searching for new positions on the sofa that don’t ache. You withdraw further and further into television until you’re a dried husk of a human. You consume an amount of programming meant to be spread out over actual human years in a 9-hour timespan.
Then, tragedy strikes. You stare at your screen blankly as any semblance of willpower or purpose drains from your body. The carefully constructed glass castle of entertainment and emergent self-loathing you’ve built for yourself is shattered.
There’s no “next episode” button.