I stopped watching movies and TV shows that I don’t like. Why you should too

I stopped watching Cowboy Bebop almost immediately. Good choice.

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I watched the original Dexter series. All. Every episode. I watched it beyond the point of enjoyment, including the final season, even after it was clear to me that it sucked. I had already invested a lot of time in it, so I stuck with it. I should not have.

I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions, but I have one for 2022, and I’m determined to keep it: I won’t be afraid of the stop button anymore.

I had already floated the idea of ​​turning off movies, shows, or series that don’t do it for me when I came across a thread on Reddit’s LifeProTips subreddit that articulated my thoughts: “LPT: Stop to watch movies/series that you don’t feel obligated to watch them all to the end. There are too many bad movies/series out there, just start a new one or do something else thing.

LifeProTips is a place for people to give each other advice, and it looks like this thread has touched a nerve, racking up nearly 42,000 upvotes and over 3,600 comments. I’m not the only one who has a sunk relationship with the media. “Argh. It’s like when shows that were good at first start becoming crap. You’ve invested so much time watching this show, you just want to see it end. Thank goodness Walking Dead is finally ending” , wrote a Reddit user.

The sunk cost fallacy is the idea that you’ve already paid a cost (like money or time) for something, so you feel like you have to keep going, even if it’s a bad idea. When it comes to TV and movies, it’s both time and money for me. Sometimes I try to get the most out of the streaming services I pay for and sometimes, like with Dexter, I’ve put in a lot of time and feel compelled to see it through, forging flat writing, flatter characters and endings that leave me shaking my fist at the screen. Really, Dexter? You’re a lumberjack and you’re okay?! No no no!

Perhaps part of it stems from childhood, when I would start a book and then drag the pages whether I liked it or not, just so I could close the cover at the other end. I blame the fourth grade reading contest I entered when I racked up over 60 pounds in a single summer and won a bike. I liked the feeling of completion, even though I didn’t like the journey. I was like that in my MFA program, too. I can’t skim through a 50 page academic essay. I have to read The. Together. Thing.

I’m trying to change, because media time should be precious. As devastating news about the pandemic and climate change accumulates, I become more keenly aware of the scarcity of time. “Life is too short for [insert thing here]” is a cliché, but it is significant.

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I liked this movie, man. I watched everything.

Pictures of Orion

I have already started practicing my new approach. I loved the Cowboy Bebop anime, but 10 minutes after the netflix series live, I stopped it. I immediately felt uncomfortable with the editing and visuals, which work hard to mimic the anime rather than being their own thing. I thought, oh maybe I’ll try again. But I did not do it. Like a freight train, I continued, instead moving on to the final season of Cobra Kai, which I love for its heart and, of course, martial arts action.

Earlier this week I released Bill & Ted Face the Music, the 2020 sequel to the Bill & Ted film series. I said out loud to my partner, “If it sucks, we’ll turn it off.” This verbal commitment helped me set my expectations and prepare me to take a break if needed. I enjoyed the awkwardness, the cheesy special effects, the nostalgia and the upbeat message of unity through the music…and I never pressed stop.

What this requires of me is a conscious commitment to checking in with myself. Am I enjoying this? If not, would I rather watch something else or go write or read a book or make bagels? So here’s my big resolution for 2022: Less TV and movies I don’t like, more bagels.

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