EastEnders – Guilty (Dis)Pleasure?

About a month ago I went away for a few weeks and missed my almost daily dose of the only soap opera I watch, EastEnders. I watch it almost out of habit. I’ve watched it for a crazy length of time, so long I hate to guess, 10 years, 15, possibly 20? Imagine what I could do with all that time, at least half an hour 4 times a week for 20 years, I bet I could have learned something amazing. I could be better at French, maybe I could be proficient at sewing, or even passable at a musical instrument. That last one is doubtful, I’d love to be able to produce music, but my poor dyspraxic brain has no rhythm and my fat little fingers can’t navigate keys, strings and holes with any dexterity. So I guess what I’m saying is, like a soured relationship, I’ve given it so much of my time I feel like I can’t leave it now, it might start getting good again!

I have been binge watching it to catch up. I must ask myself why I’m doing this to myself. A lot of the time the story lines are either repetitive or terrible, and often they are both, however this bitchy teenage girl story line is so perfect it’s horrific. I don’t know if every teenage girl goes through the same thing with their friends and frienemies but that is exactly how I recall my time at school being. I watch it and I cringe because at the bitching and orchestrated drama. The back stabbing and the constant need for something as simple as peer group tolerance (rather than the extravagant goal of acceptance). I’m up to the episode where Louise is getting better from having her drink spiked by her so called friends and thanking my lucky stars that when I was at school mobile phones were something only owned by the super-rich and they were the size of a brick. Sometimes I lament the lack of digital photography and as such photos of lithe, young me, but the other side of that coin is there is little photographic evidence of my frequent and particularly embarrassing teen episodes. There are plenty of my recent embarrassing episodes but that’s another story or 8. It’s funny to think that 20 years ago I was the same age as the characters; I wonder if that’s a coincidence, being old enough to appreciate this kind of drama makes you less prone to being part of it?

If there is one thing this binge watching has made me realise is that I don’t really enjoy EastEnders, I’m even a bit embarrassed to cop to watching it, so why do I watch it? I wonder if on some level I am enjoying the displeasure it elicits from me, specifically because the first story like I’ve felt gripped by in ages was the one that reminded me most of my own experiences. Is there a proper term for negative nostalgia?

I really like the idea of finishing my blog posts with a relevant song. So 20 years ago, just before I began my affair with EastEnders, back when Brit Pop was cool and I was too cool for Brit Pop, this would have been the sound track to my own stupid teenage drama.

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