Have you ever wondered, why tv serials are so popular? How they break down our defences, creep underneath our skins and get us hooked on them? Ever pondered the psychological implications of staring at the tv screen all day long rooting for an imaginary character to no end with no satisfaction at the end of the day, just a promise of more to come in subsequent episodes/seasons?
Experience has shown that human beings love stories, are unwillingly to let the things they are enjoying end abruptly and would do anything to make it last ONE second longer. So the need to postpone the thrill, extend the fun for as long as possible, milking an event for all it’s worth before skipping to the next adventure… or, mis-adventure.
Why am I ranting? I’ll get to it, in a bit. There’s a saying amongst media practitioners that goes (and I paraphrase loosely) ‘hold a man’s attention for 1 minute and sell him a product, hold it for hours and sell him a lifestyle’. Of course the man in question would have to actually stare at the tv screen and form a pattern of association.
Case in point: let’s say… me! I love movies, a certified tv junkie, used to stay up through the night to see movies, still do. And from action Chinese movies (that made me learn karate) to American thrillers, the Bond series (I still strive for Sean Connery’s charm and Pierce Brosnan’s savvy) I saw them all and rode the highs, the lows and did some outright stupid things. (Raise your hand if you’ve never imaginarily whipped a gun an shot someone who’s annoying you.)
Anyways, no matter how cool or interesting a movie was, after a while, I moved on, the character dies a natural death and the next movie star is born. And so it goes, on and on. The one static annoyance, the habit I never really walked away from, was the serials. I’ll explain, tarry a bit.
From the days of ‘no one but you’, ‘the rich also cry’ and ‘checkmate’ my life has been a constant remake of the events seen on tv. In doubt, lemme cite some examples real quick. Segun Kadiri (RMD) in checkmate was obsessed with Ego Boyo’s character: yours truly was couldn’t get enough staring time with Juliet (don’t ask). Also, the Fuji house of commotion project was borne out of that serial. (Although I do relate with that, grew up in a similar setting, keyword – SIMILAR).
So as a kid, I got thrown into the serial mill, fell in and out of love weekly and all the girls in my secondary school became epic love stories. Fast forward to 2001, serial by the name ‘passions’ I couldn’t get enough of Luiz, and when I found that the actor who played the character is my birthday mate, it was as though the fates had shown me a sign. I was intensely loyal and actually found my Sheridan. Everyone including mom saw what was happening… I didn’t, sadly.
Passions stopped airing on AIT, I was heartbroken. The tv station had given me the best drug in years and taken it away when I desperately needed it. Needless to say, it was another Sheridan (things didn’t work out with my initial Sheridan) that got me back on my feet and healed my heartbreak. I was a wreck, I just didn’t know it then.
Needless to say, I grew up. Stopped with the romantic serials and started doing action thrillers and anything else but. Soon, I was impersonating Scofield, talking like Ally, and analyzing like Mahone. Eventually saw 24 and my James Bond fantasy – dormant for years – came alive. I was staring in the hole again, I just didn’t realize it.
Gradually, it became me, I got hooked on ‘the vampire diaries’ and though my friends may disagree initially, they will eventually agree that Damon Salvatore has my annoyingly obnoxious character :d – aaaand I’m back there. It wasn’t a bad thing though, until I started seeing ‘how I met your mother’ that serial opened my eyes.
between Barney Stinson and Ted Mosby, I found out what was essentially wrong with me in relationships. Yes, found it, now y’all can start sending the applications (ladies only :|). So, as I was saying, Ted always sabotages his own relationships and Barney, well, he enjoyed the thrill of the chase more than the actual victory. I finally saw it then.
Having seen too many love serials/stories where the main character(s) had to go through several relationships to find the one, be ultimately disappointed or discover that (s)he had been there all along, I learnt that I had mentally agreed to torture myself and go through a bevy of ladies before finding THE ONE. And when it all seemed easy, and the girl actually stays, not putting up a fight anymore, like Barney Stinson, I miss the thrill and walk away. #gbam
Just before you judge me, think about this, a serial always has its main character(s) a love interest for the dude/girl and countless distractions by way of short term relationships (flings). So there… If you’re a tv serial junkie and find you get bored easily, you may have been afflicted with my own kinda disease.
So, with all this rant and personal examples, the thing I wanna say is, you become what you see/watch constantly. Slowly, gradually and (most definitely) surely, you turn…
Now that I’ve realised that I’m caught up in an unending tv serial, what will I do you may ask… My answer, like Brain tells Pinky in ‘the Pinky and the Brain’ is, find new cool serials and watch! I have a thing for conquering my battles by tackling them head on. Besides, you will agree with me that serials have this allure… the trick to not getting caught up, is, to not start.
PS: I left out my favourite serials ‘Ally McBeal’, The Practice and recently ‘Suits’. They’re all legal thrillers, kinda explains my fascination with the law and the ‘hallowedness of the place of justice’ but that self examination is fodder for another day’s rant! Today, I’m just hating on romance :d