Cancel on your friends, lie to your boyfriend… do whatever it takes to keep up with event TV

Despite embracing catch-up and on demand - missing watercooler moments is a pain like no other, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

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Event telly, watercooler moments. You know what I’m talking about. Those rare and wonderful shows that grab and grip the viewing public. The dramas that trend on Twitter while they air on TV, whose twists evolve into newspaper-worthy stories and whose in-jokes become embedded in the national vocabulary for months after their final credits roll.

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There’s nothing like being part of that shared nationwide experience. And there’s really nothing worse than not being.

I love the ease and flexibility of on demand TV. I might work for the almighty listings god that is Radio Times, but I must admit I’ve never whipped out a highlighter and planned my week’s telly viewing. I have a silently stroppy teenager inside of me who hates being told what do to – and scheduled TV feels a little bit too much like my dad still has control of the remote.

In 2015 – the age of Netflix, All4 and company – you’d think it would be less, not more, of a problem. We are used to watching shows out of sync, we are adept at spoiler dodging and avoiding being the one who spoils.

I assumed it would be fine to slip a little behind during Game of Thrones’ fifth run. You know, catch up later in the week when I had a bit more spare time. But it wasn’t.

I’ve been excluded from conversations, confused as snippets of chatter go perplexingly over my head and worried as colleagues’ casual words set off ripples of dread in my now-Thrones obsessed mind. Of course the instalment I chose to skip was the “this season’s best.” Naturally it made everyone ask (and ask and ask, really loudly while I tried to tried to drown them out with Taylor Swift’s YouTube channel) super important questions about the future of Westeros and who’ll eventually end up on the Iron Throne.

I thought it stung a little when my friends went for drinks without me but this? It’s FOMO on an international scale.

Nowadays fewer series reach these dizzying heights, but when shows ‘go watercooler’ (I’m saying it like that now) it makes it even more important to fall in line, obey the schedulers and watch alongside your fellow viewers. 

Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Learn from me. This isn’t the time for setting your own pace, not being one of the crowd.

Be a sheep. Cancel on your friends, lie to your boyfriend, set your alarm for the dawn chorus – do whatever it takes to keep up with everyone else. 

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Game of Thrones continues on Monday at 2:00am and 9:00pm on Sky Atlantic (Watch it then, or you’ll probably regret it)


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