When I was a kid television was something that arrived in measured doses. Your favorite TV show came around only once a week, and that was that. Sure, you could keep the TV on and watch whatever came on the screen, but you knew you were just killing time – not watching something you really liked.

Things started shifting when TiVO came around, and then they continued to shift with streaming NetFlix. But I think there is something fundamental and historically unprecedented going on now, with the rise of Hulu. For the first time television offers a true economy of abundance – years and years of free TV (“free” in the sense of commercial sponsored) of sufficient quality and quantity that there is literally more instant television at no cost that you might genuinely want to watch than there are hours in the day.

In other words, if you like TV (and not everyone does) you can see all the episodes of an insanely large assortment of shows stretching back through the decades. Whatever you’re into, be it “Firefly”, “My So-called Life”, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, “The Simpsons”, “Dragnet”, “Lost”, “The Twilight Zone”, “Kings”, “The Office”, “McCale’s Navy” or “My Mother the Car”, it really doesn’t matter – whatever your taste in TV, there is now an unbelievably vast abundance of free content just a click away.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand it’s great – information wants to be free. On the other hand, I wonder whether we might see the emergence a new level of addiction to the medium. If you are a TV addict, you can now, quite literally, spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, watching shows that are of genuine interest to you, until you die. The free content will simply outlast you.

For most of us this is not a problem. But for some people, it might be the equivalent of the bottle of alcohol in the kitchen cabinet – far too much of a temptation.

Might we see the emergence of Huluaholics Anonymous – complete with twelve step programs (hmm, maybe we shouldn’t call them “programs”)? Will people recovering from lost weekends of watching “Fringe” or “Kojak” congregate in secret meetings for group support, identifying themselves to each other only by their first names?

There must be a way out of this, someway to forestall the trend before masses of hollow-eyed TV addicts begin to roam the cities, clutching their laptops in desperation, doomed to an endless search for the next WiFi connection.

Wait, I know. Maybe we can start a channel that offers free video games.

One Response to “Huluaholics”

  1. LastSilmaril says:

    This happens to me in short bursts each summer for about a week or so; thanks to Hulu and torrents. It’s fine until you get into what I think you hilariously termed the ’emotional pornography’ stuff…

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