Saturation Watching Burned Me Out

Shows Lost in Overindulgence

Numerous TV shows were worthy of destination watching back in their heyday.  My parents and I would gather around the television in the family room to watch them.  Later on, my wife, kids and I would do the same thing.  Network television was the king of the hill and we would soak up the latest fare with appreciation.  Those shows were then syndicated and became staples of television viewing for a long time.  At some point a few of these shows “jumped the shark” for me and I can no longer stand watching them.  It's not the fault of the shows, I just overindulged over an extended period.  

Here’s a list of formerly favorite shows that now turn my stomach when I see a glimpse of them as I channel surf, and a few others entering the danger zone but not yet causing me to grab the antacids.

MASH

I don’t know that anyone was a bigger fan of MASH than I was.  I loved the adventures of Alan AldaCredit: wikipedia commons public domain - Markus PoesselHawkeye, Trapper, Frank and Hot Lips.  MASH was great even after Trapper left and they killed off Henry Blake.  Colonel Potter and Klinger were always entertaining together.  Even towards the end of the show’s run when Alan Alda got more preachy and way less funny,  I enjoyed them all.  I watched the slow on network and when they showed multiple episodes per day in syndication.

MASH was the first show in which I noticed the phenomenon of reaching viewing fatigue for a show that I used to love.  I stopped watching the reruns.  Not only did I stop watching them, I was entirely turned off by the show.  It became entirely unwatchable.  I just can’t do it anymore.

Happy Days

Richie and the Fonz were so fun together.  After all, Richie was the quintessential good guy and Fonzie was the coolest human on earth.  Howard, Marion, Potsie and Ralph were also endearing, each in their own way.  Happy Days was a staple for a long while and was Henry WinklerCredit: wikipedia commons public domain - photo by Alan Lightenjoyable even in syndication. 

Alas, similar to the show losing its luster in its network run after Fonzie jumped the shark,[1] I could no longer view Happy Days after a while.  Maybe the show was a product of the times and didn’t translate well later.  I got sick of the machinations of the Milwaukee crowd.  Fonzie became overbearing instead of cool.  Richie became a stick in the mud.  I know longer cared when Howard got frisky.  The act grew stale.

Friends

Friends was one of the anchors of Thursday nights on NBC.  We all loved Ross, Rachel, Joey, Phoebe, Chandler and Monica.  They were young, fun and attractive.  We got to know each of the characters very well and almost knew how the characters would react to things before the shows played out.  Joey was the player who couldn’t act.  Phoebe was the player who couldn’t play (her guitar).  Chandler couldn’t get a date and Rachel couldn’t decide which guy she wanted.  Monica and Chandler were dysfunctional in their own ways and seemed a great match.  The show was well put together.Courtney CoxCredit: wikipedia commons public domain - photo by Alan Light

Sometime after the show went into syndication I started to notice that Ross’s whining became annoying instead of funny.  Rachel’s dithering became too much to bear.  Joey’s dumbness wasn’t funny, it was just dumb.  Maybe it’s like getting cabin fever when you’ve been around someone too long on a camping trip.  The formerly endearing idiosyncrasies became a deal killer.  The show crossed over into the unwatchable zone.

I Love Lucy

I Love Lucy is a special case because the episodes aired on TV only in syndication when I was a kid.  I saw every one several times over.  Lucy and Ricky was so funny together.  Fred and Lucille Ball and Desi ArnazCredit: wikipedia commons public domain - Los Angeles Times (copyright expired)Ethel were great neighbors, even if Fred was a total grump.  It was part of his charm.  I think I lost interest when the group travelled to California.  The interplay in the New York apartments was gone.  By that point, even as a child, I would wait for the inevitable Lucy crying jag.  It no longer rang true.

While I have to give the series credit for being groundbreaking as a sitcom and allowing a woman to take the lead in a show, I can’t watch an entire episode anymore.  I can enjoy snippets of video, like the one showing Lucy on the assembly line, but I can’t take in a whole show.

Shows in the Danger Zone, but Still Watchable

Seinfeld

Seinfeld ranks as one of my favorite all time shows.  Jerry, Kramer, George and Elaine are hilarious together.  The show about nothing really does fill up a half hour with funny stuff Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-DreyfusCredit: wikipedia commons public domain - photo by Alan Lightabout the mundane.  I was cutting some food recently and thought of Mr. Pitt, Elaine’s boss for a time, cutting the Snicker’s Bar with a knife and fork.  I even said “sponge worthy” recently.  The show is still funny to me but I know longer glom onto an episode when I see one is on the cable lineup.  The show is moving into an occasional watching category.  I can’t take the show in large doses anymore.  I could never binge watch a bunch of episodes.  They’re all too familiar.

Two and a Half Men

That Charlie Harper is a cad.  His nerdy brother Alan is charmingly goofy.  Alan’s son Jake Charlie SheenCredit: wikipedia commons public domain - Angela George at http://www.flickr.com/photos/sharongraphics/sure is gross, but amusing.  I still enjoy these characters, but Charlie sometimes feels creepy to me now.  Maybe Charlie Sheen the person is creeping into the character for me.  Being drunk and crazy is not as funny if the actor himself is really drunk and crazy.  That stuff is only laugh inducing when you know it’s acting.  Sometimes I find myself blowing past this show now.  I used to always stop by for a half hour or so.

The Simpsons

Although technically not a sitcom, I view this show as if it wasn’t a cartoon cast.  Bart, Homer, Marge and Lisa are familiar to most of us and have had a long run.  I’ll still watch every once in a while, but how many nuclear meltdowns can Homer cause before we tire of them?

I’m sure my list of unwatchable shows will grow longer over time.  As another log on the unwatchable fire, binge watching on Netflix will probably make shows unwatchable for me even faster now.  Maybe it can happen in a weekend instead of a decade or so.

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