Posted in Film, Television

Are You Drowning in Film and TV Content Like Me?

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It’s a great problem to have. Let’s start with that.

Too much of a good thing is usually better than not enough of it, after all.

But still. It’s been out of control the last few years, and especially, I’d argue, the last 12 months.

I love movies. And I love television. And there’s so much of it to watch lately that I’m struggling to keep up.

Even just a LITTLE.

I remember when I was a kid I dreamed of a future like this. Of having so many great movies and television shows to watch that I would never run out of excellent content.

My biggest dream for the future was to be able to look at a TV screen, say the title of ANY MOVIE EVER MADE, and then have that movie start playing.

In the early ’90s, this seemed so impossible. There was no on-demand. There was no streaming. There wasn’t even DVD yet. The idea of bonus content on a movie was alien to me, let alone being able to watch any movie I wanted at the push of a button or with a few words uttered.

But here we are, and I rarely stop to think about it, but it’s true.

That future I dreamed of as a kid is definitely here.

All right, so not EVERYTHING is available on the TV. Amazon has a lot of big and tiny and obscure films at a low price of $2.99, but at least once a month there’s a movie I want to watch that I can’t find on Amazon, or on Netflix, or even on eBay for that matter. I just came across a review of a 1936 film called Dodsworth, an Oscar-nominee that is supposed to be amazing, and last night I struggled finding anywhere, anyplace, that would allow me to see it.

But for the most part, think of a movie, and boom, you can pull it up on your TV, and that’s kind of amazing.

But now that we’ve hit that future I wanted so desperately as a kid, am I a happier film lover having all of these amazing movies at my fingertips?

Well… yes and no.

Yes, of course, I love the easy access to so many films new and old. Movies that were just released in theaters a few weeks ago suddenly show up on Apple TV for $5.99. Independent films that don’t come to my town often show up fast on Apple TV too, sometimes for a few bucks extra.

I love classic film, so I’ve been a huge supporter of FilmStruck, the Netflix for classic, indie, and foreign titles. This service has been around for nearly two years now, and I make the effort to watch at least one of their movies a week.

I love horror movies, too, it’s my favorite genre, so I’ve adored Shudder, the Netflix for horror films, also for the past two years. Like with FilmStruck, I try really hard to watch at least one horror film from Shudder each week, too.

There are so many ways to watch movies nowadays.

There aren’t video stores anymore, at least where I live, which is a shame. But otherwise, there’s never a lack of film content.

  1. There’s Redbox, which I use once or twice a month for new releases.
  2. There’s Apple TV, Filmstruck, and Shudder, which I mentioned before.
  3. There’s Netflix streaming of course, which I use all the time. Their film library isn’t nearly as impressive as their TV library, but still, they have some good stuff if you look hard enough.
  4. There’s Amazon Prime, which has lots of great films new and old.
  5. There’s Amazon itself, which houses almost every movie ever made for streaming $2.99 and up.
  6. There’s cable, where I record lots of movies on AMC, Spike TV, Sundance, IFC, and, most often, Turner Classic Movies.
  7. There’s my own library of DVDs and Blu Rays at home, which amounts to at least 200 or so.
  8. There’s my local Reno library, which has thousands and thousands of DVDs and Blu Ray, many of which I borrow every three weeks.
  9. And then of course there are movie theaters for the first-run films, still the best way to watch a movie in 2018.

All of this takes me to the NO part of my answer from above.

I wouldn’t want these outlets for movies to ever go away, but at the same time, it’s a lot. And most often, IT’S TOO MUCH!

It’s overwhelming.

On any given day I struggle to decide what to watch because there are SO MANY OPTIONS. I feel like I should be watching two, three movies every day to keep up, but I don’t. Even though I work a lot at home, I’m averaging now one movie a day, and sometimes it’s less than that. I won’t get to everything I want to watch, not even close. And I have to learn to live with it.

But this would all be manageable to some degree if I didn’t also love television, and try to watch everything in that medium as well.

Yep, the film world alone would be enough for seven lifetimes, but then there’s TV. And if the amount of films I can’t get to stresses me out, the sheer amount of TV to watch has hit the point of absurdity.

I can’t keep up.

Who can?

And what’s so frustrating about the world of TV is that the majority of the content is fantastic. I’d say 80% or so of the television I’ve consumed in the last two years has been great. There’s so much variety in genres. There’s so much diversity. There’s so much awesome material that no longer translates to the film world and instead gets brought to TV. There’s something for everyone, and if you’re like me, you try to see as much as possible.

Here’s the reality I’ve hit: I won’t get to all the TV I want to watch.

Hell, I’m not going to get to 50% of it.

And what stresses me out more than anything is that as soon as you finish one season of one show, five new seasons of other shows have dropped. You start one of those seasons, and when you reach the finish line, eight more seasons of other shows are now available. I feel like at this point if you watched television 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you STILL wouldn’t be able to keep up with everything.

One element that makes my struggle all the worse is that I am in no way a binge watcher. I have never spent a weekend watching all 10 or 13 episodes of a season. The most of a show I’ll watch in a single day is two episodes, possibly three if I’m at the end of the season.

My thing is, if the show I’m watching is GREAT, I don’t want it to end!

I don’t want to speed through it and move onto the next. I spent four months slowly making my way through the new season of Twin Peaks. I re-watched my favorite show Buffy the Vampire Slayer slowly over three and a half years recently. When the television show is fantastic, I want to appreciate each and every episode, and so I always take longer to get through the season.

But there’s so much TV. SO MUCH TV. It got to a point about this time last year where I had maybe forty shows on my Watch List on JUST NETFLIX ALONE. Not including a few shows I wanted to watch on Amazon. Not including some HBO stuff. And Hulu, too. And it got so difficult trying to decide what to watch next, I came up with a strategy, something that’s been working for me just fine, and it could work for you too.

For the past year, I’ve been watching TV shows in alphabetical order.

Between June of 2017 and May of 2018, I watched almost everything on my list from A to Z, one season at a time. In June of 2018 I started back at the start, with season 2 of 13 Reasons Why, (13 I counted as the numerical and not as a T), then moved into A with The Americans final season, Arrested Development Season 5, and now A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2.

I’m still in A, and there are at least three more shows to go. Atypical. Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 2. Alias Grace.

And so many new shows have been added in the last 8–12 months that I feel I might be in this new cycle of A-Z for the rest of my life!

I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles trying to get to all of this available content, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets a little stressed out.

At the end of the day, I’m happy there is so much great film and television out there, and so many ways to watch them.

But it’s impossible to keep up.

It’s impossible to stay updated in the latest conversation about whatever new great show just dropped.

And I have to make peace with that. Make peace with my drowning

Okay. Now I guess I’ll try to watch something while I eat my lunch. Maybe I’ll do a Netflix show. Or a FilmStruck movie. Or that new Amazon series.

Or… maybe I’ll just take a nap.

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