Know your limit, binge-watch within it
By Isabelle Orr, Entertainment Editor
Brave television aficionado Masie McKenzie stood in front of a podium at a press conference last Friday.
“It has become clear to me that I am not in a good place physically, emotionally, or mentally to watch the latest and final season of Orange is the New Black,” McKenzie announced. “I am simply unable to at this time.”
The critically acclaimed Netflix dramedy aired its seventh and final season in late July. Viewers could choose to watch episodes at their leisure, whenever they found the time.
“Obviously I was not going to do that [watch at a reasonable pace],” McKenzie said. “I was going to watch all 13 episodes one after the other, not seeing the light of day or talking to another person until I completed every single episode and updated the show’s fan-made Wikia.”
What makes Orange is the New Black such a difficult show to watch?
“The show is essentially trauma porn,” said pop culture analyst Chrys Lethbridge to the Other Press. “Each episode leaves the viewer feeling 9 to 10 times worse than they did before.”
In the previous season, the characters in the show were split apart. Some remained in prison, some were released, and others sent to ICE detainment centres.
“This show gives perspective to many themes that are necessary to examine in today’s social climate,” Lethbridge said. “The prison industrial complex, the place of women of colour within white society, and the cruelties facing immigrants in America. Unfortunately, the show is so draining to watch that one must book at least a week off work to watch, process, and heal from the emotional wounds left by each individual episode.”
Why is McKenzie feeling especially wounded and vulnerable?
“Well, it’s nobody’s business,” she said. “But this summer has been full of emotional upheaval. The combination of Cancer season and Mercury in retrograde left me feeling pretty worn out. That paired with friend and romantic drama, and a new diet where I can only eat for eight hours in a day, makes the thought of watching an emotional show just unbearable.
“I want to go on the record and state that it’s completely okay and valid to not watch a show because you think you can’t deal with it,” McKenzie added towards the end of her interview. “As someone who lives in a consumer culture, you have to be mindful of what you ‘consume’ and if it’s in your best interest to do so. Although at this time I am unable to watch this final season, I hope to one day be able to, to the best of my abilities. I am at peace with this.”
McKenzie added that although she will not be watching the show, she will be diving into some explicit fanfiction.