What is your current guilty pleasure?
Guilty pleasures are very relaxing! I might say they are good for the soul. Let’s assume we’re talking books or television :-). I’ve been bingeing season 2 of Bridgerton, which is very silly, predictable, and can best be described as a young lady’s wildly historically inaccurate fantasy of Regency-adjacent alternate universe. But every night, I look forward to watching it. I don’t even understand why I do. There are two “teenage” characters played by women in their thirties and some of the characters who are meant to be in their twenties look twice that old. I don’t care.
It’s fluffy and relaxing. I don’t have to think too hard and I know nobody will be hurt too badly. There will be a happy ending, lots of pink and lavender dresses, and everyone is buff.
Like everyone, I love binge-watching my favorite series on Britbox and Acorn, but I don’t feel guilty about it. Not only am I watching brilliantly written shows with a wonderful cast of characters (British actors look like real people, not Ken and Barbie), but I’m also, I tell myself, doing research for my writing. No guilt. I do have guilty pleasures, though, and now is the time to come clean. I’m addicted to the bridal-dress shopping shows on Facebook, especially the UK’s Curvy Brides Boutique with pals Jo and Allison. The way they make each curvy bride look beautiful gets me every time. But my real guilty pleasure–and I am embarrassed to admit it–is keeping up with the latest British Royal Family gossip. Please don’t throw things at me.
Project Runway is my favorite guilty pleasure (though I do like Bridgerton.. I love how creative the designers are. I love the challenges when they have to make clothes out of weird ingredients, like pieces of trees or Halloween candy. I love anything to do with haute couture, which is funny because I live my life in J.Jill. I always have favorites that I root for, though invariably I change my mind. I love Tim Gunn, and also Christian Soriano. I would love to have either one of them in my life, telling me I can do it. Heidi Klum terrifies me, but she’s fun to watch. You can watch the episodes over and over and it doesn’t matter. It’s my happy place.
Current guilty pleasure? Versailles on Netflix. It’s predictable in a different way from Bridgerton, since I know the actual outcome of the events, although they play fast and loose with details and with time . . . three seasons, but the children are grown and married and miraculously none of the main cast look much older! The sets are a marvel (filmed at Versailles and several other important chateaus) and when they enter a finished Hall of Mirrors for the first time it struck me that as awe inspiring it is to the modern eye, it would have been a true wonder to a world lit only by fire. The costumes are also lavish, although I do believe that the women’s evening wear, especially the famous Marquise de Montespan’s, was more scandalous than is portrayed. Honestly, the show is intriguing enough that it might encourage viewers to study up on actual history, it certainly made me dig out my old biographies of this period (to my dismay I realize that most I bought while living in Switzerland which means they are in French and no longer an easy skim as I’ve let my language skills languish!). Maybe that will be my fitting reward for a guilty pleasure.
Emilya, I wish I could binge an episode a night. I realized I had an addictive personality when I tried to watch True Detective an episode at a time and ended up watching it continuously until it was done.
My guilty please is one that I can stop watching without that happening because it’s always on. I am a news junkie and have been since I was a kid, nurtured by my news-addicted father, who was an executive at a television station and who served under Admiral Halsey during WWII while Victory at Sea was being filmed. He let me stay up to watch the election of JFK in the middle of the night on a school night and a news-freak was born.
I can watch news endlessly, flicking channels to make sure I’m not missing better coverage on another network. I gave birth the same weekend that the Watergate burglary took place and spent the next three years sharing the undoing of Richard Nixon with my infant to toddler son. He remembers Nixon boarding a helicopter when he left the White House.
I love a good televised trial and learned more about evidence from Judge Ito during the OJ trial than I did in law school. I was mesmerized by the trial of the the cop who killed George Floyd and the racist thugs who assassinated Ahmaud Arbery. Wars. From Vietnam to Ukraine. Trump had me addicted because I was terrified about what he would do next..
Is it any wonder, I find comfort in a simple murder mystery when my guilty pleasure is news?
Michele, I’m with you, I can’t watch just one. It’s an addiction.
Paranormal “reality” (unreality) shows. My Paranormal Nightmare and My Haunted House are two of my favorites. I know they’re not real. The opening credits include a disclaimer about being “based on actual eyewitness accounts.” Whatever. I’m not looking for believability. I’m looking for a good ghost (or demon) story. Not a fan of aliens or Bigfoot, nor the shows where a group of investigators troops through the woods or an abandoned building or wherever with their high tech gear. But I will watch the “dramatic reenactment”-style shows on repeat. I love the reenactment actors. Some of them are quite good. I saw one show that I thought would translate nicely into a cozy. A medically retired police officer decides to renovate an abandoned hotel and finds a dead body in the bathtub.
Also, true crime podcasts, especially Small Town Murder, True Crime Obsessed, and Dateline. I love the Dateline TV show as well. I’m a Keith Morrison fangirl and don’t care who knows it. And disaster shows. I try to avoid the ones about air crashes right before I get on a plane. But give me a good building collapse or conflagration and I’m all in. Finally, The Weather Channel in the mornings when I’m traveling. I enjoy seeing how Jim Cantore changes over time. I remember the days when he had hair and was partnered with Mish Michaels.
Reading has always been my guilty pleasure. Even in elementary school I read for hours after everyone else was asleep. It used to be mysteries but since the pandemic and the craziness of our current world romance has become my guilty pleasure. There’s a lot to be said for books offering neatly wrapped up stories and guaranteed happy endings. And since I read lesbian romances I get to see myself in the characters and the happy endings, something not seen on TV too often.
I grew up before most people had TVs. And when we got one soon after WWII there was very little programming and I preferred to read. Even when I did watch, I usually read at the same time. I still do. Now I only turn on the TV for an hour of news some nights. Occasionally, I’ll watch a show with Sherry. We watched all seasons of Bosch. Bridgerton is the latest. It is silly but I’ve enjoyed it.
Queens of Mystery on Acorn. It’s about a young DS, Matilda Stone, who just returned to the adorable English village where she grew up, raised by her three crime-writing aunts. One writes graphic novels, another cozies, and the third writes more traditional – if I recall correctly. Inevitably, the aunts – who have been forbidden to become involved by Matilda’s boss, become involved. It’s written in a fairy tale fashion with lots of Easter eggs for crime writers, such as the first two episodes set in a literary convention. Light and fun.
I don’t watch much TV. It puts me right to sleep, but I do love high quality shows like Bosch. Eagerly awaiting the spinoff, Bosch Legacy, coming in early May. Jack and I just finished watching Severance, and although it started out slow, by the last episode I was sitting straight up in my chair with my mouth open.
BTW, does anyone else HATE the way streaming services have started emulating broadcast TV and dropping new shows an episode at a time? I don’t have the attention span to follow a borderline interesting show over 8 to 10 weeks, so I never watch.
Emilya, the new season of Bridgerton is on my radar. I’m waiting for Jack to go up to Maine to open our cabin so I can watch it in peace. And I enjoyed the Gilded Age. The show itself was pretty tame, but the clothes and sets were stunning. Plus Christine Baranski.
What’s YOUR guilty pleasure?
Emilya Naymark is the author of the novels Hide in Place and Behind the Lie.
Her short stories appear in A Stranger Comes to Town, edited by Michael Koryta, Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, and 1+30: THE BEST OF MYSTORY.
When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.