The Real and the Imagined

A year or so ago, in a Swedish class, we read several articles about people who “make friends” with TV characters. Or at least, consider TV characters their friends. They worry about what’s happening. They share in the ups and downs.

Now, I don’t exactly consider series characters as my friends, but I do get caught up in the emotions of a series. (If it’s a good enough series, that is.) I don’t normally watch many series as they’re being aired. I’m normally on catch-up. So I have lots and lots of episodes to watch at any one time. And I watch them. Obsessively. The TV equivalent of not being able to put the book down.

At the moment, I’m obsessively watching Criminal Minds. This is a bit tricky because my partner doesn’t like it much, so I can’t watch it when he’s about. But I do when he’s not.

I was a bit cross last November when Netflix ran out of episodes at the end of Season 4. That was upsetting. But I got my mitts on more a couple of weeks ago (thank you, Amazon Lovefilm!), and I’m already on Season 7.

Season 6 was devastating in more ways than one, and I’m thankful that Season 7 has made it right again. I’m not going to go into details because of spoiler-potential. But suffice it to say that the afternoon I spent finishing Season 6 was something of a tear-jerker.

My point, though, is this. I find the Fictional World infinitely more emotional than the Real World. Perhaps it’s because in the fictional world, I know what’s going on, but I can’t do anything about it. I can see trouble miles off (like the Wrath of God in The Raiders of the Lost Ark), but my favourite characters can’t, and I can’t stop them doing something stupid. And even when I can’t, and something leaps out to endanger them, the stress is such that I really don’t want to know what it’s like if a real person I care about gets got. Like the end of Season 4 of Criminal Minds. Too stressful and terrifying for words. I was really cross with Netflix for ending it there! (If you’re listening/reading, O Person at Netflix who Chooses New Content: the rest of Criminal Minds would be greatly appreciated. And White Collar, please. Ta!)

But normally, I assume that people in the Real World can take care of themselves, and their plights are generally less emotional. I can distance myself in a way which I can’t when I’m reading or watching something. Or maybe I’m just weird. Anyone else out there who cares more for the Fictional World than the Real World?

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