Dear kfangurl: How Do I Manage My Drama Obsession?

I wasn’t expecting to write another Dear kfangurl post for a while, but..

diti writes:

Dear kfangirl, is it normal that I am so so addicted to kdramas that real life seems dull and I can’t focus on studying because all I want to do is just click for the next episode?

..And since the new year seems like a perfect time to recalibrate our drama habits a little bit, for the sake of real life, as we also consider our other new year resolutions and goals, here we are. Let’s see how we can balance our drama lives with our real lives, shall we?

Separating fact from fiction: a drama fan’s continuous journey πŸ˜›

Dear diti,

The short answer is, your drama addiction is very normal, but uh, it may not be.. healthy. And if we want to keep enjoying dramas for a long time, I think a healthy balance is what we want to work towards.

Why is drama addiction normal?

Like diti points out, real life can seem dull and unexciting in comparison to our drama worlds. That’s coz dramas are full of all of the feels, spice and excitement that give us that emotional buzz, without any of the stress, problems, routine or discipline that real life requires of us. It’s like how most of us associate ice cream with all the sweetness and excitement that gives us a high, while we think of salad and brown rice as way less exciting items, more to do with discipline and good choices. Much more boring than the thrill of ice cream, to be sure.

But, just like we can’t live on ice cream without losing our health, we can’t simply live on dramas, or we also risk losing a healthy and balanced real life. Does that mean that we can’t have ice cream in our lives? Certainly not. We just need to find a way to have a healthy lifestyle and diet, where ice cream is a treat we look forward to, rather than a staple diet.

Same thing with dramas.

If all we do is binge on dramas while shoving all our real life responsibilities to the side, our real lives are going to suffer, and that’s not what we want.

Some drama fans might feed your addiction by encouraging you to ditch real life responsibilities in favor of dramas, and might even share their own stories of the irresponsible things they’ve done in the name of drama love.

Uh, I can’t in good conscience support that kind of thinking, to be honest. We drama fans want to help one another, and not hurt one another, and ruining our real lives in favor of dramas is so not helpful.

How can I achieve a healthy balance?

I can’t say I have all the answers, and we all are motivated differently, but here are some ideas that I hope will help.

1. Create a structure

How about creating a structure where drama-watching has its own place? As a reward for checking off items on your to-do list, for example. Maybe you could “earn” drama hours against your checklist (an episode of drama for every 5 items?), as a fun way of getting things done, while giving yourself occasional prizes of drama hours. This might even help you become more determined and organized than before, which would be pretty great, I think.

Another way you could potentially fit drama-watching into your schedule is perhaps as something you can multitask to. Maybe an hour of drama while you work out on the treadmill or exercise bike? Or an hour of drama while you have dinner. Or a serving of drama while you’re on the train on the way home from school.

2. Find a buddy

It’s worth considering an accountability buddy. Importantly, this is someone that you can be honest with. Maybe a fellow drama lover with a similar desire to get organized? This way, you can report your progress to each other, and help keep each other in check. It might also be good to put a penalty system in place. For example, a fine system, where if either of you cheats, you have to put money in a common pool. The more disciplined one between you (who was penalized less) then gets to spend the money on whatever they wish to, after exams are over. This will help keep both of you on your toes.

Another way of going about this, is getting a drama buddyΒ with whom you can watch dramas – but you won’t watch unless it’s together. So when you’re not together, you can’t watch, which then frees you to focus on your own work.

3. Make a list

Make dramas something to look forward to. Since you can’t possibly watch everything during your busy periods, make a list of all the dramas you’ll watch, during the holidays. One benefit of being late to the party is that by then, you’ll know if a drama is worth your time, coz you’ll gain the hindsight of others who’ve managed to check out the shows early.

This way, you’ll end up having a blast during the holidays, watching only the best, most cracky dramas, while avoiding all the duds. That’s not a bad deal at all, I think!

In conclusion

I want to say, be kind to yourself, but not too kind. Without effort and discipline on your part, this is a problem that won’t go away. But I’m sure that with consistency, determination and some good ol’ fashioned support from the people who care about you, you’ll do great at balancing real life demands with your love for dramas.

I hope that helps!

Love! ❀

~kfangurl

You’ve got this! <3

POST-SCRIPT:

1. If you feel that I missed anything, or if you have your own experiences that you’d like to share with the rest of us, do tell us about it in the comments!

2. Do you have a question of your own? Drop me a comment here or on theΒ Dear kfangurlΒ page, or send me an email!

22 thoughts on “Dear kfangurl: How Do I Manage My Drama Obsession?

  1. Small Bot

    Please do a review on Psychopath’s Diary, if you have seen it. I saw it and felt it was thoroughly entertaining and would like to know how you felt about it too.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Small Bot! I have it vaguely on my list – now a little firmer, since I’ve seen some positive comments on the show. Thanks for suggesting it! I hope I’ll enjoy it as much as you have! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  2. Jesse Gray

    I’ll admit this is a rubbish strategy, but I’d commit to watching the dickens out of a show, then give myself a vacation. So I’d take a couple days to ramp up, then hit it hard for a weekend (Fri-Sun), consuming 35+ hours while eating takeout and never leaving the apartment. It got the job done. Then I’d spend the week researching the next worthy show, maybe allowing two weeks before another binge session. I found it was easier to stop when the show stopped rather than trying to stop in the middle. I almost needed a cool down period after the ride anyway, and it helped keep the genre from getting a bit stale. If you watch any genre enough, you start to see the strings and tropes and tendencies a lot easier, which means the show has to be that much better to stop me from getting fatigued.

    I liked your strategy about only watching when a friend can watch; it not only regulates the viewing, but also gives you someone to unpack the episode with afterwards. The only downside is if you both have the same schedules, because then ya just end up enabling each other to binge.

    All in all, I appreciate the message you’re putting out there about keeping the fantasy world secondary and focusing on the real deal. In addition to understanding that the show is a tantalizing escape from the dullness of every day life, I think it’s important to recognize if you’re in a vulnerable place emotionally. I can watch a lot just because I like the journey, but if I’m a wreck, the viewing becomes more of a salve and a craving–not entirely unlike a drug. Watching actually makes it worse because the shows are mostly designed to tap into the desire we have for relationships–the ideal (as you pointed out…mmm…ice cream)–and unfortunately that is often far removed from reality. That’s part of the charm. But watching an amazing fantasy while feeling weary of reality will poison the real world considerably, making it even more intolerable and perpetuating the obsessive desire to dive further into the fantasy. Just like a drug, the withdrawal (end of show) is brutal.

    This website helps that a bit, as it tempers the emotional “wheeee!” with a more cerebral approach to the plot, characters, etc.., Reading reviews like these is a good way to appreciate the creativity and share the feels while also brining it back into the realm of a fantastic construct.

    Forgive me if if you do this already, but have you considered posting your viewing schedule? Not by the hour, but just saying, “I’ve got episode X of Show Y on the docket for Monday, Tuesday is an off day, and Wednesday will be for episode of Z of Show P…” That way you’re almost creating a virtual TV station that followers can stick with to pace themselves and keep up with what will be coming down the pike in terms of content.

    Again, mea culpa if you this already–I admit, I didn’t research the full site before putting that idea out there.

    All in all, it’s good to see any piece that talks about moderation and discipline, particularly after the holidays when both of those principles seem to have (at least for me) become appallingly scarce.

    Happy 2020!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Hi there Jesse, it’s great to see you around here! πŸ™‚ Happy New Year to ya! πŸ™‚

      I wouldn’t say your strategy is rubbish.. in terms of managing the impact of being immersed in a drama on real life, it sounds like it does help! πŸ™‚ The only downside is, it might take a toll on you, what with late nights and eating takeout during the binge! πŸ˜‰ On the upside, your drama immersion would be at its peak, and you wouldn’t be likely to lose track of narrative pieces, which I sometimes do, if I take a break from a drama for a few weeks coz I get busy. All in all, we all gotta find what works for us individually, since different strokes work for different folks! πŸ™‚

      I do watch one drama with a friend, and because of the challenges with matching our schedules and timezones (we watch the same episode while connected on Skype), there is no way for us to binge a particular drama. Which does help to moderate our drama consumption. And, as you pointed out, we do have the chance to unpack the episode and chat about our thoughts about what we just watched, which is a really nice benefit of going the buddy system route. πŸ™‚

      You’re very right that someone who’s in a bad emotional space can find a great deal of relief and escape through dramas. Personally, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, as long as the person in question eventually finds their way out of the bad space. I went through a bad patch personally and found dramas to be a great escape. Interestingly, I also found the dramas to be quite cathartic, and had more than a few good cries while watching my dramas, which I’m sure did contribute to my eventual emotional healing. If a person gets stuck in the drama escape hatch to the detriment of their real life though, then I do think that’s not a healthy nor sustainable. 😬

      Aw, thanks for including the reviews as a possible way to recover from being sucked into a drama! I hadn’t thought of it that way before. But I absolutely do see what you mean, because often, if I find it hard to move on from a show, writing the review actually helps me process the feels and thoughts, and the act of finishing and posting the review, sort of signals to my brain that I’m officially putting the show to rest. I’m so pleased to know that this also helps the people who read the reviews! πŸ™‚

      Your idea to post my viewing schedule is an intriguing one – if I could only predict it! I generally don’t have a firm viewing schedule, and any tentative plans I make in my head, in terms of what episodes of which dramas I will watch and when, often have to bend and flex according to what happens in real life. My mood also plays a big part in my decision of what show to continue watching in the moment. So.. overall, love the idea, but unfortunately I don’t think my viewing style makes it feasible for me to share a viewing schedule. πŸ˜…

      Reply
  3. Meong

    How do i handle my kdrama addiction:
    Well i just find a time where i don’t need to do anything and binge watch pre downloaded drama. I stop when i get tired even when there’s still some cliffhanger left.
    I’m good with holding myself from overwatching kdramas. Actually i divide my kdrama watching with some kinds of checkpoint.
    When a minor conflict is solved. It’s a checkpoint.
    When the episode ends with two main lead kissing. It’s a checkpoint.
    When an episode ends with something’s unimportant or not a conflict. It’s a checkpoint.
    I stop watching when i reach the checkpoints so i won’t be dying to know what happened next. Atleast there’s temporary pause in plot so i could do anything i need to do before continuing my binge watching session.

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Ah, yes, I like your checkpoint approach too, Meong! Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚ I sometimes do that, if I need to pause an episode partway. I wait for a checkpoint, and stop there. It also feels more natural and coherent when I come back to the episode to continue. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  4. Usi

    Happy New Year!

    Haha…I’m totally unstructured when it comes to Drama. I read the premise and check the actors/actresses list (I have a few I avoid with passion) and wait for the trailers then. If I like the trailer I will put it on my watchlist and check it out when it airs. Some of the ones with good trailers but weird sounding script I store on my HDD and binge watch it after it aired completely…often it gets deleted without being finished.

    I just wish I had a No.2. I got a friend into K-Drama but she doesn’t like to talk much about. She always asks me about suggestions and also has a similar taste like me but… * sigh* some things just aren’t to be. My oldest friend is into Anime, so she hasn’t time left for Drama. We have to earn money for our addiction, so the time is limited. But I will always try hard to find a Drama buddy. * booyah! *

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Happy New Year, Usi! <3 Sounds like your drama system is working well for you – it seems to save you time, since you end up avoiding the duds in the end! πŸ˜‰ And yes, drama buddies aren't that easy to find.. You could consider finding one online.. if you and a friend keep pace with each other, and chat about the drama on Twitter or Facebook, that's a way to have a virtual drama buddy? πŸ™‚ May 2020 bring you more drama buddies, online and offline! πŸ˜€

      Reply
  5. MC

    Hahaha I need this post, since I was so obsessed with AM1994!! I feel like I need a break from dramas just to be a normal person again. Can’t say that I have all the answers since -sees obsessed self-. I don’t know how you can balance normal life with watching so many shows at one time!

    Dramas are MEANT to suck you in – high production values, really good writing and acting, plot lines that are designed to keep you hooked and coming back. I keep reminding myself of that when I feel guilty of being sucked in!

    For me, what helps is to also watch other non-drama shows at the same time – I’m currently watching Netflix Explained (a 20min documentary type show that explores random topics) so it helps me to suck out of dramaworld.
    And having to go to work helps – I know I need to stop watching so that I won’t be a zombie the next day!
    The accountability buddy is a good idea; it’s also fun to have someone to discuss the show with!
    I also like the “drama as a treat” idea, having structure is a great idea so that you do the important first and THEN reward yourself with drama time.

    Good luck to all my drama watching friends – may we have balance yet watch great shows!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Oh yes, that’s a good strategy, MC, watching other shows at the same time, coz it effectively knocks you out of your drama vacuum! πŸ˜€ I watch YouTube videos (mostly on health, fitness and fashion at the moment, with a smattering of food videos), and it does help to get me in a non-drama frame of mind. Although, YouTube has its own addictive dangers, lol.

      Yes, do try the accountability buddy thing, it’s fun, especially if you pick a show that gets a lot of reactions out of both of you! And I can attest to the fact that Drama as a Treat works – if you have the discipline for it. Someone shared on FB that her approach is to treat dramas the way she does drinking – not before 6pm, and hardly ever does she binge πŸ˜‰ I thought that was quite brilliant, and quite easy to apply! πŸ˜€

      Reply
  6. beezrtp

    Since I apparently have no self control when a good show gets to the end of an episodes and I just have to watch the next one – recognizing my flaw, I came up with a work around:
    Since the end of the episode is designed to hook you into desperately wanting to know what happens next, I simply stop in the middle of the episode. When it’s the time I’ve allotted myself to watch, I pick back up at that spot. Finish the episode and watch to my next predesignated spot. If I know I’m planning to watch 3 episodes, I’m only watching to the middle of the third one. (Usually the even numbered episodes are too hard to stop in the middle because those episodes are designed to keep people tuning in the next week back when it was originally broadcast.)

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      That’s a great trick, beez! πŸ˜€ I remember my sis and I were addicted to Goong way back when I first got into kdrama, and we were already way past a reasonable bedtime when a cliffhanger hit, and my sis suggested we watch just the first 10 minutes of the next ep, just to see what happened. It worked! After that, during a lull in the story, we called it a night and successfully went to bed! πŸ˜†

      Reply
    2. emijn

      I do this for dramas I have chosen/decided to watch.. and to choose the dramas I come to this blog and look at the end review (I have very similar taste with kfangurl; especially now that I’m used to checking this blog before checking out the drama!).

      Reply
  7. erin

    The perfect post for the New Year! My best intentions for myself can get derailed so quick by a late night binge. And I hate telling myself “no”. So my 2020 goal is to be in bed by 11. Every night. Even IF i take my laptop with me my eyes are closing around midnight… so the chances of staying up til 2 or 3 (which happens more than i like to admit) will be greatly reduced.

    My other strategy is to watch shows thst are currently running, rather than waiting til they are done. I used to wait, but that only fed my binging for hours at a time.

    strategies are crucial for a balanced life.

    Reply
    1. Widya

      Your strategy works for me. I only watch drama when it is airing on TV. My cable can do TV-on-demand, which means I can watch any episode any time within 6 days from its original airtime. But still, I can only watch 2 episodes of the same drama each week. I might be watching more than one drama at a time, but no chance for binge-watching, as binge-watching is the biggest contender for self-control.

      And that explained why I have yet to watch Goblin and Mr. Sunshine… those two big dramas did not get aired on my tv *deep sigh*

      Reply
      1. beezrtp

        @Widya – Oh my! You’ve GOT to watch both! In my opinion, Mr. Sunshine is slow burn storytelling so you’re not likely to get caught in the “need to see what happens next” vortex. At least not until the later episodes.

        Reply
        1. Widya

          I know! I peeked here and there of their clips in youtube. Heck, I even able to sing along to ALL of their OST from BOTH dramas! Sadly, real life need my attention more than expected. so yeah, those two dramas still sit nicely on my hard drive, waiting for me….. And to add salt to my wounded heart, I actually loooove sageuk. Of course Mr. Sunshine would not be categorized into one, I know, but it still is not a modern-day drama either. And to have drama portraying that time of period is quite rare in dramaland (Chicago Typewriter came into mind here), so you can imagine how devastated I am for this particular drama hahaha….

          Reply
    2. kfangurl

      Watching only currently airing shows does work with portion control! πŸ˜€ Once you’re out of the week’s episodes, you’re out. There’s no further binging possible! πŸ˜‰ And yes, 11-12 is a much better bedtime than 2-3am! Wishing you a great drama year – with reduced panda eyes! πŸ˜πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  8. Widya

    And you just HAVE TO use Cha Hyeon and Seol Ji Hwan as illustration, don’t you hahahaha…..

    Happy new year, kfangurl!!! May we all get lots of worthy drama this year, without sacrificing our own story and romance in real life! Tbh, I am currently only watching Black Dog, and nothing else. I was used to watch at least 2 or 3 drama simultaneously before. I don’t know what happen, but I probably in no mood for the roller coaster ride of emotion those dramas usually give me. Guess I am in a low mode now haha…

    PS: really LOOOOOOVE the last pic! Ji-hwan is sooooo worth my squeal!

    Reply
    1. kfangurl

      Tee hee! Thanks for appreciating the Hyun and Ji Hwan references, Widya! <3 I mean, she was SUCH a drama superfangirl, I had to make her our poster child for this topic! πŸ˜€ Well, it sounds like you won't have any trouble balancing dramas and real life, if you're only watching one drama right now, and it's a currently airing one too! πŸ˜‰ How is Black Dog working out for you, are you liking it? πŸ™‚

      Reply

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