Confession: I watched the original Dexter series. Everything. Every single episode.
I’ve watched it past the point of enjoyment, including the last season, even after it was clear to me that it was worthless. I had already put a lot of time into it, so I persevered. I shouldn’t have done that.
I don’t really have any New Year’s resolutions, but I have one for 2022 and I’m determined to keep it: I won’t be afraid of the stop button anymore.
I was already toying with the idea of turning off movies, shows, or series that don’t work for me when I came across a thread on Reddit’s LifeProTips subreddit that expressed my thoughts: “LPT: Stop watching movies/series that you don’t like it. Don’t feel obligated to watch them all to the end. There are too many bad movies/series out there, just start a new one or do something else.”
LifeProTips is a place where people give each other advice, and it seems this thread is touching a nerve, with nearly 42,000 upvotes and over 3,600 comments. I’m not the only one who has a sunk cost relationship with the media. “Argh. It’s like shows that were good at first are starting to change in value. You’ve invested so much time watching this show, you just want to see it end. Thank goodness Walking Dead is finally coming to an end,” wrote one Reddit user .
The sunk cost fallacy is the idea that you’ve already paid a price (such as money or time) for something, so you feel obligated to keep going, even if it’s a bad idea. When it comes to TV and movies, it costs me both time and money. Sometimes I try to get the most out of the streaming services I pay for and sometimes, like with Dexter, I’ve put a significant amount of my time into it and feel compelled to push through, forging flatter characters and finales that make me tremble on the screen with my fist. Really, Dexter? You’re a lumberjack and you’re okay?! No no no!
This may partly be from childhood, when I would start a book and then drag my way through the pages, like it or not, just to be able to close the cover on the other side. I blame the fourth grade reading contest I entered when I collected over 60 books in one summer and won a bike. I loved the feeling of completion, even though I didn’t like the journey. I’ve been like that in my MFA program too. I can’t just flip through a 50 page academic essay. I have to read The. whole. Thing.
I’m trying to change because media time should be precious. As devastating news on theand piling up, I become more acutely aware of the scarcity of time. “Life Is Too Short For” [insert thing here]” is a cliche, but it’s a meaningful one.
I have already started practicing my new approach. I loved the Cowboy Bebop anime, but 10 minutes later?, I stopped. I immediately felt uncomfortable with the editing and the visuals, both of which work hard to imitate anime rather than being their own thing. I thought, oh maybe I’ll try again. But I don’t. Like a freight train, I moved on and switched to the final season of Cobra Kai instead, which I love for the heart and, of course, the martial arts action.
Earlier this week, I pulled out Bill & Ted Face the Music, the sequel to the 2020 Bill & Ted film series. I said out loud to my partner, “If this sucks, we’ll turn it off.” That verbal commitment helped me set my expectations and prepare to take a break if necessary. I loved the goofiness, the cheap special effects, the nostalgia and the optimistic message of unity through music…and I never pressed stop.
What this requires of me is a conscious commitment to check in with myself. Do I enjoy this? If not, would I rather watch something else or write or read a book or make bagels? So here’s my big resolution for 2022: less TV and movies I don’t like, more bagels.
Movies coming in 2022 from Marvel, Netflix, DC and more
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