Hi there. I know, I seem like the last person to write about balancing life and dramas after my last them of the month post on the necessity of binge watching. But we all have our share of responsibilities, and as mine change over the years they have shaped my own drama watching habits.
To tell a linear tale, when I first started watching dramas, I was an introverted high school senior who secretly wrote poetry and novels during class time and stayed up all night watching old black and white movies. Dramas were just another show to binge until 3 am (I wish I still had that ability to disregard sleep).
But then I had to go and leave my comfortable home for college in a big city. Needless to say, with more challenging school work and struggling with the social requirements of dorm life, I wasn’t able to binge watch my dramas anymore. So I started following currently airing shows to decrease my drama watching to just a few hours per week. It’s easy to justify when I just think two hour long episodes equal one movie, meaning I merely watch the equivalent of two or three movies a week, less than the average American who sits down at the tv every night. I still remember the embarrassment I felt over my kdrama addiction back then, like when my slightly judgmental freshman roommate walked in on me in our “studying” ie watching “Flower Boy Next Door” with my class notes splayed out in front of me.
I went abroad my second year, and let’s just say I was devoted enough to “Masters’ Sun” to figure out how to reconfigure my computer to watch in the UK, but that was the only drama I watched abroad, since I was determined to make the most of the cultural exchange. When I returned the next year to my American college, I again had randomly assigned roommates walking in on my drama time. I can picture that dorm room so clearly even now, I’m surrounded by laundry, folding underwear, when these two I had just met walk in with our mutual friend and politely asked what I was laughing so loudly at. I guess I didn’t do a good job of explaining the plot of “Sly and Single Again,” as they showed no interest in watching it… I am proud however, that at this point I had learned to save my episodes and watch them while doing necessary, mindless chores instead of during study time. It upped the practicality of drama watching ten fold because it made me like laundry day.
During this time I treasured my school breaks, when my sister and I would binge dramas we have saved to watch together. Though, even these times became fewer as we grew up and realized that we should spend more of our home time actually talking to our parents.
My last year of college I remember clearly the occasional Saturday night when I would decide against going out and instead sneak away to catch up on Healer. At this time I was overwhelmed with school, work, making future plans, my first (only) serious boyfriend, and health issues on top of a horrible living situation. It wasn’t even my apartment I would watch Healer at, instead I would go to my friends’, those girls who had laughed at my description of “Sly and Single Again” so long before. I remember at the other end of their couch sat our mutual friend from before, her headphones in as well as she watched “Running Man”, neither of us speaking as we recharged our voices and spirits with just an episode or two of silly and dramatic television.
Through grad school and even now, as I work full time, I have maintained the mantra that currently airing shows are the only way to hold this binge watcher back. Though even that doesn’t always work, as in grad school when I went to the library early one day to write an essay, decided to start “Moon Lovers” and ended up watching all five episodes that were out by dinner time. Or more recently when I joined “Our Husband Oh Jak Doo,” and had eight episodes to catch up on (luckily I was making homemade jam that day, so I just propped my laptop behind the kitchen counter and enjoyed the story of the career girl and mountain man in the background).
I think dramas are necessary for my work and life balance. Weekly, I watch my allotted episodes as I clean and cook (light rom coms are good for this as I don’t usually mind missing a word here and there). The obsessive dramas, when they come, take me out of my daily world, save me for a few moments so that I can collect myself for real life. This makes me think particularly of last autumn, during my final internship of grad school. When tears threatened, as they did often at that place, I would lock myself in the bathroom and watch clips from the latest episode of “Age of Youth 2” until I calmed down.
Dramas, their silliness, pettiness, wisdom, and nonsense, all help keep me grounded on what is real, what is important. And yeah, sometimes, despite my responsibilities, I know the best thing for me is take a sick day, turn off my phone and spend a weekend on my bed binge watching.
Life on the whole is a balancing act, and if we think of it as a dish, let me call dramas my whipped cream. Sure, you can call it insubstantial, but it helps to balance the richer, denser, and yes, more bitter aspects of the various lives we each live.