Photo: Keirsten Marie, flickr. 

There’s a new phenomenon in home entertainment, and it’s adversely affecting Canada’s television viewing population.  Known as Missed Show Anxiety (MSA), it’s collapsing leisure time and putting countless people on edge.

“I’ve always enjoyed regular cable television,” said welder Jim Vice, “but ever since premium cable stepped up their game, I’ve been overwhelmed.  There aren’t enough hours in the day to fulfill the societal demands of watching all this quality programming!”

The pressure to see every buzz-worthy series has created tension in many settings.  “I’m constantly trying to catch up,” said insurance adjuster Jean Worthy.  “I walk away from half the conversations at the office just to avoid spoilers.  And someone is always asking me whether I’m watching this or if I’ve seen that.  It’s exhausting.”

With networks like HBO, TMN and Showtime pouring money into high-end programs, television viewing has become an “Ouroboros” of awesome entertainment.  “One series ends and another begins,” explains University of British Columbia professor of Philosophy and Television, James Bigley. “Just as The Walking Dead crew was herded into a box car, Mad Men cracked open a bottle and took its place.  There was no Sunday night respite, just relentless narrative and unstoppable acting.”

There are some coping mechanisms, says therapist Helen Khloe. She suggests the viewer wait until the series concludes and binge watch thirteen episodes over a weekend.  Or avoid all social media until there’s a chance to screen the latest installment.  “Sometimes the problem resolves itself,” said Khloe.  “For example, when a show jumps the shark.  Then the viewer feels relieved to let go.  On that note, I’d like to thank the people responsible for season six of Dexter.”

MSA can feel like an indomitable challenge when the PVR is at capacity and all the flash drives are full.  Stay-at-home mother Theresa Little feels she and her husband are at the breaking point. “We put the kids to bed by 8 and watch tv until midnight, but we’re still behind.  It’s gotten so bad, I’m confusing characters and plot lines.  The other night I dreamed that Rust Cohle sat on the Iron Throne and Selina Meyer was his Queen!”

By Molly Donovan

I grew up in the USA, but don't hold that against me because I'm also Canadian. Just think of me as the mole.

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