I remember as a preteen girl, when I would get a new Costco-pack of Nancy Drew books, I would binge read them all at once. And suddenly, I’d find the words repeating themselves in my mind as I did other things throughout the day. Probably not the exact words, but names, phrases, things like that, just circling around in there.
Years later, when I first moved to southern California and binge-watched the first season of “Friday Night Lights” for lack of other activities and to fight off the loneliness, I found a similar thing happening to me.
My theory is that the more time we spend with a story, the more it becomes part of our life. The characters become real to us, and for better or worse, so does their story.
That’s why, when I would watch a bunch of “Gossip Girl” while breastfeeding my oldest baby and then go to Mass shortly after, I would feel guilty. Because I was still thinking about the characters. And the characters were basically all having a bunch of sex. (I stopped watching somewhere in the second season.)
That’s why when Luke and I got really into “House of Cards,” we asked ourselves a couple times, “This is okay to watch, right?” Even though we fast-forwarded the sex scenes, the entire show was just so bogged down with it.
And it’s why, even though I never felt the need to stop watching “Grey’s Anatomy” entirely, I did decide, at a certain point, that I would watch no more than two episodes in a given day (update: I’ve totally stopped watching it by now — there are just so many superior things around to watch that it started to feel like a waste of time…).
I grew up as a fairly sheltered home-schooler, so I think it’s safe to say that I’m more sensitive in what I watch than a lot of people. And I think there is spiritual value in staying that way.
I don’t pretend to be the final word in what is good or bad for us to be watching, as Catholics. But I notice the sex and other issues most shows and movies contain, and I am keenly aware of how they might affect us. So the final decision of what to watch is always up to you, but I hope to be able to help inform your decision.