I have been watching some Orange Is The New Black, a Netflix series about a women's prison in the US. It is compelling and powerful and I am finding it hard to stop watching, but I don't know that it is actually good for my general state of mind.
Thing is, watching disastrous life decisions unfold can be fun or it can be super depressing. Arrested Development, for example, showcased all kinds of terrible decisions made by a family of extremely rich narcissists. They embark on all kinds of idiotic adventures but it can't strike all that close to home for me - those lunatics aren't *real* in any way.
In Orange, that isn't the case. The show depicts a range of characters from all kinds of backgrounds, but there are a lot of them that were born into poverty, had disastrous family situations, and ended up in prison mostly out of circumstance and desperation. Some of the inmates are evil straight up, some did something truly horrible, but a lot of them clearly could have had productive, reasonably happy lives if they had a good base to start from. Though the stories are fiction it is hard to watch knowing just how close to real they are. Taystee may not be a real person, but her story reflects the reality that a lot of people face and it is hard to watch that tragedy knowing just how real it is.
I guess that is why it is so much easier to watch something fluffy like a Bond movie. The villains that get whacked are over the top evil, henchmen happily working for a mad supervillain who wants to take over the world. It is too far from the everyday evil that is inherent in the world in which we live from day to day. In Orange you watch the characters struggle and suffer and although they are criminals so many of them don't need punishment... they just need a helping hand.
Watching this show makes me depressed. I love the characters and their drama and I think it is well acted and written but although I am addicted I know I will be better off when I am finally done with it.
The parallels between the heroin addicts in the show who can't stop taking a hit but who know for certain that doing so is terrible for them is not lost on me.