In the age where anything you could possibly want to watch is available for streaming online, I’m sure that everyone has a guilty pleasure show. You know the one—no matter how turbulent and frustrating your day was, it’s there like your favorite comfort food. No matter how weird the news report was, or how confusing people and their actions are, your guilty pleasure viewing is just waiting to calm you down and make you forget, if just for twenty to forty-five minutes.
Maybe you’re a devoted GoT fan or you’re re-watching PLL, but be honest for a second here: how important is your guilty pleasure show to you now that there’s another political shitstorm happening every day?
I’ve seen a lot of comments on social media over this past year in concern to “fluffy” tv shows and the Trump administration. More often than not, the comment section is divided by people either attacking each other’s opinions on the show and getting political over it and people who are just there to shame others for focusing on the show and not about what’s happening politically.
While I do believe that you should never be willfully ignorant of current events, I also know that living and breathing politics can be incredibly stressful, and even damaging to your mental health. For people to be attacking those that are choosing to take a break from the news cycle just to catch up on, say, “The Bachelorette,” it’s as if people are expected to give up the things that keep them happy in favor of politics—and that’s unhealthy.
Think about it in terms of self-care. If you forced yourself to be ever vigilant of the news and every little bit of disturbing political event as if plays out in real time, you wouldn’t even have the time to wonder what you need to do to take care of yourself. You’d be too focused on how the world looks ready to end because of a few politicians and their irresponsibility or neglect, and all the emotions that come with it—anger, sadness, hopelessness—will be overwhelming. You’d basically be paralyzed and numb.
I can personally attest to this. A few months back, when the healthcare bill first started making the rounds, I wrote two political pieces almost back to back. I had to immerse myself in the fine print of the health care bill and reread the disgusting transcript of Trump’s infamous 2005 conversation. (You know the one.) By the time I was done, I was mentally exhausted. My anxiety and depression were in overdrive. I was in desperate need of a mental health day after sticking a toe into that swamp called politics. I was in a horribly unhealthy place.
So what did I do for my mental health day? I binge-watched guilty pleasure shows. Those “dumb”, “fluffy”, “mind-numbing” shows that people get criticized for watching instead of the news? I watched as many as I could. “The Office,” “Parks and Rec,” “New Girl,” and even Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” were on heavy rotation that day as I essentially tried to flush politics out of my system.
It wasn’t a cure-all of course—but it was a good start. Sometimes, the best reaction to politics is distraction, especially in cases where you can’t change the outcome. Sure, you could hypothetically begrudge someone for watching “The Bachelor In Paradise” or “Dancing With the Stars” instead of worrying about the possible onset of nuclear war, but why? There’s nothing that you or that hypothetical person could do (unless your name is either Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un). Why not take a moment to de-stress and step back from politics in that case?
In a political climate that fiercely demands action on the part of the citizens to enact change and to protect themselves and their country, it’s easy to forget that we are human. We have needs, from food to sleep to pursuing good health, which definitely includes mental health. With the prevalence of media and its necessary reporting of politics, it is so important to step back and indulge in a guilty pleasure, even if it’s just flipping the channel and finding a fluffy tv show.
Today, with the political whirlwind that dominates our lives, staying healthy and positive is an act of resistance in itself. If a guilty pleasure show is part of your self-care routine or even just provides momentary solace from everything wrong in the world, it is more important than any possible “fluffy” label someone in an internet comment section gives it.