Hey folks, I thought I'd bring up something that I've been struggling with for the past few years. As the title suggests, my issue is that it's been really, really difficult for me to watch television lately. I rarely find anything that looks appealing to begin with, and even when I do, I almost always end up in a constant state of—for lack of a better word—cringe. This happens with some movies, but almost every single TV show I try to start.
The moments when I start getting uncomfortable are pretty consistently dialogue scenes. It's not the idea of two characters interacting that bothers me, but rather how they do it. The way that people talk on TV (especially protagonists) is unrealistic to the point where it is distracting enough to make me stop watching, because it makes literally no sense as a part of human society. I understand that no show is going to replicate real-life conversations 1:1, and that makes sense (filler words, useless tangents, etc. would just be distracting), but so many characters are direct to the point where any characterization that their words are supposed to provide seems utterly contrived, and I consequently ignore it.
I seem hyper-aware of the fact that everything that a character is doing serves a specific purpose to either stretch the plot or artificially deepen their personality, but not in a meaningful way. The somewhat cheesy premise of The 100 (as a random example) kept me watching for a little while, but literally every conflict was forced. I could tell that there was a writer behind every, "Hey, look at Mr. <humorous adjective> here" and, "I'm telling you right now, stop! Don't do this!" and, "Just leave me alone!" trying to provide multiple sides to a character. The fourth wall may as well not even exist. Yes, I understand that your characters are all very complex human beings, but only because you're using every method known to man to imply it. It's just so heavy-handed that I can't pay attention to your broader message and instead focus on how ridiculous every word out of their mouths are.
Okay, I understand that this character is supposed to be a symbol of feminine empowerment because she just kicked 14 guys and made a witty remark about having been underestimated. Okay, I understand that these scary-looking buff guys are bad because they keep explicitly saying how much they like murdering people. Are audiences really so stupid that they have to have characterization spelled out for them in dialogue? Can actions alone not be enough to convey meaning? Why does every meaningful interaction have to coincide with a ridiculously on-the-nose explanation of why it's relevant?
It's ruining almost everything I watch. My immediate thought after hearing any TV quote that's supposed to be remotely funny or attention-grabbing is, "Ugh, that is such a 'television' thing to say," and it instantly makes me think negatively of the work. I've noticed that the feeling is somewhat dampened when watching foreign TV (in a different language), although it still feels sort of formulaic. Are my standards unrealistically high? Am I being a massive elitist? If so, how would I even change the way I look at television at this point? Or am I too far down the meta TV tropes rabbit-hole to be able to enjoy the medium fully again?