On Love and Netflix

I can’t sleep at night. This is probably due to my inherent anxiety problem and the fact that I’ve gotten into the terrible habit of having my Netflix run as I attempt to drift off. According to my doctor, stimulation from a screen is the worst thing you can put into your brain before attempting a trip to snooze city. Whoops.

Because I always have a TV show running in the background when I’m doing something, or in the foreground when I’m not, I’ve become committed to a few particular shows. What I realized recently — as I made my nightly attempt to quiet my brain and force it into slumber — is that the way I watch television is quite similar to the way I see men.

You probably think these are about to be the ramblings of an insomniac, and they are. Still, I can’t help but notice how the way I watch particular shows mimics the way I see different individuals or groups of dudes who I’ve known in the past, or know to exist somewhere out in the world.

This might seem like a long shot but at least it gives you the chance to judge me on the types of TV shows I watch. And the kinds of men I befriend and/or date.

I now present to you, without a theme song…

How My Obsessive TV Watching Mirrors The Way I Categorize Men

1) Parks and Recreation – The one I haven’t gotten sick of yet. Parks and Rec is my mainstay. It makes me laugh even though I’ve watched each episode too many times to count. But the show just makes me happy in a way I can’t explain. This is the kind of guy most (man-loving) girls hope to find: The old faithful friend who never seems to bore you but also wants to do you.

2) Bob’s Burgers – The one that I want to see mature and conquer the world. Bob’s Burgers is a great show that needs more time to get on its feet. It isn’t quite at the level of the other adult animated comedies but I want to see it get there. It’s like the funny, cute guy who needs a little help growing up. I’m here for you and I’ll never leave you!

3) Family Guy – The one that I got sick of but keep in my life because I see it as an old friend. The show isn’t good anymore. I really don’t have any interest in watching it. And yet, I can’t help but put it on once in a while just because it has been a part of my TV lineup for as long as I can remember. This is reminiscent of a guy who remains in your life even when you don’t necessarily feel like you need him. But the comfort of knowing he’s around makes you feel less lonely because there’s always someone familiar there in the background.

4) 30 Rock – The one that was so good that I don’t want to go back, for fear of ruining what we had when everything was new. It’s like a one-night-stand that went surprisingly well. I wasn’t shocked that I loved 30 Rock since Tina Fey is my goddess, but I was surprised that I didn’t feel the need to obsessively re-watch episodes. A one-night-stand is a one-night-only event. This is how I feel about the many seasons of 30 Rock. If I watch them again, it may ruin what we had at that one time so long ago.

5) The Office – The one I kept going back to, despite years of ups and downs. I loved this show more than almost any other show I can possibly remember. I have every episode (pre-Michael Scott departure) memorized. For a long time, I would try watching a new show and then always find myself ending my day with an Office re-run, even though the show became unwatchable and I was beyond sick of it. It was like that one guy you don’t want to go back to but do anyway, mainly because you want to see if he’ll be better this time.

6) Girls – The one that everyone else liked and I couldn’t understand why. I started to watch Girls because I wanted to be a part of the conversation. However, as much as I respect Lena Dunham (since, you know, I want to do what she does…but better), I couldn’t understand the show’s appeal. People were flocking to this hot new thing and I didn’t get why. Think of it as the new kid in school who all the girls grew obsessed with while you couldn’t see past his hipster “I’m rich but act poor” attitude.

7) Summer Heights High – The one I go back to when I need a little drag in my life (which is often). Sometimes I just want to be with gay men and queens who like to dance.

8) Freaks and Geeks – The one that brings me back to my lovelorn adolescent days and helps me reminisce when I’m feeling nostalgic. When I’m feeling like the tortured soul I was back in middle and high school, I always think back to this little gem. It’s like the dude you had a crush on when you were too young to know what it meant. For me, that was John Stamos. And as for the show, it came on long before I understood what it meant to smoke a blunt.

9) Breaking Bad – The super exciting one that I got to know after everyone else started to move on. I want to savor our company because I never want the relationship to end, even though I know it has an expiration date. This reminds me of those summer flings that many  people seem to have, which I’ll admit I don’t quite understand. How do you find such a thing? Can I have one? Regardless, Breaking Bad  is that fling that only lasts 5 seasons but manages to pack in every exciting thing it can offer. Similarly, the summer ends, but the memories of that dude you met on the boardwalk who showed you an adventure will make you feel cool forever.

10) New Girl – The one that I want to improve. I used to love this show, until the two main characters ended up together at the beginning of Season 3. Too fast! Slow down, guys. The show has gotten less and less appealing to me and now all I want to do is fix it. It’s like one of those men who girls love to take care of and nurture into a newer and improved guy. That’s what I want to do for New Girl. It needs me, even if it leaves right after I make it realize how great it could be.

This list could go on for pages. I didn’t even include the dozens of reality shows I watch. But for your sanity and mine, I’ll end it at #10.

I realize this kind of comparison might only make sense in my unrested brain but you must understand, I jerked awake (well, I was already awake) and wrote this out in the middle of the night because the comparison got me so excited.

I wonder if my commitment to certain shows and the way I watch particular series over and over, instead of trying something new, says something about the way I treat men. Do I go back to the same guy, or the same type of guy, all the time because I already know what to expect? Totally.

Maybe I’ll try an exercise where I force myself to try a new show every time I’m paying attention to the screen and not using it as background noise. Perhaps it will help with my outside life (ha, what’s that?) and show me how to appreciate something completely new and unknown. I’m talking about men here.

We’ll see how this little experiment goes.

But first: One more episode of Parks and Rec…

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