There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a fresh new series.
There’s a sense of reassurance in the new series stretching out before you. The knowledge that you won’t be out on the hunt for a new series again for a while alleviates the malaise of living. While it’s on anyway.
Between series’, we are rudderless, disorientated. If you watch as a couple the relationship can become destabilised.
Harmony snuffed out as night after night you “try” a new series only to fall at the first boring 10 minutes and realise, once again, that even prestige telly can let you down.
The toll these in between times can have on a relationship is immeasurable. As you both drift through the internet hacking at the coalface of “Something Good To Watch”, animosity can grow. Especially when one believes they have found the perfect thing. And the other just wants to rewatch the whole of The Sopranos (again).
An added stress comes when there’s a difference of opinion regarding genre. My go-to genre is horror and I recognise that horror may not be for everyone. But everyone didn’t marry me. And the person who did marry me, married me for better or worse. And what I like to watch is the worst.
Right now, at Halloween, I am in my element — as you can imagine. Everyone is spooky and my tastes don’t seem perverse in the slightest.
When I was younger reading The Exorcist under the table in Irish class, I felt out of step but right now, there’s never been a better time to be a horror obsessive. Netflix is awash with gore and more and true crime has hit the mainstream.
People are revealing their grim appetites and feeling less alone in their dark Google search histories. It’s 2021! Everyone is on a watchlist of some description. If you’re not, you’re probably not doing the internet right. Or maybe you’re... ya know... well adjusted.
A few weeks ago, I hit upon a novel approach to try to coerce my husband into watching what I wanted, and it backfired in a spectacularly left-field way that I could never have anticipated. It began with me selecting a sufficiently harrowing, horrifying and hellish dramatisation of a true crime.
I didn’t prepare him, I simply said: “Don’t think of it as trawling the annals of the worst things human beings have ever done to each other, think of it as a dose of perspective. A healthy reminder that the low-grade crap we’re moaning about is not that bad.”
Appropriate Adult is a drama about the police investigation into the crimes of Fred and Rosemary West. I introduced the series with: “Tonight... in ‘Things Could Be Worse’.” It was, thank god, not a gratuitous deep dive into the more grotesque aspects of the story though it, of course, was deeply disturbing.
It did boast compelling performances by Emily Mortimer and Dominic West (no relation) which helped my husband last all the way to the end. He even admitted it was good. If “good” is the word.
It was a win of sorts, he’s making an effort though it’s no romantic rewatch of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre together. He still won’t be supporting or taking part in my customary Christmas horror marathon. Or the annual Valentine’s Day viewing of The Shining. Yes, obviously I do watch horror movies for Halloween but horror is for life not just for Halloween.
“Why are you like this?” My husband asks when my earphones disconnect and the gruesome podcast I’m listening to momentarily plays out loud in the room. The bedroom to be specific. In the middle of the night, lulling me to sleep.
His question did get me thinking, “Why am I like this?” Why are horrific things my go-to comfort content?
I like interrogating the strange bad things that people do. I feel I am gathering intel to stave off such horrors from taking place in my life. But more than these things, it’s about being immersed in something terrible and then surfacing into your real, safe unremarkable reality that gives you a fresh appreciation for your own life.
How, you may be wondering, did demanding the husband watch Appropriate Adult backfire on me?
Well, he’s developed his own line on the “Things Could Be Worse” front. Now in response to our every low-grade marital squabble, his comeback is to remind me how lucky I am that he’s not Fred West. That is one low bar.