As a somewhat typical college student, I own a Netflix account that I use almost daily. My current obsession is Supernatural (go ahead, laugh).
I came across the show while browsing through titles, and I watched the first few episodes. Not being a quitter, I naturally had to finish the rest of the 10 available seasons (hurry up and get season 11 on there, would you, Netflix?).
After roughly 145 hours of television consumption from August 2015 to May 2016, it is safe to say that I had spend my fair share of time getting to know the characters on the show. I even found myself thinking from time to time, “Oh, Dean would totally do that,” or something along those lines.
With the amount of time people invest in television shows nowadays, it is easy to get trapped in that fantasy. Not only are there weekly episodes to bate your emotional connection to characters, but there are also after shows, online fandom sites, social media accounts, and more.
If these are not enough, let’s not forget the fact that these are real people as well. Although Sam Winchester does not exist, fans can get the next best thing: a clone by the name of Jared Padalecki.
So with all of this investment in television shows today, one may call into question the emotional side effects this may have on people.
In one book I admire called The Last Book In the Universe, people in the story are plugged in to machines that feed a continual story in their mind of whatever they want. They get so addicted that they cannot separate from the fantasy and as a result stay hooked on the machine until they die.
We may not be at these extreme times yet, but the steady increase of viewer involvement with television shows can make one a little leery. With fans so heavily a part of the lives of these characters, the show becomes more than a one-hour façade; it becomes a part of their lives.
I am still dying to know what happens in season 11 of Supernatural despite all of this, and that is what makes me a bit uncomfortable.