The Unwatchables

Battlestar Galactica“Dude, you have to watch Battlestar Galactica! It’s only like the greatest show…EVER! They even did a whole episode on Portlandia about it!”

“Oh yeah, I remember that. Anyway, I would if I could but isn’t it on the Syfy channel? I don’t have cable.”

“Not a problem man. It was but all the seasons are on HuluPlus now and I know you have that!”

“True. Maybe later. I’m still in the middle of House of Cards.”

“Later means NEVER! Here, I’ll watch the first one with you right now! Oh, and yes you do owe me and no I’m not sorry for stealing the next few weeks away from you!”

I’m sorry to report that this was just a dream. This scenario is depressing as it is untrue. I watched the entire Battlestar Galactica series a few years ago and I finished House of Cards last night. Both shows, in different ways, are tremendous but both shows, quite sadly, have already been watched by yours truly.  Like I said, how depressing…

Do you ever find yourself wishing that you could ‘unwatch’ something you had already watched? I know I do. It would be so very exciting to be able to be surprised by the ever surprising Cylons or the calculated and hopefully brilliant moves of Francis Underwood. Experiencing shows as if you hadn’t would be a tremendous, time-consuming gift of gifts. Too bad it isn’t possible.

Sure I could rewatch these shows, and other favorites, but it just wouldn’t be the same. Watching an episode of Seinfeld or Friends a second or millionth time is fine; watching one where the fun lies in the unknown is not. Unlike a syndicated comedy, where the laughs hold true, suspense doesn’t translate the same way. Even finding out a spoiler like “OMG I can’t believe (insert name) died on The Walking Dead or Downton Abbey last night!” is enough to crush intrigue.

Same goes for movies. For example, can you watch The Sixth Sense for a second time and appreciate it the way you did the first time? Yes knowing the secret from the beginning can be interesting and gives you a new perspective but it just isn’t the same. That wow moment, similar to another favorite like Fight Club, requires the veil to be over my eyes. Knowledge is power but when it comes entertainment, it is the worst.


One could argue that music gets better with each listen and I agree but that isn’t the same either. Reading a great book comes close but it still doesn’t hit you the way the screen can. They call it ‘the edge of your seat’ for a reason, you get so enthralled that you can hardly sit still. Sure horror movies are all pretty similar so you can prep for that ‘oh shit!’ moment but unless you’ve seen that particular one before, the surprise is still just that, surprising.

Ultimately, since it is impossible to unwatch a show and thus watch it with the same level of intrigue and enjoyment a second time, you are left with two options:

Option one is to make sure that all second viewings are with other people who haven’t seen that particular movie or show. Their excitement and surprise can bring back that rookie joy though it could also depress you or make you continually anxious that they’ll uncover the secret or worse ask you about it – “is he a ghost?” “What? Just watch the movie…” 😦

Option two is simply to take this knowledge and use it to better appreciate future movies and shows that, luckily, you haven’t yet ruined by watching. Personally, I have some good ones left that I am excited to have on my watching horizon. I still get to watch The Master, Game of Thrones, Veep, the next season of House of Cards and so much more.


As for you, what do you wish you could “unwatch” and what are you excited about still being able to watch?

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