While the potential dangers of binge watching TV in recovery are still being debated, it has recently come to my attention that there are several TV shows that are not healthy for my recovery. Some of them feature people suffering from substance addiction, but most have convoluted themes that make me wonder what the point of recovery is in the first place. Especially if the world is coming to an end and we are being taken over by zombies! So yes you guessed it, the first TV show on my list is:
1) The Walking Dead
On The Walking Dead, Bob Stookey suffered from alcoholism. When the other members of Rick’s team were hunting for supplies, Bob looked for booze. In season four, episode four, Daryl Dixon discovers a bottle of liquor in Bob’s backpack. Daryl, who usually grunts more than he talks, becomes enraged, especially since the whole point of the supply run was to track down much-needed medicine, and all Bob thought about was himself! Daryl tells Bob that he will beat him into the ground if he even takes a drop of liquor.
Wait a second, self-righteous Daryl. Maybe Bob is an alcoholic? Maybe he needs help because he has PTSD thanks to undergoing a zombie apocalypse? When I saw this scene, I really felt compassion for Bob, and hoped that he would learn to deal with his addiction, and get sober. I felt that would add a positive twist to the show. I even thought it would be cool if Bob found a Big Book on one of the group’s numerous supply runs. Hey, if Father Gabriel had a stack of Bibles hidden in his church, I am sure Big Books were just around the corner in some deserted meeting hall! Sadly, that never happened. Poor Bob soon met his demise so all hopes for his recovery, went out the window. The message is clear. There is no hope for anyone on The Walking Dead. Being in recovery, I need hope.
And to add insult to injury, season six just ended with a brutal cliffhanger, which makes Bob’s death come off like a mercy killing. The scene depicts super-villain Negan taunting several members of Rick’s group with a baseball bat covered with barbed wire. Worse, the sadistic Negan has a name for his bat—Lucille! The finale left me dreaming about crushed skulls. Personally, I’d rather be dreaming that I was in Maui, than visualizing zombies and brain matter. To sum it up, The Walking Dead makes the Revelations in the Bible seem like a Dr. Seuss book.
2) Ray Donovan
Every character on this show drinks gallons of scotch. If it’s not scotch, it’s rye or bourbon. Sometimes we see Ray’s dad, Mickey Donovan drink beer! Ray Donovan is relentless in its portrayal of drinking, an action which occurs in almost every scene. From Ray’s wife Abby, played by Paula Malcomson, who drinks hard liquor and sneaks a cigarette, while she sits on the toilet, to Ray who should have an IV hooked from his arm to a bottle of Glen Livet. What’s more, they have no intention of stopping. Nor do they even refer to themselves as alcoholics!
What’s going on—are they all in denial? Bunchy, Ray’s brother identifies as an alcoholic and a sexual anorexic. He is often seen at recovery support meetings on the show. After one particular 12-step meeting, he confided his dark secrets to a priest, who opened up his big mouth and got Bunchy and Ray in trouble. Didn’t the priest understand the word, anonymity?
At the end of season two, Bunchy married Theresa. Wait—who the hell is Theresa? He only knew her for a week before he proposed marriage. And she agreed! After he told her that he was sexually molested as a kid, she said, “No wonder you are so fucked up. I ain’t got no problem with it.” What a gal. If I met some guy, and within a week of knowing him, gave him the low down on my drinking career and asked him to marry me, chances are that he would disappear faster than A Taste of Honey. That’s a 1970’s disco band whose classic smash hit Boogie Oogie Oogie was their only claim to fame.
3) The Affair
This timeless tale of a man and woman hooking up, both while they are still married to other people, makes me want to book a room at the local funny farm. The tagline for The Affair reads, “A struggling novelist and a young waitress strike up an extramarital relationship that promises to forever change the course of their lives.” Yes, and not only change their lives, but the lives of their spouses, and in the case of Noah Solloway, the lives of his four children, who not only undergo change, but severe psychological damage!
My biggest problem with The Affair is that Allison Bailey lost a child to a tragic drowning accident. Instead of dealing with her grief, and potential marital conflicts with her husband, Cole, she hooks up with a pretentious writer who views her as a sex object. Why doesn’t she get some grief counseling, or perhaps go see a marriage and family therapist with Cole? Why doesn’t she go online and just order self-help books from Amazon?
For the next season, I would love very much for Allison, (who recently had a baby while being with Noah, even though it’s really Cole’s) to dump Noah’s ass! But she won’t. She is the ultimate co-dependent and has nowhere to go, because she sold her house to help Noah! Plus, Noah is going to jail for a crime his wife Helen committed while under the influence. He feels guilty because yes, his wife is drinking and smoking pot, thanks to her crumbling marriage!
I know I have unhealthy TV viewing habits, and while I tell myself, this is nothing compared to drinking, the truth is I do often find myself feeling hung over after watching TV. As poor Bob Stookey was dying, thanks to a zombie bite, his last words to Rick were, “Nightmares end, they shouldn’t end who you are.” Thank you, Bob. I am sorry you never found a Big Book, but I do have mine.
A few years ago, I told an old-timer that I had a bad habit of watching dark themed TV shows into the wee hours of morning. I told him I felt like a zombie the next day. “Why don’t you just read a few pages of The Big Book?” He asked. “But it makes me want to fall asleep,” I said. He smiled. “Exactly, that’s the point. And trust me, you will feel better the next day!” He gave me this advice when I first got sober back in 2011. It recently occurred to me that I should heed his words. I cancelled my Direct TV subscription.
But I still have Netflix. As they say in AA, change is a process, not an event.
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