From Dr. Melfi: What Your Pandemic/Election
Year TV-Binge-Diary Reveals About You

Dear Dr. Melfi,


With intelligent Americans sheltering-in-place despite Presidential lies, I honestly admit I was powerless not to binge on Sex Education, The Affair, Outlander and the subtly simmering Derry Girls and Normal People around St. Patty’s Day. What previous addiction?


With whack jobs thwarting Covid-19 restrictions, I sought belief in a Higher Power. The Good Place, Miracle Workers and After Life helped me keep the faith. I cringed when realizing, however, I identified old white guys (Ted Danson, Steve Buscemi, and Ricky Gervais) with my Higher Power.


With Trump militarizing urban protests after George Floyd got choked to death, I earnestly decided to turn my will over to the care of my Higher Power. To help, I sought televised H.P. earthly reps, focusing on Fleabag’s Hot Priest, Fathers Tomas and Marcus on The Exorcist, and Vicar Chambers on Grantchester. A Blessed Series Threesome.


With Hitler’s progeny protecting Confederate names on monuments, bases, statues and memorials, I named a fearless moral inventory for myself. Acknowledging my prior drug reliance and compulsion to win at any cost, with conflicts arising from family history (mirroring Trump?), I binged Queen of the South, The Queen’s Gambit, and Bloodline.


Could Trump have admitted the exact nature of his wrongs when he was already wondering aloud about (wink, wink) an election delay? Meanwhile, I admitted to God, myself, and YOU about my addiction not to suffer fools gladly. I watched The Alienist for you but also binged 2017’s Twin Peaks, loving the Miguel Ferrer line, “I do not suffer fools gladly, and fools with badges more.” In that vein, watched Bosch and True Detective’s first and third seasons.


The Dems named Kamala Harris to run with Joe Biden, while Jacob Blake got killed just before the GOP renominated its white supremacist President. Ready to have my H.P. remove my character defects, I understood I’d wait awhile if He/She/It/They started with Trump. Seeing character defects from a feminist perspective, I binged Killing Eve, Game of Thrones and Mary Teen of Scots. Hard to top Villanelle, Cersei Lannister, and Catherine de Medici.


Justice Ginsburg died; McConnell hypocritically contradicted his ’16 call to let the election determine who named the SCOTUS replacement. I humbly asked my H.P. to remove my shortcomings. Despite good intentions, these included failing to be as sensitive as I could have with African Americans, LGBT people, and red-staters who live between the coasts. To that end, I binged The Wire, Schitt’s Creek, and Ozark.


The super-spreader, called dangerous by his own niece, got what the bigot called “China Flu.” Though Trump was probably listing the people to pay him for pardons, I enumerated hundreds of persons I’ve harmed, if unwittingly. My list included a fair share of geeks, momma’s boys, and mean, unkind people. That’s why October’s viewing focused on The Big Bang Theory, I Love a Momma’s Boy, and Paulo and Nikko on Lost.


Election result was 2020’s silver lining. With Biden President-Elect, I needed to make amends with my crazy aunt who believed Rockin’ Robin tweets and Fox News bleats, my neighbor who stupidly invoked voter fraud, and all anxious and depressed acquaintances I didn’t help, concerned only with myself. To ready myself, I binged Ratched, Sherlock (with psycho Moriarty rather than Elementary’s female villain), and BoJack Horseman.


Trump tried stealing the election! Continuing taking personal inventory, I immersed myself in TV shows shedding light on conspiracy theories — left, right and so-called deep state. I binged 24, Newsroom, The Good Wife, Homeland, The Americans, Madam Secretary, Jack Ryan, and Designated Survivor. Over Christmas, though, I did watch the latest season of The Crown.


Prayer and meditation, my New Year’s resolution, proved timely when the outgoing President incited a Capitol riot. I felt buoyed watching the Billions episode showing Paul Giamatti’s ruthless D.A. character meditating with an ambitious hedge fund billionaire. Heaven help us, I binged series that featured prayer, meditation or religion in various guises: Greenleaf, Outcast, Touched by an Angel, 7th Heaven, Jane the Virgin, Transparent, the Path and even Midnight Gospel and South Park.


A new President and a spiritual awakening for me as I await my Covid-19 vaccinations. I will carry a positive message to all, something I learned better binging Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, Grace and Frankie, and Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.

Dr. Melfi’s Response: Yes, you’re addicted to TV binging. Yes, your 12-Step approach speaks to your addiction history. But, Bada Bing Bada Boom — a job well done: We should all be addicted to maintaining sanity.

Author: Ken Hogarty

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