I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately. How do you do this for a job and stay sane?

The Globe’s television critic admits: It helps to turn it off sometimes

Matthew Gilbert says don't feel guilty about watching a lot of TV lately, but be sure to take breaks.
Matthew Gilbert says don't feel guilty about watching a lot of TV lately, but be sure to take breaks.Nopphon - stock.adobe.com

Q. I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately, for lack of anyplace to go, just like everyone else. How do you do this all the time and stay sane?!


A. Eye strain? Check. Brain fog? Check. Dreams that reflect my viewing life, with TV characters mingling with my usual Freudian figures? Check. Thinking something happened to me when it actually happened to someone on a show I was watching? Double check.

Welcome to my world, TV BOUND. The life of a TV critic involves tons of watching and thinking (and then, of course, writing), but I’m used to it — and enjoy it very much — after many years. I think I’m still sane! I love considering TV storytelling and the ways the writers try to make sense of our lives. I like thinking about what the shows I watch say about the culture we live in.

But to guard against burnout and backache, I always take a night or two or three off every week. That’s something you need to do for sure, TV BOUND. Since we can’t easily go out for dinner or to concerts and shows right now like we used to, it may mean reading, or listening to podcasts, or playing cards, or talking on the phone, or Zooming with friends. But be sure to cut out plenty of non-TV time in your seemingly unending pandemic days and nights, preemptively, to help you stay out of the space zone.


Also, I don’t waste energy feeling guilty or judging myself for watching TV. Guilt isn’t productive. Cut yourself a break. These are challenging times, and maybe overindulging in TV is helping you through. Be careful of too much news, though; it can be corrosive and exhausting. There are always good scripted series out there, if you’re looking.


Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.