why Peak TV has me turned off

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illo by Ronnie Sullivan

Confession: I have Peak TV exhaustion. Despite all my best efforts, I’ve failed to consume all the Highly Acclaimed Prestige Television required for admittance in our current cultural discussion.

It’s not for lack of trying. I have subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. I inhaled BoJack Horseman, Stranger Things, and The Dark. I started Orange is the New Black. And House of Cards. Better Call Saul, Kiss Me First, most of the Marvel Netflix shows. There’s still Jack Ryan and Transparent and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Glow and The Crown and sense8 and Black Mirror and Handmaid’s Tale and and and..

Click the Netflix button. Scroll, scroll scroll. Exit. Click the Hulu button. Scroll, scroll. Why does nothing seem appealing, even when it all should?

Part of the analysis paralysis comes from knowing so many shows are worth watching. Even if not all of them are for me, how do I know what I’m going to like? The overload of quality shows has made me numb to preferences.

It feels like reaching around in the dark trying to determine what sort of show to watch. Gritty Drama? Wacky Comedy? Depressing Animated Comedy? I don’t know how to analyze my brain for feelings about shows grouped by keywords in this way. Dark Drama With A Snarky Female Lead?

Maybe I just need a break from scripted content. Television has etched the three-act structure permanently into my brain the way important facts and worthwhile knowledge is in other people’s. I can see story arcs telegraphed two episodes in and I get tired. It’s not the show’s fault, it’s mine.

thoughts on The Staircase and its portrayal of sexuality

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As a crime junkie, I’ve been meaning to watch The Staircase miniseries for what seems like forever. It is one of the more notorious did-he-do-it cases that the internet loves to argue about, but it’s never been particularly available until recently. (I mean, who has the Sundance Channel?) Luckily, Netflix has just released the follow up film and Jean-Xavier de Lestrade’s original as a series of episodes!

The basic facts of the case are enough to pull a viewer in: a husband/wife possible murder with a lot of blood, and a curious previous incident that seems crazy coincidental. My original feelings were that Michael Peterson was likely guilty, I wasn’t sure the series could possibly change my mind. It did, but also gave me an entirely unexpected reason to care. The reaction to Michael’s bi-sexuality was upsetting.