I'm kinda skirting a pretty important issue here: I watched the entire first season of Hemlock Grove in one day -- and then I started in on the second season the day after that. Now, I don't know if I've made this clear: I am not a fan of this show. But I have to see what happens next, or else I'll never know, and that feels like a loss to me. A loss of what? I don't know, man. I can just feel in my balls that I am missing out on a mysterious something, some unattainable satisfaction that sings me a sweet siren song even now.
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Like a man with a freshly broken heart, I see my lover's face wherever I wander.
I tell myself that there are two reasons I will watch a show, read a book, play a video game, or consume whatever media. The first is because it challenges me in some way: Spec Ops: The Line made me re-examine what video games were and how I played them, and The Mysteries of Udolpho made me realize that some pieces of 19th-century literature are utter fucking trash. I gave that media some of my time, and in return it made me a better person -- wiser, with a broader perspective on the world. The second, far more common reason I consume media is because it's fun: Pacific Rim, Call of Duty, Terry Pratchett books -- none of those things improve me as a person, but they enrich my life by being entertaining. They're fun. I give them my time, and in return I get a lot of laughter and excitement and joy. Which are fine.
But Hemlock Grove fits neither of the two core reasons I consume media. After a 13-hour binge on that show, I felt nothing. And that wasn't just the massive dose of Vicodin, I just have no emotional reaction to anything that happened on my screen. Even the idea of picking apart plot details or analyzing the subtext just makes me feel sleepy. I gave that show 13 hours of my time, and in return all I got was 13 hours closer to death. And yet, I'm going to watch more. Tonight? By the time this article runs, I'll probably have finished season 2, and, coincidentally, will be completely out of Vicodin.
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Don't worry about me, I know where to get more.
This is the future of television and media. Art is changing from a source of enrichment to a numbing agent, an anesthetic to ease our transition into old age, immobility, and death. The unadulterated human experience has become an inconvenience, and television is the relief. In the laboratory of mass media, we have bred our own apocalyptic virus. Our end comes not from the infernal heat of a nuclear blast or even from the barrel of a gun; it comes from the sedating embrace of our couch and the cold glow of an HD TV. This show -- this fucking werewolf-vampire-murder-mystery bullshit -- is the prototype for our end, the antecedent to the extinction of our species.
I did not much care for Hemlock Grove. It is a bad show.
JF Sargent is on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook because it is his job to do those things.
For more from Sarge, check out 5 Popular Medications You Won't Believe Mess With Your Brain and 6 Movie Good Guys You Didn't Notice Were Total Hypocrites.