Casual vs. Stressful Viewing

Real quick…

Today is The Glory Day, everyone, which I’ve been excited about for at least a month. I watched the first new episode this morning, and wow, was it scary. I’ve been meaning to write something more substantive about Lim Ji-yeon, because she was so impressive in Part 1, but now having seen her play a kind-hearted character — a doofus, even — in Welcome 2 Life, her transformation here is astonishing. She’s so evil, I just want to sing her praises all day.

And at the same time, I’m worried about her. I don’t want to see anything terrible happen to Ji-yeon, even though it’ll only be special effects (I read a theory about plastic surgery?). And it’s not like I sympathize with her character; I’m worried about Dong-eun, too. And I’m worried about The Glory. How does a revenge story sustain 16 hours? Other than ABC’s Revenge, to which the answer is a big “I have no earthly idea.” It’s all so stressful, but in a different way than Physical: 100.

In that case, it was the investment in one of the competitors — Jang Eun-sil, in case that wasn’t clear — making every episode a heart-racing affair. I’m just trying to watch TV!

So I’d contrast those experiences with the two big Pedro Pascal shows. I’ve been keeping up with HBO’s The Last of Us, which I like, and I’m a big fan of The Mandalorian. But with the former, the zombie apocalypse is not a world I care about, so while the story of the original The Last of Us is dear to me, it’s more “Man, that was a good episode!” not “Oh, I wish they’d done this” or “I hope they do this!” When I couldn’t get into Part II, it was easy come, easy go.

And I hear that people are down on this new Mandalorian season. For me, it’s got Din Djarin, and Grogu is so cute. The little noises he makes, my God. That’s all I need. Especially if there’s no Mercedes Varnado.

This isn’t necessarily a binary, because it’s not like Twenty-Five Twenty-One or Search: WWW, two of my favorite TV shows of the past few years, were stressful. Or Warrior. But maybe it’s good to have both, because there are surprising rewards in either. The Mandalorian (and The Book of Boba Fett) have the capacity to genuinely surprise, as I’m not expecting anything except “cool stuff.” And The Glory puts me in a state of tension that I find enviable from a storytelling perspective.

Which do you prefer, if you have a preference? Or do you try to avoid stress in TV because your life is stressful enough?


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