Me: “I can’t believe Riverdale is still on air, it’s terrible!”. Also me: *Binge watches the entire season in one night* Whether it’s Emily in Paris, Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives, Indian Matchmaking or the recently released part two of 365 days— we can’t stand them but we also can’t stop watching them. No, it’s not guilty pleasure, it’s the joy of hate-watching.
Hate watching is basically viewing a TV show or a movie with the sole intention of pointing out its shortcomings and deriving amusement from mocking its content. It’s about the audience engaging with it through a layer of irony. While a guilty pleasure watch would qualify as a TV show or movie that you covertly enjoy fully aware that it’s way below average, a hate watchlist includes an ambitious piece of pop culture that comes with high expectations and a good star cast but still manages to fall so flat that you’re compelled to keep watching just to see how bad it can get. It feels like watching a car crash in slow motion. You don’t enjoy the sight but you just. can’t. look. away.
Why Do We Hate Watch
Why would anyone go out of their way to watch full seasons of shows they say they hate if they weren’t enjoying it on some level? The answer can vary from person to person. Firstly, it could be about the comfort of knowing your life isn’t a series of bad decisions like some of the characters on a show, especially on certain reality TV shows. There’s something about watching people do stupid things on screen that makes us feel smarter or superior in some way. It could also be the opposite— we hate because we want the life shown on screen but don’t have it. For instance, the KarJenners in Keeping Up With The Kardashians might have us rolling our eyes at their first world problems but honestly, I’d rather want to have their issues about deciding what to wear to the MET Gala rather than my own about figuring out how to pay next month’s rent. Or maybe, just maybe we don’t actually even hate what we’re watching but are so influenced by the opinions of people around us that we don’t even give it a fair chance.
The Bigger Question
While the complexities of why you hate-watch may lead to some fruitful introspection, when you really think about it, the main question that arises is why do these shows keep getting renewed for new seasons if they’re disliked so much? The answer could lie in the current media scene that thrives on cancel culture and criticism. Sure, we enjoy discussing the things we love, but nothing bonds people together over hating on the same things. Remember how cancelling Shake from Love is Blind united the entire internet? I’ve caught myself saying “the movie is so bad, you have to watch it!” way too many times to my friends. Nine out of ten times they do end up watching it, just to hate on it— which takes me back to 2011 when Rebecca Black released her song ‘Friday‘. It went on to become the most disliked video in Youtube’s history, but it also became one of the few to cross the 100M views mark back then. In short, as sad as it is, hate sells. Next time you find yourself ‘hate-watching’ something, ask yourself if this is how you really feel or are being made to feel.