What your TV habits say about your relationship

We lay awake
unable to be
intimate, dissecting
the series, plotting
what would
happen next.
We lay awake unable to be intimate, dissecting the series, plotting what would happen next. Photo: Getty Images

Forget counsellors, the worried expressions of friends, or your parents' knowing gazes, there's now a simple way to discover if your relationship is in trouble.

You don't have a series.

It's no good saying, Hey, but we're still having sex. Because if you're not having a TV series, you're kidding yourself that there's any intimacy left in your bond.

I can also hear your other excuses: we're too tired at night, the kids are up until all hours, I've got to study after work, I've got to work after work, I have to make the kids' lunches, go to a board meeting, etc.

Blah, everyone. Pathetic.

The truth is, right now, your partner could be cheating on you. He or she has probably got a series and they're five episodes into season one, or halfway through the fifth of nine seasons. They're deeply involved with characters you have never met, are never going to meet, and that you certainly won't be able to discuss at your next dinner party, leaving you looking and feeling worthless.

Like so many relationships at the beginning of the golden age of television, ours started wonderfully. Me and the Good Wife (I call her that to get her in the mood) were entwined on the couch for every season of Borgen, regardless of the fact that we watched it out of order. Oh, the joy and passion of watching sexy Danes find out what was rotten in their state, all in a language we couldn't understand, but in a political climate we definitely could, with the Good Wife working for a political party at the time.

It was obvious we would move to a new series called House of Cards. It was an American blend of Borgen and Macbeth, had a great cast and was all about politics and how the Americans did everything worse than us. For one season all was well. But then, a couple of episodes into season two, the Good Wife said that watching it was making her feel hollowed out and foul.

The House of Cards fell. And along with it our ability to bond over a series. We tried Deadwood. But the Good Wife said it was too nihilistic and violent. We considered Game of Thrones. But the sometimes good husband said it was too nude and he'd be distracted. Often.


We began to stray. I drifted off to The Tunnel, The Fall and The Killing, gritty, psychological cop dramas that kept me guessing and chilled – and away from the Good Wife – until the early hours.

She floated off to season after season of Mad Men, telling me that watching it made her consider all men to be bastards and that, despite not writing a single line of advertising copy or smoking a cigarette all year, I was included.

Things became desperate. But in that way that couples do, when they understand what they have is as golden as this age of television, we came together for one last try – Bloodline.

Oh, the joy of watching Ben Mendelsohn play himself, an estranged recovering black-sheep drug-addict criminal with no real hope of recovery, setting a metaphorical time bomb amid his well-to-do resort-owning family in the Florida Keys.

We cried and winced as we recognised the patterns in our own families. We lay awake at night, unable to be physically intimate: we were too busy dissecting the series and plotting out what would happen next. The first season ended perfectly, we thought, but then, to our horror, the final frames of the last episode set up another season! In which it seemed the shark might be jumped at such length that Fonzie would land on the beach and sully his leather jacket with sand.

What were we to do? Watch the next season or try to find another series? How long had it taken for us to find that one? A year, we reckoned – and so for months we debated whether or not to start Bloodline season two.

And, in that time, a time that is continuing, the Good Wife returned to talking to halfway real characters on Facebook, and I got stuck into Narcos, Stranger Things and Black Mirror. We're drifting apart and, like a couple on the counselling couch for one last try, we're desperate for a new series.

A few weeks ago, the Good Wife mentioned something about Ozark. But I knew it would be too violent for her and she let it slide. Yesterday, I raised my head from my cereal and just said it aloud: "Honey, we need a new series." If we were in a series, she might have taken my hand and whispered, "I know, I know." But she just nodded.

Now we've united around the remote, searching those little teaser boxes in hope of finding that first episode to turn our relationship back on.