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December 11, 2013

The Couch Potato: Why do we watch? We have our reasons

NEW CASTLE — I did some quick math yesterday and discovered something that is actually quite startling.

In my Netflix queue, I have 76 future discs saved between movies and television shows. On my DVR queue, I have 38 different movies saved.

If you take a low-ball guess that the average disc or saved movie is about two hours worth of content, I’m looking at about 228 hours of stuff to watch. That’s a lot of movies and television shows to get through, and it seems quite daunting.

I was talking to a friend the other day, and we discovered that we were both finishing up Season 8 of “Dexter” on Netflix DVD. Since this was the final season of the show, I mentioned to him that I felt a sense of accomplishment for wrapping up my own viewing of the series.

He laughed about that (but also agreed that he looked at it in the same way), and it got me wondering why we both felt like that. Why does watching a show from start to finish create a sense of accomplishment? And why am I setting myself up for something that I consider to be “daunting?”

None of us viewers created, wrote, directed or starred in the show. All we did was sit on our lazy, couch potato behinds, and watch people act like they were someone else. And now we feel good about completing that task?

I’m not really apologizing for feeling like that, but it does make me think. Does it just feel good to finish something? It is a social issue, since it allows us to tell others that it was one of our shows, while discussing the twists and turns of the plot? Or do we just like to check things off the list?

For me, I think it’s a little of all three. I’m obsessive compulsive about keeping my DVR queue nice and clear. If something in there was accidentally recorded or one of my kids changed the order of the programs, it gets me feeling out of sorts. It has to be clean and orderly and I love deleting a movie once I finish it.

My Netflix queue is the same way and I’m constantly reordering the discs so that they arrive in the order that I want them, based on perceived enjoyability. I like to check my DVR and Netflix movies and shows off an imaginary list of good entertainment that exists only in my head.

I also love discussing these shows and movies with my friends and co-workers, as much of our lunch hour is spent on this topic. It’s always hilarious to see which movies and shows we’ll agree on, and obviously which ones we won't.

Finally, I think it’s just nice to finish things. Anything finished is a sense of accomplishment, so I’m going to continue to feel good about finishing shows.

I guess when you break it all down it’s a bit like “Dexter.” If you haven’t seen it, the title character is a serial killer (he only murders bad guys), who poses as a normal person working in the forensic department of the Miami Metro homicide division.

Anyway, much like Dexter, who spends a lot of the series trying to figure out why he is like he is and does what he does, maybe none of us knows why any of us do anything. 

(If you have a question, comment or idea, email me at:

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