Confessions of a Television Addict
Editor Matt McDonald comes clean about his long-term American TV problem.
Hi. My name is Matt. I'm 20 years old. And I'm addicted to American TV drama.
It started back when I was in high school, whilst actively avoiding GCSE revision. I stumbled across a repeat of the pilot of "Rome" on BBC1. Swords, sandals and softcore pornography. It was a match made in Hell with my innocent teenage mind.
The worst part was, rather than noticing the symptoms from the outset and taking preventative measures, my family encouraged my addiction. In buying the complete box set, my parents had condemned me to a lifetime of dependency on HBO's output.
This was only the start. Every year since then, my father receives a new box set for Christmas. "The Sopranos". "The Pacific". "Band of Brothers".
I envy the self-control that he and my mother exercise: one episode, every Sunday evening. Then bed. For I know, that as soon as I put that first DVD in, I'll be watching a whole season in one sitting.
This time last year, I returned home to 'revise' for my first-year exam to be welcomed by all five series of "The Wire". I watched sixty episodes in two weeks – it's a miracle I'm still at university.
I'd like to say that since then, my addiction has subsided, due to the more demanding workload that second year has dosed out. I would like to say that.
The fact of the matter is, I've been home for a fortnight so far. I've watched all of "Boardwalk Empire", and kept the pace with season two of "Game of Thrones".
Then when the good stuff ran dry, I started buying from a dodgier dealer: Showtime. Sure, "Californication" and "Homeland" semi-satiate my lust for clever scripting and turbulent storylines, but deep down I know it's not the same.
In an interview with Deadline Hollywood, Martin Scorsese explained his involvement with "Boardwalk Empire" by declaring that "what's happening the past 9 to 10 years, particularly at HBO, is what we had hoped for in the mid-Sixties with films being made for television at first." Whilst the long-form American TV drama may have realised the dreams of the Flower Power generation, it's also turned my bedroom into a crack den. Narrative is the opium of the people.
I would develop my argument further, but I think that the new episode of "The Borgias" has just come out…