I spent a good deal of this past weekend engrossed in a television series called Peaky Blinders. Set in Birmingham in the 1920s, the show chronicles the ramblings of a gangster family by the name of Shelby – a group known as the Peaky Blinders.
The lead character Thomas Shelby is played by the gorgeous Irish actor Cillian Murphy. In no uncertain terms, he sets my pants on fire.
I ploughed through season one in record time, watching each one-hour show consecutively, back-to-back. I even dabbled in season two, but sadly, was forced by the looming Sunday evening (and subsequent Monday morning) to forsake my precious, precious television series. Tearing myself away was heart wrenching to say the least. (Seriously ladies, watch it and you’ll know what I mean).
In addition to engrossing myself in Peaky Blinders, I also partook in some illicit drug action. I appreciate that writing about drug use is taboo, but I firmly believe that drug use and addiction is something that is deeply (and erroneously) stigmatized in society, and needs to be talked about more, in a truthful and honest way.
I have friends who struggle with addiction on a daily basis, and so for me to be able to write about it openly gives me a sense that I’m giving them a voice (if only just a little one). But also note, I am by no means attempting to trivializing drug addiction by comparing it to television addiction. These are simply my views and my personal experiences.
Plus, this is my blog, and I can say what I want. So here goes it; the parallels between tv box sets and illicit drugs…
They both offer escape from reality
A television series – often binge-watched – offers endless hours of distraction from everyday reality. Becoming engrossed in the lives of the characters, and developing emotional bonds to them, offers the viewer a dose of disassociation. Drugs act in the same way. They provide a distraction to the user, with the user often developing an emotional bond to the drug for the way it makes them feel.
They both have their highs (and subsequent lows)
There is a sudden feeling of excitement when one is about to consume a program or ingest a drug, and a subsequent feeling of elation once it plays out in real time. Like every high, this is followed by a low: the sudden sadness and realization that your time together has run out. The episode or series has ended, and you are left with a void that needs to be filled.
They both leave you wanting more
The physical withdrawal symptoms you get from drugs varies according to the substance, of course. Regardless, there’s almost always an emotional withdrawal that leaves the user wanting more. The same goes for the television series. When an episode is complete and the season or series is over, there is a profound longing in one’s heart for more. More of the story line, more of the characters – a prequel even. Anything for the viewer to cling to in the absence of a connection.
Upon reflection, I’m not so sure that my quick-and-dirty comparison does either addiction justice. What I do know is that my actions this weekend have disrupted my focus. The dark, dreary and emotional Peaky Blinders combined with my illicit drug consumption have left me with low spirits. The lesson learned here is that all substances and television box sets must be consumed in moderation, and preferably never together.