I Like to Watch – Episode 1

Like Chance the Gardener in the wonderful Being There, “I like to watch.” For the longest time, I liked to watch movies. But as the world changed, and places like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime made available to me quality programming without the commercials (which I mostly find quite irritating), I’ve found that, even more than movies, I like to watch series television. I understand that I am not alone here, this being the era of “Peak Television,” after all.

I find series television satisfying and helpful for a number of reasons.

    1. After a long day in the real world, during which my Aspie limbic system is often/usually on alert, and during which I encounter any number of stimuli which irritate, offend, or overwhelm, I’m usually exhausted. Series television gives me a way to engage my heart and mind with other humans, and with Sally, in a less stressful manner, at the levels of story and myth and art than in the more demanding level of face-to-face interaction.
    2. I find that, for me, series television is to novels as movies are to short stories. I love the longer form, in which there’s room for the writers and producers to more deeply explore characters and relationships. As my primary “alien anthropologist” mission/special interest here on Planet Houston is the study of human psychology, behavior, and relationship, series television serves as a great place for me to continue my research. The series Lie to Me stands out, in that regard, as a wonderful example. I mean… a show about a guy who studies micro-expressions? Fabulous!
    3. The languages of cinema and story act as aids to me as I study the language of human being. Faces are close up, actions are big and clear, plots follow predictable rules, edits direct attention and cut to moments of import, camera angles and color palettes add meaning and tone, and music pulls in the heart, all in such a way that it’s much easier for me to follow the emotional and psychological subtext of the human interactions on the screen than it often is in real life. Because I am so conversant in the language of cinema, series television serves almost as a primer for learning to read human beings, all in the safety and calm of my own home. It allows me to feel with and for humans in a way that’s more difficult for me in the real world. I can take the time to see what’s going on with them because they’re not standing right there in front of me, demanding something from me. And I can stop the show and ask Sally what’s going on, or why so-and-so is doing this, or whether something being portrayed is actually how it is for humans, or share my own interpretation to check it against hers, all of which I find risky or difficult to do when real humans are standing right there in front of me.

There are things I’ve had to work out with Sally in regard to my “liking to watch.” And there are likely other factors involved. But I’ll save that for the next episode. Stay tuned.

(Read Episode 2 Here)

photo credit: gato televito via photopin (license)

1 Comment for “I Like to Watch – Episode 1”

Sally Erickson


This is where nailing Aspiehood has been really helpful for me to be supportive of this nightly activity. And this post really underscores how having the drama of human interaction a step removed on a screen actually facilitates our own closeness when we are similarly touched by something we see and share that with each other. Also, I can see how the art of cinematography supports you “getting” what’s going on with people. And, as you have pointed out to me, people on the screen are often more openly vulnerable than most of the people we encounter in daily life. Part of the reason I became a psychotherapist is my own deep longing to share in the vulnerability with others of being human and how rarely that happens in our current culture.

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