Binge-watching for good or evil: TED talks vs House of Cards

Binge-watching is seductive, even irresistible. Like many powerful weapons, it can be a force for good or for evil. Until yesterday, my binge-watching history exposed me to characters who do awful things. Now, I am trading them in for real people who operate on a higher plane. I found them at TED, the online collection of passionate experts holding forth on their favorite subjects. Compare with me their value. Spoiler alert: If you are about to start up with a new TV series binge, skip the next three paragraphs.

Carrie in Homeland defies orders, hides a domestic terrorist because she is in love with him, and leaves her newborn in the hands of her reluctant sister to go run spy operations in Kabul, among other transgressions.

The Americans’ Elizabeth runs a seemingly normal suburban Washington DC family while sneaking out at night to garrote unfortunate opponents as a Soviet agent, while husband Phillip seduces and marries an FBI employee whom he directs to steal security secrets. Then Elizabeth recruits their teen daughter to join them.

House of Card’s Senator, then Vice-President, and now President Francis Underwood manipulates and lies like a rug to climb the ladder of power. It takes a while to recognize that his wife Claire is at least as bad as he is.

Funny, I never noticed before that they are all government-connected stories with deeply flawed protagonists.  I mean really deeply flawed. Hmm.


In contrast, just in my first bout of TED binging, I encountered a 10-female inmate choir singing a song they wrote describing life in prison without parole. And a Muslim woman exploring how others see her in her hijab clothing. And author Roxanne Gay discussing the ways she is a bad feminist, all in the time it would take for half an episode of Homeland.

I think I’m onto something. Gotta go. I have a list of 13 TED talks I have to get to, and then 2,000 more to choose from. I may be tied up for a while.


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