Our Reading Lives

Help! Reading Is Ruining My TV Watching!

Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

Some of my favourite stories are TV shows. Although books are my medium of choice, most of the characters that have stuck with me and the lines that I have accidentally memorized have come off the screen, and I have no problem with that! Any method of getting a narrative into my brain is worthwhile in my opinion, and although my TBR outpaces it by a mile, my Netflix list is constantly growing.

the 100

One day, The 100. One day.


The difference between my TBR and my Netflix list is this: although I’m slowly chipping away at the books I want to read, those TV shows and especially movies remain unplayed. I started to really notice it when I watched the first episode of Sense8. I was intrigued, and immediately thought “Any show that has Freema Agyeman in a relationship with a woman (AND has queer trans women representation!) is going to keep me watching for that alone!” And then weeks passed, and I never continued with the series. The same thing happened with Orphan Black, a show I fell in love with during the first season and never pursued watching, despite how fall-out-of-my-chair amazing I found the episodes I had watched.


Cute couple? Or cutest couple?


It isn’t that I’m not watching TV at all, but the TV I’m watching falls into two categories: ridiculously low drama reality TV (think Extreme Couponing) or kids’ shows (though I will defend Steven Universe to anyone). What I realized was that I can’t seem to handle any TV show that has significant drama or suspense. First of all, I tend to absorb that emotion and it leaves me jittery, but mostly it’s because when I want that sort of intense story, I turn to a book.


You should be watching this by now.


I know TV shows can provide incredible storytelling, but that’s just not what I’m looking for when I have the desire to turn on the TV. I associate watching TV or Youtube with something that’s relaxing and fairly mindless. I will happily pick up a book that I know is going to completely shatter my heart, but I’ll avoid any show that doesn’t promise constant cheer. I’ll start a book knowing it may be weeks before I finish it, but a documentary? That’s too much of a time commitment. There are worse problems to have, but I do kind of feel like I’m missing out.

Have you ever had this problem? Have books ever ruined you for other forms of storytelling? And how do you balance TV- and movie-watching with reading?