Scenes From A Marriage: The Eternal What'll We Watch Debate (And Some Good Suggestions)

A new quirk of having too much choice in quality programming is that most evenings are spent locked into a debate over what to watch says Sophie White


Ah, the almost nightly battle that eventually descends into each of you mindlessly scrolling on your phones and watching exactly NOTHING despite an entire internet of choice out there. Welcome to marriage, my friends.

With on-demand TV and streaming services, we have never had more choice in what to watch. If you’re in a relationship, we all know it’s pretty much a given that a large part of your time together is spent watching high-quality American programming. Or arguing about what high-quality American programme to embark on next. I've noticed that the Netflix series has become almost a form of currency between couples. Netflix dollars are the back-rub vouchers or the IOUs for washing the dishes of the 21st Century.

Recently I was abandoning the family for a weekend away with my friends and needing to bank a bit of spousal goodwill — I found myself gifting him an unusual proposal.

“I have a surprise for you,” I began. “I have given this a lot of thought, and have generously decided that, while I’m away, you can watch ahead in the series without me.” 'Watching ahead in the series' as we all know, is now a cardinal sin of most relationships, so this proposal to my mind was incredibly generous, tantamount to sanctioned cheating, or, at the very least, a vow to do the playschool drop off for a week.

Suffice it to say, the Man wasn't that impressed with my proposal. 'Watching ahead' I learned still didn't equate to two nights of uninterrupted sleep, peaceful hangovers and glorious temporary timetravel to a pre-child life. Damn.

The 'what'll we watch' debate is so protracted that on many nights we never get anything watched at all. We may start several movies and abandon within the first ten minutes. Is it just me, or is Hollywood just remaking the same three remakes all the time now? Also, there's the unshakable feeling that no matter how much you're enjoying something there's always potentially something just a little bit better out there.

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Every couple has a sort of unspoken understanding about when it's deemed too late to start a movie or a particularly involving 60 minuter (as we call the longer dramas in our house). Depending on age (your own and your kids'), stamina (I have slept through a lot of excellent television since entering my fourth decade) and general crapness this can be anywhere from 8-11 pm. If a movie's out for reasons of time constraints, in theory it should be easy to pick from any of the literally hundreds of quality shows we're being bombarded with these days, but somehow it's not. Oddly, all this choice is making me nostalgic for times of old when TV was kinda shit, when it was simply a choice between Friends and that other show.

The best entertainment harmony I’ve found is to abandon the debate altogether, curl up and snuggle while he watches "the match", and I listen to podcasts on my headphones. I believe the medical term for this is Peak Married. It may be time for an affair. Or better yet watch The Affair. It’s brill.

Here's some suggestions to end the TV debate:

Manhunt: Unabomber

The Discovery Channel series is now available on Netflix and tells the gripping true story of the FBI's hunt for the Unabomber, the deadliest serial bomber in history who mailed homemade bombs to targets over a 17 year period.

The End Of The F*cking World

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Originally aired on Channel 4 and now available on Netflix, this 8-part series is perfect for those with low stamina as each episode is a tidy 20 minutes. It looks and feels like Wes Anderson and Shane Meadows made a little TV show baby and follows teen James who believes he is a psychopath and Alyssa, a mouthy, rebellious classmate who run away to embark on a road trip.

Alias Grace

If you haven't caught up with the adaptation of the Margaret Atwood novel based on the true story of Grace Marks, an Irish immigrant living in Canada in the 19th Century, then you're in for a treat. The nightly debate ends here.

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